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In my house, pizza is considered its own essential food group. When I ask the kids what they want for dinner, pizza is inevitably always the first request shouted out. We could probably eat it every day and never tire of the endless possibilities. While I indulge the pleas for pizza night frequently since it’s so quick and flexible, we do try to spruce things up occasionally.
So when I spotted mini pie crusts at the store recently, inspiration for these Pizza Pie Bites struck! All the cheesy, saucy flavors they love crammed into single bite packages feels extra fun. Anything made “mini” automatically gets my kids excited. And I must admit biting into these little handheld pies reminds me of enjoying a slice as a child where it looked comically huge on the plate. Only now after years of pizza feasting, one bite fills me right up!
These Pizza Pie Bites make the perfect fun party appetizer since they encourage mingle-friendly grazing. Or serve them up as an interactive weeknight meal where everyone can customize their own. Lay out bowls of different veggies, meats and toppings so family members can build their own little pie however they desire bite after bite. Then pop them straight from the baking sheet right into your hand without utensils needed!
Why You’ll Love Pizza Pie Bites
- They’re customizable. Make them just how you like with your ideal sauces, cheeses, veggies or meats. Italian seasoned ground beef adds a nice zest and heartiness.
- Perfect single-serve portions. Each pie bite is an individual mini pizza, no slicing needed. Easy to grab and eat!
- Kid-friendly recipe. Little ones will have a blast assembling their own personalized pizza pockets. Much more fun than ordering in!
- Great for parties and game day. It’s hard to stop at just one, so having bites makes it easy to snack a variety without overindulging.
- Freezable for later. Assemble a big batch then freeze raw on baking sheets. Transfer to ziplock bags and use within 3 months.
- Check your crusts. If very cold, let sit at room temp 10-15 minutes so they can be worked without cracking.
- Get creative with fillings! Try sausage, veggies, chicken, or plant-based crumbles for variety.
- Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes like stars or hearts if desired.
- For extra crispness, brush crust edges with beaten egg white before baking.
Typically I make pizza with Italian sausage as the meat topping. But for these bites, basic ground beef gets jazzed up nicely with standard pizza seasonings. I cook until browned then drain any excess grease. This allows the beef to crisp up in the hot oven rather than get soggy.
Refrigerated Pie Crusts
Look for crusts in the refrigerated section rather than frozen, which tend to crack more easily. Or you can make your own dough from scratch. I like to use store bought to cut down on time. Just be gentle when cutting out the rounds so they keep their structure.
For any pizza lover, there’s no replacing the standard mozzarella cheese. I use part-skim but whole milk works too if you want extra creaminess. The shreds ensure even coverage so each bite has melty cheese!
This hard Italian cheese adds a wonderful zestiness. The slight crunch from the granules also balances out the soft mozzarella nicely texturally. I sprinkle both cheeses as double insurance for cheesy bites.
Pizza or Marinara Sauce
Use whatever pizza sauce you enjoy most on normal pizzas. I like a classic marinara or tomato sauce spiced up with Italian seasonings. Spoon just a small dollop in each pie crust so the other fillings can shine too.
How to Make Pizza Pie Bites
Preheat The Oven
Set the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cook The Ground Beef
In a skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it browns.
Drain excess grease then season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.
Prepare The Pie Crusts
Carefully unroll pie crusts and cut out rounds using a 2-3 inch cookie cutter or drinking glass.
Reroll scraps to cut additional rounds. Place on a prepared baking sheet. *You should get at least 24 total.
Assemble The Bites
Add about 1 tsp pizza sauce on each round, spreading lightly with a spoon.
Top with cooked ground beef crumbles, then a pinch each shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan.
Finish with a small dash of Italian seasoning over all.
Bake The Pies
Brush outer crust edges lightly with olive oil.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until crusts are crisp and golden brown.
Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving to set fillings. Garnish with fresh basil and serve!
What to Serve With Pizza Pie Bites
- Mixed green salad with Italian vinaigrette
- Garlic bread or breadsticks
- Pasta salad like rotini with pesto
- Antipasto skewers with mozzarella, olives, artichokes etc.
- Simple roasted vegetables like zucchini and eggplant
- Classic Caesar salad with shaved parmesan
Substitutions for Pizza Pie Bites
- Meat: Italian sausage, pepperoni, chicken
- Vegetables: Bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach
- Cheese: Provolone, cheddar, feta
- Sauces: Alfredo, pesto, BBQ sauce
- Crust: Pizza dough, crescent roll dough, puff pastry
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does dough need to thaw if using frozen?
If you purchased or made dough ahead and froze, transfer to the fridge to thaw 12-24 hrs depending on size. Manipulate gently once pliable to avoid tearing.
What temperature are they best served warm?
I recommend enjoying it immediately while the crispy crusts and melty cheeses are at their prime straight from the oven. But they’ll stay tasty at room temp up to 2 hours.
Can assembled raw pies be frozen too?
Absolutely! Prepare dough rounds and toppings, arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan, then cover tightly and freeze. Once hard, transfer to ziplock bags. Bake frozen at 375°F for 16-18 minutes.
How long does cooked ground beef keep in the fridge?
If browning meat in advance, store it completely in a sealed container for 3-4 days max. Otherwise freeze cooked crumbles in a ziplock for 2-3 months.
Pizza Pie Bites
- Nonstick skillet for cooking meats
- Baking sheets and parchment paper
- Round cookie cutters or drinking glass/cup
- Pastry brush for oiling crusts
- Spatulas for transfering assembled bites
- 1/2 pound 225 grams Ground Beef
- 2 crusts Refrigerated Pie Crusts store-bought or homemade
- 1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 cup Pizza Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Olive Oil for brushing
- A handful of Fresh Basil Leaves for garnish (optional)
- 1/2 cup Mini Pepperoni optional, for extra flavor
- Set your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- In a skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Drain excess fat.
- Unroll the pie crusts and cut out circles using a cookie cutter or a small cup.
- Place a small spoonful of pizza sauce on each pie crust circle. Top with cooked ground beef, a sprinkle of both cheeses, and a dash of Italian seasoning. If using, add a few mini pepperonis on top.
- Arrange the bites on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the edges of the crusts with olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and crispy.
- Let them cool for a few minutes. Garnish with fresh basil leaves for an extra burst of flavor.