HIGHER CULTURE: The Scoop on Keto and Low-Carb Pizza

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Some readers have expressed interest in recipes for keto and low-carb alternatives to pizza, as a follow-up to my front page piece Wednesday about national pizza conglomerate Papa Johns’ new “pizza bowls.” In case you missed it, the three Papa Bowl varieties include: Garden Veggie, Chicken Alfredo, and Italian Meats Trio.

They’re selling the pizza toppings and sauce — without the crust.

Someone already thought of this, though. Writer Ryan Luedecke of the “Mr. Skinny Pants” blog wrote in a 2018 Tasteaholics post about de-crusting PaPa Johns’ spinach/alfredo-topped pie, with Canadian bacon and green olives as the toppings.

I’ll admit guiltily that this is something I sometimes do. But it’s not really keto. Hang tight, and I get into the nitty-gritty of it in a minute. Our friends in Greece at Greek Goes Keto blog (GGK) explain the big picture: (emphasis mine)

Besides the fact that the crust is made with grain flour, which brought us clusters of autoimmune diseases, pizza in the western world is made with overprocessed and cheap ingredients. The kinds of cheese used for pizza are usually the lowest quality. Sometimes the cheese is totally artificial. It’s the hydrogenated vegetable fat that plays the role of real cheese. Furthermore, sausages, hams and dried meat products used for most modern pizzas are full of nitrates, artificial taste enhancers, conservatives (sic) and additives. The famous tomato salsa, which is always placed first on Pizza, is usually enhanced with real and artificial sugars. So, you end up with a bomb of addictive poison on the plate.

So, while he’s on the right track, Luedecke’s “hack” of Papa Johns’ pizza is more in the realm of what’s known as “dirty keto.” In other words, junk/low-quality foods as part of the way of eating. You’re only lying to yourself, in other words. It’s not really healthier than eating the pizza.

So, what are our options to have real, healthy pizza without fake ingredients, vegetable oils, and sugar snuck into the tomato sauce?

GGK has these two recipes: one is the traditional pizza pie; the other is a Greek option with an emphasis on cheese toppings and no meat. Both feature almond and coconut flours in the crust, which I’ve pointed out before can be costly ingredients.

That’s not to say I have everything figured out; I’ve been trying to succeed at this way of eating by replacing the crust in pizza since at least 2018. In an old newsletter, the previously mentioned Mr. Skinny Pants site shared a recipe (which I’ll reproduce below) for “life-changing” skinny pizza boats. I didn’t make that name up, folks! (Turns out, they added it to their site in 2021.)


Life Changing Recipe #6: Skinny Pizza Boats

Prep Time: ~15 min
Bake Time: ~15 min
Makes 2-3 servings

6 fresh zucchinis
1 pound ground pork sausage
15 oz can of tomato sauce
3 ounce package of sliced pepperonis
6 ounce package of shredded mozzarella


Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Slice zucchinis lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon & discard (should make your zucchinis look like little green canoes).

Brown the ground sausage and mix in the tomato sauce. Stir ingredients together then remove from heat.

Spoon the ground sausage & tomato sauce mixture into your zucchini boats then cover with shredded cheese and pepperonis. (Any leftover toppings can be saved for snacks.)

Bake zucchini boats for 15 minutes at 400F, then take out of oven & let cool for 10 minutes.

There are couple other options, besides using a veggie as your base. One is called a fathead pizza; the other is the fun-to-say “meatza.”



One example of the fathead style is this recipe from the Diet Doctor folks.The crust is made from only eggs and cheese.



I don’t think you really need formal recipes for this; Just wing it and use the oven temperature of any of the recipes here. Essentially, you take any ground meat — often beef or pork or lamb — and flatten it into a “crust,” into either an oven-safe casserole dish or on a cookie sheet. Bake it until browned, then top it with sauce, toppings, and cheese. Return it to the oven, and bake until the cheese is melted.

Now, this last recipe offers a unique way of getting your pizza fix — and it’s another recipe that goes the non-wheat grain route. It’s for breakfast pizza.

Wait…Pizza for breakfast? Yeah, seriously, Keto site shares a recipe for pizza waffles!

As they write:

You can top the pizza waffle with anything you’d like to – scrambled eggs and bacon with some ranch as the sauce. Or, go another route and do a bit of chicken, homemade BBQ sauce, and cheese.

Keep in mind that if you’re not in the mood for pizza at breakfast time, simply omitting the spices and seasonings here (pepper and Italian stuff) and adding in some natural sweetener and/or cinnamon would give you some nifty keto waffles. Top with sugar-free syrup and Irish butter to your heart’s delight.

Enjoy, readers!


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