How to cook spinach

how to cook spinach
(Image credit: Getty)

Spinach can be eaten raw or cooked and mixed into a variety of dishes. Here's everything you need to know about the leafy vegetable.

Spinach is a dark leafy green vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. It is incredibly versatile and is delicious when mixed in with your favourite salad leaves, wilted into pasta and frittatas, or even blitzed into your morning smoothie.

If you’re looking for an affordable, easy way to boost your intake of veg, spinach is an excellent option. Just four heaped tablespoons of cooked spinach counts as a portion of your daily intake.

How to prepare spinach Can you eat raw spinach? How to cook spinach Blanching spinach How to cook spinach: steaming Stir-frying spinach How to cook spinach: roasting Cooking spinach with milk How to cook spinach with potatoes Can you cook spinach from frozen? How to store spinach Healthy spinach recipes

how to cook spinach

How to prepare spinach

Unless the spinach you’ve bought says that it is washed and ready to use, we always recommend rinsing your spinach under some cold water. If you’ve purchased the spinach from a market, this will be especially important as it’s more likely to have a little mud and dirt on the leaves.

Baby spinach is smaller and the leaves are more tender. Regular spinach is still delicious but you might want to trim any bulky stalks depending on the recipe.

Spinach is best stored in the fridge. You should wash the spinach before cooking but if you’d like to return any to the fridge ensure you pat it dry. If it is stored wet it will go soggy. You might notice the odd leaf going a little yellow if you haven’t eaten it all straightaway. Simply remove and dispose of these leaves in your food waste as the rest of the leaves are safe to eat.

If you notice the spinach has gone a little soggy and black, you shouldn’t eat it. Once again, it’s best to put this on your compost heap or bin. It won’t taste nice and could also make you unwell.

Can you eat raw spinach?

how to cook spinach

If you’re unsure about liking the taste of spinach, we’d definitely recommend eating it raw, to begin with. It has a very mild peppery taste but can taste quite earthy and bitter when cooked. Combine it with your other favourite salad leaves and overtime you could swap to just spinach if you prefer.

Spinach is an excellent source of iron, boasting 1.6mg per 100g of boiled spinach. However, despite containing lots of calcium, spinach contains a compound called oxalic acid which reduces the body’s ability to absorb it.

It is easier for your body to digest the nutrients in cooked spinach as oxalic is broken down at higher temperatures.

It’s also low in calories and a great source of vitamin A and C which are important for immune health, reproduction, body tissue repair, and much more.

You can serve raw spinach as a side dish to grilled chicken breasts or fish. You can also roughly chop the leaves and mix them through couscous or rice or blitz into your smoothie.

How to cook spinach

This is by far the quickest and easiest way to cook spinach and Senior Food Writer Jessica Ransom’s go-to method.

  1. Boil a full kettle of water and place the spinach in a colander.
  2. Give it a quick rinse then pour over the boiled water.
  3. Depending on how much spinach you’ve got you may need to boil another kettle but try placing a plate over the colander and leaving for a minute to quick the wilting process.

Shake off the excess water and use it as required in your recipe. It can be roughly chopped for pasta fillings, frittatas, and more.

How to cook spinach: blanching

This method is very similar to wilting but instead, you submerge the spinach in a pot of salted, boiling water. It will only take a minute or two for the spinach to wilt down.

  1. Submerge the spinach in a pot of salted, boiling water and leave for two minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and shake off the excess water.
  3. Then season and drizzle with olive oil or butter to serve as a side or use it as your recipe requires.

How to cook spinach: steaming

This is a good way to cook spinach if you don’t have big quantities. If you’ve got a lot you should work in batches.

  1. Bring a pot of water to the boil then insert the steamer.
  2. Put a couple of handfuls of prepped spinach inside, cover with a lid and leave for two or three mins until wilted.

how to cook spinach

How to cook spinach: stir-fry

Adding spinach to your stir-fry is an easy way to bulk out a meal with goodness. Add the spinach leaves to the wok a couple of minutes before the rest of the ingredients are completely cooked and combine until piping hot and wilted down.

How to cook spinach: roasting

Roasting is a great option if you’re cooking an all-in-one dinner or traybake.

Around five minutes before your dish is finished sprinkle the spinach leaves on top and leave for a couple of mins. You’ll notice the leaves wilt within a couple of minutes. Then simply mix through and leave for another minute until fully wilted.

