Bloomington, Indiana – my hometown, my college town, and in my opinion, one of the greatest little towns in the midwest.  I could never even begin to name all the things that make me love that place so much.  Thankfully since our families still live there and it is only an hour away, we visit frequently and try to work in trips to our favorite restaurants whenever possible.  One that belongs near the top of that list is Mother Bear’s Pizza.  They have all sorts of wonderful gourmet pizzas, as well as fantastic breadsticks that make the best snack ever after a night out at the bars (not that I would know anything about that ;)), but of all their pizzas Ben and I will always love spinoccoli best.  This is a pizza with a white sauce, plenty of cheese, topped with spinach and broccoli.  It may sound like an odd combination to some, but we think it is the best.  In fact, this has been my birthday dinner of choice with my family for the past few years.

The more comfortable I become in the kitchen, the more confident I am in my ability to recreate a restaurant dish at home.  However, sometimes the restaurant version is just so darn good that I am afraid to even attempt it, because I am sure whatever I make will fall far short of the real thing.  That was the case with spinoccoli.  But after we had a recent date night at Mother Bear’s, I decided enough was enough – I should at least give it a shot.  Because if it worked, we could have spinoccoli at home, which would be heavenly.  I always wondered if they did precooked the veggies in any way before adding to the pizza.  One benefit of being from a small town is that our family knows the owner of Mother Bear’s.  My brother was on a softball team with him this year and asked that very question.  We learned that no, they don’t do anything to the veggies.  So with that knowledge, I set out to make my best approximation of spinoccoli at home.  And guess what?  It totally worked.  With my first bite I was blown away with just how close my version came.  In fact, Ben and I both agreed that the only real difference we could taste was the crust because I used my usual favorite and we like it better anyway.  Otherwise, this was right on.  I’ll definitely still order spinoccoli whenever I’m in B-town but it is a revelation being able to make it at home as well.


For the white sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
¾ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the pizza:
Pizza dough
Olive oil, for brushing
½ cup packed baby spinach leaves, torn
1 cup very small broccoli florets
2 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Grated Parmesan


  • 01

    To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and light golden, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the heavy cream and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and bubbles.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan until completely melted and smooth.  Discard the garlic clove.  (Note: This will make a bit more sauce than you need for the pizza, but with a little extra cheese it makes a great dipping sauce for crust.)

  • 02

    To make the pizza, preheat the oven and a pizza stone at 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round.  Lightly brush the perimeter of the dough with olive oil.  Spread a thin layer of the white sauce over the crust, leaving a border clear around the edge for the crust.  Sprinkle the torn spinach leaves over the white sauce.  Evenly distribute the broccoli florets over the dough.  Layer evenly with the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Finish with additional grated Parmesan, if desired.  Transfer the pizza to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

  • It sounds delicious! I love white sauce pizza’s. My husband loves broccoli, although I may need to add some chicken or diced ham to get him to try it as a main dish. ;) Great recreation!

  • My husband’s family all went to IU and still visit Bloomington frequently, however their favorite pizza from there is Cafe Pizzaria. We ate there last year on our way way to Elkhart for Christmas, but now that we have moved back to Indiana I will have to give Mother Bear’s a try next time we are in town!

  • wow, what a pizza! i should try to recreate restaurant dishes more often also

  • Anne Marie

    Yum! My eyebrows went way up when I just saw the title… then I saw the picture. Oh yeah, I will be trying this one for sure!

  • Delicious…nothing we love more than cheese and bread…! Oh and that white sauce?! YUM!

  • Great post and the pizza sounds wonderful!

  • Lydia

    This is one of Michael’s favorite things to eat in Bloomington. Maybe I’ll finally be inspired to roll out my own pizza dough at home! Thanks, Annie!

  • That’s awesome you were able to recreate the dish! I can’t wait to make this!

  • Michelle

    I am from Indiana and I went to grad school at IU-Bloomington and I frequently tell people where I live now how wonderful the food is there!

  • DM

    Spinoccoli Pizza!!!! How I miss B-town and Mother Bears!!! Thanks for posting this. I will be making this for dinner next week!!!

