Recipes

crispy spinach pizza

I went through a phase this summer where I couldn’t stop making crispy spinach pizza, but I had no plans to tell you about for a couple reasons, the first of which is it’s absolutely hideous. It looks like someone melted Oscar the Grouch onto a pizza dough and little I did improved this, not making it round, nor rectangular, in good light nor light so dim that maybe you wouldn’t notice it at all.


a soft dougha great heap of spinacha round pizzait looks like too much but it's too little!

Crispy spinach pizza isn’t its official name (that’s, in fact, The Popeye) but in our household dish names are marketing devices and heaps of spinach are, understandably, a hard sell. It’s not much easier with adults. Yes, I know many of us enjoy green vegetables and volunteer to eat them on the regular, but even as one of those people, I felt nothing but panic and dread the first time I saw this unsettlingly large pile of charred-edge greens and no sign of cheese or any other anchors of joy coming across the room to me at the late Co., and knew I’d ordered all wrong.

stretch it outthe good stuffit looks like too much but it's perfectcrispy spinach pizza

Except it’s very, very good. Just about anyone who lived through the year 2010 knows what kale chips are, but did you know that other greens also get crispy when they hang out in the oven? If you’re questioning whether you *need* crispy greens in your life, consider how happy your feet will be when walking down a sidewalk through piles of fallen leaves a few weeks from now. That’s the effect of this pizza, except there’s also a small but mighty layer of cheese underneath, a complex salty, stretchy, funky three-fer of mozzarella, pecorino, and gruyere that anchors the spinach to the crust and together they hit the spot.

crispy spinach pizza

Previously

One year ago: Chocolate Tahini Challah Buns and Quick Pasta and Chickpeas
Two years ago: Magic Apple Plum Cobbler and Garlic Wine and Butter Steamed Clams
Three years ago: Oat and Wheat Sandwich Bread and The Perfect Manhattan
Four years ago: Cucumber Lemonade and Sunken Apple and Honey Cake
Five years ago: Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake and Frico Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Six years ago: Homemade Wheat Thins and Crackly Banana Bread
Seven years ago: Apple and Honey Challah and Apple Pie Cookies
Eight years ago: Monkey Cake and Beef Chili with Cheddar Sour Cream Biscuits
Nine years ago: Lebanese-Style Stuffed Eggplant
Ten years ago: The Baked Brownie, Spiced Up, Braised Romano Beans and Spinach Quiche
Eleven years ago: Cream Cheese Noodle Kugel and Couscous and Feta-Stuffed Peppers
[New!] Twelve years ago: Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake and Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Melting Potatoes and Asparagus and Egg Salad with Walnuts and Mint
1.5 Years Ago: Easiest French Fries and Peanut Butter-Swirled Brownies
2.5 Years Ago: Sesame Soba and Ribboned Omelet Salad and Eggs in Purgatory, Puttanesca-Style
3.5 Years Ago: Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie and Potatoes with Soft Eggs and Bacon Vinaigrette
4.5 Years Ago: Whole-Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread and Three Bean Chili


Crispy Spinach Pizza

Have you heard me mention this 2012 book before? It’s a Top 10 for me, for sure. Even if you think you’re not a pizza person (gasp), I find his treatment of vegetables as toppings, such as this (and also his mushroom pizza, and also this astounding summer squash one) innovative and fantastic.

No matter how much spinach it looks like when you put it on, I promise, it’s not too much. We all know the jokes about spinach, right? You’ll be glad you heaped it all the way to the toppling over point.

This makes two 12-inch round or one 13×18 (half-sheet) thin-crusted pizza

  • Olive oil
  • Cornmeal, for dusting
  • 1 fully risen pizza dough or about a 2/3 volume of my lazy fitted-to-your-schedule favorite or your favorite, whichever it may be
  • 2 ounces (2/3 cup) grated gruyere or comte cheese
  • 2 ounces pecorino cheese, chopped into mixed-sized rubble or 2/3 cup grated
  • 4 ounces mozzarella, either torn into shreds, diced, or (as shown) in ciliegine
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced or grated
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 9 ounces fresh spinach, larger stems removed
Heat your oven to 500°F (or as hot as it goes) with a rack in the center.

Coat either 1 13×18-inch rimmed half-sheet pan or 2 12-inch round pizza pans lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Use your fingers to stretch dough to the edges of the pan(s). If it puts up a lot of resistance, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, and resume working the dough to the sides.

