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Creamy Spinach Gratin

I never knew I could fall in love with a side dish before. I mean, side dishes are so…so…I don’t know…sidey. And admittedly, I’m not great at pulling out the stops for side dishes for your average weeknight dinner. Usually at our dinner table we’ve got the main meal, a vegetable of sorts and I’m always good for a starch, like bread or biscuits. Simple and boring, I’m afraid.

But for Thanksgiving? Well, that requires a whole new level of side dishes and this spinach gratin is the side dish of my dreams. I never knew a dish with spinach as the sole focus could taste so creamy and dreamy and delicious.

Creamy Spinach Gratin

The flavor of the dish is built at the beginning with the sauted onions and garlic and is later compounded with simple ingredients like a hint of nutmeg, cream, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. The spinach absorbs all of the flavors and melds into something completely decadent and delicious. I mean, really, spinach? Plain, healthy, boring spinach? It is completely transformed into something magical here.

This will be a forever staple on my holiday table – Thanksgiving, Christmas, you name it, it will be there. I loved it, my husband loved it, the kids loved it (gasp!), and our dinner guests loved it. That pretty much means it will probably appear weekly from here on out. I’ll create holidays just to make this. (Thanks, Kim, for passing on the recipe to me!)

Creamy Spinach Gratin

One Year Ago: Thanksgiving Dinner: The Pie
Two Years Ago: Coconut Chicken Curry

Creamy Spinach Gratin

Yield: Serves 8-12 as a side dish

Creamy Spinach Gratin

Note: it is really important to squeeze as much liquid from the spinach as possible or the gratin will be watery. The best method I’ve found is to put the spinach in a large dishtowel, roll up the towel, and twist the ends to wring out the liquid. Use those muscles and get rid of all the water!


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 4 cups minced yellow onions, about 2 large onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 pounds frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (5 (10-ounce) packages)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tablespoon table salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, Swiss or Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet (12-inch) over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 more minutes. Add the flour and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add the cream and milk and cook, stirring often and quickly, until thickened. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach and add the spinach to the sauce. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Season, to taste, with the salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer the spinach to a 9X13-inch or similar sized baking dish and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the Gruyere (or Swiss or Parmesan, if using) on top. Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.

Recipe Source: from Kim M., a reader, who adapted it from Barefoot Contessa Parties

37 Responses to Creamy Spinach Gratin

  1. […] This Thanksgiving casserole-slash-hot dip is just the creamy, savory, cheese-filled dish you’ve been waiting for — and you can kind of count it as a healthy dish (because spinach). Use rice flour in place of the flour in the recipe, and you will have made a great spinach gratin that serves as an excellent side to any turkey. Get the recipe at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. […]

  2. Heidi says:

    Well, I did it. I made Thanksgiving dinner (with morning sickness, help me, Lord) for our family of 5 (including a preschooler and two toddlers, so if anyone needs a place to go for Thanksgiving, we have a lot of extra food here), ALL with recipes from your blog, with the exception of Pioneer Woman’s oyster stuffing, because we really wanted to try it. It’s all cooked, or ready to go in the oven (or the turkey breast in the crock pot:). My only regret is halving this recipe, because I just licked the spoon after I transferred it into the baking dish, and I could eat the entire thing right now. Thanks for always having the best recipes!!!

  3. Courtney says:

    Can this be made in advance? Thanks

  4. crystal says:

    I can’t wait to make this! One question the recipe calls for 1 and 1/2 cups cheese but the directions only tell you to use 1 cup (1/2 cup in cooking and 1/2 cup for the top) how much do I need to use? love all your stuff!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Crystal, it might be a little unclear but the recipe says to add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan to the mixture and then use the remaining 1/2 cup PLUS the gruyere on top. So 1 cup of cheese on top, 1/2 cup in the spinach mixture. Hope that helps!

  5. Teresa says:

    I’m making this tonight for supper. Can’t wait to try it!

  6. Casey says:

    I only use raw milk these days. I was wondering if I still had to use 2 cups raw milk along with the one cup of heavy cream seeing as there is already full fat in the raw milk?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Casey – I have no experience using raw milk so you’ll have to experiment with this recipe but I think you could probably cut out the heavy cream and use all raw milk.

  7. […]  Creamy Spinach Gratin. Can I just say, “That looks amazing!” […]

  8. Krystal says:

    I used fresh spinach 🙁 Epic fail. I should have read the reviews before I bought all the fresh spinach. I bet this is amazing with frozen spinach like the recipe says.

  9. Jodi says:

    Anyone ever tried this recipe with a mix of greens: collards, kale, spinach?? Thanks.

  10. Cindi says:

    Thank you for posting this! This is my first Easter married to my amazing husband, and we are looking to create some of our own traditions, and this is perfect! So excited to make this as a side!

  11. Melissa says:

    Mel, I just made this the other night and loved it! So creamy and delish it will be a keeper for us.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Meh? Not my favorite. Tried it as a replacement for our usual broccoli bake and green bean casserole and really missed those. It was okay. I halved it, not sure if that affected it but? Cheescake is in the fridge, looks and smelt good. Will advise on taste.

