This post is all about how to make Pizza Burgers for a frugal dinner recipe.
Published January 28, 2022
Updated March 23, 2022
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If you are from the Fox Valley in Wisconsin, you are familiar with the fast-food restaurant Tom’s Drive In. Tom’s Drive In has been a staple in my community since 1960. The restaurant has great prices, uses local companies as suppliers, has a great ice cream, and the food is always delicious.
When I was a kid, we used to have Pizza Burgers from Tom’s Drive In. As a simple recipe for kids, I am going to share how you can make Pizza burgers at home and then pair it with a quick mac & cheese recipe.
In honor of Tom’s
Looking at the map of the Fox Valley, Tom’s has seven locations with an eight opening soon. If you are unfamiliar with my reference to the Fox Valley, that is referencing the Fox River that runs Lake Winnebago NORTH to Green Bay. Yes, I said that correctly, the Fox River does run North!
There are forty-eight rivers in the United States alone that flow north and 245 in the world that are known to flow north. Interestingly enough, the Nile in Egypt also flows North and dumps into the Mediterranean Sea. But I digress.
Back in the 90’s, in my elementary school time, we had a Tom’s Drive In within a walking distance from the school. It was awesome. On days that school got out early we would head there before walking or riding bikes home. During 3rd grade, girls in my class who I also played basketball and baseball with, planned a lunch there on a half-day of school. But I was not invited. Cliques am I right?!
Looking back, those girls were petty and childish of course, they were only eight and nine already preparing for the cutthroat teenage years in America. I feel like those girls made me cry more than they made me smile or laugh. There were many times I felt my parents wanted to start fight club on my behalf.
As a parent now myself, I totally get what they were going through. Kids can be cruel.
Click HERE for the Tom’s Drive In website to check out their menu and locations
*Tom’s Drive In is not a sponsor for this post*
Speaking of my parents, they honestly told us as little kids that fast food restaurants only served cheeseburgers until my two-year-older sister read the menu and was shocked to see grilled cheese. It was all over from there. No more cheeseburgers, sorry mom and dad!
One special dinner we would get was pizza burgers. These flame-broiled Angus patty burgers were obviously made with love and a hefty dose of pizza sauce. There were many times my dad would order an entire bag of cheeseburgers for our family of five. Back in the 90’s, cheeseburgers were much cheaper than the $2.69 price of today.
Feeding kids in the 90’s
On Wednesday our family would get $1 Whoppers from Burger King, or pizza from Stucks, or we would go to Ponderosa, for birthdays it was always Shakey’s Pizza, or the Rainbow Supper Club for Taco bar night. With two working parents and three kids they found the easiest and least expensive ways to feed us. How did they manage to feed us at restaurants and not go broke?
As an adult, I can reminise with my brother and sister about going to the “Rainbow Taco Bar” and joke that it was amazing, but in reality I now know that my parents planned our weekly Sunday dinner there to meet up with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. This serves, till this day, as a vivid childhood joy-filled memory that will forever be cherished. I do believe the “Rainbow Taco Bar” helped me to develop a deep love for black olives and all-you-can-eat buffets. Go figure.
Another simply amazing thing is when our family gets together and talks about the “Rainbow Taco Bar”, my husband Tyler can completely relate as he grew up in that area and would go with his own family as a kid. We can joke that we may have been there at the same time as kids.
As a parent myself, with a pre-teen who can eat five burgers, our cost to go to Tom’s would be half our weekly food budget. Why do kids eat so much?! While looking in the pantry and fridge trying to decide what was for dinner, two weeks out from the plague I still have not gotten back into menu planning, we had food that I could whip up to feed the masses.
For dinner last night we had mac & cheese with homemade alfredo, steamed peas and pizza burgers. On bread of course. As a Midwesterner, born and raised, you can make just about anything on bread.
What you will need to make Pizza Burgers at home
Loaf of bread/buns
Pizza sauce or marinara
Pizza seasoning (optional)
How simple is that!? If you have some cheese and a jar of spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce you can make pizza burgers at home. Our kids were shocked when I said we were having pizza burgers. They were like, “really?”, “that is awesome!”. And with mac & cheese on the side this momma just surpassed daddy as their favorite. At least for the day.
Whenever burger buns come home from the grocery store, they always get eaten without a burger. It is like the sock in the dryer enigma. Where do all the socks go? Where do the burger buns go? For dinner, we had a loaf of bread that worked just fine to have burgers.
