5-Minute Sautéed Frozen Spinach (With Garlic And Lemon)

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This sautéed frozen spinach is literally GOLD when you need something super quick and easy (and preferably green!) to go with dinner. Toss straight from the freezer into the pan with sliced garlic, then serve with lemon juice and olive oil. That’s it! Literally 5 minutes later, your tasty side dish is on the table.

Someone's hand grabbing some sauteed frozen spinach with sliced garlic, lemon and olive oil with pink kitchen tongs with a blue and white tea towel next to the plate.

Frozen vegetables are my life-savers when it comes to easy side dishes to go with dinner! I make either this sautéed frozen spinach, sautéed frozen green beans, or this sautéed frozen broccoli at least once per week, and sometimes more.

I love them all, but today we’re here to talk about the spinach!

Why you’ll love it

A super quick and easy side dish. Like it’s ready in literally 5 minutes! This dish is so simple it’s barely a recipe, and yet you’ll be wowed by how tasty it is.

No need to defrost the spinach first. Simply grab it out of the freezer and throw it into some hot olive oil and garlic in a pan!

Mediterranean style. This dish reminds me of a similar Greek dish called ‘χόρτα’ (pronounced hor-ta) which is simply boiled wild greens with lemon and olive oil. Except no boiling necessary here!

A great way to eat lots of green leafy vegetables. Even eating a small portion, you are eating a LOT of spinach all in one go!

Goes with many dishes. Whether it’s chicken, meatballs, pasta or omelette for dinner, this simple sautéed frozen spinach recipe will save the day every time you need some extra green on the plate. Scroll down for plenty more serving ideas!

What you need to make it

You’ll find a labelled photo and useful notes about the ingredients below. Please scroll down to the recipe card for full ingredients amounts and cooking steps.

You won’t believe how tasty this dish is with just 4 very simple ingredients (plus salt and pepper!).

All ingredients for sautéed frozen spinach on a marble background including a big bag of spinach, garlic cloves, a lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Garlic. I recommend slicing the garlic for this recipe, rather than crushing it – for a little texture and milder flavor. It’s also less easy to burn garlic when it’s sliced.

Olive oil. You’ll use this for sautéing the garlic and spinach, of course. But you’ll also use it to drizzle over the finished dish. For this reason, choose a good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Spinach. My favorite kind of frozen spinach is a fresh bag that I’ve frozen myself! I simply grab a large bag from the fresh salad aisle (I prefer baby spinach, but any kind works). Then I simply throw it in the freezer when I get home.

It’s also fine to grab spinach that’s already frozen in the supermarket freezer aisle. What you don’t want however is the kind of spinach that’s frozen in portions. Where I live it’s all like that. So I prefer to freeze my own spinach from fresh so it’s always available at a moment’s notice.

Lemon. There are two reasons to add plenty of lemon juice to the yummy sautéed garlic spinach. It’s a perfect contrast to the slight bitterness of the spinach. It also adds vitamin C which will help your body to absorb the iron in the greens.

Salt and pepper. Grind this over the finished dish to taste. The perfect amount of seasoning always makes all the difference!

How to sauté frozen spinach

Step 1. Slice the garlic (remember slice, don’t crush). Then grab a large frying pan or skillet and sauté it in a little olive oil on a medium-high heat for a short while – around 20 to 30 seconds.

A collage of 2 images with sliced garlic and a knife on a wooden chopping board, and then the garlic cooking in olive oil in a large cast iron pan.

Step 2. Now pile the spinach into the pan! Yep, all of it. Just pile it on in there – push down with your hands if you have to.

Overhead of baby spinach piled into a pale blue cast iron pan.

Step 3. Grab two wooden spoons or some kitchen tongs and toss until all the spinach has wilted down. Essentially that’s it. Except you might like to cook it for a minute or two longer to let some of the liquid evaporate (perhaps if you’re planning to serve it directly from the pan).

Sautéed frozen spinach and garlic in a cast iron pan with wooden spoon and with a blue and white checked tea towel at the side.

Step 4. As mentioned above, you can serve your spinach directly from the pan, or transfer it with tongs to a serving dish or plate. This way you can leave most of the liquid behind.

All that’s left to do is to season your ‘miracle’ frozen spinach side dish with plenty of lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Someone's hand squeezing half a lemon over a plate of sautéed frozen spinach with garlic and olive oil on a white plate with blue border.

Also Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil before serving. This is the finishing touch you don’t want to skip!

Someone pouring olive oil from a bottle over a white plate of sautéed frozen spinach with garlic slices.

Recipe variations

  • Jazz up the dish by sprinkling a little feta cheese over the top along with chopped green onions (scallions/spring onions), fresh dill, and a few chopped sundried tomatoes.
  • No lemon? Add a dash of vinegar such as balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead.
  • Spice it up by adding a thinly sliced red chili or a pinch of red pepper flakes while cooking.
  • Give it an Asian twist by adding a drizzle of soy sauce while cooking, then drizzling with a little sesame oil and scattering with toasted sesame seeds to serve. Skip the lemon juice.
  • The recipe will also work with other greens such as kale, collard greens, swiss chard or arugula (rocket).