Top dough(s) with cheeses, a few grinds of black pepper, and garlic. Heap spinach all over; season with salt. Bake pizza until spinach is wilted and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and drizzle with olive oil. Cut and serve immediately.

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60 comments on crispy spinach pizza

  1. SallyT

    This looks fantastic – I’m still in love with your broccoli pizza. But before I make this, I have to use up FOUR different types of squash from my CSA – so I’m trying your spaghetti squash tacos soon!

    1. Jenny

      The spaghetti squash tacos are FANTASTIC! You will find yourself wishing the unthinkable – that your CSA would have *more* squash!

  2. Kate

    I have been compiling a list of dear but departed NYC restaurants and Co. is near the top! (Along with Montmartre and Peels, sigh…)

  3. Jennifer

    Love and miss Co. My favorite pizza was actually their shiitake pizza which happened to be vegan but was so rich and delicious. His pizza cookbook is so wonderful.

  4. I had the most heavenly crunchy spinach at a little Italian restaurant in Brussels about 15 years ago–so heavenly I still dream of it and try to replicate it–just tonight I tried it for dinner, hoping a smaller batch would crisp up. I never manage to get it as crispy. Is it all about the oven?
    I’ll have to try this; we like bread/pizza crust topped with all kinds of things. A favorite is David Lebovitz’s shakshuka breads, which are almost pizza-like.

  5. This looks heavenly. I am always on the hunt for spinach recipes and I am always in the need for crispy greens in my life. However, I think this is going to be a recipe for my husband and me, as the kids have yet to be convinced by spinach!

    1. Liz

      YES to Arugula! I’ve been putting a pile of arugula on pizza all summer and now into fall as it is still available at Farmer’s Market. I chop, drizzle with olive oil and add on top for the last 2 or 3 minutes with a small grating of parmesan or pecorino on top.

  6. JP

    How about Swiss chard, if I promise to remove the center rib? I have so much Swiss chard growing in my garden right now. Thanks!

      1. Liz

        I’ve mostly topped with Arugula (see reply above), but have also used chard – chop finely, spritz with olive oil and add to the last 3-4 minutes … chard needs a bit more time than arugula or spinach … at least for me. No one asked, but I’ve done the same with collard greens. Really, any braising green that you like will work.

    1. JP

      I think nearly all greens have a mineral sort of taste that goes from mildly bitter to WHOA that is bitter!! Spinach is probably the least bitter with escarole and arugula closer to most bitter. Than there are Swiss chard, kale, mustard, collards, endive, etc. that can fall in the middle. Either you like them or you don’t. I am not saying that I have ranked them just right either because everyone tastes them differently, and while I think escarole is too bitter to eat, others love it. They are all supposed to be very healthy, but if you can’t stand the taste of them…oh, well!

  7. Elisabeth

    Can anyone please help me troubleshoot? I’ve tried making this so pizza dough like a half dozen times and …it just literally falls apart when I got to stretch it out ..just falls apart. I measure everything precisely. The only thing I can think is my kitchen is so tiny and, preheating my oven while I’m trying to stretch my dough, causes the temp in my kitchen to affect the dough. Any thoughts? Ugh

    1. This article by Chef Kenji Lopez Alt might be helpful to you. He discusses using a cold rise method to get a stretchier dough and he insists on measuring ingredients by weights and not by volumes. I started doing his overnight version and have much better results with my dough now. I used to have trouble with it bouncing back and not holding the stretch or tearing too.
      https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/04/essential-tips-for-better-pizza-how-to-make-pizza-at-home.html

    2. Jules the First

      Falls apart into crumbly bits or falls apart into squidgy ribbons? If the former, your dough is too dry; if the latter, your dough is too wet. When your dough is right, it should have the texture of baby’s bum…soft and silky and gently springy. If it’s not right, knead a little of what’s missing into the dough while you stretch it. The balance of water to flour will vary depending on your local ambient humidity and how finely your flour is ground so measuring exactly won’t always help. The only way temperature might be playing into it is if your dough is over-risen, which it might if the kitchen is warm (big holes in your dough is the giveaway there), and in that case the solution is a shorter rise (or in the fridge overnight).

  8. I know what you mean about the appeal on this one. It sounds intriguing though and I love crispy basil leaves on my pizza which also doesn’t look appealing after coming out of the oven. I really don’t mind spinach but kale, bleech. I dislike kale so much. Kale chips were never a go here. I don’t jump on the latest fad in food trends so riced cauliflower and kale won’t ever be in my fridge. Spinach, yes! I actually was going to make a batch of pizza dough today for the weekend and now I can make a different pizza both nights! I am definitely doing this, thanks!