Tyler actually likes bread more than a bun anyway and would typically use bread if given a choice. Our kids were perfectly fine having burgers on wheat bread, and actually did not complain that we did not have hamburger buns.
Cost to make this recipe
12 burgers $11.75
Loaf of bread/buns $1.65-$2.00
Mozzarella cheese $2.05
Pizza sauce or marinara $1.09
Pizza seasoning (optional)
The total cost to make a dozen pizza burgers was $16.54.
That was a cost of $1.37 per burger.
Had we gone out and bought a dozen pizza burgers from a drive in, it would cost $32.28, and then we would need fries. And onion rings. And ice cream. Like I said, by the time we left we would have spent half our weekly food budget at one meal.
Making food at home from scratch is not only a budget saver, but it is also a lot of fun giving these new recipes and meals for your family. Saving $15 is a total win also!
Recipe for Pizza Burgers
Pizza Burgers Ingredients
Loaf of bread/buns
Pizza sauce or marinara
Pizza seasoning (optional)
Below is an image of the ingredients for this recipe. And yes, you see painters’ tape and cabinet doors off. I FINALLY started painting the upper cabinets in our kitchen! Stay tuned for a blog post about that finished product and how much I LOVE General Finishes Milk Paint. Seriously, it is the best paint I have ever used.
Directions for Pizza Burgers at Home
1. Preheat your oven on Broil, as I found this was the easiest and best way to cook burger patties that were frozen.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and then spray with non-stick spray.
By using aluminum foil on the baking sheet, you help prevent those awful stains and messes getting on your baking sheets. When the meal is done and cleanup has started, all you have to do is lift the aluminum foil into the garbage can. Cleanup is a breeze!
3. Place the burger patties on the prepared baking sheet. These will shrink as they are cooked. Now is the time to season your burgers with any seasoning if you are choosing to do so. This momma forgot, and we used our Pizza Seasoning Topper after they were fully cooked.
This blend from Chef Paul Prudhomme is literally the most delicious thing on pizza. Typically, I make my own seasoning blends like taco and ranch, but this one was a gift and was fun to try!
4. Add 2 Tbsp marinara or pizza sauce to each burger patty and then spread out with a spatula. We have about four jars of marinara in our pantry, so marinara sauce for the win!
5. Place the baking sheet in the oven in the middle rack and cook until browned. By using a rimmed baking sheet, the juices from the burgers and marinara do not make an awful mess in the oven.
6. Flip burgers and then spread pizza sauce on the tops with a spatula.
7. Place the baking sheet back into the oven and continue to cook until the internal temp reaches 160-165 degrees.
Samuel was hungry and excited for mac & cheese and as a result he ate four servings! My husband is 6’3″ and I estimate our three boys will be that height also as adults.
For now, they eat a lot. Having three boys and a husband who eats a lot was one of the many reasons I decided to cook from scratch meals. When cooking from scratch, you get more food for less money!
8. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and then place slices of mozzarella cheese on each patty to have them melt slightly. I feel like I have blogged my alfredo sauce recipe at least once, but looking back through my published posts, I see that out of the 110+ posts, there is not one solely dedicated to alfredo sauce. So, stay tuned for that gem next week!
9. Finally, serve a Pizza Burger on a bun or bread with an extra spoon of pizza sauce. The rest of the marinara went into a pan and was warmed up on the stove. When we sat down to eat, having extra sauce to spread on the bread was great for added flavor. You cannot go wrong with a messy pizza burger!
After dinner, Tyler started hanging the shelfing we made and painted for our living room wall. Here is a sneak peek! Click the link to my blog about this entire process of turning a boring wall in our living room to a full-blown bookshelf wall, and yes, we painted, finally!
This post was all about how to make a delicious and frugal Pizza Burger.
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Pizza Burgers for dinner with peas and mac & cheese!
- Baking Sheet
- 12 Burgers
- Mozzarella Slices
- Pizza sauce OR Marinara
- Pizza Seasoning
- Hamburger Buns
- Preheat your oven on Broil.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and then spray with non-stick spray.
- Place the burger patties on the prepared baking sheet.
- Add 2 Tbsp marinara or pizza sauce to each burger patty and then spread out with a spatula.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven in the middle rack and cook until browned.
- Flip burgers over and then spread pizza sauce on the tops with a spatula.
- Place the baking sheet back into the oven and continue to cook until the internal temp reaches 160-165 degrees.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and then place slices of mozzarella cheese on each patty.
- Finally, serve on a bun or bread with an extra spoon of pizza sauce.
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