This 8-ingredient Creamed Spinach Casserole is deliciously creamy, perfectly cheesy and luxuriously rich! Plus, this incredibly easy casserole can be made ahead and you can use fresh or frozen spinach! This steakhouse-style spinach au gratin features tender spinach in a decadent gruyere cheese cream sauce with a crispy, buttery topping! This easy side dish is a crowd favorite your family is sure to love!
This creamy, cheesy spinach is perfect for every occasion – from easy weeknight dinners to elegant holiday tables! Plus, it pairs perfectly with everything from steaks and chicken breasts, to a holiday roast or spiral ham! Continue to read on for helpful tips and easy tricks for preparing the perfect spinach casserole! And, don’t miss the step by step photos at the bottom of the post!
Update: This post was originally published in November 2020. I made updates to the post below to include more information about this dish! Plus, I’ve added a recipe video to show you just how quick and easy this warm, creamy spinach casserole is to make!
Easy Creamed Spinach Casserole: recipe overview
Creamed spinach doesn’t get any easier (or cheesier) than this delicious spinach casserole!
This simple homemade recipe features tender spinach tossed in a smooth, rich white cheese sauce enriched with delicate shallots, punchy garlic, warm nutmeg and a pinch of peppery cayenne. Sprinkled with a buttery, crunchy parmesan topping and baked until warm, bubbly and golden brown, this spinach side dish is truly amazing!
If you love spinach dip or classic creamed spinach, you are going to fall head over heals in love with this recipe!! This casserole is like your favorite spinach dip, but 1,000 times better! It’s warm, melty, ultra-creamy and insanely cheesy! Plus, there’s fancy gruyere cheese, luxurious crème fraîche, and a buttery panko topping that just can’t be beat! This is the ultimate side dish and even people who swear they hate spinach can’t resist all this rich, cheesy goodness!
What is creamed spinach?
Creamed spinach is a classic, retro side dish often served at steakhouse restaurants. It features wilted spinach folded in a creamy, rich white cheese sauce flavored with shallots, garlic and simple seasonings.
Spinach casserole transforms the classic creamed spinach dish into a luxurious baked side dish. It features cheesy creamed spinach sprinkled with crispy breadcrumbs and grated parmesan. The mixture is then slowly baked in the oven until golden brown and bubbly.
What’s it taste like?
Creamed spinach casserole tastes like a hybrid of creamed spinach and spinach soufflé. It has an ultra-creamy and rich interior with crunchy, buttery exterior. It’s very mild in taste with a slightly sweet and savory flavor.
What’s it made of?
This spinach casserole is creamy and bursting with rich flavor! This easy recipe is made with 8 simple ingredients plus a few pantry staples to create a steakhouse-style creamed spinach dish!
(Scroll down for detailed measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.)
Ingredients in creamy spinach casserole
- Butter: Use unsalted butter so you can control the level of saltiness in the dish!
- Shallots: Two whole shallots add a touch of delicate, soft onion flavor.
- Garlic: Two cloves of garlic provide a subtle, yet distinctive, punchy taste. Use fresh garlic, not the minced variety sold in the jar.
- Spinach: While it may seem crazy, I recommend frozen spinach for this creamed spinach recipe! Frozen spinach is budget-friendly and helps cut down on cook time significantly. You can use fresh spinach if you would like (see below); however, I promise you won’t be able to taste the difference!
- Heavy Cream: 1 ¾ cups of heavy cream forms the base of the rich white cheese sauce. While you may be tempted to cut calories and use milk or half-and-half, don’t!
- Seasonings: Ground nutmeg, cayenne, kosher salt and black pepper all provide flavor.
- Cheese: A combination of gruyere and parmesan cheeses add dynamic, complex flavor. Use authentic Parmigiano Reggiano for the best taste. And, make sure you freshly shred both cheeses yourself! The packages of pre-shredded cheese contain preservatives and additives that prevent it from properly melting.
- Crème Fraîche: Crème fraîche looks similar to sour cream; however, it is thicker and richer with a less tangy taste. It’s also more stable than sour cream and won’t curdle. It’s the secret ingredient in this casserole recipe! You can find it in the dairy aisle of most major grocery stores.
- Topping: A combination of crunchy panko breadcrumbs and melted butter create a beautiful, golden brown topping!
Want to make some changes to this recipe? No problem! I encourage you to adapt this recipe and make it your own! Get creative and add whatever ingredients you and your family love! Below are a few ideas to get you started.
