Creamed spinach was a favorite side dish of mine back when I worked at Boston Market. Now I make it homemade and add water chestnut for crunch. Perfect holiday side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner.
This creamed spinach is easy to make using fresh or frozen spinach. This dish is always a hit at holiday dinners. It's a great vegetarian addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu.
Seasoned with shallots, Parmesan cheese and white peppers. Made creamy with creamed cheese and a butter + flour roux. Finally, water chestnuts add a perfect amount of crunchy texture to this otherwise thick and rich dish.
★ Why You’ll Love this Recipe ★
Creamed spinach is an easy holiday or pot luck side dish.
What's special about this recipe is the water chestnut. They are a nice little surprise that everyone raves about. They add just a little crunchy which perfectly balances out the thick, creamy texture of this side dish.
This recipe is easy to make and is a great alternative to green bean casserole for holiday meals like Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter.
This tasty side dish can also be made in a big batch and frozen in portions. Reheat for a quick side dish with dinner, any day of the week.
★ Ingredients You'll Need ★
What ingredients do you need to make this homemade creamed spinach recipe?
Lots of spinach of course! Here's everything you will need to turn it into a creamy, delicious dish you can eat by the spoonful:
- Butter. Salted butter. My husband loves Kerrygold butter. It does have a really smooth, buttery taste but any real butter works best. You can substitute with margarine if you'd like.
- Flour. All-purpose flour combines with the butter to form what's known as a "roux" which thickens the sauce.
- Shallot. This is a tiny member of the onion family that offers a slightly sweeter taste than an onion. I find it to be a happy medium between garlic and an onion. Adding finely diced shallots to your creamed spinach will enhance the flavor. If you don't have shallots then you can use any onion you have handy, but a sweet variety would be best. You may want to also add garlic if you are using an onion.
- Milk. Adding milk to the butter and flour mixture finishes off the roux and creates a velvety sauce.
- Cream cheese. Whipped cream cheese tends to blend more quickly and easily with the roux mixture but block cream cheese works too.
- Parmesan cheese. You can use any kind of Parmesan cheese — grated in the shaker bottle, shredded, shaved or you can even visit the deli and get the real deal grated Parmesan cheese.
- Nutmeg: A little bit goes a long way. Nutmeg adds a slightly nutty flavor to this creamy sauce which tones down the bitter notes of spinach.
- White pepper: Regular black pepper would work in this recipe, but in a creamy sauce the more mild bite and earthy flavor of white pepper are just perfect.
- Spinach: You want to use frozen spinach, not fresh. Fresh spinach contains a lot of water and went cooked, that water will release into your cream sauce making it runny. The flavor will also be overly earthy because of this excess water (read: it will taste like dirt ha ha). So be sure to use frozen chopped spinach. Thaw it, then press and/or squeeze out as much water as possible before adding to the cream sauce.
- Water chestnuts. Adding this little bit of subtle crunch really elevates this dish and is a fun surprise that everyone seems to enjoy.
★ How to Make this Creamed Spinach ★
You can watch the video below the recipe below to see the process in action or check out this step by step guide for a quick glace and how it all comes together:
Here's what's involved:
- Melt butter.
- Add chopped shallots.
- Whisk in flour then add milk to cream your roux.
- Add cheeses, nutmeg, spinach and water chestnuts.
- Heat, stir then serve!
It surprisingly easy!
★ Tips & FAQs ★
Inspired by Boston Market's Creamed Spinach
Homemade creamed spinach is a favorite of mine going way back to when I used to work at Boston Market. It was actually called Boston Chicken then. Remember that? Oh no. Am I old?
Fresh or Frozen Spinach?
You don't need fresh spinach. In fact, I've found creamed spinach actually tastes better made with frozen spinach because fresh spinach leaves are very watery when cooked down, leaving your creamed spinach tasting dull and a bit too earthy.
Easy Enough for Weeknights
You can make ahead and freeze and eat but it's also easy enough to whip up as a side dish for a weeknight meal.
Just cut the recipe down according to your family size or make a big batch and freeze the leftovers for another day.
