This upside down pizza casserole recipe is a twist on a popover pizza with a golden popover crust hiding a flavorful filling of meat, sauce, vegetables and cheese.
When I was a little girl, my mom made popover pizza all the time. It was one of her favorite recipes, along with chicken & corn mini pies, and our whole family loved it.
When I was in sixth or seventh grade, the local newspaper sent a reporter and a photographer over to talk to her about her popover pizza. I don't remember what prompted the visit (I think I may have written a letter, but the details are fuzzy.), but I do remember that the photo was her in her garden, smiling.
My mom died in 2013, and I still miss her. That grief gets better over a very long time, but it never goes away. One thing I have, and will always have, of my mom is her favorite recipes.
That's where popover pizza comes in.
When you make popover pizza, you can use whatever toppings you normally put on your pizza. My mom liked to put sliced green olives in hers, which is weird because we don't usually eat green olives on our pizza, but she did, so that's what I use in ours. You can use chopped onion and green pepper, mushrooms, diced ham, really there is no limit to the possibilities.
What you'll need to make the best upside down pizza
The only equipment you'll need besides some measuring cups and spoons is a deep 9x13 baking dish. You'll also need a large cast iron skillet or standard aluminum skillet to brown the ground beef.
See the recipe card below for measurements.
- 93% lean ground beef - My mom used ground beef, but you could also use Italian sausage with great results.
- Diced onion - One of my kids will pick through foods with a fine toothed comb looking for bits of onion, so I use 1 tablespoon of onion powder. I kept the diced onion in the recipe because that's what my mom used.
- Sliced green olives - I know you wouldn't put green olives on pizza, but my mom used them in her upside down pizza, so I use them in mine. Feel free to substitute black olives or leave them out altogether.
- Canned or fresh mushrooms - I like the flavor of the canned mushrooms, but you could also use fresh and sauté them with the meat and onions in the first step.
- Pizza sauce - There is a difference between pizza sauce and marinara sauce. I prefer the flavor of pizza sauce. If you're sugar-conscious, Walmart's Great Value store brand has the least amount of added sugar compared to other brands of pizza sauce.
- Italian seasoning
- Garlic powder - I normally prefer fresh garlic, but garlic powder is fine in this recipe. If you want to use fresh, you may want to add it with the onions so that it can sauté a bit to bring out the natural flavors.
- Shredded cheese - A pre-made pizza blend is nice or a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheese would work too. You can use whatever cheese you want, really.
- Large eggs - You need eggs to make the crust.
- 1% milk - I use 1% milk, but you can use any dairy or non-dairy milk. Just stay away from flavored milks like vanilla because they would make your crust weird.
- Extra virgin olive oil - This is part of the crust. Feel free to use melted butter instead.
- All purpose flour - Also for the crust. You can substitute cup 4 cup gluten-free flour if you prefer.
- Salt - For the crust. Don't leave it out unless you're using a sodium-free salt substitute.
- Grated Parmesan cheese - I prefer to use actual slivered Parmesan cheese, but you could use the weird powdery stuff if you have to. That's what my mom used, but I'm a cheese snob and only use real cheese.
How to make an upside down pizza
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- Sauté ground beef, onion, zucchini, and mushrooms (if using fresh) over medium heat until ground beef is no longer pink and onion is soft and translucent. Drain.
- Stir pizza sauce, olives, and mushrooms (if using canned) into meat. Add Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt.
- Pour meat mixture into a well-greased 9x13 pan. Top with shredded cheese. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Combine eggs, milk, and oil in a medium bowl. Whisk in flour and salt and beat until smooth and well blended.
- Gently pour batter over top of the cheese and meat mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and cornmeal on top.
- Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until top is puffed up and golden brown.
Variations of upside down pizza
I use ground beef, mushrooms, zucchini, onion, and green olives in my upside down pizza because that's what my mom used.
You can add whatever pizza toppings you prefer, such as:
- Sliced pepperoni
- Cubed ham
- Chopped bacon (pre-cooked and crumbled)
- Green or red bell pepper
- Additional sliced or chopped raw onion
- Chopped tomato
Add your additional with the tomato sauce and stir in, or alternately, sprinkle them over the meat mixture just before adding the shredded cheese.
Are you supposed to flip a popover pizza?
Some upside down pizzas are meant to be flipped, but this one is not. I typically serve popover pizza with the crust on top. It's easier to cut that way, and because there are so many "toppings;" they would spill out all over your plate.
How to store leftover popover pizza
As with any pizza, this is best enjoyed when it's fresh. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can reheat in the microwave (the crust will get soft) or in a 350ºF oven for 10-15 minutes (the crust will be a little soft from the fridge but will get a little crispier than if you reheat in the microwave).
I don't recommend freezing popover pizza.
While you're here, check out these other delicious pizza recipes:
- Chicken Crust Pizza - The Best Low Carb & Gluten-Free Pizza Recipe
- How to Grill Pizza Dough
- Quick & Easy Pizza Dip Recipe
- 10 Pizzas to Cook on a Pizza Stone