- Cream Cheese: Can’t find crème fraîche at the store? No worries! You can substitute 1/3 cup of soft, room temperature cream cheese.
- Cheese: Not a fan of gruyere cheese? Try substituting swiss, fontina, mozzarella or white cheddar cheese!
- Artichoke Hearts: Do you love spinach and artichoke dip? Try substituting some of the spinach for artichoke hearts! Make sure you drain and squeeze the artichokes dry to remove all excess liquid. Chop the artichoke hearts and add them to the sauce when you add the spinach.
- Chiles: Make it slightly spicy by adding a (4.5 ounce) can of drained and chopped green chiles to the mix!
- Bacon: Crispy bacon and creamy spinach are a match made in heaven!! Cook and roughly chop 4-6 slices of bacon. Sprinkle the bacon on top of the casserole when you add the breadcrumb topping. Bake according to recipe directions.
- Ham: Have leftover holiday ham? This casserole is a great way to use it! Roughly chop the ham and stir it into the spinach when you add the crème fraîche.
- Topping: Shake things up by using freshly torn bread or crushed crackers, such as Ritz or Triscuits.
- Double the recipe: Need to feed more mouths? You can easily double this recipe to feed a larger crowd!
What spinach to use?
Don’t judge or look at me strange, but I recommend frozen spinach for this recipe! Frozen spinach is budget-friendly and makes this recipe incredibly quick and easy to prepare! I recommend the bag versus the box of frozen spinach. The box variety is very compact and looks like a solid, icy block of spinach; while the frozen spinach in a bag remains loose. However, you can use fresh spinach if you prefer!
Regardless of what variety of spinach you select, the key to great creamed spinach is making sure you thoroughly drain all the excess water before preparing the recipe!
- Frozen chopped spinach: Chopped frozen spinach works great if you prefer a finer, more minced texture.
- Frozen whole leaf spinach: Whole leaf frozen spinach is excellent if you prefer a more leafy, spinach-like texture.
- Fresh spinach: Fresh spinach has a great texture and taste; however, you will need a lot of it! One 10-ounce box of frozen spinach is the equivalent of about 1 pound of fresh spinach. You will need approximately 3 pounds of fresh baby spinach leaves for this recipe. Steam and shock the spinach in ice water to stop the cooking process. Then, thoroughly drain and roughly chop the spinach.
- Can spinach: I don’t recommend canned spinach for this recipe.
How to thicken creamed spinach casserole?
This steakhouse spinach casserole is thick, creamy and ultra-luxurious in taste! However, creamed spinach can turn out watery if you don’t properly follow the recipe instructions! Below are easy tips to ensure you make thick creamy spinach casserole every single time!
Tips for the perfect spinach cream sauce
- Drain spinach: If you don’t properly drain all excess moisture from the spinach you will end up with a loose, watery creamed spinach. Make sure you thoroughly squeeze the spinach dry.
- Gently simmer the sauce: Patience is key to thick and creamy spinach! You must cook the sauce until it’s slightly thick. The white sauce should be smooth and saucy in texture.
- Add cheese: Cheese is a thickening agent. Adding the correct amount of cheese is imperative for a thick sauce.
How to thicken cream sauce for spinach?
If you end up with runny spinach and need to troubleshoot, have no fear! You can easily thicken spinach cream sauce if need be!
- Simmer the sauce: The easiest and quickest way to thicken a cheese sauce is to continue to simmer it. The longer you cook the cream sauce, the more liquid will evaporate and the thicker the sauce will be.
- Stir in more cheese: As mentioned above, cheese is a thickening agent. Add more cheese, a small handful at a time, until the sauce reaches the desired thickness.
- Add more crème fraîche or cream cheese: Much like the above, crème fraîche or cream cheese will thicken creamed spinach. Stir in a bit of crème fraîche or soft, cubed cream cheese until the sauce reaches the proper thickness.
What to serve with creamy spinach casserole?
This luxurious steakhouse creamed spinach casserole pairs well with a wide variety of dishes! It’s incredibly versatile and the perfect complement to a large array of both entrees and side dishes alike!
16 Entrees to pair with spinach
- Steaks (filet mignon, New York strip, ribeye, porterhouse, T-bone)
- Beef Roasts (tenderloin, eye of round, rump roast, prime rib)
- Roast Chicken
- Chicken Breasts or Thighs
- Pork Tenderloin
- Pork Chop
- Roast Turkey
- Spiral Ham
- Poached Shrimp
- Lobster Tails
- Crab Legs
- Sea Bass
- Duck Breast
12 Side Dishes to accompany spinach
- Salad: A steakhouse-style salad or Caesar salad is a classic pairing!