This recipe is inspired by Boston Market's creamed spinach. It's well loved! But what makes Boston Market's creamed spinach so good?
Boston Market’s creamed spinach is very rich and there's a lot of spinach. Not too much cream which seems healthier and also better tasting.
Boston Market uses a blend of cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. However, if you don't have Parmesan cheese on hand or don't want to buy an extra ingredient, this creamed spinach recipe tastes just fine without it. I've made it both way.
If you're looking to replicate Boston's Market's recipe at home, you'll find adding a little Parmesan cheese will give you that familiar flavor.
What exactly makes this recipe for creamed spinach recipe better than others?
The secret ingredient that everyone is always surprised by and loves is the water chestnuts. The water chestnuts are very tiny but give an otherwise very creamy dish, a subtle crunch. They're the perfect, refreshing complement to the rich flavor of the cream cheese too.
I've noticed even family members who don't typically like spinach, usually go back for seconds. 😉
Can you freeze creamed spinach?
Yes. Freeze in an airtight container. Reheat using the microwave or heat in a small pot on the stove ove medium heat, stirring as you heat.
Want a creamier texture?
Add a little extra milk or creamer if it looks too dry. Sometimes the milk evaporates during the cooking process so, simply add some back in if that happens. You can add more milk at any time during the cooking process just give it a little time to heat up if you add it at the end.
Pin this creamed spinach recipe now so you can make it later!
How do you thicken creamed spinach?
In this recipe, I started with a roux, which thickens sauces using a combination of butter, flour, and milk. This combined with the additional diary ingredients creates a thick and creamy sauce. If that is not thick enough at the end you could add a slurry of cornstarch to thicken it even further.
What is the healthiest way to cook creamed spinach?
There are some creamed spinach recipes that use coconut cream or coconut milk instead of butter, flour, and milk. You need to have fat of some kind in order to give this recipe a creamy texture.
How long does creamed spinach last in the refrigerator or freezer?
You can place leftover creamed spinach in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.
What to Serve with Creamed Spinach
Creamed spinach goes especially well with meat and potatoes. This is also a delicious side dish to serve with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. You could serve instead of green bean casserole or in addition to as another vegetable side dish option.
★ Helpful Tools ★
Helpful tool for making this creamed spinach recipe:
Dutch Oven - Go from stove top to oven without changing pots
Oven Safe Casserole Dish - If you don't want to invest in a dutch oven, a big casserole dish is perfect for transporting and reheating this side dish.
Silicon Whisk - Silicon so you don't scratch your cookware
Ceramic Knife - Foods don't stick to it and then roll away!
Cutting board - A no-brainier but maybe it's time to upgrade yours or get a back up?
Silicon Spatula - Useful for scraping sides while stirring
Butter Dish with Lid - Room temperature butter is easier to work with.
Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers - Okay, you don't need these but I'm obsessed with mine. It literally makes me happy to shake salt.
★ More Recipes You'll Love ★
Want more side dish ideas?
I have a few for you! Browse all my side dish recipes.
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I usually send out an email once a month with seasonal recipe ideas. When you sign up, I’ll also send you a copy of the printable meal planner and grocery list I use.
Creamed Spinach with Water Chestnuts
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 1 large shallot diced
- 1 ½ cups milk or MORE as desired to thin out sauce
- 4 oz whipped cream cheese softened
- 2 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper or more to taste
- 40 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and pressed 4 blocks
- 4 oz water chestnuts drained and minced
- Thaw and press excess water from spinach using a colander. Set aside.
- In a small dutch oven or large skillet, saute shallots in butter over medium heat until translucent.
- Then whisk in flour until thick. Let bubble for about 1-2 minutes to reduce the floury taste.
- Slowly pour in milk then add cream cheese and parmesan cheese. Stir until a thick sauce is formed. Add salt, nutmeg and white pepper.
- Immediately stir in thawed and squeezed spinach and minced water chestnuts until thoroughly mixed. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then it's ready to serve!
- If you need to transport this, put it in your crockpot and set to warm.