Cheesy Pizza Casserole

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Cheesy Keto Pizza Casserole – easy low carb cheesy pizza casserole that is totally crave-able and so simple to make! Layers of meaty, cheesy pizza flavors you can’t get enough of – with very few carbs!

a scoop of casserole with vegetables and melted cheese and black olives on top
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One Pot Cheesy Pizza Casserole

Cheesy keto pizza casserole transforms the classic comfort food into a low-carb delight, using a base of cauliflower or other keto-friendly alternatives instead of traditional dough. Layers of melted mozzarella and cheddar blend with savory pepperoni and a rich, herby tomato sauce to create a satisfying dish that doesn’t compromise on the pizza experience. The absence of grains makes it not only suitable for a ketogenic lifestyle but also gluten-free, catering to various dietary needs. A sprinkle of Italian seasoning and garlic powder infuses the casserole with aromatic flavors reminiscent of your favorite pizzeria.

This keto version is baked until the cheese is perfectly golden and bubbly, offering a tantalizing texture contrast between the crispy top and the tender, flavorful filling beneath. Served with a side of green salad, this cheesy keto pizza casserole stands as a testament to the versatility and indulgence possible within low-carb cooking.

How to Make Keto Pizza Casserole

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • Italian sausage (1 lb) – Italian sausage adds a spicy, savory depth with hints of fennel and garlic to the casserole.
  • Onion (1/2) – Onion brings a slight sweetness and aromatic quality that enhances the overall savory profile.
  • Garlic (6) – Garlic contributes a pungent, earthy flavor that intensifies the dish’s heartiness.
  • Cremini mushrooms (8 oz) – Mushrooms offer a meaty, umami richness that complements the other toppings.
  • Italian herbs blend (2 tbsp) – The Italian herb blend infuses the casserole with a fragrant medley of oregano, basil, and thyme, adding a touch of the Mediterranean.
  • Bell pepper (1) – Bell pepper adds a crisp, slightly sweet and vibrant note to balance the richness.
  • Sliced pepperonis (1 cup) – Pepperonis introduce a spicy, slightly smoky flavor that’s quintessential to pizza.
  • Black olives (1/2 cup) – Black olives lend a briny, slightly bitter contrast that adds complexity.
  • Mozzarella (2 cups) – Mozzarella provides a creamy, stretchy texture with a mild, buttery taste that’s essential for a gooey topping.
  • Ricotta cheese (1 cup) – Ricotta adds a light, creamy texture with a slightly sweet and grainy taste, enriching the casserole’s base.
  • Parmesan cheese (1 cup) – Parmesan cheese offers a nutty, salty kick that enhances the overall flavor profile.
  • Diced tomatoes (1) – Diced tomatoes contribute a bright acidity and juicy texture, cutting through the richness of the cheeses and meats.

Use this Method:

Cook Meat. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large pan, cook and crumble ground italian sausage on medium high heat. When Italian sausage is browned, remove from pan and set aside. Do not drain or clean out pan.

Add Vegetables. Add onions to pan and let soften and brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic to pan and cook down until fragrant and lightly browned, another 3-4 minutes on medium-low. Do not let garlic burn. Add peppers and mushrooms to pan and cook to softened and lightly browned. Drain off any excess moisture from vegetables (very important!! I often will squeeze them to get any excess water out of the vegetables.)

Prep Dish and Layer. Prep a 9×9 casserole dish with coconut oil cooking spray (or your favorite way to prep pans – foil, parchment, butter, lard, cooking spray all work just fine.) Layer 1/2 the sausage crumbles onto the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella (use about 1/3 of each, there will be 3 layers of cheese overall.)Add a layer of 1/2 the vegetables. Layer some (about 1/2) the pepperonis across the casserole. Add a layer of diced tomatoes (and the water they are packed in.) Layer the rest of the meat, then another cheese layer, followed by the rest of the vegetables and tomatoes.

