This deliciously easy recipe for Creamed Spinach is about to become one of your new go-to sides. It has long been one of my favorite comfort foods, often served over pasta to make creamy spinach noodles. I have been making this particular creamed spinach recipe for decades, and am so pleased to be sharing it with you today.
Table of Contents
What is Creamed Spinach?
Creamed Spinach is an American dish that is a staple on many holiday tables and at American steakhouses. While you know I don’t eat steak, this amazing side dish has won my heart.
I am a fan of all things creamy – curries, soups, desserts – and this side is no exception. My creamed spinach is a lighter version that deviates from the classic recipe and has a smooth creamy consistency.
To make creamed spinach, spinach leaves are chopped very fine, sautéed with aromatics and then cooked in a luscious sauce that is similar to a French bechamél.
As a vegetarian, my personal favorite way to enjoy it is with Mashed Potatoes (I told you I liked creamy things!) or spooned over some hot pasta or steamed rice for a quick and delicious meal.
Why This Recipe Works
A creamy, comforting dish packed with the goodness of spinach, this delectable dish can be on your dinner table in 30 minutes. It really is easy and quick!
My creamed spinach recipe is beyond velvety and turns a simple bowl of pasta or rice into a marvelous meal.
As an added bonus, you can easily substitute frozen spinach for fresh. That means you likely already have all the ingredients on hand to make this yummy side!
Spinach is also a nutritional powerhouse. Packed with vitamins and minerals (including vitamins K, A, C, & B12 plus iron, calcium and folate), it truly is wonderful for your health.
If you’re someone who is looking to add more veggies to your diet, this recipe is for you.
How to Make Creamed Spinach
1. In a colander, rinse 175 to 200 grams/6.17 to 7.05 oz spinach leaves (long stems removed) thoroughly in water. Drain all the water very well.
TIP: Spinach is #2 on the Dirty Dozen list, so wherever possible, please try to buy organic or grow your own to limit your pesticide intake.
2. Chop the leaves finely. You will need 4 cups chopped spinach for this recipe.
Sautéing Aromatics and Spinach
3. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet. When it begins to bubble, you are ready to move on.
4. Add 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic and ½ cup finely chopped onions.
5. Sauté onions and garlic, until onions are translucent on a medium-low to medium heat.
6. Add finely chopped spinach.
7. Mix well, coating the leaves with the butter and aromatics.
8. Sauté until spinach wilts – takes about 5 to 6 minutes on low to medium-low heat.
9. Add 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour.
TIP: You can add all purpose flour or a gluten-free all purpose flour substitute instead.
10. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes on low heat. DO NOT RUSH THIS STEP. It is necessary to cook the flour so that your final sauce doesn’t taste chalky.
11. Add ½ cup whole milk.
12. Add ½ cup low fat cream (a.k.a. “light cream” in the US) ~or~ ¼ cup heavy whipping cream.
13. Gently mix well.
14. Simmer on a low heat until sauce thickens, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
15. When sauce has thickened to your desired consistency, add ¼ cup cream cheese. Feel free to add some mozzarella cheese or vegetarian parmesan cheese at this step if you prefer.
16. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of grated nutmeg.
TIP: Where possible, I recommend purchasing whole nutmeg so that you can grate it to order. As with most whole spices, nutmeg retains more of its natural and flavorful oils in the whole form, and will thus offer a more potent and delicious flavor to your dish. Use a microplane or the small side of a box grater.
17. Mix well, fully incorporating the cream cheese and switch off heat.
18. Serve creamed spinach as desired! A quick note: due to the nature of the sauce, the creamed spinach sauce will become thicker as it cools. If it becomes too thick for your liking, simply heat it up and, if necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to help loosen it.
Expert Tips + FAQs
How to substitute frozen spinach for this recipe
Frozen spinach is a pantry miracle in my opinion. It is perfect for the days when you either can’t or are unwilling to go to the market, or as a way to preserve summer’s harvest into the cooler season.
Frozen spinach is wonderful to add to soups, smoothies, casseroles, dips or frittatas. And it is just as healthy as using the fresh stuff! I highly recommend keeping some in your freezer if you don’t already.
That said, frozen spinach can verge on watery as it thaws, especially if you make your own. To combat this, simply thaw the spinach and either press it through a strainer or squeeze it in a tea towel to remove the extra water. Then proceed with the recipe as written!
What should I serve this creamed spinach with?
One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy this creamed spinach recipe is over a big bowl of comforting mashed potatoes. On a chilly day, or a day that I just need a little extra comforting, there is nothing quite like it.
I also love to serve this creamed spinach as a sauce for pasta. Similarly, it makes a delicious sauce over freshly cooked rice.
There are other delicious ways to use this creamed spinach as well. If you add a touch of cheese to it, the sauce becomes even thicker and makes a wonderful dip to serve with crusty bread or crackers.
