Spinach Gratin is the ultimate cheesy side dish! Made with vibrant chopped spinach, fragrant garlic and onion, loads of ooey-gooey cheese, and warm spice, this easy casserole is a hit at any gathering!
You can’t see me right now but I’m doing a little jig as I type this. Why do you ask? Well, I’ve got one hand on the keyboard and another continuously feeding me forkfuls of creamy, cheesy Spinach Gratin!
Anyone that knows me knows how much I love all things holiday, including the food. Specifically the sides! I mean, is there anything better than sitting at a table covered in an assortment of potatoes, greens, rolls, pasta, and pies? Trick question because the answer is obviously no.
A favorite of mine is this recipe right here! Spinach Gratin is the perfect mixture of hearty and light, as well as flavorful and subtle. Whatever you serve this holiday season, this dish needs to be in the mix!
What is Spinach Gratin?
Gratin is simply a culinary technique in which an ingredient, like potatoes or spinach, is topped with a browned crust made up of grated cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, or butter. Gratin is usually prepared in a shallow baking dish and served alongside various main courses, such as steak, roast chicken, etc.
Perks and Highlights
Cuisine Inspiration: Modern American with a French twist. Imagine if comfort food took a vacation in Paris!
Primary Cooking Method: Baking. We’re getting all the flavors to mingle and get to know each other in the oven’s cozy warmth. It’s like a meet-and-greet for ingredients!
Dietary Info: Vegetarian-friendly. A big “hello!” to all our plant-loving friends out there. You’re going to want to RSVP “yes” to this dish.
Key Flavor: Creamy and cheesy with a hint of spice. It’s like a group hug of flavors in your mouth.
Skill Level: Intermediate. You’ve got a few kitchen battles under your belt, and you’re ready for this tasty challenge!
- Crowd-Pleaser: This isn’t just spinach. It’s spinach with a posse of creamy, cheesy, seasoned buddies that even the pickiest eaters can’t resist.
- Versatile Side: Perfect partner for meats, stands strong next to starches, and can even handle being the main dish on a Meatless Monday!
- Make-Ahead Magic: Prepare it in the morning, pop it in the fridge, and bake it in the evening. It’s like your culinary assistant who’s got your back.
- Comfort Food with Class: It’s got all the ooey-gooey warmth of comfort food, dressed up with a sophistication that’s dinner-party ready.
- Nutrient-Rich: It’s not all about taste; there’s goodness packed in, too. Spinach is flexing its muscles here (Popeye knew what was up!).
Spinach and cheese go together like PB&J, and if you add a few extra ingredients to the mix, you’ve got a stellar side that’s ready to stunt at the dinner table.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Frozen chopped spinach: The superhero of greens, ready and waiting in your freezer to add a power punch of nutrients and rich color. It’s the spinach version of “on-demand”!
- Salted butter: Smooth operator, the base of all things creamy and dreamy. It’s not just a background singer; it’s part of the band.
- Onion & Garlic: The dynamic duo that starts the flavor party in almost every dish known to humanity. They’re the rhythm and blues in our gratin groove.
- AP flour: Our trusty thickener, making sure everything stays saucy and not soupy. It’s like the bouncer for excess liquid.
- Half & half: Richer than milk, lighter than cream, it’s the Goldilocks of dairy, making everything it touches just right.
- Onion powder & Garlic powder: Because fresh isn’t the only way to sizzle. These powdery pals keep the flavor going, like an echo in the Grand Canyon.
- Italian seasoning: The spice squad that brings the streets of Italy right to your kitchen. It’s a Vespa ride for your taste buds.
- Nutmeg & Cayenne: The spicy spark plugs of the mix, one sweet and subtle, the other with a kick of heat. They’re the unexpected guests who become the life of the party.
- Cream cheese: The creamy diplomat that brings everyone together in a smooth, tangy harmony. Think of it as the peacekeeper in the dish.
- Parmesan & Italian cheese blend: The cheesy VIPs, bringing the ooey-gooey goodness that makes you close your eyes in delight.