  13. susan davis says:

    This recipe is the ultimate spinach recipe. I first made it for my husband and myself, not paying attention to how many servings it made. As I was assembling, I was thinking… hmmm… this is a lot of spinach. Yes, I had a huge casserole, but not to worry, we love spinach and even more, we love this dish. I recently made it for a fellowship dinner and it was a hit. No leftovers : ( I looked high and low for the Parmigiano Reggiano… it does not exist in our little part of the world… where can I purchase it??? Thank you ever so much for all of your recipes… every one is a winner.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Susan – I usually find the Parmigiano Reggiano at my local grocery store – having said that, I live smack dab in the middle of cheese country (Wisconsin) so they have a very well-stocked cheese section. If you can’t find it, substitute fresh Parmesan cheese, which I have done several times, and it still works out great. Glad you like the recipe!

  14. nancy says:

    recipe good luck

  15. Liz @ Blog is the New black says:

    Great recipe… very “sidey!”

  16. teresa says:

    delicious! such a yummy way to get those greens in!

  17. Annabeth says:

    Probably no possibility of making this dish dairy-free, eh?
    Looks really good.

    • Mel says:

      Annabeth – oooh, good question, but I’m guessing not, but hey, if you are up for a challenge and attempt it, make sure to let me know!

  18. Michelle says:

    Can you use fresh spinach in the recipe?

    • Mel says:

      Michelle – yes, you probably could, although you would need to cook it/blanch it first. The general rule of thumb is that 1 1/2 pounds of fresh spinach equal the amount in a 10 ounce frozen package.

  19. Kim in MD says:

    Hi Mel and Reyna,

    I always make this the day before Thanksgiving (and anything else I can get away with so I am not so stressed on Thanksgiving). Just cover it tightly with foil, and be sure to bring it to room temperature before baking. I take it out at least an hour before baking (remove the foil before baking). The leftovers are amazing, too!

  20. kim says:

    used a very similar recipe for a dinner party recently. I put the spinach in half a roma tomato (pulp removed) and baked about 15-20 min. adds great color when serving plate style…beef tenderloin, rice pilaf, grenn beans.

  21. Jenny says:

    This may sound crazy, but we use this recipe in crepes! We usually lay the crepe down and put a few slices of deli ham or turkey, then spoon on the spinach and roll it up- add a dollop of sour cream and it is so yummy! Just another great way to use this dish! (I season mine with chicken bouillon and omit the cheese if I’m doing it for crepes.)

  22. Amy Weaver says:

    Yummmm- I made this last year for Thanksgiving! It was very richa nd yummy!

  23. Reyna says:

    Are you reading my diary Mel? I swear I just said yesterday, “I need to find a good spinach dish for Thanksgiving” and looky what we have here….
    My questions are: If I assembled it the night before, and baked it the next day, would that compromise it’s deliciousness at all? And if you were making this for 11 adults and a smattering of kids, would you double this for Turkey Day?

    • Mel says:

      Sarah – thanks for catching my garlic omission. I’ve added it in!

      Reyna – yes, I’d double this (or one and a half it at the least) for that many people! As for making it ahead of time…I actually think you could get away with it and be fine. I don’t see why it couldn’t be made the day before. If anyone else who has made this (since it seems to be a popular recipe) has any advice this way, feel free to chime in!

  24. Amy M says:

    This looks amazing…gotta love those Barefoot Contessa inspired recipes. I just read that growing up Ina’s mother didn’t allow any carbs in the house at all and that, in her words, “I’ve been making up for it ever since”. She’s doing a beautiful job 🙂 I’m printing this recipe now to try as soon as I can. I just know this will be a favorite and reminds me of a side dish I always get whenever I get treated to a fancy steakhouse dinner.

  25. StephenC says:

    I’ve never been thrilled with my own creamed spinach, so I’m grateful to see some techniques to use for improvements. Thanks.

  26. Sarah says:

    Mmm, I love this recipe. Looks like it’s exactly the Barefoot Contessa one, except I see garlic in the directions and not on the ingredients. We had this at our Thanksgiving table last year, and it’s definitely showing up again! Yum yum!

  27. If I got my husband to try this, it would be a miracle. Once he tasted it though, I have no doubt he’d love it. We’ll see if I’m brave enough to attempt it 🙂

  28. Kim in MD says:

    I am so flattered that you posted about this recipe, Melanie! It is a family favorite- even children who don’t like spinach love it. I have caught some family members (who shall remain name-less) eating the leftovers with tortilla chips…it’s THAT good! 🙂 For me, it’s important to use Parmigiano Reggiano and a good quality gruyere in this dish. The gruyere melts beautifully, and I love the nutty flavor it gives the dish. I will be thinking of you when I serve this on Thanksgiving and Christmas, knowing that you are enjoying it, too! 🙂

  29. I love creamed spinach and this just takes it over the top.

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