Bake. Finish the casserole with a top layer of cheese and pepperonis, garnish with olives. Cover casserole with foil and bake for 20 minutes, until casserole is hot and bubbly. Remove foil and cook until cheese is browned, about another 10 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy.

casserole with vegetables and melted cheese and black olives on top

Tips and Tricks for Making Cheesy Casserole

Use Quality Ingredients: Choose high-quality cheeses, sauce, and toppings for the best flavor. Fresh mozzarella, flavorful tomato sauce, and premium toppings can make a big difference.

Layering Is Key: Start with a layer of sauce at the bottom to prevent the casserole from sticking, followed by layers of your chosen crust or pasta, more sauce, toppings, and plenty of cheese.

Pre-cook Crust or Pasta: If using a bread or pasta base, pre-cook it to the desired doneness since it will only get a bit more cooking in the oven. This prevents it from becoming too soggy or too dry.

Season Your Layers: Don’t forget to season each layer with herbs and spices to build depth of flavor. Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes are great choices.

Mix Cheeses for Depth: Combine different types of cheese such as mozzarella for meltiness, Parmesan for a salty bite, and perhaps some ricotta or cream cheese for creaminess.

Pre-cook Certain Toppings: Pre-cook vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms to remove excess moisture that could make the casserole soggy. Meats should always be cooked before adding.

Use a Casserole Dish with High Sides: This helps contain all the ingredients and prevents overflow as the cheese melts and bubbles.

Don’t Overload with Sauce: Too much sauce can make your casserole soggy. Use just enough to cover each layer without it pooling.

Let It Rest: Allow the casserole to rest for 5-10 minutes after baking. This makes it easier to slice and serve neatly.

Add Freshness: Garnish with fresh basil or arugula after baking for a pop of color and freshness that cuts through the richness.

Experiment with Toppings: Just like with pizza, feel free to get creative with toppings. Consider unconventional ingredients like artichokes, capers, or different types of meats.

Check for Doneness: Casseroles can vary in cooking time based on depth and ingredients. It’s done when the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, and the center is hot.

Broil for Finish: For an extra golden top, broil the casserole for a minute or two at the end of cooking, watching closely to prevent burning.

Storage and Reheating: Cheesy pizza casserole stores well in the fridge and can be reheated in the oven or microwave, making it a great make-ahead meal.

FAQs

Can I use store-bought tomato sauce?

Yes, you can use store-bought tomato sauce, but be sure to choose one with no added sugars to keep it keto-friendly. Always check the label for carb content.

What types of cheese are best for a keto pizza casserole?

Incorporate a variety of toppings like pepperoni, cooked sausage, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and bell peppers. Fresh herbs, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes also add great flavor.

Is it necessary to pre-cook the vegetables before adding them to the casserole?

Pre-cooking vegetables like mushrooms, onions, or zucchini helps to remove excess moisture, preventing the casserole from becoming watery.

Can I make this casserole ahead of time?

Yes, you can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it. Just add a few minutes to the baking time if you’re starting from cold. It’s also a great dish for meal prep as it reheats well.

How do I know when the keto pizza casserole is done baking?

The casserole is done when the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden on top, and the edges are starting to brown. This usually takes about 15-20 minutes in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C).

casserole with vegetables and melted cheese and black olives on top

What to Enjoy with Pizza Casserole

Garden Salad: A fresh garden salad with a light vinaigrette can balance the richness of the casserole.

Garlic Bread: Toasted garlic bread is perfect for soaking up any sauce and complements the cheesy goodness.

Steamed Vegetables: Simple steamed vegetables like broccoli, green beans, or asparagus provide a healthy and light side.

Caesar Salad: A classic Caesar salad with crisp romaine and tangy dressing pairs well with the Italian flavors.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Roasted with a bit of olive oil and seasoning, Brussels sprouts add a crispy, flavorful contrast.

Antipasto Platter: An assortment of olives, cured meats, and cheeses can start the meal off with a variety of flavors and textures.

Caprese Salad: Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil with balsamic glaze offer a refreshing side dish.

