Easy Creamed Spinach


This classic side dish makes any dinner feel special.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

Our easy version of classic creamed spinach makes it simple to serve the beloved side dish for any meal—and it’s too good to save for special occasions.

Despite it’s name, creamed spinach is not a dish of spinach and cream. It’s usually blanched spinach in a béchamel or white sauce, perhaps with a little cheese added. Our recipe skips the fussy sauce making; there’s no roux needed to thicken the sauce in this method. Instead, we use one of our favorite shortcut ingredients—cream cheese. Mixed with milk and stirred into sautéed onion and garlic, it creates a creamy foil for the spinach.

easy creamed spinach in red serving bowl

Diana Chistruga

What Is Creamed Spinach?

Creamed spinach is a classic steakhouse side dish, a staple of the Thanksgiving table, and a much-loved way to get those who don’t always embrace spinach to eat their greens. It’s a comforting, creamy dish that starts with lots of spinach, because spinach wilts when cooked, and its volume reduces dramatically.

Typically, creamed spinach is made with cooked spinach and a creamy béchamel sauce, like in this recipe from Martha’s mother, Mrs Kostyra. The spinach is wilted, drained, and any moisture squeezed out. Then it is chopped and stirred into béchamel (what you may know as a white sauce). The sauce is the tricky part of the dish, as adding milk or cream to roux (a cooked mixture of flour and butter) can sometimes result in a lumpy sauce. Some renditions also add onion, shallot, or garlic, some call for bacon.

Substitutes for Flat Leaf Spinach 

Our easy creamed spinach recipe calls for fresh flat-leaf spinach, but you can substitute baby spinach if you like. Frozen spinach will also work, but be sure to defrost the spinach and squeeze out all the moisture before adding it to the cream mixture.

Using and Storing Leftovers

Store leftover creamed spinach in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Reheat leftover creamed spinach gently over low heat. In addition to enjoying it as a side dish, try leftover creamed spinach stirred into pasta for an instant sauce, or atop a piece of toast for a comforting snack.

Preparing the Spinach

When you're ready to prepare spinach, discard any yellow leaves and tough stems. Spinach can be gritty, so to clean it, swish it around in several changes of cool water until there's no grit left at the bottom of the bowl.


  • 3 to 4 bunches (2 1/2 pounds total) flat-leaf spinach, trimmed and cleaned

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • ½ medium onion, minced

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 4 ounces bar cream cheese, cut into pieces

  • ½ cup milk

  • pinch ground nutmeg

  • coarse salt and ground pepper


Ingredients for easy creamed spinach

Diana Chistruga

  1. Cook spinach:

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted, about 1 minute.

    spinach in water in pot on burner

    Diana Chistruga

  2. Rinse spinach and squeeze:

    Drain in a colander; rinse with cold water until cool. Squeeze spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.

    blanched, drained spinach in colander

    Diana Chistruga

  3. Chop spinach:

    Coarsely chop spinach, then set aside.

    chopped spinach on chopping board with knife

    Diana Chistruga

  4. Cook onion and garlic:

    In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, 3 to 5 minutes.

    sautéing garlic in olive oil

    Diana Chistruga

  5. Add cream cheese and milk:

    Add cream cheese and milk; cook, stirring, until cream cheese is melted and smooth.

    stirring cream sauce in pot on burner

    Diana Chistruga

  6. Stir in spinach and cook:

    Stir in spinach. Simmer over medium heat until mixture thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.

    stirring cooked spinach into cream sauce

    Diana Chistruga

  7. Add nutmeg and serve:

    Add nutmeg; season with salt and pepper, and serve.

    adding nutmeg to creamed spinach

    Diana Chistruga

easy creamed spinach in red serving bowl

Diana Chistruga

Frequently Asked Questions

What to pair with creamed spinach?

This classic side dish pairs with almost any entrée. You certainly do not need to cook a steak or roast a turkey to enjoy creamed spinach. Try it with your favorite weeknight chicken cutlets, salmon or cod fillets, or pork chops.

Can you make creamed spinach ahead?

Creamed spinach can be made ahead, but we think this side is best made on the day you're serving it, especially for a special occasion. To make it ahead, follow the recipe, then transfer the creamed spinach to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface. Let cool and refrigerate. Be sure to reheat the creamed spinach carefully over low heat.

Try These Fresh Spinach Recipes:

Updated by
Victoria Spencer
Victoria Spencer, senior food editor, MarthaStewart.com
Victoria Spencer is an experienced food editor, writer, and recipe developer. She manages the Martha Stewart recipe archive and is always curious about new ingredients and the best techniques. She has been working in food media for over 20 years.
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