The Big Mistakes You're Making With Creamed Spinach From Scratch

There's no need to wait for "steakhouse night" to enjoy restaurant-quality, silky-smooth, creamed spinach. That's exactly what creamed spinach is intended to be — a vibrant and comforting bowl of delicately seasoned, tender spinach in a rich cream sauce (via The Takeout).

Sounds simple enough, but thanks to some common mistakes, homemade creamed spinach often turns out soupy, slimy, and more akin to pulverized baby food. Never fear, there are a few simple steps you can take to guarantee flawless creamed spinach every time.

And, not surprisingly, it starts with the spinach. If you prefer identifiable leaves, choose fresh over frozen spinach. This is because the frozen variety produces more of a purée (via Salt and Lavender). When starting with fresh spinach, it's imperative that you blanch the greens in boiling water first — just a minute to two to wilt the leaves (via Corvallis Gazette-Times). Blanching not only shrinks the bulky pile of leaves, but it also allows you to squeeze out excess water, which prevents the creamed spinach from getting soggy (via PBS).

Drying the spinach is another critical step. It doesn't matter if you're using fresh or frozen/thawed spinach, you need to dry the greens before adding them to the dish. Smitten Kitchen recommends wringing the greens dry in cheesecloth, or firmly pressing them through a fine mesh strainer until all the liquid is removed.

Creating a silky cream sauce is essential

Once your spinach is blanched and/or thawed and well-drained, it's time to focus on the cream sauce. Most classic recipes for creamed spinach start by sautéing onion and garlic in butter until soft (via The Kitchn). The next step often involves the creation of a roux, the melding of butter and flour, which is used to thicken the dairy-based sauce (via Epicurious).

But there are variations. Once Upon a Chef creates a rich cream sauce without the need for a roux; once shallots and garlic are frizzled in butter, heavy cream is added, simmered, and reduced until it coats the back of a spoon. This process eliminates the roux but yields the same decadent result.

The next step is adding cheese, and while parmesan is a classic option (per Dinner Then Dessert), some creamed spinach recipes call for cream cheese instead (via Martha Stewart).

For a copycat Morton's Steakhouse experience, use parmesan, half-and-half, and add a pinch of nutmeg to bring out the nuttiness of the cheese. If you're more of a Ruth's Chris fan, use milk instead of cream and add a bay leaf and whole clove to season the sauce (remove both before adding the spinach). If the Delmonico Steakhouse creamed spinach is the one you crave, use milk and cream, and add equal parts parmesan cheese and Swiss cheese.