If you’re looking at a recipe that calls for fresh spinach and you have frozen on hand, you’re probably wondering if you can just throw in the frozen spinach instead. I wish there was an easy answer for this.
Can I Substitute Frozen Spinach for Fresh Spinach?
Frozen Spinach Is Convenient
The convenience of frozen spinach certainly can’t be overstated: It takes up a fraction of the space that fresh spinach does (since it is blanched and then compacted), keeps much longer, and is more affordable. It also can pack more nutrients than fresh because frozen vegetables are usually frozen at their peak, before nutrients have a chance to degrade.
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But Frozen Spinach Has Its Drawbacks
Unfortunately, any time I taste a recipe that calls for fresh spinach side by side with its frozen spinach counterpart (and believe me, we’ve tried this often in the test kitchen), the frozen spinach version is just, well, meh. It has a muddier flavor and a stringier, more fibrous texture, and it lacks the verdant brightness that fresh spinach can add to a dish.
When Can You Use Frozen Spinach?
In a pinch, though? It’s fine. Truly.
Especially in a dish like our Spinach-Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese, where there are enough other delicious things going on to distract from the frozen spinach. Just be sure to thaw it and fully squeeze out any liquid before using it. And be prepared to bump up the flavor in other ways in case the dish is tasting flat: Think a squeeze of lemon, some extra garlic, or a splash of hot sauce.
Spinach-Artichoke Macaroni and CheeseBeloved spinach-artichoke dip plus elbow macaroni equals a stellar version of mac and cheese.
And keep in mind: It’s also perfectly fine to use frozen spinach in any of our recipes that call for it (that means the recipe was developed with frozen spinach and it works well there).
Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring spinach—some that call for fresh and some that call for frozen. Start a free trial to access them, plus all of our other rigorously tested, reliable recipes and reviews.