How To Microwave Spinach

Looking to make your lunch healthier and more nutritious with a side of spinach? Let me tell you: microwaving it is, by far, the easiest and quickest way to do so. 

Plus, it makes meal prep easier! You no longer need to get your pans out and light up your stove; you can just nuke it in the microwave and you’ll have a healthy addition to your meal!

If you’ve never tried microwaving spinach, don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know! 

Can you microwave spinach?

Yes, you can microwave spinach, especially since it can kill harmful bacteria and pathogens as well. You just need to make sure that you thoroughly wash and clean the leaves before microwaving them.

To make sure your spinach is clean, remove the stems and then submerge the leaves in a bowl of cold water. Leave them in the water for a minute or two to allow the grit and sand to settle down. Then take out the spinach from the bowl using a strainer.

You can also wash the spinach directly in the sink. Continue washing until no more dirt comes out. Keep in mind that you will have to wash the leaves at least a couple of times.

How to microwave spinach?

To microwave spinach, put the washed leaves in a microwave-safe dish and cover it. If your spinach looks completely dry, add some water. Then microwave around 8 ounces at full power for 3 minutes. Once done, the leaves should be dark green, limp, and steamy. Take out the dish, remove the extra water, and add your preferred seasoning.

Once you wash and strain the spinach, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it either with a microwave-safe dish or plastic wrap. It’s better to use a glass or ceramic lid instead of a plastic wrap since microwaving plastics at a high temperature can be dangerous. 

If you’re using plastic wrap, don’t put it on too tightly and poke some holes into it to allow the steam to escape. If it has no way to escape, the steam might make the bowl explode.  

If you think that your leaves are very dry, you can add a little water. Just be careful not to add too much since spinach is already 93% water and will release water as it cooks, especially if the bowl is covered. Plus, if you add too much water, the nutrients might drain away. 

Once your bowl is in the microwave, the next step is adjusting the settings. You need to microwave the spinach on 100% power for 3 minutes. Once done, carefully take the bowl out of the microwave using an oven mitt. The dish will be very hot so don’t try to use your bare hands. 

At this stage, the leaves should be dark green and mostly wilted. If they aren’t and you have a large amount of spinach, toss the leaves using a pair of tongs. Then nuke the dish for another 3-4 minutes in 30-minute intervals to prevent overcooking.   

Don’t forget that leafy greens don’t need a lot of heat or time to cook. So if you’re not careful, you might end up overcooking, or worse, burning them.

Is it safe to microwave spinach?

It is safe to microwave spinach, but you need to be mindful of the temperature and time to make sure you don’t zap away the nutrients. You also need to make sure that you use a microwave-safe dish instead of the bag that the spinach comes in. And be careful when taking out the piping hot spinach from the microwave. 

Spinach is rich in nitrates and if microwaved correctly, it can retain its nutrients. This is why both temperature and time are very crucial. Otherwise, you might end up removing the nutrients from the leaves. Similarly, you should use very little water so that you don’t drain the nutrients. 

Plus, when sautéing spinach on a stove, the heat is often too high and there’s a risk of potentially dangerous carcinogenic discharge. But that’s not the case with the microwave; you can safely cook spinach on low power without overdoing it. 

Another thing to be mindful of when microwaving spinach is the container you nuke it in. Spinach usually comes in a plastic bag, which isn’t safe to heat at all. 

Even a Ziploc bag is not safe for microwaving. The manufacturer guidelines usually mention reheating and defrosting temperatures, which means these bags might not be able to handle the heat and steam generated by microwaving spinach.

Personally, I avoid microwaving any kind of plastic since it can leech harmful chemicals into the food. I recommend you do the same and use a microwave-safe dish made of ceramic and glass. It’s also better if you use a microwave-safe lid. 

And finally, to safely microwave spinach, you need to be mindful of the steam it releases. Spinach contains up to 93% water, and when you nuke it in the microwave, it will turn to steam. This hot steam can burn your hands or face if you’re not careful. I recommend keeping the dish away from your face and removing the lid very carefully so that the steam dissipates without harming you.

How long does it take to microwave spinach?

The time it takes to microwave spinach depends on the quantity you are microwaving and the power of your appliance. Generally, it takes 2-3 minutes to microwave 4-8 ounces of spinach and you can let the carryover heat take care of the other leaves. But if you have a larger quantity, you might have to microwave it for 3-7 minutes. Plus, frozen spinach will take longer. 

Of course, not all appliances are the same. So if you have a smaller, low-power microwave, you might have to nuke the spinach for longer. Meanwhile, a larger, more powerful appliance might take less than 2 minutes, especially since you’ll be running it on 100% power. 

The best way to microwave spinach without the risk of overcooking it or zapping its nutrients is to nuke it in 30-second intervals. I recommend removing it from the microwave before it is completely done and letting residual heat cook it. Just be careful of the rising heat. 

Also, make sure you allow frozen spinach to thaw in the refrigerator for roughly 2 hours before putting it in the microwave. If you microwave it frozen, you risk ruining its texture and can easily overcook it while some leaves might remain cold. 

Tips to microwave spinach

Whether you’re reheating spinach or microwaving it to make a delicious side dish, here are some tips you should keep in mind:

  • If you want to microwave a large amount of spinach, it’s better to divide it into 2 batches and then nuke them separately to reduce the chance of overheating.
  • If your spinach has dried out and you don’t want to add water, you can use stock or wine instead. Remember, minerals and vitamins will leak into the water if you add too much. 
  • Preferably, you should undercook the spinach first and then nuke it in small intervals to completely eliminate the risk of overcooking. 
  • Using spinach water in stews or other dishes like rice and casseroles gives a great taste.
  • You can make your spinach more delicious by adding your preferred condiments and melted butter once you microwave the leaves for the initial 2-3 minutes. 
  • Chopping the spinach leaves before adding them to your recipe greatly enhances the flavor.   
  • Use a damp paper towel to trap steam in the bowl and speed up the cooking process. 

The Bottom Line

So there you have it! You now know how to microwave spinach without burning it or getting rid of its nutrients. Just make sure you don’t microwave it too much or add more water than necessary. Once it’s done, take it out, add your preferred flavorings, and enjoy your delicious side! 

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