How to Steam Spinach in Microwave

I’m sure you know spinach is good for your health. And there are many ways you can incorporate it into your meals. You can make a salad, use it in shakes, add it to soups, and even put it in eggs. And while you can have it raw, steaming it enhances the taste of your dish while making sure you get the nutrients, too. 

And the easiest and quickest way to steam spinach is to use a microwave. I know, it might sound strange but it can really save a lot of meal prep time and help you prepare a quick side dish without any hassle. Plus, it is a low-fat way of cooking.

Can you steam spinach in the microwave?

Yes, you can steam spinach in the microwave but make sure you eat it right away. 

It is best not to let steamed spinach go cold and reheat it later as it might oxidize the iron present in the spinach. 

You should also know that you don’t need to choose tender and young spinach leaves to steam in the microwave. You just need to choose bright green leaves without any yellow areas or bruising and remove the tough stems.

How to steam spinach in the microwave?

To steam spinach in the microwave, wash the leaves and put them in a microwave-safe container. Nuke them for 2 minutes on high or until they start to wilt. Once done, get rid of the extra water, if there’s any, and serve hot. You can also use the water for soups, stew, or whatever you’re cooking for a rich flavor.

Once you wash the spinach leaves, the next step is chopping. You can skip this step if you only chose shorter leaves. But I like cutting longer leaves since that makes them easier to eat. Chopping doesn’t have any effect on the flavor or cooking time. I also recommend using a stainless steel knife to prevent discoloration.

Put the leaves in a microwave-safe dish or plate. Ideally, the spinach should be a little wet. If you think it is too dry or if you’re using pre-washed, dried spinach, sprinkle around one tablespoon of water. I don’t recommend it but you can also use a microwave-safe plastic bag. Just make it has some way to let out steam.

Cover the microwave-safe dish with a microwave-safe plastic wrap or a glass lid. In the case of the former, make sure you poke some holes in it. Put the dish in the microwave and nuke it for around 2 minutes at the highest setting. Continue microwaving until the leaves wilt. 

I recommend allowing the spinach to rest for a minute to allow the heat to evenly cook it. Waiting will also cool down the dish a bit so that you don’t burn your hands while taking out this dish. 

Finally, take out the spinach, drain the residual water, and serve it. Make sure to use potholders or oven mitts when handling the dish, especially since the trapped steam can burn your hand. Give the leaves a quick stir to make sure they cook evenly. Keep in mind that moisture from the steaming process can turn the stomach into mush. Once you get rid of it, you will have crispy steamed spinach.

You can take your spinach up a notch by adding salt and pepper and seasonings like red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. Mix it well and serve or add it to your favorite dishes like rice or pasta.   

It’s best to consume steamed spinach as soon as possible, but you can also store it in a freezer in resealable plastic bags or airtight containers.

Remember, the key to steaming spinach is not overdoing it. Otherwise, it loses its nutritional value and moisture and what’s left behind is a mushy, gooey mess.  

Is it safe to steam spinach in the microwave?

It is completely safe to steam spinach in the microwave. It is a low-fat method if you use just water and it also preserves nutrients.

But before you start steaming spinach in the microwave, there are some things to note.

If you bought spinach from the store or picked it fresh from your garden, make sure to rinse it with cold water to get rid of dirt or mud stuck on the leaves. Then remove yellow/brown stalks and decaying leaves and soak the healthy leaves in water for a couple of minutes.

If the stalks are tough, I recommend that you trim them off with scissors or a knife and keep only the soft parts behind. 

Take out the soaked leaves and dry them with a paper towel if you want, but it’s best that you keep them a little wet before you microwave them.

Of course, you don’t need to do any of this if you have pre-packaged and pre-washed spinach. You don’t even need to cut it; you can directly microwave it. 

And while we’re talking about safety, you should avoid using a Ziploc bag. While these plastic bags are safe for defrosting and reheating, they are not suitable for steaming or cooking. Excessive heat can leach dangerous chemicals from the bag into the food.  

How long does it take to steam spinach in the microwave?

The time it takes to steam spinach leaves in the microwave depends on the type and amount of spinach and the microwave’s power. But generally, you can get steamed spinach in 1-3 minutes. 

Compared to other vegetables, it takes very little time to microwave spinach. In particular, baby spinach takes a relatively shorter time since the leaves are more tender and delicate than that of regular spinach. 

To give you a rough idea, 8 ounces of average-sized spinach leaves need less than 3 minutes in the microwave to steam. But of course, this also depends on your microwave. In this case, a 750-watt microwave might take 2½ minutes while an 800-watt microwave might take 2 minutes for the same amount.

Tips to steam spinach in the microwave

Steaming spinach in a microwave is easy and convenient. To make sure you get it right, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • When you’re done washing and cleaning the spinach, make sure to leave some moisture. The leaves should not be completely dry, otherwise, they might burn in the microwave. At the same time, they should not be excessively wet either. 
  • When adding spinach to a microwave-safe container, make sure not to overload it. Otherwise, the leaves will not be evenly steamed. If you have a larger quantity of spinach, it’s best to microwave it in batches.  
  • The easiest way to know whether your leaves are done or not is by simply taking a look at them. They should be limp but have a vibrant, bright green color. If your leaves are dark green, that means they’re overdone and have oxidized.
  • While you can season the spinach leaves after they’re done cooking, I recommend adding some flavors before microwaving to enhance the taste. I personally like adding minced garlic, lemon juice, and butter but this is completely optional and you can skip this step if you want to.   

Wrapping Up

You now know how to steam spinach in a microwave. And there’s a lot you can do with it. You can pair it up with steamed tofu, sesame seed oil, soy sauce, and toasted sesame seeds for a refreshing, healthy dish. Or you can combine it with feta and spread it on toast. You can even have it for breakfast – the combination of poached egg with garlic is unbeatable! 

Regardless of how you eat it, just make sure that the leaves are wet and that you don’t overdo them. You might not get it right the first time around, but with a little bit of experimentation, you will know how to perfectly steam spinach in the microwave!

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