  • This pizza looks amazing!!!! I’ve never tried spinach and broccoli on pizza before, but will definitely have to try. Thanks for sharing :-)

  • Lori

    Annie – I can’t wait to try this…Just want to tell you I made your chicken marsala and Rigatoni Di Gregario. Fabulous! I had precooked the chicken for the pasta dish and was sitting down to the table in a half hour eating a wonderful meal. this is just the ticket when coming home from work. Thanks so much. They are both keepers!

  • This morning on my way to work, I was thinking about how much I miss Bloomington! I’d move back in a heartbeat, I 100% agree that it’s one of the best small towns in the country! We usually went to Aver’s, but when we were out at the bars, Mother Bear’s was our choice. This pizza reminds me of such great times :)

  • Yum! Sounds like an amazing flavor combo : )

  • I love all your pizzas recipes! Thanks for sharing!

  • I love recreating fun recipes from the past. I did my favorite college pizza, as well. This one looks wonderful. I will definitely have to make this for Michael!

  • Susan

    Hi! Can’t wait to make this TONIGHT! Is this recipe just enough for 1 pizza or 2?

  • I love Broccoli and spinach on pizza but have never had them together! I’ve got to make this now!

  • that’s awesome that you were able to recreate a restaurant favorite! spinoccoli sounds like my kind of pizza, yum!

  • The combination of spinach and broccoli gets me every time. Your version looks fabulous!

  • These don’t sound like odd ingredients at all to me. As frequent at-home pizza makers, Peter and I will try this. We even have a ball of pizza dough in the freezer!

  • Annie

    One pizza.

  • This looks amazing! We have pizza every Friday night, so I am always on the lookout for new ways to make it. This is going to be our Friday night pizza this week :)

  • Looks absolutely delicious! I like to make my own pizza too – it’s often as good as restaurant quality!

  • Emily

    What perfect timing, we are going to Bloomington this weekend!!! (Every member of my immediate family went to IUB) This just made me 10x more excited about our trip! Nicks here we come! Maybe we’ll stop at Mother Bears and get a Hairy Bear, or Beaver :) with our pizza!

  • Annie

    I think you mean Bear’s Place. That’s the bar with Hairy Bears. Mother Bear’s is the pizza place down the street.

  • Looks delicious! I love spinach on pizza, but haven’t tried broccoli yet!

  • Sounds and looks wonderful!

  • Steven (ya bro)

    Annie Im glad you finally made this and that it turned out well. I just wanted to remind you of a famous quote,
    “Bacon. I like to eat bacon on Christmas.”

  • Annie

    Steven, I love you. I am looking forward to some equally ridiculous quotes from you guys come holiday giveaway time :)

  • anna maria

    LOVE Bloomington, LOVE Mother Bear’s! One of my favorite parts about Mother Bear’s menu was the goldfish crackers on the salad and the fact that they served the salad in one bowl inside a larger bowl knowing the contents of the salad would spill out as you ate. Great post – I’ll have to try this pizza soon, perhaps with a side of a goldfish adorned house salad ;)

  • Tasty white sauce. Lovely pizza…looks delicious.

  • Annie, this looks really really good to me right now – I think Caroline would love it too – she loves “trees” and “greeen” :-)

  • Kelsey

    Let me start by saying that I love love love your blog!!!! Your photos are as beautiful as the food is yummy! :)

    I have a pizza stone but have only attempted to use it once because I can’t seem to figure out how to transfer my masterpiece from the counter to the stone without destroying it…..any tips?

  • yum! this looks fantastic. i can’t wait to try it!

  • Annie

    If you read my tutorial on pizza crust (linked within this post) it explains that. Parchment paper is key.

  • Looks amazing- and I LOVE the name!

  • This looks wonderful. I have never had broccoli on pizza before but went out and bought the ingredients so it is on the list for Thursday or Friday. Thanks!

  • Veronica

    That looks amazing! I love broccoli and spinach on pizza, together they must be great!

