Side Dishes

Creamed Spinach Recipe

Eat your greens – and enjoy them too!

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
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Updated September 8, 2022

For an easy and delicious side dish, make this creamed spinach recipe! Whether you have fresh baby spinach from the garden or a package in the freezer, you can make a tasty treat that will please the whole family.

creamed spinach recipe

Since creamed spinach occurs in various cultures, we don’t know exactly where the dish comes from. But spinach itself originated in Persia and then spread throughout the world.

There’s a dish called “borani” from Syria, made with spinach, yogurt, and spices, and this could be the origin of other creamed spinach dishes. By 827, creamed spinach had made its way to Sicily, and by the 12th century, it had arrived in Spain.

Now, there are many different creamed spinach recipes, and it’s a favorite side for Thanksgiving dinners and other holidays. I love making it because it’s very simple, uses common ingredients, and it’s fantastic for beginners in the kitchen.

All you need to do is make a quick bechamel, stir in the spinach, and you’re done. Also, don’t worry if it seems like a lot of greens — they cook down a lot!

For a delicious twist, I love to add some parmesan cheese. That way, it’s creamy, it’s cheesy, and every kid (and adult) will want to eat their vegetables!

All About Creamed Spinach Ingredients

Frozen Spinach/Fresh Spinach

Spinach is a delicious leafy green that’s a little salty like chard and a little bitter like beets. This makes sense because spinach is part of the amaranthaceae family, which also includes chard, beets, and quinoa.

There are three types of spinach, and they’re all packed with nutrients and fiber: smooth leaf, savoy, and semi-savoy. Any of them will work in this creamed spinach recipe, so choose your favorite one!

Also, spinach has a lot of water in it, so it reduces significantly when you cook it. Therefore, don’t be afraid to use a lot of greens in this recipe.

As well, I like to use frozen spinach because it’s very convenient. But if you prefer fresh spinach, you can use that.

However, always wash fresh spinach to remove any dirt or chemical residue.

Butter

The base of this creamed spinach recipe is a bechamel sauce. And that is made from equal parts flour and butter.

This mixture, called a “roux,” is the base of most cream sauces. The flour will eventually thicken the sauce, but you need to cook it in fat first.

Butter is a popular option – and my favorite – because it goes so well with cream and milk. Also, it works beautifully with different cheeses if you add those to your white sauce, too.

To get the right consistency and texture in the sauce, you need to measure everything carefully. Also, you must melt the butter in the pan before pouring in the flour.

If you don’t want to use butter, you can use vegetable oil instead. However, your sauce will separate more easily.

You can also use rendered pan drippings or clarified butter, and these are more stable than vegetable oil. The more stable the fat, the less likely you are to have lumps in your final sauce.

Finally, you can add more flavor to your sauce by browning the butter first. This will give the sauce a nutty caramel taste, but it will also make your sauce a little darker.

Flour

The other ingredient in a roux is flour – just plain white all-purpose flour. The protein and starch in the flour thicken your sauce and make it taste soft and velvety.

When you cook the flour in butter, the mixture becomes a thick, stiff paste. Then, you can add cream, cheese, and whatever seasonings you desire.

Also, you can control the flavor of your sauce by cooking the flour for different amounts of time. The longer you cook it, the nuttier the flavor will get, and the browner your sauce will look.

Milk

For the liquid in this cream sauce, I use whole milk. The fat in the milk is what gives the creamed spinach its richness.

If you want to use a different type of milk, such as skim or 1%, you should also add ⅓ of a cup of heavy cream. This way, your sauce will still have the right texture.

On the other hand, you can also use non-dairy milk to make creamed spinach. I think that canned coconut milk (full-fat, not light) works best, but you can also try almond milk.

