Happy Joe’s-inspired taco pizza

Here’s the thing – if you don’t live in the Midwest, and more specifically the Quad Cities, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Namely – Happy Joe’s taco pizza.

The lore of the area is that Happy Joe’s invented the taco pizza. If you disagree, don’t tell me. Cause we would have to fight to the death. And I just don’t think you wanna go there.

This pizza is so delicious it should be illegal. And while I could run down the street and pick up a pizza anytime we want, it’s a bit pricey to get takeout too often. So, I set out on a mission to recreate it. With my favorite pizza doughย (courtesy of Miss Effie).

And, I think we’ve done it. I started with this recipe, courtesy of Sweety Peteeti. Then I made a few adjustments and came up with the yummiest pizzas ever. They are so good, we made them twice in the past week. And since there’s only two of us, we like to make them very generous individual sized.

Try it. You will not regret bringing this deliciousness into your life.

Happy Joe’s-inspired taco pizza
(Recipe adapted from Sweeti Peteeti)

Pizza dough of your choice (I prefer this recipe. Each serving makes about 4 small individual-sized pizzas. I usually double it and freeze the extras for the next time.)
1/2 c. refried beans (I made the beans in the slow cooker with this simple recipe at Budget Bytes and froze the extra for next time.)
1/2 c. taco sauce (I bought Ortega, which tastes identical to the sauce on the pizza at the restaurant.)
1/2 c. pizza sauce (Any kind is fine. I love the Happy Joe’s brand.)
1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Mexican-style cheese, shredded
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Taco Doritos (or Happy Joe’s brand chips, if you can find them)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Brown the ground beef, drain fat. Add taco seasoning with 3/4 cup water. When it is cooked through, remove from heat and let cool slightly. (I only used about 1/4 of the meat for two individual pizzas. I like to refrigerate the extra and eat tacos or burritos the next day.)

Stretch your crust until they are the desired thinness. I find that a pizza stone is imperative for a crisp pizza.

Mix taco sauce, beans and pizza sauce together. I used about 1/2 cup each of the beans, taco sauce and pizza sauce. You can alter it to your own taste. Spread this over the crusts.

Top with shredded mozzarella, then ground beef, then Mexican blend. (For the last pizza, I didn’t have mozzarella so I only used the Mexican blend. It was still awesome.)

Bake until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden, about 20 minutes for us. Let sit for a few minutes to allow cheese to set.

Then cover the pie with lettuce, tomatoes and Old-School Taco Doritos (crush them up). Serve with additional taco sauce and sour cream.

Yum. O.

In other cooking news. You should really try this recipe for pizza casserole. I made it sans-ham due to my ham aversion. But, it was so yummy and even better as leftovers. (It makes a lot.)

What’s your favorite kind of pizza?ย 


  1. says

    Yum yum yummykins! You know I’m a Midwestern girl….Happy Joe’s taco pizza is a staple of life! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your looks delicious! Definitely need to try it out this week!! And shut the front door girlfriend, there is Happy Joe pizza sauce and chips near you? The QC has everything.

  2. says

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I had other plans for dinner, but now I think we’ll have pizza. Thanks for doing all the work. Taco pizza fans all over the world thank you!

  3. says

    So….if I come down to see you can we make these pizzas? Because they look AMAZING and the hubs doesn’t like taco pizza, which is sad and tragic. And then we can force-feed it to Michelle until she decides she likes it. Seriously, who doesn’t like taco pizza??

  4. says

    I absolutely LOVE Happy Joes Taco Pizza!!! Yum!!! I went to the University of Iowa for 2 years and got hooked on its deliciousness, it really is the best taco pizza there is.

  5. says

    Would you believe we NEVER went to Happy Joe’s while we lived in Iowa?! It was the number one place that everyone told us was THE PLACE we needed to eat at before we moved, and we never did! But oh, that things I’ve heard about this pizza. I’m going to give it a try! Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Steve Fuller says

    This is awesome. I’m from Dubuque, but I go to school in St. Louis. I was just sitting in my dorm room on stumbleupon, and I just happen to stumble upon this amazing recreation of happy joe’s taco pizza. It’s great to get a little taste of home when I’m away at school, and now I’m thinking of making this for all my friends here.
    Thank you!

  7. Lauren says

    Hi Kim!

    I made the pizza casserole!! SO GOOD! My husband went nuts! :)

    Very yummy! Even WITH the ham! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Lauren Dekker

  8. says

    I’m sad to tell you I’ve never heard of taco pizza. But when I was elementary school we had taco in a bag (of Frito chips). I love meatball, onion and green pepper pizza but I take off the peppers and most of the onions. It makes John and my dad nuts, but I just like it cooked with them for the flavor. Oddball… I know.

  9. says

    what’s my favorite kind of pizza? The kind I can put into my mouth. OMmm nom nom.

    Do you have a California Pizza Kitchen out there? I die for their margherita pizza. Soo good.


  10. Sugarr2518 says

    Wow, not too many people know about Happy Joe’s and that just happens to be my FAV pizza joint:) I agree with you their taco pizza is yummy, but I have to say my fav kind of pizza is Happy Joe’s BLT pizza yummy, yummy!!!!

    • Ricki says

      OMG! I was just talking to my uncle who still lives in the QC. I told him I needed him buy me a taco and a BLT pizza, freeze it and ship it to SC!!! Yes, these 2 are the absolute BEST!

  11. Polar's Mom says

    OMG my Iowan husband will love this since all he talks about is HJ pizza since we moved to Dallas, thanks so much!

  12. Anonymous says

    I used to work at Happy Joes in high school. In the taco pizza sauce it includes beans..black or you can even used refried! Just an ingredient you may like to add!

  13. Anonymous says

    Wow! I’m from Iowa but moved to central Illinois 10 years ago. I have been missing happy joes taco pizza since I moved and am so excited to make this for my Illinois born husband!! Thank you so much for sharing

  14. says

    Wow! Thank you! Grew up with Happy Joe’s pizza and have been making homemade pizza for years. For some reason this week I had a thought to make a Taco Joe. This was perfect!!

  15. Kim Riffle says

    My cousin worked at HJ and made plenty of these. He said one of the secrets was to mix the taco seasoning into the RAW hamburger, and put the meat on the pizza RAW. Let the oven do the work and let the flavors cook together. He bakes his on parchment (no pan), for 25 mins @ 450degrees.

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