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Retro Lunchroom Pizza Burgers

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A simple pleasure that us kids of the ’60’s and ’70’s used to wait all week long for! A delicious, super easy lunch or supper that’s the perfect changeup from the same old-same old sloppy joes! 



I decided to go “old school”, literally, for lunch one day last week, and what a nice little trip down memory lane these turned out to be! 

I never could understand why elementary school’s “pizza burgers” were called “burgers”, as it’s a loose meat sandwich actually, but no one ever seemed to mind because they were just SO good! 

Kind of like sloppy joes, but with a mild pizza flavor, and back then, most likely topped with what we called “government cheese”, (which was AWESOME stuff btw!), these were the only hot lunches we all looked forward to!  





These are a quick-to-the table sandwich, that’s made much in the same way that sloppy joes are. Just brown some hamburger in a frying pan, then drain the grease.

Add tomato paste, pizza sauce, and a few extra spices and herbs so that they aren’t maybe quite as bland as what we had growing up….





….then pile the meat onto the bottoms of hamburger buns. I do like to simmer the meat mixture for awhile first too, just so that it’s super thick like how they used to serve it. How long just depends on how thin the pizza sauce is that you start out with. 





From here, just butter the top inside buns with the salted garlic butter….





…and place american cheese slices on top of the meat ones. I like to use the white american kind, because it doesn’t have any yellow food coloring in it. 

Place everything onto a baking sheet and either warm in the oven to lightly toast the insides of the tops and melt the cheese, or you can just run them quickly under the broiler. 





And that’s all there is to it! 

I served these with another childhood fave, some super easy and creamy homemade mac ‘n cheese! (*Coming soon!)

But you can serve these with a variety of different sides. (*Suggestions below.) 





Don’t these look simply delicious?!! After writing up this post, I wish I could just reach in and have another one!

They turned out a lot like what I remember having as a child, but maybe with just a little bit more flavor. That might not be a bad thing!





With all of the holiday cooking and baking right around the corner, who has time to fuss with supper, right? So I thought that the timing was just right to share my recipe for these old school, Retro Lunchroom Pizza Burgers!

Something that the entire family will enjoy! Have a wonderful week!



Suggested side dishes that go well with these sandwiches are:

Sweet Creamy Southern Cole Slaw
Old-Fashioned Mustard Potato Salad
3-Ingredient Mac ‘n Cheese (*Different from shown. Above coming soon!) 
Copycat Five Guys Fries
Onion Soup Mix Green Beans ‘n Potatoes with Bacon 
Jo Jo Potatoes with Homemade Ranch Dipping Sauce
Easy Winter White Creamed Corn
Queso Blanco Dip Mac ‘n Cheese
Country Ranch Green Beans ‘n Potatoes with Bacon
Sweet Old-Fashioned Apple Raisin Cole Slaw
Creamy Cheesy Corn
Copycat Bacon Ranch Suddenly Salad



Retro Lunchroom Pizza Burgers
Yield: 8 - 12 sandwiches

Retro Lunchroom Pizza Burgers


  • 2 lbs. lean hamburger
  • 1 (14 -15 oz.) can or jar of thick pizza sauce, I used Prego Pizzeria-Style
  • 1 1/2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste, 9 oz. total, (freeze any leftover for another use)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper, or to taste
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 8 - 12 hamburger buns
  • 8 - 12 white American cheese slices
  • 3 - 6 Tbl. Minerva Dairy Butter with Sea Salt, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. salt, or to taste


    Preheat oven to 375º F.

    In a large frying, brown hamburger.  Drain grease.

    Stir in pizza sauce and tomato paste. Add oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir in water. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, over medium to medium-low heat until very, very thick, set aside. Do not skip this step, and cook for the full amount of time. 

    Place bottom halves of hamburger buns onto a baking sheet pan. Pile the meat mixture onto each bun. Top each with a slice of cheese.

    Melt butter and stir in the garlic powder and salt. Brush over the inside tops of the hamburger buns and place on a second sheet pan. (*If just baking a few, you can put them all on one sheet. Just watch the the tops and remove them if they get done before the cheese melts on the bottom topped ones.)

    Place both baking pans into the oven, (*top buns on upper rack and meat topped buns on rack below), and bake for about 6 - 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the tops are lightly toasted and golden browned. *Watch the tops so that you can take them out when they're browned to your liking. Then let the second sheet go a bit longer if needed.

    Place on tops and serve hot with a side salad, cole slaw, vegetable, or mac 'n cheese! 





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