How to Cook Spinach

4.75 from 95 votes
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Learn how to cook spinach using three different methods: steaming, sauteing, and blanching. Either way, this nutrient-dense leafy green vegetable cooks in just minutes for a fast side dish or versatile ingredient.

How to Cook Spinach on the stove top.

Recipe Science

  • Steaming spinach in minimal water cooks large batches in under 2 minutes, retaining its bright green color and tenderizing the greens.
  • Blanching spinach in salted hot water quickly wilts them in under a minute, making it ideal for rapidly cooking multiple batches.
  • Sauteing spinach in olive oil or butter over medium heat sears and lightly browns the leaves, developing more flavor on the surface.

Why It Works

Spinach is a kitchen staple. It is easy to cook, fresh or frozen. These green leafy vegetables are popular ingredients for salads and side dishes. Their mild flavor mixes nicely with other items while providing health benefits to any meal. Spinach is a fantastic addition to omelets, scrambles, lasagnas, and quiches.

There are several different types of spinach to choose from. The most common is baby spinach, which is typically eaten raw but does well with gentle cooking. Larger and more robust flat-leaf or curly-leaf spinach is better tasting when heated. My step-by-step shows you how to cook fresh spinach by steaming, blanching, or sauteeing.

Select one of the following methods based on the desired flavor, texture, and use.

Removing the stem of a spinach leaf.

Step 1: Preparing Fresh Spinach

Larger spinach-like flat-leafs have tougher and more prevalent stems, especially when sold in bunches. The stems can easily be removed in two ways: a knife can be used to cut them off, or the leaf can be held in one hand, and the stems pulled down and off with the other.

Washing spinach in a salad spinner.

Step 2: Wash the Spinach

It’s important to thoroughly wash spinach, specifically flat-leaf that’s freshly picked and contains a lot of dirt and debris. Plunge the leaves into a large bowl of cold water, swish them around, and change out the water if needed if there’s a lot of sand or dirt.

For pre-washed spinach, I still like to rinse the leaves with water for a few minutes in a colander to reduce any harmful bacteria that may be lurking in the crevices. Then, I dry them in a salad spinner, especially if sauteing.

How to Steam Spinach

How to cook steamed spinach.

Method #1) Steaming spinach in a hot, moist environment allows large batches to be cooked in under 2 minutes. Compared to blanching, it requires a minimal amount of water to create steam. This process helps retain the bright green color while tenderizing the greens.

How to Blanch Spinach

How to cook blanched spinach.

Method #2) Blanching the spinach leaves in a large pot of salted hot water quickly wilts the greens in under a minute. This method is great for rapidly cooking multiple batches of leaves.

To halt the cooking process, quickly remove the pot from the heat and cool it down under cold running water. Squeeze out excess liquid to prevent the spinach from becoming soggy or turning a muddy green tint. I use this method when making creamed spinach.

How to Saute Spinach

How to cook sauteed spinach.

Method #3) For sauteed spinach, start by heating olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. The fat will help sear the leaves, add light browning, and quickly start flavor development. During this time, other aromatics and spices like minced garlic, onions, bell pepper, or chili flakes can be added to the oil and briefly cooked.

Add the spinach a handful at a time, stirring until wilted, then add the rest of the leaves. This process will take a few minutes. When adding cooked spinach to something such as stuffed shells or a dip, it’s best to cook out as much water as possible, making sauteing the ideal option.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of spinach and their uses?

Most varieties of spinach are vibrant green in color with crisp stems. The leaves should look fresh and not wilted, signaling that they are past their prime. Baby spinach and trimmed flat-leaf spinach work well for smoothies, salads, and cooking. Curly-leaf spinach is best for sauteing, blanching, or steaming.

What’s the best way to store spinach?

To keep baby spinach or curly-leaf spinach fresh, store it in its original packaging (plastic bag or box). Store flat-leaf spinach unwashed in a dry plastic, unsealed bag. Once the spinach begins to turn yellow or become brown and mushy, throw it away. Depending on the variety, this could be one to two weeks.

What are ways to season cooked spinach?

The cooked spinach can then be simply seasoned with salt and pepper. Add onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, fresh or dried herbs. Squeezing a little fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar over it can help cut the bitterness. Top with salty parmesan cheese or feta. When sauteeing, add garlic to the oil or red pepper flakes for a kick of heat.

How much does cooked spinach actually yield?

Spinach is about 90% water, so when cooked, it loses a huge amount of volume. The yield will slightly differ depending on the leaf size, variety, whether chopped and how it’s packed into the cup. One pound (16 ounces) or about 12 cups of packed fresh spinach wilts down to about 1 ½ to 2 cups cooked. Approximately 1 ounce (28 grams) of baby spinach is ¾ cup packed before cooking.