  • A yummy pizza in the midst of the upcoming cook-a-thon preparations! Good idea! Love that you created a pizza from a version that you love!

  • YUM, YUM, YUM! You are totally making me miss Indiana (the state AND the school)! Mother Bear’s is the BEST. I lived on 3rd Street and this was definitely a place we frequented A LOT! Oh, those breadsticks. Please learn to make those and share that recipe!

    And, @Anna Maria, I totally forgot about the goldfish crackers in the salads and the two wooden bowls.

    We must make a trip out of California and get back home SOON! Thanks again for sharing!

  • Holy cow, Annie! I had no idea you were a fellow Bloomingtonian! The question must be asked: North or South? I was South ’05.

    I love Mother Bears! I grew up on Jordan Ave, just a few blocks away from it. Mother Bears was our go to pizza up until high school (at which point we switched to Avers because Mother Bears didn’t usually stay open late enough).

    I actually went to Mother Bears on one of my last nights in Bloomington before coming here to Phuket, Thailand. After reading your post, it may be one of the first things I do when I get back to Bloomington in a few weeks (I hope) as well :D

  • Annie

    North ’01 :) Love to see other townies (current or former) reading the blog!

  • Ludivine

    I made this pizza last night for my sister who was in town to visit from med school and it was a huge hit! My husband was a little scepticle of the broccoli on the pizza but ended loving every bite of it!
    Thanks for sharing so many amazing recipies and tips with all of us! I love your blog!

  • Emily

    You’re right Annie, it’s obviously been too long! Must re-orient myself. I was one of those rare co-eds who didn’t eat pizza regularly, but obviously drank regularly!! Can’t wait to try more recipes!

  • Annie

    Well, they did make it very confusing having two places with “Bear” in the name and logo within one block of each other. I’m a townie and it took me years to get them straight!

  • It makes me so happy when you post things about Bloomington! I loooooved Mother Bears. We spent many nights there during grad school, drowning our thesis sorrows in pizza and beer.

    I look forward to your version of Sports Tye-dye Iced Tea ;-)

  • Do you use fresh Broccoli and Fresh spinach for this pizza?

  • It is a wonderful thing when you nail your favorite restaurant dish like this. And this is one of our favorite types of pizza with the spinach, white sauce and cheese.

  • Annie


  • Laura

    You should give Bruno’s up in West Lafayette a try… ;)

  • I made this pizza tonight and it was AMAZING! I used my own crust recipe with it. I had never had any kind of pizza like it before. This is my new favorite pizza and I will be making it often. Thanks for sharing this recipe. : )

  • Maria

    Made this last night and it was SO good! We loved it and will definitely make it again. Thank you!

  • Jessie

    Made this last night and LOVED it. Had the leftovers today and now I want to make another pizza with my dough that’s in the freezer. This pizza might be the death of me. :)

  • Jen

    I was wondering what brand of instant yeast you use for the pizza dough? I made the mistake of purchasing active dry yeast, then all I could find was a pizza dough yeast, which didn’t work correctly either.

  • Annie

    The brand doesn’t matter at all but I think I use Fleischman’s. You can use active dry, you just have to proof the yeast before mixing it into the dough.

  • Jen

    Thank you Annie. This is the first time I’ve ever made any sort of bread so I’m going to give it another shot!

  • I love Mother Bears but have never had spinoccoli pizza…. now I’ll have to try it! And your version of course, to do the taste test. :) it’s only fair, right? :)

  • maria

    Just made my own very made pizza tonight thnaks to this recipe!!!! Im so happy the pizza dough came good and if followed exactly like the recipe it should turn out perfect!!!! Cant wait to try other toppings!

  • Jen

    Made this last night and it turned out awesome! Was so incredibly delicious and it felt awesome to make my own pizza! Thanks for sharing this recipe! <3

  • Carol Wegner

    Never thought of making my own pizza on a work night until I read your blog. Made the crust ahead and froze it and it was wonderful!
    These topping with the white sauce were incredible. Can’t wait to use the other half of the dough to try a different pizza. Thank you.

