Pizza Burgers (Paleo, Whole30)

This is a less complicated version of a paleo favorite: meatza.

And it’s kinda like junk food, but so much better!

It’s kind of genius, actually. (Yeah, I just implied I’m a genius.)

Simply replace the useless, gluten-y crust of the traditional recipe with a satisfying meat patty, then add Italian marinara and your favorite toppings. No muss, no fuss, no pizza hangover. Pizza night is back!

Pizza Burgers

Serves 4-8 | Total time: 35 minutes | Whole30 compliant

Marinara Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend

  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/3 cup tapioca or potato starch

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Italian herb blend

  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 small red bell pepper

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • a handful black pitted olives

  • a handful fresh basil leaves


Make the sauce. Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. While the oil heats, peel and crush the garlic and add it to the pan. When the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, add the tomato paste and Italian herb blend. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the vinegar, tomato sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered.


Prep the burger seasonings. Place the ground beef, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl; mix well. In a shallow bowl, use a fork to blend together the tapioca starch, Italian herb blend, and garlic powder.


Shape and cook the patties. Divide the meat into 6 equal-sized balls, then flatten into a patties. Gently dredge each patty in the seasoned coating and set aside. Place the oil in a large nonstick skillet and warm it over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Place the patties in the pan and cook undisturbed until the patties are browned on one side, 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side, 3–4 minutes. Add an additional teaspoon of oil to the pan, if necessary. Meanwhile…


Cook the pepper. Place the oil in a small nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high while you slice the pepper into thin strips. Cook the pepper with a pinch of salt until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.


To serve, top each patty with marinara sauce and decorate with toppings.

You Know How You Could Do That?

Replace the beef with pork, turkey, or a combo. You can also use your favorite high-quality commercial brand of marinara sauce, in place of homemade to speed up the process–and you can always get creative with the toppings to recreate your favorite pizza combos.

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  • HMG says:

    Mel — I always appreciate and follow your book recommendations. Thank you! Want to return the favor as just finished and loved, “Into the Jungle”. A great and quick read, beautiful story. I thought you might like it.

  • Katie says:

    Loved this recipe! We roasted broccoli & added it to the toppings , sooo good. It really took care of mine & my husband’s pizza craving leaving us feeling sated without all the bloating & belly ick we get from delivery! Thanks Mel, you hit it outta the park again!

  • Jessica says:

    Does the tapioca flour or potato starch replace the tartar powder/baking soda from prior burger/ball recipes? Can I use either method or is it providing a different mouth feel?

    • No, this is a different use. In the meatballs, the cream of tartar + baking soda are acting as a leavening agent to make the meatballs lighter. In this recipe, the starch is a coating on the outside of the burger patty to give it a little bit of a crust—trying to approximate the coating on a deep-friend patty. This recipe will work without the starch on the outside of the patties, but the texture and taste will be like a regular burger—which is also good.