You can also drizzle spinach with olive oil and pop it in a hot oven for a couple of mins to wilt down.

How to cook spinach with milk

It might not sound like a tempting combination at first, but spinach and milk are two of the key ingredients in the popular side dish creamed spinach.

For a quick cheat’s creamed spinach our Deputy Food Editor Rose Fooks makes a roux using flour, butter, and milk and then combines this with wilted spinach and some softened garlic. Season generously and add a touch of grated nutmeg if liked.

How to cook spinach with potatoes

how to cook spinach saag aloo recipe

One of the most popular and well-known examples of spinach and potato being used in a recipe is the Indian dish of Saag aloo (opens in new tab), pictured above. These two ingredients are combined with a mix of spices and often served as a side dish to other curries but it also makes a delicious veggie main too.

As with most spinach recipes, it’s best to add it just before your dish is finished as it cooks in a matter of minutes.

Can you cook spinach from frozen?

how to cook spinach

It’s easy to cook spinach from frozen. Simply pop into boiling water for a minute or two and then drain.

The best way to cook frozen spinach is to use it in curries or pasta sauces. Add it straight to the sauce a couple of minutes before the end of cooking so that it can wilt down and heat up.

How to store spinach

You should store raw, unwashed spinach in the fridge. The plastic bag it’s usually packaged in is fine.

Cooked, wilted spinach should be squeezed of as much moisture as possible and can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple of days. Alternatively, you can freeze the wilted spinach in portions and use it straight from the freezer.

Frozen spinach should be used within three months. You can also buy spinach in the frozen aisle of many supermarkets if you don’t want to do the prep work yourself.

Healthy spinach recipes

Spinach is delicious in a salad or wilted and drizzled in olive oil but you can do so much more with the humble leaf. From crepes and curries to frittatas and pasta fillings, the options really are endless. You can also use spinach in recipes that call for chard as the leaves wilt down in a similar way.

Here are a few of our favourite spinach recipes but we’re certain it won’t take you long to start experimenting and adding spinach to your staple mid-week dinners...

Veggie breakfast tray bake

veggie breakfast tray bake

Bring this delicious one tray bake to the table at your next brunch and we’re certain it will be a hit. Bright, colourful, and full of flavour it’s ready in three steps and only takes 20mins cooking.

Get the recipe: Veggie breakfast tray bake (opens in new tab)

Spinach crepes with beetroot puree and goat’s cheese

spinach crepe with beetroot puree and goat's cheese

Bright and vibrant, these crepes shouldn’t just be eaten on Pancake Day. They make a delicious brunch or lunch option and they are only 322 calories.

Get the recipe: Spinach crepes with beetroot puree and goat’s cheese (opens in new tab)

Spinach and rocket pesto roast chicken

Spinach and rocket pesto roast chicken with roasted veg to serve

While we all know and love classic basil pesto, this combination of spinach and rocket is very tasty too. It has an earthy, peppery taste which compliments the succulent chicken perfectly. It’s also a great way to use up any spinach that is past its best for eating raw.

Get the recipe: Spinach and rocket pesto roast chicken (opens in new tab)

Slimming World chickpea curry with spinach and eggs

You can wilt spinach into any of your favourite curries but if you need somewhere to start, this Slimming World recipe is a great option. It helps bulk out the curry so that it goes further but also adds an interesting texture to the mix.

Get the recipe: Slimming World chickpea curry with spinach and eggs (opens in new tab)

Sausage and spinach frittata

Sausage and spinach frittata

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

Ready in under an hour and a delicious change from your usual weekend breakfast, this frittata will be a hit with the whole family. Frittata can also be eaten cold, why not slice it up and take it on your next picnic.

Get the recipe: Sausage and spinach frittata (opens in new tab)

Mary Berry’s mushroom and spinach cannelloni

Mary Berry's mushroom and spinach cannelloni recipe

Indulgent but easy to prepare and cook. This vegetarian main is comforting and will no doubt be a hit with meat-eaters too as the mushrooms offer a great texture and hearty, wholesome finish.

Get the recipe: Mary Berry’s mushroom and spinach cannelloni (opens in new tab)

Jessica Ransom
Jessica Ransom

Jessica currently works as a Senior Food Writer at Future. She writes food and drink-related news stories and features, curates product pages, tests, and reviews equipment, and also develops recipes that she styles on food shoots. An enthusiastic, self-taught cook Jess adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.