You can also spoon some into mushroom caps or artichokes, top with a bit of cheese and bake it to make a wonderful appetizer. I also find that it is wonderful (also with some cheese) to make up the filling of a savory pancake or crepe. Yum!
Finally, Americans treat creamed spinach as a side dish, so feel free to serve it alongside any of your favorite meals. Your creativity is the limit!
Additions or Substitutions
If your pantry looks a little different than mine, don’t fret! There are some easy substitutions you can make to this creamed spinach recipe.
- First, you can opt to use 1 cup of half and half in place of the milk and cream.
- Second, you can use either fresh or frozen spinach depending on what you have.
- Third, whole wheat flour can easily be substituted for all purpose flour or a gluten-free 1-to-1 cup flour alternative.
More Customization Ideas
Creamed spinach is also a wonderfully adaptable dish. Should you wish to customize it, here are some ideas:
- Add some cheese to the mix! Parmesan, Swiss, Mozzarella or even Goat or Feta would be delicious. Add up to ¼ to ½ cup of your preferred cheese when you stir in your cream cheese.
- Get extra cheesy by taking your creamed spinach with cheese added, pouring it into an oven-safe dish, and sprinkling it with more cheese. Broil until the top is bubbly and golden.
- Add a pinch of heat by adding cayenne pepper. This is also a good addition if you are out of nutmeg!
- Add a bit more of a Mediterranean flair to your creamed spinach by adding in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
- Use your version of creamed spinach as a pasta sauce, a filling for savory pancakes, mushrooms or artichokes, or serve as a dip with crusty bread and crackers.
Commonly Asked Questions
Of course! Though I usually do not prefer frozen food, but due to lack of time or unavailability of ingredients you can make it ahead of time. Seal in an airtight container or freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. Creamed spinach will last for up to 2 months in the freezer. If you are planning to use your creamed spinach within a few days, you can also easily refrigerate it for up 1 to 2 days.
Americans treat this dish as a side, with it making appearances on holiday tables and at steakhouses. As a vegetarian, I love it spooned over rice, mixed with pasta or over a bowl of comforting mashed potatoes.
Absolutely! Simply swap out gluten-free flour for the whole wheat flour instead.
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- 2 tablespoons Butter – unsalted or salted
- ½ cup finely chopped onions
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic or 5 to 6 small to medium-sized
- 4 to 4.5 cups finely chopped spinach – 175 to 200 grams
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole milk or add as needed
- ½ cup light cream (low fat cream) or ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup cream cheese
- 1 pinch grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
- salt as required
- black pepper – crushed, as required
- In a colander, rinse the spinach leaves thoroughly in water. Drain all the water very well.
- Chop the leaves finely. You will need 4 cups chopped spinach.
- Heat butter in a skillet until bubbling.
- Add finely chopped garlic and onions.
- Sauté until onions are translucent on a medium-low to medium heat.
- Add finely chopped spinach and mix well.
- Sauté until spinach wilts. Cooking spinach takes about 4 to 5 minutes on a low to medium-low heat.
- Add whole wheat flour. You can add all-purpose flour instead.
- Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes on a low heat.
- Add whole milk, light cream or heavy cream
- Gently combine everything thoroughly.
- Simmer on a low heat until the sauce thickens for about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- When sauce has thickened, add the cream cheese.
- Season with salt and pepper as required and a pinch of grated or ground nutmeg.
- Mix and switch off heat.
- Serve creamed spinach hot or warm.
- We like this creamed spinach recipe over a big bowl of comforting mashed potatoes. I also love to serve this creamed spinach as a sauce for pasta. Similarly, it makes a delicious sauce over freshly cooked rice.
- If you add a touch of cheese to it, the sauce becomes even thicker and makes a wonderful dip to serve with crusty bread or crackers.
- You can also spoon some into mushroom caps or artichokes, top with a bit of cheese and bake it to make a wonderful appetizer. I also find that it is wonderful (also with some cheese) to make up the filling of a savory pancake or crepe.
- Creamed spinach is actually a side dish, so feel free to serve it alongside any of your favorite meals.
- Leftovers store well for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.
- If it becomes too thick, simply heat it up and, if required, add a tablespoon or two of milk to help loosen it.
- Though I usually do not prefer frozen food, but due to lack of time or unavailability of ingredients you can make it ahead of time. Seal in an airtight container or freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. Creamed spinach will last for up to 2 months in the freezer.
- Can substitute frozen spinach for fresh. Just be sure to thaw and drain it thoroughly first, then proceed with the recipe as written.
- Can substitute all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour instead.
- Can substitute 1 cup half and half instead of using milk and cream.
- Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to two months.
- You can make a large batch of the recipe easily.