- Soup: Anything from lobster or crab bisque to apple soup works wonderfully!
- Potatoes: Baked potato, au gratin potatoes, potato fries, scalloped potatoes and mashed potatoes are all great options!
- Sweet Potatoes: Any of the above style of potatoes, just use sweet potatoes instead!
- Mushrooms: Beautiful sautéed mushrooms are my favorite side!
- Brussels Sprouts Gratin: Because cheese on cheese is always a good life choice!
- Mac & Cheese: See above about cheese! You can add lobster to your mac and cheese for an adult affair!
- Glazed Carrots: Tender carrots in a simple glaze pair beautifully with creamy spinach!
- Asparagus: Fresh grilled asparagus is a simple classic!
- Seasonal Roast Vegetables: Roast your favorite seasonal vegetables for an easy colorful medley!
- Green Bean Casserole: You can never have too many casseroles!
- Holiday Stuffing: Festive stuffing is an obvious choice if you are serving this casserole at the holidays!
How to make creamed spinach casserole at home?
This deliciously creamy spinach is so quick and easy to make at home! With just 8 ingredients and a few pantry staples, plus 10 minutes of prep time, you can create this steakhouse spinach right in your very own kitchen!!
(Don’t forget to scroll down for the detailed instructions in the complete printable recipe at the bottom of the page.)
- Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Grease a 9-inch baking dish with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
- Make the topping: Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Drizzle with melted butter. Toss to coat and set aside.
- Make the sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the garlic, nutmeg and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thick.
- Add cheese: Reduce the heat and stir in the gruyere. Then, stir in the parmesan and whisk until smooth.
- Add spinach: Add the spinach and gently stir everything together. Cook for 1 minute to heat through. Remove from the heat and stir in the crème fraîche.
- Assemble: Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the spinach casserole.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling around the edges. OPTIONAL: Broil during the last 2-4 minutes of baking for an extra crispy top.
- Serve: Garnish with a light dusting of parmesan. Serve immediately and enjoy!
How to make spinach casserole step by step photos
Tips for making ahead and freezing creamed spinach casserole
Can you make creamed spinach in advance?
You can easily prepare this spinach casserole 1-2 days ahead of time!
To assemble in advance: Assemble the casserole according to the recipe instructions, but don’t add the breadcrumb topping. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Add the crispy topping and bake, adding 5-10 minutes to the bake time in the recipe.
To bake in advance: Alternatively, you can fully bake the casserole in advance. Let the dish cool completely on the counter after baking. Wrap the dish tightly with aluminum foil and store it in the refrigerator. (See below for reheating the casserole.)
How long will it last?
Leftover casserole will keep up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
To store leftovers: Allow the casserole to cool down to room temperature. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or transfer individual portions of the leftovers to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator.
How to reheat spinach casserole?
This creamy casserole reheats beautifully! You can bake the dish a day ahead of time and reheat it when you are ready to serve. Or, you can store the leftovers for easy weeknight dinners!
- Oven (recommended method): Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let it sit out on the counter while you preheat an oven to 350°F. Loosely tent the top of the dish with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until warm throughout.
- Microwave (great for single serving leftovers) Transfer a small portion of the casserole to a microwave safe bowl. Add a splash of cream or milk. Microwave at 60% power for 1 minute. Stir. Continue microwaving at 1-minute intervals, stirring between, until warm throughout. The exact cook time will depend upon the quantity you are reheating.
Can you freeze creamed spinach?
This creamy spinach freezes beautifully! I like to make a double batch and stock my freezer for an easy weeknight side dish or unexpected company!
To freeze: Prepare and bake the casserole according to the recipe instructions. Allow it to cool on the counter to room temperature. Wrap the casserole dish in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To use: Thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat according to instructions above.
What to do with leftover creamed spinach?
Don’t throw those leftovers away!! This spinach casserole is extremely versatile and can be transformed into just about anything!!
14 ways to repurpose creamed spinach
- Serve it as a dip: Serve this casserole as a warm dip with slices of crusty bread, breadsticks, chips or fresh vegetables!
- Crab dip: Stir lump crab meat into the spinach to create crab and spinach dip!
- Mushrooms: Use the spinach as an easy filling for stuffed mushrooms!
- Eggs: Poach eggs, serve them over spinach and drizzle everything with hollandaise sauce.