  9. I got this email yesterday, and simply had to have it right away! We made it tonight and it did NOT disappoint! My husband made a garlic+oil+spices mixture and put that under the cheese… this is absolutely going into our permanent pizza rotation.

  10. Alita

    Thank you for the recipe! I didn’t want to make it at first, based on looks, but you convinced me. The whole family loved it, even my picky 3 year old. It was simple, easy, and delicious. I did give the dough and cheese a five minute head start before adding the spinach and salt, wanting a little extra color around the edges. Looking forward to more Popeye pizzas this fall!

  11. Vaishali Delawala

    Thanks for sharing the Spinach Pizza recipe! My family, including my 6 years old son, loves crispy veggie-filled pizza. This recipe helped me to make delicious pizza.

  12. Jacqueline Leach

    Yum!! This was shockingly well received by my two non-green-thing eaters.

    I didn’t have any spinach, but did have an abundance of CSA romaine. Judging by how killer grilled romaine hearts are, I figured it’d be good and it was! It did seem to get kinda soggy in the middle, if I used romaine again I’d probably par cook the crust first somewhat. Cutting more of the ribs off would probably help too, but I love em!

    1. Jacqueline Leach

      Made it again tonight with spinach and it was even better! I pre-baked the crust for 5 minutes and then proceeded with the recipe as directed which worked a lot better for me. I wasn’t using the crust recipe here, so it’s possible my crust is thicker. Also skipped the cornmeal and just had it on an oiled pan, I didn’t like the taste of the cornmeal last time.

  13. AmyA

    This is the true story of how I made this recipe: I have pizza dough and goat cheese in my fridge. Some veggies, including spinach. I’m sad I used my squash yesterday or the summer squash pizza would be perfect. I think calzone, maybe? I need some inspiration. I come here and this recipe is up top and I know it’s meant to be!! Thank you for something so simple and so delicious!
    PS use that much spinach, even if it seems ridiculous

  14. Emily Kalanithi

    Loved this! Made with mozz. and feta, sea salt on top. Should have heaped more spinach on top (got a little nervous). Delicious!

  15. Kate

    This pizza was amazing! My husband and I made it last night with our go-to quick pizza dough (it’s kind of a cross between a biscuit and a cracker but it takes 5 minutes to make so we love it) and we were so impressed with how perfect the flavors were together. We definitely didn’t listen and put a little less spinach on because it was such a large mound… and we were so wrong. Our house rule is ‘don’t question Deb’ and we should’ve listened to it last night! Can’t wait to make this again and pile on ALL the spinach :)

  16. So so so good! Really a perfect recipe. I made it exactly as written, except that I bought pizza dough at the store. Two little kids isn’t leaving me time for making my own. But that combination of cheeses and garlic with the spinach was incredible. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Rebecca

    This was SO delicious. I agree with pre-cooking the crust a little bit, I think I had it in the oven for about 5 minutes prior to topping it. It does make it a little challenging to keep mozzarella balls from rolling around when you pre-cook, but I wanted a little brown on the corners. I used a pre-grated pecorino romano, and found that 1/3 cup was sufficient (so long as you spread it out well, if there’s too much in one spot it’s a bit overwhelming.) I used an 8 oz bag of fresh spinach. My husband was skeptical of using that much spinach, since it was a huge jenga pile on top of the pizza, but I have learned not to question Deb’s wisdom. It was perfect, of course.

  18. Great recipe! I followed it exactly with the exception of the time (I needed extra) and the results were terrific. We loved the combination of the crispy spinach and variety of cheese! Thank you, Deb!

  19. Jessie Scanlon

    I love spinach. Mounds of it. But I find some spinach pizzas can be a bit soggy, just because the greens give off water. I scanned the comments above and maybe I missed it, but was this a problem for anyone? If not, why not? Is there some Deb secret that prevented the soggy-factor? Heat? Time?

  20. Rachel

    Deb,
    I follow your blog avidly and love when your emails arrive in my inbox full of new recipes and foodie inspiration interwoven with lovely anectodes and seasonal suggestions.