Serving ideas

You can literally make this recipe for frozen spinach to go with anything! However, here are some of my favorite ideas:

  • Wild card option: Once the frozen spinach is cooked, make a little space in the pan, then crack a couple of eggs into the pan. This makes a delicious brunch or lunch (or simple dinner!) together with 2-minute olive oil toasts for dipping. Consider adding a little crumbled feta to the pan as well. Yum. Alternatively, add the cooked spinach to this Greek scrambled eggs recipe.

Recipe FAQs

Can I sauté fresh spinach instead?

Yes, you absolutely can. Simply rinse in a colander (don’t dry). Then proceed with the recipe as described. It will be exactly the same as with the frozen spinach! The advantage of using a bag of frozen spinach is that you’ll always have it on hand.

How long will sautéed spinach keep in the fridge?

It will be fine stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a frying pan again for 20 to 30 seconds until hot.

More recipes using spinach

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Someone's hand grabbing some sauteed frozen spinach with sliced garlic, lemon and olive oil with pink kitchen tongs with a blue and white tea towel next to the plate.
5 from 1 vote

5-Minute Sautéed Frozen Spinach (With Garlic And Lemon)

Sautéed frozen spinach is a quick and easy side dish that you can pull together in literally 5 minutes. Simply pull out a bag of frozen spinach and throw it into a hot pan with garlic – without defrosting first! Finish with fresh tangy lemon juice, salt and pepper, and a large drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. This is so much tastier than the sum of its parts. Since it goes with almost everything, it'll soon become one of your dinner go-tos.
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
Total: 5 minutes

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over at the end
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly (2-3 cloves)
  • 10 ounces spinach, weight when fresh (I buy fresh and ready washed, then throw into the freezer)
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet on a medium-high heat.
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Stir-fry the sliced garlic for around 20 to 30 seconds. It's OK if it starts to brown a little.
    3 cloves garlic
  • Pile all of the frozen spinach into the pan. Push it down with your hands if necessary.
    10 ounces spinach
  • Using two wooden spoons or some kitchen tongs, toss the spinach and garlic around in the pan until wilted. At this point it's ready, but if serving straight from the pan continue cooking for a minute or two if you like to let any excess water evaporate.
  • Transfer to a nice serving dish or plate (if you like). Grind over salt and pepper (to taste). Squeeze over half of the lemon. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve with the rest of the lemon sliced into segments for squeezing over if you like.
    1 lemon, salt and pepper

Video

Notes

Type of spinach: I prefer to grab a large bag of ready-washed fresh baby spinach (or regular spinach) from the fresh salad aisle. Then I throw it in the freezer immediately when I get home. You don’t have to defrost it first before tossing it into the pan – in fact it’s best not to.
You may be able to find already-frozen spinach in your supermarket. This works too. I avoid the frozen spinach that is frozen in portions because you have to let it defrost first and then squeeze out most of the water. It does work but the recipe will then become less quick and easy.
The recipe will also work using fresh spinach. Wash first in a colander then proceed with recipe as written.
Storing: The cooked spinach and garlic will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. To use, reheat until hot either in the microwave or in a pan again. 
Variations: Sprinkle over crumbled feta, chopped dill, chopped sundried tomatoes and chopped green onions (spring onions) for a fancier version.
Once the spinach is cooked, make space and crack 2 eggs into the pan for a tasty and nutritious breakfast or brunch with eggs.
Add a small thinly sliced chili or a pinch of red pepper flakes for a spicy version.
Serve with: Virtually anything! However, I find this sautéed frozen spinach goes perfectly on the side with any kind of meat or fish. You can also stir it through scrambled eggs or squeeze out any excess liquid and add to a quiche

Nutrition

Calories: 357kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 20g, Sodium: 228mg, Potassium: 1767mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 26608IU, Vitamin C: 140mg, Calcium: 325mg, Iron: 9mg
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About Helen Schofield

Don't expect to find anything fussy or complicated here. Just QUICK, EASY & (mostly!) HEALTHY recipes from the Mediterranean and beyond. ENJOY!

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Loved the Horta in Greece! Will try this recipe as I also love spinach ……but have not seem this type of frozen spinach in the supermarkets here in Melbourne😞
    Can I use fresh spinach?

    1. Hello Maria! I’m so happy you’re going to try the recipe – I think it will remind you of that lovely Greek horta! Here in Perth I can’t get that type of spinach ready frozen either but what I do is grab a big bag of fresh and throw it in the freezer as soon as I get home so that it’s there waiting any time I want to make this. But yes, by all means you can use fresh! What I’d do is rinse it under the tap in a colander, then don’t dry it so that there’s a little bit of moisture when you add it to the pan. I hope you enjoy it!

    2. Hi Maria, new here. So happy that I came across you after searching for a crust less quiche! We live in South Africa but so far all your ingredients are freely available here.
      Please include in your recipes whether dishes can be frozen.
      Can this spinach be frozen after cooking?
      Kind regards, Shan

      1. Hello Shaun! I’m Helen, the owner of the site. I think you might have replied to a comment from another lovely reader called Maria! I’m so happy you are enjoying the site and can find all the ingredients you need. I try to keep the recipes as simple as possible, using ingredients commonly found in most places. Thanks for the reminder to include freezing instructions – you’re right, that is always very helpful! As for the spinach, yes you can most definitely freeze after cooking. Just freeze in an airtight container or freezer safe bag, then when you want to eat it defrost before reheating gently either in a pan again or in the microwave. I hope you enjoy it!