- Egg Sandwich: Layer baked eggs, spinach and slices of cheese between an English muffin!
- Frittata or Quiche: Make a spinach frittata or quiche! Try adding bacon, rotisserie chicken or ham for a boost of protein!
- Grilled Cheese: Spread creamy spinach on a thick slice of bread. Top with mozzarella and another slice of bread. Griddle or grill the sandwich until the cheese melts.
- Quesadilla: Same idea as above! Fill your tortilla with spinach, mozzarella cheese and any extras you love. Toast, pan fry or bake the quesadilla until the cheese melts.
- Potatoes: Stir spinach into your mash potatoes for an extra layer of flavor!
- Creamy Pasta: Toss al dente pasta with leftover spinach. Add a bit of mozzarella and pasta water to create a creamy sauce!
- Shells: Use leftovers as a stuffing for pasta shells!
- Lasagna: Utilize leftover spinach casserole as a layer in your lasagna!
- Stuffing or Filling: Use leftovers as a stuffing for chicken breasts, flank steak or salmon!
- Try it on pizza: Spread leftover creamy spinach on pizza dough. Top it with sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, artichoke hearts and red pepper flakes for an easy pizza night!
Is creamed spinach healthy?
While spinach is rich in potassium, vitamin C and vitamin D, unfortunately creamed spinach is not a healthy dish. This recipe, along with most other spinach casserole recipes, utilize butter and cream to create the creamy white sauce. Just remember, all things in moderation!
This recipe as written is not gluten free; however, it can be adapted to suit a gluten free diet!
To make gluten free creamed spinach casserole:
- Use a certified gluten free crème fraîche. Real crème fraîche is naturally gluten free. Make sure you purchase a brand of crème fraîche that’s made with 100% fresh cream and free of any stabilizers, thickening agents or additives.
- Breadcrumbs: Substitute regular panko breadcrumbs for gluten free panko flakes or a gluten free breadcrumb substitute.
This steakhouse style spinach casserole recipe is so easy only requires 10 minutes of prep time to prepare! It’s a favorite I know you and your family will love!!
Until next week, friends, cheers!
More holiday-worthy vegetable side dishes
The following recipes end up on my holiday table every year:
- Brussels Sprout Gratin
- Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole
- Healthy Mac and Cheese
- Maple Brussels Sprouts
- Roast Mushrooms and Onions
The best creamed spinach casserole recipe 👇
Easy Creamed Spinach Casserole Recipe
- Medium Sauce Pan
- Small mixing bowl
- 9-inch Baking Dish
- 2 TBS Unsalted Butter
- 2 medium Shallots – peeled & finely diced (about ½ cup)
- 2 cloves Garlic – peeled & finely diced
- 1 ¾ cup Heavy Cream – at room temperature
- ¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp Cayenne
- 1 cup Shredded Gruyere Cheese scant 4 ounces
- ½ cup PLUS 2 TBS Grated Parmesan – DIVIDED, plus more for serving
- 3 (10 ounce) bags Frozen Spinach – thawed & squeezed dry
- 1/3 cup Crème Fraiche
- Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper
- ½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- 1 TBS Unsalted Butter – melted & cooled
- Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Grease a 9-inch baking dish with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
- Make the topping: Place the breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle with melted butter. Toss to coat. Set aside.
- Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, nutmeg and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cream and season with ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes.
- Add cheese and spinach: Turn heat to medium-low and add the gruyere. Whisk until fully incorporated. Add in the remaining ½ cup of parmesan and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the spinach and gently stir until combined. Cook for 1 minute to heat through. Remove from the heat and stir in the crème fraiche. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Assemble: Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the spinach casserole.
- Bake UNCOVERED for 18-22 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling around the edges and the top is lightly golden brown. OPTIONAL: Broil during the last 2-4 minutes of baking for an extra crispy top.
- Serve: Garnish with a light dusting of parmesan. Serve immediately and enjoy!
- Spinach: You can use chopped or whole leaf frozen spinach depending on the type of texture you prefer - minced or leafy. Or, you can use fresh spinach.
- Fresh spinach: One 10-ounce box of frozen spinach is the equivalent of about 1 pound of fresh spinach. You will need approximately 3 pounds of fresh baby spinach leaves for this recipe. Steam and shock the spinach in ice water to stop the cooking process. Then, thoroughly drain and roughly chop the spinach.
- To make in advance: The casserole can be assembled or fully baked in advance and reheated. For full instructions, please see the post above.
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