    I thought you would want to know that one of the links in the most recent email that you sent out about winter squash has a really horrible fake news style deceptive skin cream scam with Kate Middleton. Now, I don’t know if this type of ad pops up because I was just reading about the royal wedding yesterday and it auto generated from my end or what with all the tricks of the internet’s mysterious info prying ways or what exactly but I thought you should know about this. Feel free to take out that ad chain link and delete this question afterwards if you feel more comfortable (this is certainly not ringing the same tone as my past comments about how your double/triple coconut muffins are what I dream about allll the time, or the life changing magic of that deep and coppery Parisian salted caramel from cafe breizh- 3 hard in my fridge right now!) -I just wasn’t sure how to get this message across to you and having met you (on both your book tours in nyc) I know that you aren’t someone who would knowingly purposefully support this style of false advertising that can scam your loyal foodie fan base out of hundreds of dollars when we all just want to spend our money on delicata squash and some truffles this time of year!

  21. Jenny

    Delicious!
    I used farmer’s market Serbian kale and market garlic; fontina, pecorino romano, and fresh mozzarella; and the pizza dough recipe from the first cookbook. I opted for ~30% whole wheat flour in the dough; I would share that I found the dough salty, so I’ll reduce that next time, especially with the pecorino cheese.
    This was so great, and I look forward to making it again!

  22. Fia

    This was so easy and delicious! We ate it so fast, that I didn’t even get to take a pic. Couldn’t get my hands on the same cheeses, but it was spectacular with a regular degular bag of Sargento 6 cheese Italian blend.

  23. Lisa Plume

    Kale Chips are all 2010? In North Andover MA – they are a common occurance! I guess I know where I stand on the food front (bahahaha) What year is Zaatar? Also still trending here :)

  24. Marjorie

    I honestly don’t think that the dough will bake before all the spinach burns – maybe the spinach needs to be added later? After the dough has cooked a little bit …!

  25. jasminedbyrd

    Another recipe, another two week span where I’m like ‘I’m not gonna make it…am I gonna make this? I’M MAKING THIS TONIGHT!…Why did I wait so long to make this?!’
    I loved this so much! Amazing fresh out of the over with a glass of wine, wonderful in the morning with a crispy egg (!!!), nice carby side with my steak for dinner and enjoying the last piece fresh from the toaster over at my desk right now.
    I used Swiss cheese instead of Gruyere only because my market didn’t have shredded Gruyere, it was 6pm and I was tired so I went with easy. Ditto on the pizza crust.

  26. Wow what a delicious recipe! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, I will must try to home. As a Nutritionist i can say this food is 100% healthy and nutritious.

  27. Brittany

    Made this for dinner last night, and although we have been strictly a grilled pizza family (the crust – that crispy/chewy is basically unbeatable), this might be a new winter tradition (it gets cold standing out there!). We used feta because I couldn’t find gruyere or comte, and I added some bacon and a balsamic drizzle that needed to be used up and it was a home run!

  28. I used to work in the kitchen of a rather large hotel, where the executive chef always told me that people ‘eat with their eyes’, which is true up to a point. I’ve since found that my most ‘ugly-looking’ foods are, more often than not, the tastiest things I’ve ever put in my mouth. And maybe this pizza doesn’t inspire people to instantly drool over it, I reckon it still looks delish, and that emerald green spinach makes looks lovely! So, thanks for taking the time to share this one, even if you don’t think it looks fab. Cheers :)

  29. Jessica Mathew

    This pizza is so delicious! I think I’ve made it half a dozen times since you posted the recipe! This past week, I was out of spinach so I switched up the cheeses a bit and used broccoli. I didn’t pile it high, it roasted up nicely and was a fun twist to this delicious recipe :)

  30. Sarah

    Delicious. I cheated and used a ball of TJ’s pizza dough. Used grated parm as that’s what I had. I will make this again. And again. Even Thing 2, the plant hater, ate two pieces!

  31. Well, I’m not sure my kids will love the look of this very green pizza but I do love Kale chips, so you got me as crispy spinach for sure! Love the combo of a nice strong cheese with some crispy greens, might give this pizza a go this weekend. Thanks for sharing.

  32. mapsandmuses

    Ummm… yum!!!! This looks absolutely delicious. That cheese must taste amazing mixed with the spinach. I need to make this ASAP.

  33. So good to know that I’m not the only strange person who LOVES spinach. I can’t believe you think this green goodness looks bad! And just knowing there’s so much cheese underneath… it’s still healthy though, right?!

  34. gabinine

    I love the way how you transformed an addictive staple in the modern western world in a healthier version full of nutrients and fiber. As a big spinach fan I can’t wait to try a crispy version of the greens.