Dear Test Kitchen

Frozen Spinach vs. Fresh: When Should You Use Each?

Our test kitchen puts 'em to the test.

February 14, 2019

There’s always some sort of leafy green in my freezer—usually spinach. I love the convenience, especially when I get home from work and realize that my fridge has zero fresh vegetables. I’ll swap in thawed spinach and pretend it’s fresh, and whatever recipe I’m following never knows the difference.

Or does it?

This week on Dear Test Kitchen, our test kitchen director Josh Cohen compares fresh versus frozen spinach, and sees if they’re really that similar after all.

Spinach Superstars

Let us know which you use more often in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sue
  • Anne S
    Anne S
  • Bella95
  • kim goad
    kim goad
  • paseo
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Sue April 4, 2019
Baby spinach sautéed is gooey but like Bri L wrote when cooked with evoo it’s delicious ,then add other cut up leafy greens like broccoli rabe to it throw that on a fresh Italian roll and you have a traditional Philadelphia sandwich, Tony Luke’s special
Anne S. March 5, 2019
Paseo is right. I miss being able to find mature spinach. It is as different as mature kale vs. baby kale. For texture, bring on the mature stuff.
Bella95 March 4, 2019
I cook for one so l always have a bag of cubes of frozen spinach in the freezer. Love that l can grab a couple of cubes to thaw and throw in a pasta sauce or an omelette or use more if l want a side dish. Don't usually bother with the fresh unless l plan on adding it to a salad as it's usually baby spinach.
kim G. February 24, 2019
Love this comparison and I have to say, I all but forgot about mature spinach. All you ever see in grocery stores is baby. Thanks!
paseo February 15, 2019
I think a big part of the difference is that the frozen product is from mature spinach and the fresh is so called 'baby' spinach which often cooks up to kind of a 'gooey' texture. I prefer mature spinach, even with the work to wash it clean. But trying to find it fresh these days is nearly impossible. As fresh in salads, or adding at the last minute to pasta, the baby stuff is OK flavor wise (in spite of all the stem) but bring back mature, fresh please.
Deedledum February 14, 2019
It's handy for certain dishes-like casseroles or even soups. In the winter, it can be way cheaper (at least where I live) than paying $4.99 for a 10 oz. bag of fresh. I was looking for greens this week (for stir-fry and soup), but ended up buying a cabbage instead.
Bri L. February 14, 2019
I use fresh spinach more because for sauteed because I just barely wilt it with garlic and olive oil, also the thaw time for frozen is more than I am willing to put up with. Except if making lasagne or spanakopita, when frozen is my goto.