Simple ingredients are assembled into meaty pizzas that can be baked straight from the freezer for easy, satisfying meals whenever needed. Loved by kids and adults alike, these are not your ordinary English muffin pizzas!
Do English muffin pizzas bring back memories for you?
With three easy ingredients and perfectly portioned for one person, English muffin pizzas should probably be considered the original “personal pizza.”
As a young girl, I loved them as a filling after school snack that I was able to make for myself.
When we didn’t have English muffins, I tried them with the whole wheat bread my family used for sandwiches. They weren’t quite the same. Undeterred, in a different desperate moment, I used ketchup instead of pizza sauce.
Sometimes, the ingredients matter–especially when there are so few of them. (That is to say, I don’t recommend ketchup!) And sometimes, an extra ingredient or two can elevate an old standby in new and exciting ways.
Such is the case for the following recipe, which offers a heartier variation on the traditional sauce-and-cheese rendition.
Better yet, a big batch of the savory, open-faced sandwiches may be prepped in advance and frozen. And conveniently, they can be baked straight from the freezer–no need to thaw–meaning a quick meal is truly accessible whenever needed.
The only real cooking involved in the assembly portion of this recipe is browning the meat mixture. You may use all ground beef, although I often use the mushroom/beef option. The variation replaces a portion of the meat with finely diced mushrooms, which are sautéed first to release their moisture and then cooked until golden and, well, meaty!
Again, you may use all ground beef. If ease is the main focus, the all-beef method will eliminate a few steps.
The mushroom mix, however, may appeal to those who are looking to reduce their meat consumption in an enjoyable way. The use of mushrooms also supplies additional nutrients and enhances the flavor with their naturally-occurring glutamates, which are what give the cooked mushrooms (and other foods like tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese) their savory, umami-rich taste.
Funny enough, when my son, Christian, was younger, he did not like mushrooms one little bit. Yet he adored these pizzas when made with the mushroom-enhanced beef.
Rather than tasting mushroomy, he thought the pizzas somehow tasted meatier. If you try them that way, I’d love to know if you agree.
Crunchy, meaty, cheesy, and saucy, the English muffin pizza we knew as kids just got a delicious upgrade!
While you may "eyeball" the amount of cheese and beef as you assemble the pizzas, the measurements provide a good estimate as to the total amounts needed.
- 12 English muffins, split so you have 24 halves (may use a gluten-free variety, if needed)
- 1½ pounds ground beef (or 1 pound ground beef and ½ pound mushrooms; see notes for mushroom option)
- ½ a large onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon each black pepper and garlic powder
- 1 15-ounce can pizza sauce (you will use a total of about 1⅓ cups)
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella, plus extra for garnish, if desired (finely shredded works well)
Preheat the oven to 400℉.
Place the muffin halves on two baking sheets and bake for 7-9 minutes or until well toasted. I like them to be on the crunchy side. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling well as you stir, another 5 minutes or until browned. While the beef is cooking, sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (See the mushroom option in notes below.)
Top each muffin half with one slightly rounded tablespoon of cheese. Then drizzle or carefully spread 2 – 2½ teaspoons of the pizza sauce over the cheese. (If you are tempted to go heavier on the sauce, you will need to go heavier on the cheese to create a barrier that prevents the extra sauce from making the bread mushy.) Finally, top with a slightly rounded tablespoon of the beef mixture, and sprinkle with a little more cheese, if desired.
If you would like to eat some right away, bake in the preheated oven for 4-5 minutes or until the pizzas are heated through and the cheese is melted.
Alternatively, place the pizzas on a baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, for several hours. Once frozen, remove from the freezer, wrap individually in plastic wrap or foil, and store in the freezer until ready to use. Bake, frozen, in an oven preheated to 350℉ for approximately 20 minutes or until hot throughout.
•If you would like to try the mushroom/beef option, start by quartering the mushrooms and pulsing them in a food processor until the mixture resembles large crumbs. You may chop the onion this way, too. Otherwise, you may mince the mushrooms by hand. The food processor just makes quick work of this job.
•Next, sauté the onion and the mushrooms in a couple teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has cooked out of the mushrooms and the mixture is starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. At this point, add the ground beef and sauté, stirring and breaking up the meat, for another 5 minutes or until the meat is browned. While the beef is cooking, sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
•Cooking the mushrooms and onions first allows them to really caramelize and develop great flavor.