Make An Ina Garten Spinach Gratin Recipe At Home Like A Pro (Tips, Photos and Video)

An Ina Garten spinach gratin is a velvety creamed spinach dish baked under a layer of crispy, melted cheese.

This Ina Garten spinach gratin recipe will have you making the creamed spinach from scratch, using a combination of mostly frozen and longer life ingredients, making it easy to plan in advance and whip up last minute.

The end result looks & tastes great and goes with so many dishes.

This is a photo of my Ina Garten spinach gratin.

You can skip to the recipe and video if you like, otherwise read on for my top tips.

Ina Garten spinach gratin on a wooden board

Article Guide – How To Make The Perfect Ina Garten Spinach Gratin

There are 3 parts to this article.

1. My top 4 tips for the perfect Ina Garten spinach gratin.

2. Serving & pairing suggestions for any spinach gratin.

3. Other Ina Garten gratin dishes to consider

Each section should only take a minute to skim through.

If you like to learn by watching, I have a 2 minute video linked below which shows how to prepare the perfect Barefoot Contessa spinach gratin. 

You will see what everything looks like at each step and can follow along to make the recipe – just pause the video as you go.

Serving Spinach Gratin While Hot

Part 1 – 4 Tips For A Perfect Ina Garten Spinach Gratin

Making a Barefoot Contessa spinach gratin recipe is relatively simple.

Take a minute to skim through following tips so you know exactly how to make your perfect spinach gratin.

1. Make your own creamed spinach

You can buy creamed spinach ready made, top it with cheese, bake it and call it spinach gratin.

You could do that but honestly, don’t!

Making the creamed spinach base is so quick and easy. 

The ingredients are inexpensive & readily available and will taste so much better than the ready made version.

Everything you need to make home made creamed spinach is listed with the recipe below.

2. Use frozen spinach for spinach gratin

You can use fresh spinach, but you will need buckets of fresh spinach to get the quantity you need and will need to use it within days of buying it before it goes slimy.

Frozen spinach is by far the quickest and easiest way to make either creamed spinach or spinach gratin. 

It is frozen fresh so still has all of its nutrients.

Its also inexpensive and freezes for long periods making it super convenient.

3. How to prepare frozen spinach to make spinach gratin

There are 2 simple steps to preparing frozen spinach to make a spinach gratin.

1. Defrost the spinach ahead of time

Defrosting your spinach in the pan as you are making the dish will result in a pool of water - you will end up with a gratin soup! 

Defrosting it in advance is best.

If you don’t have time, adding it to pot of boiling water for a few minutes should do the trick.

2. Remove excess water from the spinach

The more water you can extract from the defrosted spinach, the better.

Extracting excess water is important to avoid a watery gratin.

Use your hands and squeeze the water out.

Wrap the spinach in a tea towel and ring it out.

Place the spinach in a sieve, over a bowl and place a weight on top. 

4. Preheat a cast iron pan or a heavy baking dish

Cooking spinach gratin in a hot pan an extra textural layer to the dish.

Cook spinach gratin in a preheated cast iron pan or heavy baking dish.

The gratin will sizzle when you add it to the hot pan and you will see it bubble immediately at the edges.

The hot, heavy pan will give you those perfectly crispy edges all round.

Part 2 – Serving Suggestions For Ina Garten’s Spinach Gratin

The combination of spinach, cream, milk and a touch of cheese gives Ina’s creamed spinach filling a soft velvety texture.

Toping it with cheese and baking until its crispy and golden brown adds texture to the dish and makes it even more moreish.

This Barefoot Contessa spinach gratin is particularly good to serve in cooler months and works well with many main dishes, especially anything chunky with lots of sauce or juice.

I can highly recommend either veal osso buco or chicken cacciatore.

The thickened creaminess goes particularly well with both and will help soak up the wonderful flavors.

Ina's spinach gratin tends to be less filling and can make a great side alongside more traditional crunchy roast potato dishes.

Spinach gratin is also a particularly good option for Thanksgiving and makes our list of great Ina Garten Thanksgiving dishes.

Part 3 – Other Ina Garten gratin dishes

A gratin is essentially the French way of cooking anything in a white creamy sauce, topping it with cheese and baking it.

Because a gratin is traditionally French, it is common to see gruyere cheese used as the top layer, as in this Ina Garten spinach gratin recipe.

Another popular gratin is Ina Garten's zucchini gratin. 

It tends to have chunkier vegetables and more bite than a velvety spinach gratin, perhaps more similar to a potato gratin.

A spoonful lifted in the air of a zucchini gratin
Potato gratin is probably the most common gratin variant - check out Ina's Ina's potato gratin recipes. 

Ina Garten Spinach Gratin

Recipe by Barbara HuntCourse: Ina GartenDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





Recreate Ina Garten’s Spinach Gratin with this recipe. A warming side dish with a creamy & velvety filling, topped with crispy melted cheese.


  • 2 ounces (approximately 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter

  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped

  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 2 cups milk

  • 3.5 pounds frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 0.5 cup grated gruyere cheese


  • Prepare the spinach: Defrost (if using frozen) and drain the spinach thoroughly. Squeeze out any excess liquid and set the spinach aside.
  • Preheat the oven: 400f. Add cast iron pan to the oven (if using).
  • Prepare ingredients: Using a deep sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the chopped onions and garlic and cook them until they become translucent (around 15 minutes). Next, add the flour and nutmeg, and keep stirring for an additional 2 minutes. Then, add the cream and milk and continue to cook until the mixture thickens (around 7-8 minutes).
  • Combine ingredients: Add the spinach and half of the parmesan cheese into the creamy sauce. Fold and stir until well combined. Taste and season the mixture with salt and pepper as needed. (This is your creamed spinach base)
  • Bake the gratin: Transfer the creamed spinach mixture into a baking dish.
    If making creamed spinach: Put in the oven as is and bake for 20 minutes until it’s heated through and bubbly.
    If making spinach gratin: Sprinkle the remaining parmesan and the gruyere cheese on top. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until it’s heated through and bubbly.
  • Serve and Enjoy: Serve while hot with a large serving spoon.

Recipe Video can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Ina Garten SPINACH GRATIN by WomenChefs (
Barbara Hunt


No Spam, just delicious recipes, cooking tips and quality kit for your kitchen!

Scroll to Top