How do you cook frozen spinach?

Frozen spinach is a convenient way to add the vegetable to meals. Defrost in the microwave or until cool, running water in a colander. Make sure to drain the excess water before using it. It’s already cooked, so it can be added directly into a recipe or reheated on the stovetop or microwave.

How do you substitute frozen spinach for fresh?

A 9-ounce (255-gram) frozen package of spinach leaves yields about ¾ to 1 cup. For a spinach recipe calling for fresh leaves, this can be substituted for about 6 cups (8 ounces) of fresh spinach leaves. The leaves are chopped up, so they work best for dips, egg dishes, pasta, soups, and stews.

More Spinach Recipes

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How to Cook Spinach (3 Ways!)

Learn how to cook spinach using three different methods: steaming, sauteing and blanching. Either way, this nutrient-dense leafy green cooks fast!
4.75 from 95 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American


Steamed Spinach

  • 1 pound baby spinach, flat-leaf or curly-leaf
  • water , for steaming
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • black pepper, for seasoning

Blanched Spinach

  • 1 pound baby spinach, flat-leaf or curly-leaf
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Sauteed spinach

  • 1 pound baby spinach, flat-leaf or curly-leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • black pepper, for seasoning


Prepare the Spinach

  • Remove the Stem – Remove the stems from the spinach or leave them on if using baby spinach.
  • Wash and Dry – Wash the spinach and shake off excess water. Dry well in a salad spinner if sauteeing the spinach.

Steamed Spinach

  • Add about 2-inches of water in the bottom of a pot with the steamer insert placed on top. Add spinach, cover and boil until steam is formed. Work in batches if needed.
    Steam the spinach until the leaves are tender and slightly wilted, 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the type of spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Blanched Spinach

  • In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Add a third of the spinach and blanch for 30 seconds. Transfer cooked spinach to a colander. Repeat with the remaining spinach.
    Run cool water over the spinach to stop the cooking process until it is cool to the touch. Gently squeeze out excess moisture using your hands. Season as desired or reserve to use in other recipes.

Sauteed Spinach

  • Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, then add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add spinach, a handful at a time, stirring to slightly wilt before adding the next handful. Saute until all the spinach is wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


  • Storing: Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Using Frozen Spinach: Defrost in the refrigerator, microwave, or rinse with cold water, then drain well. It’s already cooked; therefore, rewarm it or add it directly to recipes.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 52kcal (3%)Carbohydrates 8g (3%)Protein 6g (12%)Fat 1g (2%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Sodium 203mg (8%)Potassium 1266mg (36%)Fiber 5g (20%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 21267IU (425%)Vitamin C 64mg (78%)Calcium 239mg (24%)Iron 6mg (33%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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15 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Lucy Whitrow says

    I have been advised to eat more potassium to correct my deficit. I’m reluctant to have spinach as mine usually ends up soggy. Help,please. Also any ideas for high potassium foods.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would try sauteeing the spinach until just wilted, not until completely reduced down so it tastes soggy. Otherwise, try broccoli or Brussels sprouts.

  2. Vera Lopez says

    My spinach game has improved, thanks for the tips and various cooking options! I really like sautéed spinach now. Thx

  3. Cindy says

    Jessica, I am glad I found you again. My computer crashed, everything was not retrievable. I really enjoy your pages, you break everything down so clear and you answer all questions, even the simple ones. Thank you for all you share with us.

  4. Ian Dive says

    Glad to have found you, Jessica!
    I’m an eighty year old man who is learning to do more cooking as my wife is less able sometimes.
    (I was looking for ways to cook spinach-I hate it when it’s a soggy wet lump!- when I arrived at your advice page.
    Will be back, I’m certain.
    From a lockdown cottage in Norfolk UK.

  5. Bill Ososki says

    Made the chicken enchiladas with your recipe. They were fantastic, especially the from scratch enchilada sauce! Thank you Jessica! One little comment, I followed the recipe and saved some of the enchiladas in the refrigerator to eat a couple days later. Seemed like much of the sauce disappeared. When I prepare next time, I plan to make extra sauce.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great idea to make a larger batch of the sauce. The starches in the tortillas tend to soak up the sauce when sitting. Happy cooking!

  6. Patrick says

    Thank you Jessica. Can’t tell you how happy I was to receive your email, a few minutes of normalcy in these harrowing times we are living through. And I will be certainly be sautéing spinach this week thanks to you.
    All the best to you and yours.

  7. angelica says

    With the stems of the spinach can I cook them (saute) down first and then add the leaves. Are the stems nutritious and flavourful.? Thx