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How to Substitute Fresh Spinach for Frozen

How to substitute fresh spinach for frozen spinach! Or, a simple way to saute spinach for an easy side dish.

How to substitute fresh spinach for frozen spinach! Or, a simple way to saute spinach for a tasty side dish.

Several recipes I've attempted lately have called for frozen spinach.

I love spinach, but I have some trouble getting flavorful dishes when I use the frozen spinach.

For example, I'm going to blame frozen spinach for the “healthy spinach artichoke dip” debacle that looked and tasted nothing like dip is supposed to taste.

(Nevermind that I used twice as much spinach as I meant to and it had zero fat/deliciousness added. #learning)

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It was before I started the failed recipes series so I unfortunately don't have photographic evidence.

I was starting to think I should avoid recipes that call for frozen spinach altogether when I realized it shouldn't be that hard to substitute fresh spinach leaves instead!

Obviously it's a bit easier to use frozen spinach rather than cooking down fresh. But if you're willing to take the extra step, your tastebuds might thank you. Frozen spinach is usually boiled or blanched, but the method I use is to saute it.

If you've ever sauteed spinach before, you probably learned that it cooks down a lot. Here's what I started with (for perspective, this is 11 ounces of baby spinach in a 5-quart pan).

How to substitute fresh spinach in place of frozen! Or, a simple way to saute spinach for a tasty side dish.

After heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sautéing your spinach for 5 minutes, this is what you're left with. Where'd it all go?!

How to substitute fresh spinach in place of frozen! Or, a simple way to saute spinach for a tasty side dish.

If you're using this sautéed spinach as a side dish you will want to add salt and pepper, garlic, butter, lemon juice and/or other flavor.

If you're using in place of frozen though, just a pinch of salt will do before you squeeze out as much remaining water as you can through a colander.

How to substitute fresh spinach in place of frozen! Or, a simple way to saute spinach for a tasty side dish.

I've seen different conversions, but it is my understanding that a 10-ounce package of frozen spinach is equivalent to 1 and 1/2 cups after draining, which is roughly what you can get from cooking down 1 pound of fresh spinach.

1 lb. fresh spinach (cooks down to 1.5 cups drained) = 10 ounce frozen package

In the above pictures I used just 2/3 of a pound (11 ounces), which already filled my pot pretty well. If you have trouble fitting all the spinach into your pot, cook a little bit of the spinach down for a minute and then add the rest.

 

Yield: 1 (1 & 1/2 cups) serving

How to Substitute Fresh Spinach for Frozen

How to substitute fresh spinach for frozen spinach! Or, a simple way to saute spinach for a tasty side dish.

How to substitute fresh spinach for frozen spinach! Or, a simple way to saute spinach for an easy side dish.

Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, (or water as needed if avoiding oil)
  • 1 pound fresh baby spinach leaves (16 ounces)

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat for 1 minute. Add fresh spinach leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes. (If using water instead of oil, no need to heat the water first.)
  2. Drain extra water/oil from the spinach using a colander.
  3. You'll be left with about 1 and 1/2 cups of cooked down spinach, which you can substitute for a 10-ounce package of frozen spinach in a recipe. Enjoy!

Notes

*For perspective, the pictures I used in this post are using 1 package (11 ounces) of fresh baby spinach leaves, not the 1 pound equivalent in this recipe. If you're having trouble fitting all the spinach in one 5-quart pot, cook down some of the spinach for a minute before adding the rest.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 318mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 11gSugar: 2gProtein: 13g

Nutrition information is calculated automatically by an online tool at Nutritionix. It is not always accurate. Please use your own tools to check if you rely on this information.

Did you make this recipe?

I'd love to see! Tag @trialandeater on Instagram and hashtag it #trialandeater .

You might like to use this recipe for these spinach phyllo roll-ups!

 

How to substitute fresh spinach for frozen spinach! Or, a simple way to saute spinach for an easy side dish.

 

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Spinach phyllo roll ups - use your phyllo dough for this simple appetizer (or party finger food). Eat your vegetables while having the option to customize to your favorite flavor combo!
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Nancy

Friday 10th of August 2018

I'm having trouble figuring out how much 2 cups of fresh spinach cooks down to. On my diet I'm to have 2 CUPS (NOT ounces ) of greens. After cooking, how much (measurement) of spinach can I take out and eat.?

Kelly

Monday 13th of August 2018

1 lb of fresh spinach leaves is about 10-12 cups. So if you're trying to get 2 cups of fresh, that's about 1/5 - 1/6 of this recipe! About 1/4 cup of the cooked down version.

Denise

Monday 26th of June 2017

If the receipt is going to be baked why cook the spinach down first? Is it due to excess moisture? Thanks

Kelly

Tuesday 27th of June 2017

Hi Denise! Some recipes it would be okay to use fresh spinach when you're baking (I'm thinking like calzones). But others that call for frozen spinach require the spinach to be cooked down and more concentrated by volume (you can see how much spinach cooks down when the water is gone!). Frozen spinach is typically blanched and doesn't have that much flavor, so this is the way I like to substitute fresh spinach for those recipes. Hope that helps!

Jess @ Flying on Jess Fuel

Sunday 3rd of May 2015

Great tip!! I grow a ton of greens in my garden, so I am always using fresh instead of frozen. I usually blanch and squeeze them out, but I love this method too. You get a little extra flavor with the olive oil!!

Kelly

Wednesday 6th of May 2015

I would love to have your fresh greens in my garden! Unlimited spinach sounds like a good life.