Whichever milk you use, you need to stir it slowly into the roux and keep whisking constantly as you add it. Otherwise, you will end up with a lumpy sauce.

creamed spinach recipe_

Creamed Spinach Recipe

  • Prep Time5 min
  • Cook Time30 min
  • Total Time35 min
  • Servings8
  • Yield8

Level: Easy

Ingredients








:*1(or 20 ounces fresh spinach leaves)

 

Material






Method


  1. Cook the Spinach

    First, add your frozen spinach to the pot and cook it according to the instructions on the package. If you’re using fresh spinach, boil the leaves for a few minutes to wilt them.

    Whichever way you cook the spinach, drain it thoroughly in the colander when it’s done.

    Also, you may want to squeeze it to remove as much liquid as possible. This will prevent your cream sauce from being too watery.

  2. Saute the Veggies

    Next, add the butter to the saucepan and set the stove to medium heat. Melt the butter, and then add the onions, stirring occasionally.

    When the onions become translucent (but not brown), toss in the garlic and continue cooking for another minute or two.

  3. Make the Roux

    Now, pour in the flour and whisk everything vigorously. Your mixture should turn into a thick paste.

  4. Add the Milk

    Then, slowly pour the milk in, pausing after each addition. Throughout this process, keep whisking continuously so that no lumps form.

    When you’ve added all of the milk, continue whisking as everything comes to a boil. At this point, the mixture should thicken up.

    To finish the cream sauce, stir in the salt and pepper.

  5. Finish the Spinach

    Finally, add spinach to your sauce and stir everything together. Yum!


creamed spinach recipe serve

Swaps and Substitutions

There are so many ways to jazz up this easy creamed spinach recipe, so you’ll never get bored!


  • Though it’s not traditional, I love creamed spinach with cheese. I usually add parmesan cheese, but you can add whatever variety you like.

  • Speaking of cheese, you can also use cream cheese instead of milk when making creamed spinach. Cream cheese gives you a delicious tanginess that regular milk doesn’t have.

  • If you’re feeling bold, add some cayenne pepper to your creamed spinach! You can add a pinch of powder or a few red pepper flakes for a kick.

  • And for a classic holiday dish, add a dash of nutmeg. While that seems like a spice that would go in pumpkin pie rather than vegetables, it adds a subtle flavor that makes the creamed spinach taste even richer.

creamed spinach recipe

What Can You Serve with Creamed Spinach?


  • Creamed spinach is a delicious side for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. For example, it goes well with roast turkey, ham, or even a steak.

  • You can serve it with other delicious recipes such as glazed carrots, roasted asparagus, and mashed potatoes.

  • Or, if you want a hearty snack, you can eat spinach as a dip instead. Simply serve it with crudite and slices of toasted baguette.

  • One of my other favorite ways to serve this dish is with grilled shrimp. Shrimp has a bold, briny flavor, and the creamy spinach complements that perfectly.

How to Store and Freeze Creamed Spinach

If you only need to store the spinach for a couple of days, you can put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. There, it will last for 2 to 3 days.

However, you can keep it in the freezer for up to a year! While raw spinach tends to get mushy in the freezer, that doesn’t matter in this recipe since it’s cooked already.

Although the creamed spinach will stay good in the freezer, there might be a textural change when you thaw it out. In general, dairy doesn’t freeze very well because it tends to separate.

But when you reheat creamed spinach, the sauce usually comes back together.

When you’re ready to eat your frozen spinach again, simply thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before heating it.

creamed spinach recipe - Pinterest_

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
  • 130Calories
  • 8.6gFat
  • 9.8gCarbs
  • 5.1gProtein
Show Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: Per Serving
Amount per serving
Calories130
% Daily Value*
Total Fat8.6g11%
Saturated Fat5.1g25%
Cholesterol23mg8%
Sodium419mg18%
Total Carbohydrate9.8g4%
Dietary Fiber2g7%
Total Sugars4.9g
Protein5.1g
Vitamin C4mcg172%
Calcium163mg13%
Iron2mg12%
Potassium533mg11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.
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