This Baked Creamed Spinach from Frozen is delicious and easy to make with frozen spinach! Modeled after the creamy steakhouse creamed spinach recipes, it's served warm in a casserole dish after baking till just golden brown on top.
When you make creamed spinach from frozen, it's easy to buy ingredients ahead and also takes up a lot less room in the fridge for fresh spinach, making it an ideal side dish for big meals.
Baked Creamed Spinach
The past few years instead of making a turkey for Thanksgiving, we've done sous vide steaks. Everyone we have over, even the traditionalists, always finds themselves saying - wow this is so much better (and easier) than turkey! With that change, we've switched to making more steakhouse sides.
Of course I always have to make my stuffing balls, but this baked creamed spinach has become a staple for us. It's sort of like a creamy spinach casserole. You'll love this recipe because:
- Frozen spinach - This recipe is so easy to buy ingredients for ahead! It also doesn't take up a lot of space.
- Simple ingredients - Only uses cream cheese and not 5 other types of cheese, so overall it's a less expensive recipe.
- Sized for a crowd - This recipe makes enough for 8-10 side dish servings, so adjust accordingly with the slider button on the recipe card to decrease or increase.
- Steakhouse style - This creamed spinach is baked similar to a steakhouse style creamed spinach.
- Low sodium - This recipe is overall a very low sodium creamed spinach!
- Casserole - Similar to a spinach casserole in how it's presented, this dish is perfect for potlucks and parties.
- Frozen spinach - Any type of frozen spinach will work - in a bag or in a block.
- Butter - Use a good quality butter without "natural flavor" like Kerrygold.
- All purpose flour - Gluten free all purpose flour can also be substituted.
- Garlic - Yes, it's a lot of garlic. No, it's not overpowering.
- Shallots - Provide a very mild onion flavor.
- Half and half - I love using half and half cause it cuts the overall calories instead of using heavy cream, but still tastes super creamy.
- Vegetable broth - I either make my own from The Dizzy Cook cookbook or use Trader Joe's Hearty Vegetable. For low sodium.
- Cream cheese - Look for a brand without carrageenan like Philadelphia block style or lots of house brands.
- Nutmeg - Just adds a hint of holiday spice that makes people say "what's in this?!". I also sometimes like to add a little bit of cayenne pepper for just a touch of heat without being overpowering. Black pepper is fine too.
How to Defrost Spinach
There are two ways you can defrost spinach.
- Boil method - Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Then place the frozen spinach into it. If you have a metal colander that inserts, you can use that, but it's also ok for the spinach to just float around.
- Microwave method - I find the best way to heat frozen spinach in the microwave is to cover it with about 1 cup of water and a paper towel. Since you're draining it and squeezing all the water, it helps it to steam and cook evenly. Typically the package will give you an idea for timing.
How to Make Creamed Spinach From Frozen
Step 1: Cook the frozen spinach
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and cook frozen spinach for about 4-5 minutes. Drain the water and let the spinach cool, then wrap the spinach in a kitchen towel and use your hands to squeeze out all moisture. Set aside.
Step 2: Make the cream cheese sauce
In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat and add shallots and garlic, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes until softened and fragrant, but not too browned. Stir in the flour, then mix in half and half and broth. Bringing to a simmer over medium high heat till it begins to thicken, stirring frequently to keep it smooth. Add in the spices and cream cheese. Then add in towel-squeezed spinach, stirring till fully combined. Taste and adjust any seasonings.
Step 3: Bake
Transfer to an 11" gratin baking dish or casserole dish and then bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes or till golden brown on top.
Make sure to fully drain the spinach by using the towel method and squeezing out all the water. This will ensure your creamed spinach with frozen spinach isn't watery. I also recommend being careful with too many substitutions. While I'll offer some below, following this recipe as is will ensure the best flavor and texture.
- Gluten free - Use either gluten free all purpose flour or this also works well with arrowroot powder or cornstarch to thicken the sauce. I would start with 2 tablespoons instead of the full ¼ cup.
- Lower fat - I find half and half gives the perfect amount of creaminess without using heavy cream. However, you can substitute it with a lower fat milk. It just won't be as decadent and creamy.
- Butter - Butter can be substituted with ghee or olive oil. With olive oil, the flavor won't be quite like the steakhouse creamed spinach.
- Cream cheese - You could also use goat cheese if you love that flavor! If tolerated, a ¼ cup sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top is delightful.
- Vegetable broth - This can be substituted for chicken broth.
- Low sodium - For a low sodium creamed spinach, check your cream cheese brand, but most are pretty low sodium. Use a low sodium vegetable broth, like the one in my cookbook!
This delicious side dish pairs well with so many different recipes. I especially love it for Thanksgiving with roasted turkey or ham or for Christmas with a grilled filet mignon or New York strip. But here are a few favorite pairings:
Storage and Reheating
To store - cover or place into an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
To reheat - Place in an oven-safe with foil and place in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake 5 more minutes. You may need to check the center of the creamed spinach casserole to make sure it has warmed all the way through.
How to Make Ahead
If you're making this creamed spinach from frozen ahead for a holiday, just make up until you would bake it. Place it in the dish you intend to bake it in, then cover with plastic wrap or foil. When ready to make, pop it into the oven at 350F, covered, and bake for 20 minutes or until warmed through. Uncover and allow it to brown on top for another 5-10 minutes.
Side Dish Recipes
Creamed Spinach (From Frozen)
- 1 Roughly 11" casserole dish, or can split this into a few different casserole dishes - whatever fits!
- 3 pounds frozen spinach
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 4 shallots (roughly 1 cup chopped)
- 3 cups half and half
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 pinch cayenne, about ⅛ teaspoon
- 4 oz unflavored cream cheese
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and cook frozen spinach for about 4-5 minutes. Drain and let it cool, then use a kitchen towel to squeeze out all moisture. Set aside.
- In a very large pan, melt butter over medium heat and add shallots and garlic, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes until softened and fragrant, but not too browned. Stir in flour till it becomes smooth and begins to turn light brown. Stir in half and half and broth, bringing to a simmer over high heat till thick. Stir frequently to keep it smooth. Add in the spices and cream cheese, stirring with a wooden spoon till smooth. Then add in the drained spinach, mixing till fully combined. Taste and adjust any seasonings, adding salt and pepper as needed.
- Transfer to a baking dish (I used an 11" gratin dish) and then bake at 350F for about 15 minutes or golden brown on top.
- This recipe makes about 8-10 servings as a side dish. It's calculated for the holidays or a crowd. If you want to adjust, just use the slider on the recipe to cut it down.
- Make sure you're buying 1 pound bags of frozen spinach and not 10oz. They look similar.
- Low sodium - Check your cream cheese and use a low sodium vegetable or chicken broth.
- Gluten free - Substitute about 2-3 tablespoons of arrowroot powder or cornstarch for the all purpose flour. Gluten free all purpose flour can also be used.
- Can you use fresh spinach? Yes! But it would take up so much room in your fridge! You'd need roughly 5 pounds of fresh to boil down to 3 pounds.
- This recipe can be made ahead before baking and stored, covered, in the fridge for 3 days. It's best if you make it the morning of a holiday so it has time for the flavors to combine, then bake to warm before dinner. It will just need a longer baking time of about 10-15 more minutes.