Sure, vitamin-rich spinach tastes great raw, especially in salads, but we love to cook fresh spinach, too! It's delicious sautéed, boiled, steamed or drenched in cream. Here's how to cook spinach in a variety of ways. We’ll also point the way to some great spinach recipes, including an easy sautéed spinach recipe.

Updated April 20, 2018

How to Prepare Spinach

Before you start cooking spinach, follow these steps:

  • Work with 1 pound of spinach at a time (about 12 cups torn).
  • Wash and drain spinach.
  • Remove stems and tear leaves into pieces.

TIP: Skip a Step! If you’re using baby spinach in your spinach recipes, the stems generally do not need to be removed, as they’re more tender. You also won’t need to tear the leaves into pieces, as they’re already bite-size. In addition, if you choose prewashed baby spinach, sold in bags in the produce aisle, you can skip washing the leaves, too.

How to Cook Spinach on the Stove

Generally, the best way to cook spinach is on the stovetop. Sautéing spinach is an especially quick and easy way to cook spinach, and this method also evaporates excess moisture in the leaves. However, you can also boil or steam spinach.

Here’s how to cook spinach on the stove, starting with our easy sautéed spinach recipe. Each of the following three methods for cooking spinach makes 4 side-dish servings.

How to Saute Spinach:

  • Start with 8 cups packed spinach, stems removed and leaves shredded.
  • Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add spinach.
  • How long to cook spinach in olive oil: Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until just wilted.
  • Stir in salt, pepper, and (if desired) balsamic vinegar or other seasonings to taste. If you want to dress up the side dish, garnish with crisp, cooked bacon pieces.

Try sauteing spinach in this Sauteed Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts recipe.

    How to Steam Spinach

    How to Steam Spinach:

    • Place 1 pound spinach in a steamer.
    • How long to cook spinach in a steamer: When water boils, cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender.
    • Cook 1 pound spinach, covered, in a small amount of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Begin timing when steam forms.

    How to Cook Spinach in Boiling Water

    To Cook Fresh Spinach in Boiling Water:

    • Cook 1 pound spinach, covered, in a small amount of boiling salted water until tender.
    • How long to cook spinach in boiling water: Begin timing when steam forms. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

    Try boiling spinach in our Velvet Spinach recipe.

    How to Cook Canned Spinach

    Store-bought canned spinach is fully cooked. To cook, simply place the spinach, along with the liquid from the can, into a saucepan and cook until heated through. Drain and serve. If you like add a little butter and season with salt and pepper (though taste the spinach first—many canned products already contain plenty of sodium).

    How to Cook Spinach for Pasta

    Adding spinach to your favorite pasta recipe is easy. Here are two options for cooking spinach for pasta recipes:

    Option 1: Cooking Spinach with Other Ingredients in the recipe

    This recipe for Pasta with Spinach and Smoked Sausage shows you how to cook spinach for pasta using this method.

    Option 2: Cooking Spinach with the pasta. With this method, the pasta simply wilts enticingly as you toss it with the hot pasta:

    • For best results, use baby spinach, as it will cook most quickly. If using regular spinach, remove stems and tear into smaller pieces.
    • Use about 6 cups fresh baby spinach for each four servings.
    • Cook the recipe according to the instructions given. After you’ve combined the hot, drained pasta with the other cooked ingredients, add the spinach; toss just until combined and spinach is slightly wilted.
    This recipe for Italian Pasta with Spinach and Pasta shows you how to cook spinach for pasta using this method.

    Try the Farfalle with Mushrooms and Spinach recipe pictured above, too!

    How to Cook Spinach and Eggs

    For an unbeatable way to cook fresh spinach, combine the emerald-green leaves with luscious scrambled eggs. Here’s how to cook spinach and eggs for a colorful breakfast or brunch that serves two. Also try it for a quick, casual supper.

    This recipe for Egg White and Spinach Scramble shows you how to cook fresh spinach with egg whites for a healthful breakfast.

    How to Cream Spinach

    • Cook spinach: In a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water, cook 2 pounds (or two 10-ounce bags) fresh spinach for 1 minute.
    • Drain and snip spinach: Drain spinach well, squeezing out excess liquid. Pat spinach dry with paper towels. Snip spinach with kitchen shears to coarsely chop; set aside.
    • Prepare cream mixture: In a large skillet cook 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 to 3 minced garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons hot butter about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup whipping cream, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and salt and black pepper to taste.
    • Add spinach and cook: Bring onion mixture to boiling; cook, uncovered, until cream begins to thicken. Add spinach. Simmer, uncovered, about 2 minutes or until thickened. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.


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