Upon request from a reader, I ventured into the world of Ketogenic, aka "Keto", cuisine to bring you this Keto Pizza Casserole. I happen to be very well versed in nutrition as it is just another hobby of mine. I've done the whole meal planning thing quite a bit and have just been generally obsessed with nutrition and health food for, well, a long time. Let's just call it years and years 😉 So I did feel like I had a bit of an upper hand having all the macro knowledge that I do when I began planning a Keto recipe. I have never personally adhered to a Ketogenic diet for a couple of reasons. I happen to have a very lean build so I've never chosen a diet for the purpose of losing weight. My health goals are typically to gain muscle or, as strange as it sounds, to gain weight overall. I also have a very high metabolism and with all of my macro dieting experimenting I've done, I know that my body produces the results that I look for when I am consuming an OBSCENE amount of carbs. So that being said, the Ketogenic diet has never called to me, per se. Different strokes, different folks. However, I do appreciate the health benefits the research surrounding the Ketogenic diet describes this diet as having for those with epilepsy and diabetes. Alas, I love a challenge and was absolutely going to take up the opportunity to please a reader 🙂
When people think low-carb, the last thing I'm sure that comes to mind is pizza. But I do not believe that anybody should ever have to cut pizza out of their diet, carbs be darned. So I bring all of you Ketogenic diet eatin' folk this Keto Pizza Casserole! Because if I was on the Keto diet, I really wouldn't be because I would still be eating pizza 😉
What does Ketogenic mean?
I'm not going to go into great detail about the Keto diet, I'm just going to give you a quick rundown. A typical Ketogenic diet requires that you eat a maximum of 20 grams of carbs daily. The goal of a Ketogenic diet is to stop feeding your body the carbohydrates that it likes to use to burn as fuel. When you restrict the number of carbs your body has to break down into energy, it will start to break down your stored fat instead creating molecules called ketones to use as a new fuel source. For the sake of this recipe, all you need to know is that I calculated the number of carbohydrates for you and each serving will have only 7.2 grams of carbs.
Brown the meat first.
That's right. This recipe calls for a little bit of combination cooking, it's not all done in the slow cooker. Most of the work is still done in the slow cooker, but we are going to brown the meat first with some butter, seasonings, fresh garlic, and just a tad of diced red onion. The reason we're doing this is to keep the cheese from burning. If we were to build this casserole in the crock pot using raw turkey, by the time the turkey was completely cooked, the cheese would likely be burnt to a crisp. While I don't really have many qualms with the flavor of burnt cheese, or anything cheese flavored really, my goal here is a pizza consistency not that of a Cheez-It.
Parmesan is worth a few extra carbs.
Mozzarella is pretty much carb-free, perfect for Ketogenic recipes. Parmesan is not carb-free. But I love the bite that Parmesan adds to meals so it seemed worth it to me to sacrifice a few carbs and use a mixture of mozzarella AND Parmesan. Had I not done this, I probably would not have needed to water down the pizza sauce like I did (you'll read about this shortly.) If you want to cut out some extra carbs, this is the perfect step for you to alter and still get basically the same results that I got as the final dish. To cut carbs, simply replace the same amount of mozzarella for the Parmesan listed in the recipe (basically double up on mozz and 86 the parm altogether.) 😉
The pizza sauce.
Is what made this recipe a bit challenging. Tomato sauces are stockpiled with carbs. So I cheated a little bit and mixed some water in with pizza sauce to stretch the sauce a ways and still keep the carb count low. But I did not want to sacrifice flavor too much by doing this so it took some trial and error. I landed on a 2:1 ratio of pizza sauce to water. I used 12 ounces of pizza sauce, mixed it with 6 ounces of water, and landed on 18 ounces of the sauce/water combination. I like a lot of sauce on my pizza 🙂
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Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Makes 8 servings
**Each serving will have 7.2 grams of carbs. Happy Keto-ing!
To brown the meat:
1 lb 93% lean ground turkey meat, thawed
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup red onion, diced
For the rest of the casserole:
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
12 oz pizza sauce (mixed with 6 oz water for a total of 18 oz sauce mixture)
Pepperoni slices (I only needed about 11 total slices)
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, finely chopped
2.25 oz can sliced black olives, drained
1) Prepare the vegetables, chopping, dicing, and mincing as needed.
2) Over medium heat, brown the turkey meat with butter, seasonings, garlic, and diced red onion.
3) Spray the crock pot with cooking spray.
4) Cover the bottom of the crockpot with 1/3 of the jalapeno slices, and half of the bell pepper, red onion, and black olives you prepped in step 1.
5) Layer half of the browned turkey meat across the veggies.
6) Pour half of the pizza sauce mixture across the turkey meat.
7) Sprinkle 1/2 cup of each cheese over the sauce layer.
8) Cover the cheese with the 1/3 of the jalapeno slices, and the rest of the bell peppers, red onions, and black olives (I set aside a small amount of olives to put on the very top layer for presentation purposes; feel free to do the same.)
9) Layer the rest of the browned turkey meat across the veggies.
10) Pour the rest of the pizza sauce mixture evenly over the turkey meat.
11) Sprinkle 1/2 cup of each cheese over the sauce.
12) Arrange the pepperoni slices, the rest of the jalapeno slices, and the rest of the black olives across the cheese as the top layer of the casserole.
13) Cook on low for 2 hours and 10 minutes.
14) Cut into eighths, serve. (Yes, it is supposed to be very messy.)
15) Let the puppy help clean up.
What do you think of my first Keto recipe? Tell me in the comments below!
Find out more about me, the author and founder of The Slow Cooker Life, here.