Coleslaw: A tangy coleslaw can add a crunchy, refreshing element to the meal.

Sweet Potato Fries: Oven-baked sweet potato fries provide a sweet and savory contrast to the cheesy casserole.

Stuffed Mushrooms: Small mushrooms stuffed with garlic, herbs, and cheese can be a delightful appetizer.

Ratatouille: A side of ratatouille brings a medley of roasted vegetables and complements the Italian theme.

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower: Cauliflower roasted with garlic and Parmesan cheese adds a flavorful, low-carb option.

Zucchini Noodles: For a lighter side, zucchini noodles sautéed in olive oil and garlic pair nicely.

Italian Bean Salad: A bean salad with Italian dressing can add protein and fiber to your meal.

Try these other recipes next: Cheesy Pizza Chicken , Keto Teriyaki Turkey Rice Bowl , Keto Steak and Sausage Chili , Easy Keto Tortilla Chips, Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks, Garlic Pork Tenderloin, and Cheesy Taco Skillet.

Try these delicious sides: Garden Vegetable Greek Salad, Roasted Butter Carrots, Zucchini Fries, and Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli.

Try these recipes next:

scoop of casserole with vegetables and melted cheese and black olives on top

Cheesy Keto Pizza Casserole Recipe

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casserole with vegetables and melted cheese and black olives on top

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Easy keto cheesy pizza casserole with olives and tomatoes in a glass dish.
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Cheesy Pizza Casserole Recipe

Cheesy Keto Pizza Casserole – easy low carb cheesy pizza casserole that is totally crave-able and so simple to make! Layers of meaty, cheesy pizza flavors you can’t get enough of – with very few carbs!
Course Casseroles
Cuisine keto
Keyword casserole, keto casserole, keto lasagna, keto pizza, pizza
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 475kcal
Author Courtney ODell

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground italian sausage hot or mild, depending on your personal preference
  • ½ onion diced finely
  • 6 cloves garlic diced finely
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms cleaned and sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp italian herbs blend
  • 1 bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 cup sliced pepperonis whatever thin-sliced pepperoni brand you love
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 can diced tomatoes – do not drain

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large pan, cook and crumble ground italian sausage on medium high heat.
  • When Italian sausage is browned, remove from pan and set aside. Do not drain or clean out pan.
  • Add onions to pan and let soften and brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic to pan and cook down until fragrant and lightly browned, another 3-4 minutes on medium-low. Do not let garlic burn.
  • Add peppers and mushrooms to pan and cook to softened and lightly browned.
  • Drain off any excess moisture from vegetables (very important!! I often will squeeze them to get any excess water out of the vegetables.)
  • Prep a 9×9 casserole dish with coconut oil cooking spray (or your favorite way to prep pans – foil, parchment, butter, lard, cooking spray all work just fine.)
  • Layer 1/2 the sausage crumbles onto the bottom of the pan.
  • Add a layer of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella (use about 1/3 of each, there will be 3 layers of cheese overall.)
  • Add a layer of 1/2 the vegetables.
  • Layer some (about 1/2) the pepperonis across the casserole.
  • Add a layer of diced tomatoes (and the water they are packed in.)
  • Layer the rest of the meat, then another cheese layer, followed by the rest of the vegetables and tomatoes.
  • Finish the casserole with a top layer of cheese and pepperonis, garnish with olives.
  • Cover casserole with foil and bake for 20 minutes, until casserole is hot and bubbly.
  • Remove foil and cook until cheese is browned, about another 10 minutes.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy.

Video

Notes

To further reduce carbs, you can eliminate the onion and reduce the garlic – as well as adding only 1/2 a diced bell pepper.
I personally think the flavor the vegetables brings is worth the extra carbs, but if you are closely watching macros, reducing the bell pepper, onion, and garlic can eliminate up to 6 carbs per serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 1194mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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8 Comments

  1. Kim says:

    Super delicious!

    1. Anne says:

      What size canned tomatoes, 14 oz or 28 oz?