Creamed Spinach is a quintessential steakhouse side! See how easy it is to make this rich, delicately-flavored dish at home with fresh spinach and homemade cream sauce. Don't miss the variations in the recipe notes for customization ideas!
Course Side Dish
Keyword creamed spinach recipe, steakhouse side dishes
Bring a large pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. Blanch the spinach in 2-3 batches (depending on the size of your pot), just until tender (about 30-40 seconds). Strain the spinach leaves out of the water and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to cool.
Drain well and press or squeeze excess water out of the spinach in a fine mesh sieve or a clean kitchen towel. (For the creamiest spinach don't skip this step!) If desired, roughly chop the spinach.
In a large pot or deep skillet, melt butter until foaming subsides. Add onions with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Saute until onions begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer. While continuing to stir, pour half and half into the pot in a steady stream. Add an additional 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and cayenne pepper (if using). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 3-4 minutes.
Add spinach to the pot and stir well until well combined. It takes a bit of stirring to get all of the spinach leaves evenly coated with the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a little extra milk or half and half until your desired consistency is reached.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
*Baby spinach has a more delicate flavor than regular/mature spinach and will yield a milder dish. If you prefer a stronger spinach flavor, use regular spinach leaves, but make sure you clean them well and remove tough stems if buying in a bunch. Regular spinach should be chopped after blanching.You can also substitute an equal quantity of frozen chopped spinach, cooked according to package directions and drained well.
Make it Cheesy: Stir 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or more, to taste) into the sauce. Keep in mind that the cheese will thicken the sauce a bit, so you might have to add a little extra milk or cream, to taste, once the spinach is incorporated. The cheese will also add salt, so adjust your salt additions to taste.
Make it Smoky: Chop 4-5 slices of thick-cut bacon and start the sauce by sautéing it until crisp in your skillet or pot. Remove the bacon and all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from the pan. Add 1/4 cup unsalted butter and proceed with the recipe as written, stirring the crisped bacon back into the sauce when you add the spinach.
Make it Nutty: Stir 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts into the spinach before serving