Creamed Spinach


This creamed spinach recipe is loaded with greens and bound together with just enough creamy goodness to make it luscious but not heavy. Serve it alongside just about anything—from holiday roasts and ham to grilled steak or tofu, you really can't go wrong!

a recipe photo of the Creamed Spinach
Photo: William Dickey
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
35 mins

The Jewish community in Chicago had two private clubs to which they could belong in the 1970s. The Standard Club, founded in 1869, and the Covenant Club, founded around 1916. My family, of which my sister and I are the fifth generation to inhabit the north side of Chicago, was solidly in the Covenant Club camp. My great-grandparents, their siblings, my grandparents, all their friends, everyone belonged to the club. It was a downtown oasis in the heart of the city, convenient to everyone and, most importantly, known for having good food. Light fluffy matzo balls floating in crystal-clear chicken consommé with tiny cubes of carrot. Crisply fried breaded veal cutlets. A killer Sacher torte.

This focus on food was especially useful as my great-grandmother notoriously did not cook. She and my great-grandfather lived in the Belmont Hotel, like elderly Jewish Eloises, and took many of their meals in the first-floor restaurant, Nana occasionally absconding with pieces of the silver to use in their apartment. I still have a small heavy silver nut dish gracefully engraved with a swirly B, which I had always presumed was for Ballis, but was, in fact, for Belmont.

So, on any occasion, be it a holiday gathering or a birthday or anniversary celebration, if Nana and Papa were hosting, we were eating the festive meal at the Covenant Club. We'd take one of the private dining rooms, or a corner of the main room, and assemble at a long table with Papa at the head, and a menu chosen carefully by Nana. Nana would preside over the festivities as if she had been toiling herself in the kitchen, and Papa would reach over with his fork to taste your dessert, "just the northeast corner," never accepting a whole one for himself.

The one constant for my family, no matter what else was on that menu, was their exceptional creamed spinach. It would come in small shallow bowls, one for each guest, and everyone would wipe the last bits out with pieces of bread. Occasionally someone would cheekily request a second portion. That someone might have been me.

The creamed spinach at the Covenant Club was different than any I had encountered before. The spinach was finely chopped, no long straggly leaves falling off your spoon en route to your mouth. It was intensely spinachy, with just enough creamy sauce to bind it together, always smooth but never soupy, seasoned simply with salt and pepper and a hint of nutmeg. When the club announced it was shuttering for good in the mid-1980s, my intrepid grandmother immediately went to the club, asked for the chef, and wheedled the spinach recipe out of him. While creamed spinach isn't really a traditional holiday side dish for most families, that Covenant Club creamed spinach always tasted like special times to all of us.

Over the years, my grandmother made her own changes, and I have made mine. This version is a bit lighter, using a cornstarch slurry to lightly thicken the sauce, instead of the traditional butter-and-flour roux. Half-and-half instead of heavy cream, and half the sour cream replaced with Greek yogurt. But the feeling is the same, a wonderfully verdant side dish, with just enough dairy to smooth the edges and give it a luxurious festive feel.

I make it for most holidays and frequently for dinner parties. It freezes beautifully, so I can make it ahead and reheat it as needed. You can halve or even double this version without a problem, so adjust it for the size of your group. I have converted many a "I don't like spinach" skeptic into a spinach lover with this! And since it uses frozen spinach, you can make it any time of year.

Making it was always a love letter to my dad, who didn't love vegetables but adored creamed spinach. This year, we'll have it in his memory.


  • 1 cup half-and-half

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • ¼ cup grated sweet yellow onion

  • 4 (16 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

  • ½ cup water

  • ½ cup sour cream

  • ½ cup whole-milk plain Greek-style yogurt (do not sub low-fat, which risks curdling)

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Add salt, nutmeg and pepper; bring to a simmer. Stir in cornstarch slurry and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until the foaming subsides. Add onion; cook, stirring, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach and water; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach is heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved sauce, sour cream, yogurt and Parmesan. Stir well and cook, stirring frequently, until completely blended and heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

128 Calories
7g Fat
10g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 128
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 8g 16%
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 21mg 7%
Vitamin A 17931IU 359%
Vitamin C 9mg 10%
Vitamin D 1IU 0%
Vitamin E 5mg 31%
Folate 221mcg 55%
Vitamin K 563mcg 469%
Sodium 360mg 16%
Calcium 271mg 21%
Iron 3mg 17%
Magnesium 117mg 28%
Potassium 550mg 12%
Zinc 1mg 9%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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