How to Cook Spinach

Four Methods:Preparing SpinachBoiling SpinachSautéing SpinachCreaming Spinach

Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that can be enjoyed raw or cooked. There are many ways to cook spinach, including boiling, sautéing, and creaming. Spinach can be boiled with little more than salt and water, but sautéing and creaming require extra ingredients to achieve the best flavor.


For All Methods

  • 2 large bunches of spinach, about 1 lb (450 g)

For Boiling

  • 1 to 2 tsp (4.8 to 9.5 g) salt

For Sautéing

  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Salt, to taste

For Creaming

  • 1 Tbsp (14.3 g) butter
  • 1/4 cup (56.7 g) chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) whipping cream
  • 1/8 tsp (0.59 g) nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • About 4 servings

Method 1
Preparing Spinach

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    Cut out the thick stems. Use a sharp knife to cut the stems off at the base of each leaf or snap the stems off by hand. You do not need to cut the stem out of the leaf since the part of the stem that extends into the leaf is thin and easy enough to eat.
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    Fill a clean sink with cool to lukewarm water. Soak the spinach inside the water for several minutes to loosen any specks of dirt or sand. Drain the water, rinse the leaves, and then repeat the soaking and draining process once more.
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    Place the spinach inside a salad spinner. Turn the spinner, shaking the water from the spinach leaves.
    • Alternatively, you may allow the leaves to drain by letting them sit out in a mesh or plastic strainer for 30 minutes or by patting them dry with clean paper towels.
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    Tear the leaves into pieces. The pieces should only be 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) tall.

Method 2
Boiling Spinach

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    Place the spinach in a medium stockpot. Select a stockpot with a 6-quart (6-liter) capacity or more. The leaves should only reach the mid-point of the pot and should not rise much higher.
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    Cover the leaves with water. Fill the stockpot with enough water to just cover the leaves. Make sure that there is at least 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 centimeters) of empty space in between the top of the water and the top rim of the pot to prevent the water from boiling over.
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    Salt the water to taste. Use around 1 to 2 teaspoons (4.8 to 9.5 grams) of salt. You want just enough salt to draw out the flavor of the spinach, but not so much salt that it dominates over the taste of the spinach.
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    Boil the spinach in the water on the stove over high heat. Once it begins to steam, start timing it. Boil the spinach for 3 to 5 minutes.
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    Drain the spinach by pouring the contents of the pot into a large pasta drainer. Shake the drainer to remove any excess water.
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    Immediately transfer the spinach over to a separate stockpot filled with ice water. Allow it to sit in the ice water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The ice water "shocks" the spinach, preventing it from losing its bright green color.
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    Drain the spinach once more. Pour the contents of the second pot into a large pasta drainer and shake out excess water.

Method 3
Sautéing Spinach

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    Heat 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of olive oil in a large skillet. The skillet should be about 12 inches (30 1/2 centimeters) in diameter. Select a skillet with deep sides and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Turn the skillet to coat the entire bottom with the oil.
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    Add 3 cloves of sliced garlic to the pan. Sauté the garlic until it begins to brown. This should only take a minute or less. Do not allow the garlic to cook much longer, since it will burn if allowed to cook alone for too long.
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    Place the spinach in the skillet. If necessary, pat it down into the pan using your hands or a spatula, but be careful to avoid burning yourself on the hot oil.
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    Coat the spinach in the garlic oil. Use tongs or two spatulas to lift and flip the spinach. Turn the spinach several times until you are certain that all the leaves are coated.
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    Cover the pan. Leave it covered and cook the spinach, without turning, for a full minute.
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    Remove the lid. Turn the spinach again with your tongs or spatulas to re-coat the leaves with oil.
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    Cover the skillet once more. Cook it for 1 more minute.
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    Once the spinach appears wilted, uncover it and remove the skillet from the heat. Drain the pan of any moisture.
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    Add extra olive oil and salt to the spinach, if desired. Turn the spinach with tongs or spatulas to coat it before serving.

Method 4
Creaming Spinach

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    Cook the spinach by boiling it for 1 minute. Follow the above instructions about boiling spinach.
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    Drain the boiled spinach using a large pasta drainer. Place the leaves on top of clean paper towels and place a separate layer of paper towels over the spinach. Pat the leaves dry until they no longer appear damp.
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    Set the leaves out onto a cutting board. Coarsely chop the spinach using a sharp, smooth-bladed knife.
    • Alternatively, you may also use kitchen shears to cut the leaves into coarsely shredded pieces.
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    Heat 1 tablespoon (14 1/3 grams) of butter in a 12-inch (30 1/2-centimeter) skillet. Heat the butter over medium to medium-high heat until it melts and coats the bottom of the skillet.
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    Add 1/4 cup (57 grams) chopped onion and 1 clove of minced garlic to the pan. Cook the onion and the garlic, in butter, for about 5 minutes, allowing the ingredients to release a strong aroma and to caramelize.
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    Pour 1/2 cup (125 milliliters) heavy whipping cream into the pan. Stir the whipping cream into the onions and garlic.
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    Add 1/8 teaspoon (1/2 gram) of nutmeg and a dash of salt and pepper to the whipping cream. Stir and cook, uncovered, until the mixture begins to boil and thicken.
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    Throw the drained, chopped spinach into the boiling cream mixture. Mix it into the cream, allowing the cream mixture to thoroughly coat the leaves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the contents of the skillet to simmer, still uncovered, for an additional 2 minutes. The contents should appear even thicker.
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    Serve immediately, seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if desired.


  • If working with baby spinach, consider cooking it with the microwave instead of using any of the above methods. Baby spinach tends to lose too much liquid and shrink significantly when cooked using conventional means.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Sink
  • Stove
  • Salad spinner
  • Cutting board
  • 6-quart (6-liter) stockpot
  • Large pasta drainer
  • 12-inch (30.5-centimeter) skillet
  • Tongs
  • Spatulas

Article Info

Categories: Food Preparation | Fruits and Vegetables