My creamy, easy, creamed spinach recipe is the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter dinner. It comes together in just 20 minutes and can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. Scroll down to watch the how-to video!
Quick Creamed Spinach Recipe (Using Fresh or Frozen Spinach!)
Ready or not, it might be time to start thinking about holiday meal prep! Whether you’re making dinner at home this year or heading to a friend or family member’s house, the meal will most likely include at least a few of the classics: turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing, a side of homemade rolls, creamed spinach, and, for the pumpkin lovers among us, pumpkin pie for dessert.
Creamed spinach is one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes and I thought it was about time I share my own version on the blog. This recipe is a great way to sneak in a few greens, but realistically it’s rich, indulgent, creamy, and certainly doesn’t get a pass as health food.
My version is perfectly balanced with just the right amount of cream to complement rather than overwhelm the spinach, it can easily be doubled for a crowd, and it comes together quickly in less than 30 minutes. I honestly think you’re going to love this one, and can’t wait for you to try it!
What You Need
My creamed spinach recipe is super easy. Here’s what you need:
- Spinach. I recommend fresh baby spinach, but you could use chopped frozen spinach instead. If you do, make sure to thaw and drain well before adding to the cream mixture (there’s no need to cook the spinach first if using frozen).
- Onion & garlic. For truly incredible flavor, we’ll cook the onion and garlic in butter before creating a roux. Make sure to chop your onion finely; we want it to blend right in so it’s almost undetectable.
- Flour. As part of a roux, flour thickens the cream part of this dish. Use all-purpose flour here–no need to get fancy.
- Milk & cream. We’ll use an equal amount of milk and cream to make this creamed spinach recipe nice and creamy, but not too rich. You could substitute an equal amount of half-and-half.
- Salt. To brighten the flavor, add some salt. Plain table salt works well, but if you have fine sea salt opt for that for even better flavor.
- Spices. Since the spinach itself doesn’t have a very strong taste, I add black pepper, paprika, and just a pinch of cayenne pepper for flavor (and a super subtle heat).
- Cream cheese. Cream chees not only adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the creamed spinach, but it also adds to the creaminess and richness of the dip without making it too rich.
- Parmesan cheese. Parmesan infuses a subtle nuttiness and saltiness. It really rounds out the whole dish–don’t skip it!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Creamed Spinach
- Wilt your spinach! Melt a bit of butter in a large pot and cook half the spinach at a time until it’s ust wilted.
- Chop! Move well-drained spinach to a cutting board (let it cool for a bit) then coarsely chop and set aside. At this time I like to wipe out any residue from the spinach from the pot before continuing.
- Begin your base. Cook your onion in the remaining butter until it’s softened and translucent, then add your garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Make your roux! Sprinkle flour over onion/garlic and stir until well-combined and lump free. Cook a few seconds longer to lightly toast the flour, then drizzle in the milk while stirring.
- Season & thicken. Add seasonings and stir until the mixture is thickened. Your spoon or spatula should leave a trail through the sauce and it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon
- Add cheeses and stir until melted, then toss in your prepared spinach and stir until everything is warm and incorporated! I always like to double check the flavor (just in case a pinch more salt or pepper is needed) then serve immediately.
SAM’S TIP: While I do have an excellent spinach artichoke dip recipe, this recipe makes a good spinach dip as well! Just increase the milk and cream to be 1 cup each and toss in some chopped artichokes to make a dip! Serve in a bread bowl with plenty of crackers, chips, and veggies for dipping.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s really important to thoroughly squeeze the water out of your spinach after you cook it, otherwise, all that water will go into your pot. If this happens to you, you can stir in some cornstarch while it’s cooking, or just keep cooking until the water evaporates and the mixture thickens.
Yes! You can use 16 oz. of chopped frozen spinach. Just be sure to thaw and drain well before adding to the recipe in step 10.
While others have successfully frozen creamed spinach, I find that it tends to separate when thawed. I recommend preparing and eating it fresh!
More Recipes You Might Like
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 16 oz fresh baby spinach¹ (455g)
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter divided (70g)
- 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped (about 1 cup/126g)
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (31g)
- ¾ cup whole milk (177ml)
- ¾ cup heavy cream (177ml)
- ½ teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika optional
- Pinch cayenne pepper optional
- 3 oz cream cheese cubed (85g)
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (90g)
- Melt ½ Tablespoon (5g) of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add approximately half of your fresh spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until spinach is wilted. Using tongs or a large slotted spoon, remove wilted spinach to colander and allow to drain.
- Add another ½ Tablespoon (5g) of butter to the pot and repeat the step above with the remaining spinach. Remove wilted spinach from pot, combine with first half of spinach, and drain well/squeeze out excess moisture (too much water left behind could make your creamed spinach watery!). Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop with a knife. Set aside.
- Wipe out the pot that you cooked your spinach in and return to the stovetop over medium heat. Add remaining 4 Tablespoons (57g) of butter to the pot and cook until melted.
- Add onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Sprinkle flour over onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until flour is absorbed and beginning to smell nutty/a light golden brown in color.
- Gradually, while whisking, whisk the milk into the pot, whisking together milk and flour and breaking up any lumps as you go.
- Slowly whisk in cream, then add salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper, if using. Continue to whisk frequently until mixture begins to thicken.
- Add cream cheese and parmesan cheese and stir until completely melted.
- Return drained, chopped spinach to the pot and stir to combine. Taste test and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve immediately.
¹SpinachI like to use fresh baby spinach. You can chop yours before cooking, but since it’s such a large mass of leaves I find it to be much easier to chop after cooking. You may substitute 16 oz of chopped frozen spinach instead, be sure to thaw and drain well before adding to the recipe in step 10.
NutmegSome people love to use a pinch of ground nutmeg in their chopped spinach. This is certainly an option, though I would omit the paprika and cayenne pepper if using nutmeg.
DoublingThis recipe may be doubled with no alterations needed.
Making in AdvanceThis recipe is best (and creamiest!) when served fresh. If you must make it in advance, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1-2 days. You may notice some separation occurs, this is fine. To reheat, heat over medium/low heat until smooth and creamy and warmed through.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.