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How do you defrost frozen spinach?

Frozen spinach is a convenient way to keep this healthy leafy green on hand. When you’re ready to use it, defrosting frozen spinach properly helps maximize texture and flavor. Here are some tips for the best way to thaw frozen spinach.

Methods for Defrosting Frozen Spinach

There are several effective methods for defrosting frozen spinach:

  • Refrigerator thawing: Place frozen spinach in refrigerator 12-24 hours before needed.
  • Cold water thawing: Place frozen spinach in bowl, cover with cold tap water, thaw 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Microwave thawing: Place frozen spinach in microwave-safe bowl, microwave on defrost setting or low power until thawed.
  • Stovetop thawing: Place frozen spinach in strainer or colander, run under cool water until thawed.

Tips for Refrigerator Thawing

Refrigerator thawing is often the simplest way to safely thaw frozen spinach:

  • Plan ahead – Move frozen spinach to refrigerator 12-24 hours before you need to use it.
  • Leave spinach in original packaging or place in airtight container to prevent freezer burn.
  • Put spinach on a plate or bowl to catch any liquid released during thawing.
  • Let spinach thaw completely before using, usually overnight.

Once fully thawed, use spinach within 1-2 days for best quality.

Tips for Cold Water Thawing

Thawing spinach in cold water is faster than refrigerator thawing:

  • Use a bowl or container larger than the volume of frozen spinach.
  • Fill bowl with cold tap water, leaving room for spinach to be submerged.
  • Add frozen spinach, pushing down to ensure it’s fully immersed.
  • Let sit 30 minutes to 1 hour, changing water if it warms up.
  • Drain thawed spinach well before using.

Thawed spinach should be used immediately after cold water thawing.

Microwave Thawing Tips

A microwave can quickly thaw frozen spinach:

  • Place frozen spinach in microwave-safe bowl, ceramic dish or plastic container.
  • Microwave on defrost setting or low power in short intervals.
  • Stir or turn spinach between intervals to thaw evenly.
  • Continue microwaving and stirring until thawed completely.
  • Drain any liquid released after thawing.
  • Use spinach immediately after microwave thawing.

Avoid microwaving frozen spinach too long, which can cook it prematurely.

Stovetop Thawing Method

You can also thaw frozen spinach on the stovetop:

  • Place frozen spinach in strainer or colander.
  • Run cool water over spinach, flipping occasionally, until thawed.
  • Optionally press spinach against strainer to help release freezing liquid.
  • Thaw just until flexible and softened, not completely limp.
  • Use spinach right away after stovetop thawing.

Be careful not to thaw spinach too long under hot water, cooking it before use.

Storing Thawed Frozen Spinach

Once thawed, spinach is best used immediately for maximum flavor and texture. However, you can store thawed frozen spinach for 1-2 days:

  • Drain thawed spinach well and squeeze out excess liquid.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
  • Use for cooking, smoothies, dips or other applications within 1-2 days.
  • Do not freeze thawed spinach again.

Recognizing Spoiled Thawed Spinach

Look out for these signs of spoiled thawed spinach:

  • Slimy texture
  • Yellow or brown discoloration
  • Unpleasant odors
  • Mold growth

If thawed spinach shows signs of spoilage, discard it immediately.

Cooking with Thawed Spinach

Thawed frozen spinach can be used in any recipe calling for fresh spinach. Keep these cooking tips in mind:

  • Drain thawed spinach well and squeeze out all excess liquid.
  • Chop thawed spinach before adding to dishes if desired.
  • Reduce any added liquids in recipe to account for liquid released from spinach.
  • Add spinach at end of cooking time for minimal overcooking.
  • Substitute thawed spinach in egg dishes, pasta, casseroles, soups and more.

Nutrition of Frozen Spinach

Frozen spinach provides the same nutrition benefits as fresh spinach. Here is how the nutrients in frozen spinach compare per 1 cup cooked serving:

Nutrient Frozen Spinach Fresh Spinach
Calories 41 41
Fat 0.1g 0.1g
Carbs 3.6g 3.6g
Fiber 2.2g 2.2g
Protein 2.9g 2.9g
Vitamin A 469% DV 469% DV
Vitamin C 17% DV 17% DV
Vitamin K 181% DV 181% DV
Iron 6% DV 6% DV
Calcium 3% DV 3% DV

Frozen spinach provides just as much vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and calcium as fresh spinach.

Freezing Fresh Spinach

You can easily freeze fresh spinach at home with these steps:

  1. Wash and dry spinach leaves thoroughly.
  2. Remove tough stems and chop leaves.
  3. Blanch spinach in boiling water 1-2 minutes until wilted.
  4. Drain, rinse in cold water and squeeze out liquid.
  5. Pack blanched spinach into freezer bags or airtight containers.
  6. Flatten bags to remove excess air.
  7. Freeze up to 10 months at 0°F or below.

Frozen spinach will keep best quality within about 8 months in the freezer before developing freezer burn or diminished nutrient content. Always label bags with the date frozen.


Defrosting frozen spinach properly helps retain the bright color, texture, and nutrients of fresh spinach. Allow enough time for refrigerator thawing or use cold water, the microwave, or stovetop defrost methods. Handle thawed spinach carefully to prevent spoilage and use it soon after thawing. With minimal effort, frozen spinach can be defrosted and incorporated into all kinds of healthy and delicious meals.