  • Anne Marie

    I finally got around to making this tonight. It’s been on my list of recipes to try since you posted it. First of all, it took all of my will power not to down that white sauce before it even touched the crust. SO good. But combined with all of the other ingredients… perfection. Really unbelievable.

  • Broccoli is one of my favourite veggies and I love cream sauce pizzas! This sounds so good, thanks for sharing.

  • Megan DeMoss

    Made this tonight for dinner down in the ATL. I love Atlanta, but it is certainly hurting for good pizza! I used the pizza dough from the bakery section at Kroger and it turned out fantastic! A great way to take in healthy veggies and our favorite food group! Thanks Annie! (PS….I miss Mother Bear’s!!)

  • Loved this! Made this with frozen crust from a batch made last week. The crust turned out just as good as the fresh one (we followed your recipe and pizza tips). This is a delicious pizza!

  • I have made this twice now and it is perfect! I love the white sauce so much that I’m thinking of other dishes I can use it in. The second time I made it, I used the thin crust pizza crust recipe you posted recently and it was a little floppy towards the middle but still delicious. I just bought a pizza stone tonight so I WILL be making this again soon. The kids gobbled it up, veggies and all.

  • Catherine

    I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while and finally got around to making it tonight. It is delicious!! I used light evaporated milk instead of cream and less cheese to make it a bit healthier. Still turned out fantastically. Thanks so much!!

  • Kristin

    This pizza is so good! Each time I make it I am surprised again by just how much I love it!

  • Leslie

    First time commenter, I’ve made a lot of recipes from your blog (including the pizza dough many many times) but this pizza is ridiculously amazing. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it is- but it is definitely my new favorite. I did add some diced chicken (since I tend to get the side eye from my husband if there isn’t some sort of meat on his plate at dinner) and the addition knocked this recipe out of the park. Thanks so much!

  • Missydennis2

    My family and I loved this pizza. I will definitely be making it many more times. Thank you for sharing it. I love your blog by the way. :)

  • Just made this for dinner tonight and loved it. I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for so long, and now that I’ve finally made it I know it will be on the menu again soon! Thanks for another great recipe!

  • Renae @ Fourteen Wings

    Our family’s favorite pizza recipe!! Thank you!

  • Coby

    The only thing that could get me to fire up my oven on a 100-degree day with the swamp cooler barely working would be one of your recipes! This was seriously amazing!!! Is it wrong that I ate some of the leftover sauce by itself…off of my finger? This is one of my new favorite pizza recipes!

  • Bethany Denton

    Wow, we just loved this! I was wishing I had made 2 of these instead of 2 different pizzas. :o) Thanks for the great recipe!

  • jeanne

    Thanks so much for posting this. I am in the car with my family driving back to our home in PA from Btown with a cold slice of leftover spinoccoli in styrofoam. I worked at Ma Bear’s for two years in college and have longed to recreate this pizza! Having made them, I know how to assemble them but the sauce has always eluded me since I never did the prep in the morning. Any stabs at the red sauce? (Also unique and amazing)

  • Stephanie

    This was delicious! I made your chicken gyros last night, and I had some leftover chicken. So, I added that to the toppings, and it was a great dinner! Thanks for endless yummy recipes :)

  • Erin Kacie Brown

    As I was scouring the internet for pizza recipes I came across your website on pinterest. I was so pleasantly surprised to hear you are from Bloomington IN, (my alma mater is IU) and that you mentioned MOTHER BEARS. the holy grail of all pizza on earth! the world really is small.

  • scootermom

    I will have to try this soon! Just dropped off my son at IU for his freshman year. Every time we have visited IU, we’ve eaten at MB’s and fallen a little more in love. Haven’t tried the Spinnocoli yet.

    I found this recipe while tying to search for a copycat or commercial source for their delicious parmesan-peppercorn salad dressing. My younger kids loved the cold, crisp goldfish-topped salad, but the bottled p-p dressings we’ve tried are icky at best. My search continues, but at lest I’ve got this killer pizza recipe now!!

  • annieseats

    I have some connections there. I’ll see if I can find out about the dressing for you!