Use frozen or fresh spinach for this easy creamed spinach recipe that's the ultimate cozy side dish! It comes together in just 25 minutes and has that restaurant-quality taste you crave.
Need another quick and easy side dish? Try my Sautéed Spinach with Bacon next.
Why you'll love it
You know how when you get creamed spinach at your favorite steakhouse, and it's almost an afterthought compared to the steak until you take that rich, creamy, irresistible first bite? Then you're reminded just how delicious it is! The good news is that you can make creamed spinach easily in your own kitchen that is just as tasty as at a restaurant.
I definitely don't limit this buttery, cheesy, and perfectly seasoned classic creamed spinach just for holidays or entertaining since it's really simple to throw together. It's fantastic for weeknight meals any time of the year and goes with so many main courses. It's also the easiest way I know of for how to get picky eaters to eat spinach.
What goes into it
- Spinach - my preference is chopped frozen spinach for convenience and texture since you don't need to blanch it, but we've got instructions here for fresh as well. If you like your spinach leaves more intact, go with fresh spinach. Frozen spinach makes more of a purée.
- Butter - for sautéing and making the rich base
- Onion - I like to use sweet (Vidalia) best, but yellow or white would work too
- Garlic - for that classic savory pop of flavor. I like to mince it with my trusty garlic press, which doesn't even require peeling the cloves first.
- Heavy cream - it's what makes it so luxurious
- Cream cheese - Philadelphia is my go-to. It makes it even more creamy and adds a hint of tanginess. This recipe works best if the cream cheese is softened, so take it out of your fridge 30+ minutes prior to starting the recipe, or you can simply microwave it if you forget.
- Parmesan - who can resist that cheesy touch?
- Nutmeg - it adds a special warm, nutty quality to set my version apart from others
If using frozen spinach
- To thaw frozen spinach, add it to a colander/sieve and run lukewarm water over it. Once it's thawed, use your hands to squeeze out the excess water. If in a rush, add the spinach to a bowl and microwave it for a few minutes (checking on it regularly) to thaw it, and then rinse with cool water and proceed to squeeze out the water.
If using fresh spinach
- To prepare fresh spinach instead of frozen for this recipe, boil a large pot of water and cook the spinach for 1-2 minutes to blanch it. Drain it into a colander, rinse it with cool water, and squeeze it out. This step makes it much easier to work with the spinach since there's so much bulk/volume before it cooks down.
How to make creamed spinach
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Prep your spinach. In a pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion until lightly browned. Add in the sauce ingredients, and stir until the cream cheese is incorporated and the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the spinach, and let it warm through. Season with salt & pepper generously, and enjoy right away.
- The sauce thickness will vary based on a couple of factors, namely how well you squeeze the water out of the spinach and how quickly you're able to melt the cream cheese into the sauce. But it's easy to adjust the sauce to your liking!
- If the sauce seems too dry once the spinach is added, add a splash more cream. If the sauce isn't reduced enough, cook it for a few more minutes. Creamed spinach can vary a lot, and it's personal preference if you want a thicker or thinner sauce.
What to serve with creamed spinach
- It's a versatile side dish, and it's wonderful with my Garlic Butter Steak Bites especially. Other weekday main courses like my Easy Baked Pork Tenderloin or Easy Pan Seared Salmon Recipe go great as well.
- Making it as a holiday side dish or for a special occasion? Pair it with my Easy Roast Turkey or Lemon Roast Chicken and other Thanksgiving and Christmas favorites.
Substitutions and variations
- If you want this creamed spinach to be even more rich and cheesy, try adding in some shredded mozzarella as well. I don't find it necessary for this recipe, but I know some steakhouses add it.
- You can definitely use more (or less) onion and garlic to suit your personal preferences. As written, neither is overpowering in my version and it's nicely balanced.
- Swap the heavy cream out for something lower fat at your discretion. We haven't tested any other way, and it'll likely yield a thinner sauce and take longer to reduce.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftover creamed spinach will keep in fridge for up to 3 days in a covered container.
- Reheat over a low heat slowly in a saucepan, stirring fairly often until warmed through. You may need to add a splash of cream to revive it.
- I don't recommend freezing since they may not reheat so well, but if you happen to have leftovers you can try. It'll still taste good, but the texture may change and it may become more watery.
Did you make my creamed spinach recipe? I'd love it if you left me a comment below! Questions? Feel free to ask. As always, tag me on Instagram if you've made one of my recipes.
The Best Creamed Spinach
- 1 pound frozen chopped spinach or 2 pounds fresh see notes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 block Philly) softened
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Pinch nutmeg
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Frozen spinach: Thaw the spinach under running water (or try microwaving it for a few minutes to speed up the process), then squeeze out as much of the excess water as you can. Fresh spinach: Boil a pot of water. Add the spinach and cook for about 1 minute. Drain it and rinse it under cool water. Squeeze out excess water. Chop if desired.
- In a pot, sauté the butter and onion over medium heat until it's lightly browned (about 5-7 minutes).
