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Best Healthy Creamed Spinach (15 minutes)

Healthy creamed spinach, laced with onion and garlic, is one of the yummiest comfort side dishes ever. Keep it light or make it rich. It’s up to you.

At its core, creamed spinach is a simple Béchamel or white sauce mixed with spinach and seasonings. That’s it. This no-bake easy recipe takes about 15 minutes. You can use frozen or fresh spinach.

creamed spinach in bowl 4

Light vs traditional creamed spinach

Traditional recipes or the ones you order in a restaurant tend to be high in calories and fat. This is because they typically include heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese and/or Parmesan cheese.

Our lighter version uses simple basic ingredients, less cream and eliminates other higher fat ingredients. You still end up with a delicious side dish of flavorful, creamy spinach.

I use a little butter and a bit of half and half (10%) cream to create that rich, velvety taste and texture while still keeping the calories low.

FAQ about spinach

Is spinach healthy?

Yes, very. According to WebMD, spinach is packed with nutrients including Vitamins A, C, and K, iron, folate, and potassium. And it has a good amount of fiber. Apparently cooked spinach is better than raw spinach as you absorb more calcium and iron when it’s cooked.  

Which is better – frozen or fresh spinach?

Actually, frozen spinach is healthier as it retains nutrients better than fresh spinach. And frozen spinach will last months in the freezer.

What is the equivalent of fresh spinach to frozen spinach?

A 10 ounce package of frozen spinach is equivalent to 1 1/2 cups cooked/drained spinach and makes about 4 servings. The equivalent of fresh spinach would be about 15 cups fresh spinach or 1 1/2 pounds/453 grams.

How to make the best creamed spinach

thawed spinach, milk, cream, green onion, butter, flour, seasonings
Ingredients: frozen spinach, butter, oil, flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, nutmeg, milk, cream 
chopped onions and butter in pot
Sauté green onions in butter and oil.
cream sauce in pot
Add flour, then milk, cream and seasonings to make a béchamel (white) sauce.
thawed spinach in sieve
Cook frozen or fresh spinach in microwave for 3 minutes. Drain well and squeeze out water. Blot with a paper towel.
spinach and cream sauce in pot
Stir spinach into white sauce.
final creamed spinach in pot
Taste and adjust seasonings
creamed spinach in bowl p3

What to serve with creamed spinach

Creamed spinach is a perfect accompaniment for just about any protein. I especially love it with steak, marinated flank steak, maple glazed salmon, sous vide turkey breast, grilled bbq chicken and sous vide chicken thighs.

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Make this dish as light or rich as you like
    • For a healthy, low calorie version, use mostly fat free milk or 2% milk. As per the recipe, I add a small amount of half and half (10% cream). You can, of course, use only fat free milk if you’re on a low calorie diet, but I think a bit of cream is worth the calorie splurge. Or, if you like cheese, add Parmesan instead.
    • For a richer, more decadent version (perhaps for Christmas dinner or New Years), add heavy cream (for half the liquid) or a 1/4 cup sour cream or cream cheese. And Parmesan cheese if you like.
  • Seasoning options
    • Add more or less of the green onion, garlic and Parmesan or even a dash of Dijon – according to your preferences.
    • Nutmeg, perhaps an acquired taste, really gives the spinach a unique flavor. I love it but it’s not for everyone. A little goes a long way – don’t overdo it.
  • Spinach
    • Use fresh or frozen spinach. Instructions for both are in the recipe card below.

To make creamed spinach puff pastry

  • You can use the recipe as a filling in puff pastry, similar to our recipe for Super Easy Knishes. Just substitute the potatoes with creamed spinach and make the bechamel sauce a bit thicker (using less milk). Scrumptious!

Make Ahead 

  • Keep leftover creamed spinach in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days and rewarm it on the stove or in the microwave when needed. You may need to add additional milk to thin it to the consistency you like.
  • Or make the dish a couple of days ahead and warm it up when ready to serve.
creamed spinach in bowl 4
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4.82 from 16 votes

Best Healthy Creamed Spinach

Healthy creamed spinach, laced with onion and garlic, is one of the yummiest comfort side dishes ever. Keep it light or make it rich. It's up to you.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 10 oz package chopped frozen spinach (or 15 cups fresh baby spinach, about 1 1/2 lbs or 16 oz,, roughly chopped)
  • 3 tablespoon butter and oil, any combination (eg. 2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp oil)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions or onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic – about 1 clove (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (or 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot flour for gluten free)
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (fat free, 2% or whole milk)
  • 1/4 cup half and half (10%) cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

optional add-ins

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese or more, to taste

Instructions

  • COOK SPINACH: Cook frozen spinach in microwave as per package instructions. I add a teaspoon of water and microwave it, covered, for 3 1/2 minutes on High. Drain in strainer, squeezing out as much moisture as possible. It's ok if a little bit remains. Note 1 for using fresh spinach.
  • MAKE CREAM SAUCE: Heat butter and/or oil on medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add onions and sauté gently for 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 30 seconds. Mix in flour to make a roux. Stir for 2 minutes until it turns pale brown. Don't let it get dark. Add any combination of milk and cream that you like to equal 1 1/2 cups/354 ml. I generally use mostly fat free or 2% milk and about 1/4 cup half and half (10%) cream. Stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add salt, black pepper and nutmeg (if using) to your taste.
  • COMBINE: Stir in cooked well-squeezed-out chopped spinach. Add Parmesan cheese if using. If mixture is too thick, add more milk until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately. Note 3 to make ahead.

Notes

  1. Two options to cook fresh spinach (instead of frozen):
    • Boil: Boil spinach in water for 1-2 minutes, drain and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Blot well with a paper towel. You can use the same pot to make the cream sauce.
    • Microwave: Place fresh spinach in a microwave save bowl, add a tablespoon of water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Drain and squeeze out most of the moisture. 
  2. Variations for extra richness (for perhaps a holiday dinner):
    • Add a bit of cream cheese or sour cream. And use heavy cream (35%) instead of half and half (10%) cream.
  3. Make Ahead: Cooked creamed spinach can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days and rewarmed on the stove or in the microwave when needed. You may need to add additional milk to thin it to the consistency you like. 
 
Nutrition values include 2% milk and the half and half cream as per recipe – and do not include the optional Parmesan cheese. Calories and fat content will increase if you use more cream, heavy cream and/or Parmesan cheese. 

Nutrition

Calories: 150kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 408mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 484IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 115mg | Iron: 1mg
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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I only used whole milk and added cream cheese to my white sauce. After I mixed in the spinach, I put it in a casserole dish, topped with fried onions, and baked about 15 minutes. Very good!!!

    1. Hi Charles. There is no need to bake the creamed spinach. It’s not a casserole. Just make it on the stove as per the instructions and serve. Hope you like it.