I Tried a Dozen Different Packs of Frozen Spinach — Here Are the 2 I’ll Buy Again
Not too long ago, I professed my deep, deep love for frozen spinach. But after noticing how many options there were to choose from in the grocery store, I wondered whether or not I should be pickier about my purchase. There’s bagged, blocked, organic, chopped, cut leaf, and even baby, not to mention a plethora of brands that offer each style. So, before my brain froze from all the decision-making, I wanted to settle the debate: Which frozen spinach is best?
I noted how raw spinach is supposed to taste: green, a little spongy, tannic (coating my teeth in a dry way), a bit earthy, sweet, and mineral-y. In sum: really healthy. With that in mind, I defrosted each package according to its instructions. I ate it straight up — no salt, butter, herbs, feta, ricotta, or phyllo (which was the eventual fate of all my tested spinach, don’t worry). After spending a whole Saturday mindfully tasting 12 kinds of frozen spinach, I really got a grasp on my preferences.
Before I go ahead and announce the winner, I have two main observations: Leaf spinach outperformed chopped spinach in every category. This makes sense to me because the flavor is also largely about processing. Freshly-plucked spinach leaves are delicate, and I learned that the amount of processing before plating really has an impact on the “spirit” of the leaf. More cuts also mean more air exposure, bruising, and surface area for freezer burn.
Also, I really wanted the winner to be boxed, guys, but it’s bagged. Those brick-like boxes are nostalgic and have major storage merits: They stack nicely, and stripping the wrapping paper is fun. Here’s a material reality check, though: Plastic is a better barrier against unwanted flavors and moisture imbalance that occurs in the freezer. Reflecting on all of the frozen spinach as a whole, the biggest difference in texture and flavor, though, came down to leaf vs. chopped. So if you want neat blocks, stick with leaf-in-a-box.
The Overall Winner: Wegmans Just Picked and Quickly Frozen Cut Leaf Spinach
Wegmans, you wowed me. This spinach was a standout. I immediately noticed the natural sweetness that was very welcome after eating what seemed like a bathtub full of plain frozen spinach. The texture of this was silky and not waterlogged or stringy. According to the packaging, “*Just Picked* reflects time between harvest and freezing.” I believe it.
I then read the cooking instructions and realized I might’ve undercooked this particular spinach to make it taste better (In general, I think most of the brands overshot the cook time on packaging for my taste). I then decided to totally overcook this in the microwave to make sure it still outperformed all the other spinaches. It still won, and my roommate walked in just in time to blind test and confirm.
Buy: Wegmans Just Picked and Quickly Frozen Cut Leaf Spinach, $1.79 for 16 ounces on Instacart
If you can’t get to a Wegmans, I recommend Nature’s Promise Organic Cut Leaf Spinach, which I purchased at Stop & Shop. It had bright spinach flavor and I didn’t spot many discolored leaves, which popped up in others. The bag is made of heavier plastic, too, which is why it probably ranked high on the list.
Buy: Nature’s Promise Organic Cut Leaf Spinach, $2.79 for 16 ounces on Instacart
Key Frozen Spinach Takeaways
Overall, I learned a lot from this taste test.
- Bagged spinach is better than boxed spinach.
- Spinach tastes better when the leaves are preserved whole.
- Defrosting times on packaging for frozen spinach is way too long. I’m used to blending frozen spinach into smoothies or throwing a semi-defrosted cube of it into whatever I’m already stirring. But when eating spinach defrosted from the microwave, straight-up, I learned that the best bet is to cook it by half of the instructions, taste, then reassess.
- After eating, definitely assess your teeth in a mirror.
Do you have a favorite frozen spinach?