- Reduce heat (I keep it on medium-low for this step, but you can increase heat as needed). Stir in the garlic, followed by the heavy cream, cream cheese, parmesan, and nutmeg. It will take a few minutes for the cream cheese to melt in, especially if the cream cheese is cold. I break it up with my spoon/stir it continuously. The sauce should thicken up as it cooks.
- Stir in the spinach and let it heat through. If you want more liquid, add in a splash more cream. If there's too much liquid, you may need to cook the spinach for a few more minutes to reduce the sauce to your liking.
- Season with salt & pepper as needed (I am pretty generous with both).
- It seems to vary as to what size frozen spinach packages come in, so anything from about 16 ounces (1 pound) to around 20 ounces (you'll sometimes see 10 ounce packages, so use two of these) will work for this recipe.
- Yes, two pounds of fresh spinach looks like a LOT, but it shrinks down a ton when it's cooked. If you'd prefer to use only one pound of fresh spinach, use 1/2 cup heavy cream, and you may need to cook it for a little longer if you want the sauce to thicken up the same way.
- If you forget to take the cream cheese out of the fridge to soften, you can microwave it (try 20-30 sec., but microwaves vary so keep an eye on it).
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on January 2, 2020. It's been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!
Sandi Morton says
I would think cooking the fresh baby spinach in the sauce if you have a good cook ware would be a better way to go. Omitting the water.
I made this tonight and LOVED it! I saw in an online newspaper I regularly read a similar recipe served with chicken over rice and thought that it would taste great. Came back to your site (as you know you are my "go to" ❤) and went with your version.
I first pan fried the chicken breasts with garlic powder as many of your recipes use. Put on a plate and covered to keep warm. Used the same pan to cook the rest which tasted great with the chicken brown bits left in the pan. Bonus!
I used frozen spinach that I had thawed. I made the following few tweaks - used only half the parm cheese, light cream and not heavy cream, used 1/3 less fat soft cream cheese in a tub, cinnamon for nutmeg because I had it.
Served over jasmine rice. We loved it and will definitely be making this again and again! Already told my sister who wants the recipe ASAP.
Yay!! So glad it was a hit, Angela! 😀
Fantastic, easy, and a crowd pleaser!
I will make this again and again!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
That's awesome to hear, Cheryl! Thanks so much for your review.
Easy and delicious
Thank you so much!
Bridgett Sterling says
I am really looking forward to making this for the week , and I think that it is going to taste good. I love spinach and all the other ingredients in the recipe. Thank you ❤️🥰. B
You're very welcome!! Hope you love it, Bridgett. Let me know how it goes! 🙂
Katie Sizemore says
Such an easy and delicious recipe! I added bacon and artichoke hearts. Love having leftovers and eating it with scrambled eggs.
I'm so glad you liked it, Katie! Love those additions and that's a great use for the leftovers! 😀 Thanks for your review!
I use half and half instead of heavy cream. Heavy cream makes it too thick
Jill Hancock says
My husband usually does spinach out of a can with eggs, oil,etc.. I made this tonite with fresh spinach and he loved it! We will be doing this again and again!
Wonderful!! I'm thrilled he enjoyed it, Jill!
Elaine H. says
I made this for Christmas dinner, it is really delicious! A new favorite. Thank you for the great recipe!
Fantastic!! You're very welcome, Elaine! 🙂
My 13 year old daughter made this from ingredients we had in the fridge and it was so simple and easy and tasted delicious. We added a little mozzarella, kept the temp lower once combined, and served on toasted sourdough <3
That's awesome!!! I'm so happy you two enjoyed it. 😀
Could I use half & half instead of heavy cream?
Hi! You could try. It may take longer to reduce/thicken, though.
KARLA JOHNSON says
Outstanding! I followed everything exactly and this was just knock your socks off good!
I'm thrilled to hear that, Karla!! Thank you for taking the time to write me a review! 😀
Tracy F says
This was such and easy recipe to follow and omg, it was delicious! I think I almost loved it more than my steak.
Wow I'm thrilled to hear that!! Thank you! 🙂
Lisa Creuzer says
Would you recommend freezing half for later?
Maybe in a casserole dish?
I think freezing half would be ok. Just re-warm on a low heat. I'd just make sure whatever container you use it's sealed tightly.
Delicious! Taste like Carnival Cruise Line Creamed spinach! Thx for sharing!
Awesome! I'm never been on a cruise, but that sounds like a compliment to me haha. 🙂
Last minute find and a huge hit with the whole family! Great, easy recipe
Wonderful!! So happy you all enjoyed it, Katy! 🙂
Lori Gray says
Just made this for my dinner side dish. Sooo easy and tastes great , it’s a keeper.
Wonderful! Thanks for letting me know!
This looks great! I am going to add sausage and stuff a butternut squash with it for dinnet.
Oooh good idea!
Sarah White says
BEST and easiest creamed spinach recipe!! Absolutely delicious. Thank you!!!
So glad you enjoyed it, Sarah!! Thanks so much for letting me know. 😀
Absolutely delicious. Been searching for a recipe that isn’t gummy, this is it! So flavorful and perfect texture.
Oh I am so happy to hear that, Kim!! I tested this recipe probably about 5x (or maybe even more), so I am very happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for leaving me a comment.