Cafeteria Style Pizza Burgers

Over the last almost forty years, I have repeatedly found and lost the recipe for a favorite food from my teen years over and over and over. When I discovered it again today, I decided to post it here on Loree the Domestic Diva so that I will always be able to find it. I made another discovery today, too. When I was researching the history of Pizza Burgers, I found out that they originated in the 1970s in school cafeterias across America. I had no idea! For me, Cafeteria Style Pizza Burgers made with Spam originated in the 1980s at a church in Minnesota.

In the early ’80s, my family moved from central Louisiana to the suburbs of Minneapolis. Talk about culture shock! Everything was different, even the food. One food that my sister and I were introduced to at a church youth party was Pizza Burgers. We had never heard of them before, much less eaten them. Being from the South, we had eaten our fair share of Spam. Our socks were metaphorically knocked off when we learned that Spam is a main ingredient of Pizza Burgers.

Cafeteria Style Pizza Burgers made with Spam

History of Spam

With a name derived from the words “spiced ham”, Spam is an iconic American phenomenon. For over 80 years, Spam has been touted as both haute cuisine and budget friendly. It swings between trendy and popular to object of scorn and ridicule. Through it all, Spam is a staple in many pantries and college dorms. Click here to learn more about this made in America classic.

Cooking Tips

To help lower the amount of fat in this recipe, I use ground beef that is 93% lean or higher.

When grating the Spam in your food processor, apply gentle pressure. Pressing too hard may overwork the machine and cause it to bind up.

Cafeteria Style Pizza Burgers Recipe


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 7 oz can Spam, grated
  • 2 cups pizza sauce
  • 1/2 lb cheese (mozzarella, American, or Velveeta)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 hamburger buns
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella, reserve for topping


  1. Brown ground beef in large skillet. Drain excess fat.
  2. Add grated Spam & cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, except buns & 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Heat until bubbly & cheese is melted. Remove from heat.
  4. Separate buns & lay halves on baking sheets.
  5. Top each bun half with meat & sauce mixture. Sprinkle evenly with reserved mozzarella.
  6. Place baking sheets under broiler until cheese is bubbly & starting to brown.
  7. Garnish with dried parsley. (optional)

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