Cafeteria style pizza burgers are a classic childhood recipe straight from school lunch days. Your kids will love the combination of burger and pizza flavor on one sandwich.
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Growing up I have few memories of school that stick out as much as school lunches.
Yes, I’m talking about all the shenanigans with my friends, the occasional food fight, the whispered secrets…
But I am also talking about the food.
While cafeteria food has a bad rep overall, I had a definite soft spot for a few of the dishes: lunch lady spaghetti, cheese fries and these pizza burgers.
You could always find me ready to buy my lunch when anyone of those things were on the menu.
So of course, I had to recreate this nostalgic classic for my boys.
And no surprise, they love it just as much as I do!
What are cafeteria style pizza burgers?
This recipe originates from Minnesotan school cafeterias, the home of SPAM.
It is sort of a sloppy Joe style sandwich that adds crumbled SPAM into the beef and simmers in a sweetened pizza sauce.
The whole mix gets scooped onto open faced burger buns and topped with cheese.
To make this childhood classic you’ll need:
- Ground beef– Go for lean ground beef so the sandwiches aren’t super greasy.
- SPAM– You could substitute ham or ground pork if you prefer or just use an equal amount of beef and omit it all together.
- Seasonings– Dried oregano, parsley flakes and loosely packed brown sugar.
- Pizza sauce– Make sure you use pizza sauce like this and not spaghetti sauce!
- Cheeses– Both shredded cheddar cheese and shredded mozzarella.
- Hamburger buns– Homemade or store bought.
How to Make
This recipe is as easy as browning meat!
To make it, cook the ground beef a large skillet set over medium heat, crumbling it until it’s all nicely browned.
Then, strain off the grease and return the skillet to the stove.
Now add the spam to the skillet with the ground beef and break it up into small bits using a meat chopper. I swear by this tool when it comes to cooking both ground beef and sausage!
Let this meat mixture simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Add the seasonings and sauce to the skillet, stirring just until everything is evenly combined.
At this point, remove the skillet from heat and stir in the cheeses until they completely melt into the mixture.
Open the hamburger buns and lay them out open faces up (both bottoms and tops) on a baking sheet.
Using a measuring cup, add 1/4 cup of the meat mixture to each bun and use the back of the cup to gently spread it to cover the surface of the bun.
Continue until all the buns are covered.
Bake the pizza burgers at 425° for 5-10 minutes, just until the buns are nicely toasted and the mixture’s bubbly.
Serve and enjoy!
How many servings does this make?
This recipe definitely feeds a crowd!
It filled 12 buns (24 halves) and there was still about one third of the meat leftover for another meal.
The leftover meat mixture stores very easily in both the refrigerator and the freezer.
To refrigerate the leftovers, just transfer them to an airtight container and put them in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave when you are ready to enjoy it again.
If you want to freeze it, I like to let the meat cool completely and then transfer it to freezer bags before putting it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Tips and Tricks
- You can omit the parsley flakes if your kids don’t like green things in their foods, and sub ground oregano for the flaked kind. Anything to avoid the drama of picky eaters!
- Make sure to strain the beef so the sandwiches aren’t overly greasy.
- Double check to ensure you are using pizza sauce and not spaghetti sauce. Pizza sauce is a bit thicker and works much better in this than spaghetti sauce.
Other Sloppy Joe Style Sandwiches You’ll Love
These cafeteria style pizza burgers are a nostalgic favorite the whole family loves! Whip them up today for an easy lunch or dinner anytime!
Looking for other sloppy Joe recipes? Try these:
- Grandma’s Sloppy Joe Sandwiches from scratch
- Tex Mex Grilled Cheese
- Cheeseburger Buns
- Ground Beef Philly Cheesesteak Grilled Cheese
If you’ve tried these CAFETERIA STYLE PIZZA BURGERS, or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!
Cafeteria Style Pizza Burgers
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 can SPAM
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp parsley flakes
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 12 oz can pizza sauce NOT spaghetti sauce
- 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- hamburger buns plain
- Add the ground beef to a large skillet set over medium heat. Cook it, breaking up & crumbling, until it's all nicely browned. Strain off the grease, and return the skillet to the stove.
- Add the spam to the skillet, still set over medium heat, and break it up into small bits using a meat chopper. Let this meat mixture simmer for 5-6 minutes.
- Add the seasonings & sauce to the skillet, stirring just until everything's evenly combined.
- Remove the skillet from heat, and stir in the cheeses until completely melted and the mixture's evenly combined.
- Open the hamburger buns & lay them out open faces up (both bottoms & tops) on a baking sheet.
- Using a measuring cup, add 1/4 cup of the meat mixture to each bun and use the back of the cup to gently spread it to cover the surface of said bun. Continue until all the buns are covered.
- Bake the pizza burgers at 425° for 5-10 minutes, just until the buns are nicely toasted and the mixture's bubbly.
- Serve & enjoy!
This post may contain affiliate links. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See my full Disclosure Policy for details. As always, all opinions are my own.