- Salt & Pepper: The classic seasoners, because sometimes the oldies are definitely the goodies. They’re the yin and yang in the seasoning world.
- Panko crumbs: Here for that grand finale crunch! They’re like the fireworks ending of a great show.
NOTE: Fresh chopped spinach will work just as well here, but I find it easier (and less expensive) to use frozen spinach that comes in 10-ounce packages.
How to Make Spinach Gratin
- Preheat the oven, grease the casserole dish, and squeeze the excess liquid out of the spinach.
- Make the sauce in a large non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Start by sauteing the onion and garlic until tender, then stir in the flour until a thick paste forms. Whisk in the half & half, seasoning, cream cheese, and a partial amount of the shredded cheese. Mix until thick and creamy.
- Add the spinach to the cream sauce and stir to combine. Be sure to add salt and pepper to taste! Pour the spinach into the greased casserole dish and evenly spread it.
- Top the casserole with the remaining cheese and panko crumbs.
- Bake your Spinach Gratin for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, golden-brown, and bubbly. Serve piping hot!
What can I serve it with?
On more than one occasion, I like to serve the Spinach Gratin with a sliced baguette and nothing else. It’s like a heartier, creamier spinach dip!
But, also add this dish as a side dish to any holiday table.
Here are a few of my serving suggestions:
- Steak au poivre
- Stuffed Flank Steak
- Slow Cooker Rosemary Chicken
- Cider Herb Spiced Cornish Hens
- Fried Turkey
- Blackened Salmon
CAN SPINACH GRATIN BE MADE IN ADVANCE?
You can make Spinach Gratin up to 48 hours in advance. To do so, prepare the gratin all of the way until baking, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Keep in mind that you may need to add 10-15 minutes of extra baking to account for the refrigeration.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Alternatively, you can freeze spinach gratin for up to 2 months.
To serve it again after freezing, thaw in the fridge overnight and drain the excess liquid. Add a fresh sprinkle of cheese and reheat in the microwave or oven.
Best Side Dish Recipes
This holiday season, I want all of the fluffy, creamy, crunchy, cheesy, spicy, sweet, over the top sides! Pile ‘em high on my plate and watch me work.
If you feel me, go ahead and dish out more of my FAVORITE side recipes:
- Garlic Cheese Stuffed Rolls
- Southern Mustard Greens
- Harvest Fall Salad
- Smothered Potatoes
- Braised Cabbage
- Creamed Spinach,
- Hot Spinach Salad
- Collard Greens
- 20 oz frozen chopped spinach
- 3 tbsp salted butter
- 3 tbsp chopped onion
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- a pinch of cayenne optional
- 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese separated
- 3/4 cup shredded Italian blend cheese separated
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup panko crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray or butter and set aside.
- Begin by working with the thawed spinach. Use fresh paper towels to squeeze out all of the excess water until they are as dry as possible.
- Next add butter to a large pan over medium heat.
- Once heated add onion and saute until tender (about 3-4 minutes). Then add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
- Stir in flour and cook for about a minute.it will become a thick paste.
- Whisk in half and half and then add onion powder, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, nutmeg and cayenne. Stir in cream cheese, 1/3 cup of parmesan and 1/4 cup of Italian blend cheese and allow it to completely dissolve into the cream.
- Finally add in the spinach and stir into the cream sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue stirring for about 3-4 minutes until spinach is heated through and one with the sauce.
- Taste one last time, do final seasoning and pour spinach mixture into the greased casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the top with remaining cheeses and panko crumbs. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbly and panko crumbs are golden. Serve warm.
Spinach Gratin can be made up to 48 hours in advance. To do so, prepare the gratin all of the way until baking, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Keep in mind that you may need to add 10-15 minutes of extra baking to account for the refrigeration. LEFTOVER STORAGE
Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Alternatively, spinach gratin can be frozen for up to 2 months. To serve it again after freezing, thaw in the fridge overnight and drain the excess liquid. Add a fresh sprinkle of cheese and reheat in the microwave or oven.