Introduce your kids to the deliciousness of Cheesy Baby Spinach with this crazy-fast recipe. It takes about 5 minutes to make and has a texture soft enough for toddlers to chew—and the cheese on top really helps to sell it with any green-food skeptics.

cheesy greens on divided plate with pink fork

This recipe never fails to surprise me with both its ease and its deliciousness. It’s from a friend who’s daughter absolutely loved cheesy spinach when she was a year old. This was remarkable for many reasons, especially since greens are often a tough sell with kids.

But Violet’s mama, Virginia Sole-Smith, is also super smart and figured out a crazy-quick and yummy way to make greens for kids that even the littlest eaters love.

My daughter eats this by the bowlful—the cheese makes the spinach really easy to eat with a fork, which she is starting to get the hang of. Otherwise, we just let her self-feed with fingers and wipe the mess up later. We usually serve it alongside scrambled eggs, but it would also be good on top of toast if your kid is up to mixed textures. And sometimes if I’m really lazy, this is dinner and she just eats a whole bowl.

There are many quick ways to cook baby spinach, so I have an option here to use a microwave since it means you can have wilted spinach in about 30 seconds, you don’t need to clean a pan, and the nutrients are sealed in since the cooking time is so fast. But if you’d prefer not to use a microwave, you can also make this on a stove top.

This is a nice option for an iron-rich food for kids that’s crazy fast to cook.

(You may also like my Spinach Pasta Sauce.)

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Ingredients You Need

To make this quick side dish, you’ll need to have the following ingredients on hand and ready to go.

ingredients for cheesy spinach on plate.
  • Baby spinach: I use fresh baby spinach here since it cooks so quickly.
  • Olive oil: I prefer to use extra-virgin olive oil in my kitchen. You can use butter here instead, if you prefer.
  • Shredded cheese: I usually use cheddar cheese, though you can vary this according to your preference.
  • Lemon juice: A little fresh lemon juice perks up the flavors of the spinach.

TIP: You can use shredded cheddar cheese, mozzarella, fontina, Gouda, Havarti, or a pizza or taco blend. It’s really quite versatile!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at how to make this simple spinach recipe. Scroll down to see the full recipe at the bottom of the post, including the amounts and the timing.

cut up spinach on plate with scissors.
  1. Gather your ingredients.
  2. Use kitchen shears to cut the greens into thin strips.
  3. Place the greens into a heat-safe bowl and top with oil and lemon juice. Warm in the microwave. (Or you can do this in a pan on the stovetop.)
  4. Top with cheese and warm just to melt. Add salt if desired.

TIP: Microwaves preserve nutrients in food while cooking, despite commonly held beliefs that they do the opposite, but you can simply use the stovetop option if you prefer.

Stove-Top Cheesy Spinach

To make this on the stove top in a pan, you just change the order of the steps slightly: Warm the oil in a pan, then add the spinach, then the cheese and lemon juice. It’s a quick and easy way to make cheesy greens like these.

toddler divided plate with cheesy greens

Other Greens to Use

If you’d like to change things up or you find other greens at your market, you can make this recipe using full-size spinach, baby kale, regular curly kale, lacinato (or “dinosaur”) kale, or Swiss chard.

If using kale or chard, remove the leaves from the stems and use the leaves only.

Serving Suggestions

This easy spinach recipe pairs well with Pan-Seared Chicken Tenders, Cooked Quinoa, Cooked Eggs, Healthy Meatballs, and more. It’s a healthy side dish you can pair with almost anything your family likes.

Best Tips for Success

  • These cheesy greens are best eaten right after making.
  • Use baby spinach, spinach, kale, baby kale, or Swiss chard.
  • Remove the inner stem from greens including kale and chard.
  • Cut greens into small pieces with kitchen shears.
  • To make these dairy-free, omit the cheese and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
  • You can double or triple the recipe to feed more people in your family.

I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe so please comment below to share.

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cheesy greens on divided plate with pink fork

Cheesy Baby Spinach

This fast side dish is a delicious way to serve spinach to kids. Use baby spinach, regular spinach, baby kale, or lacinato kale (sometimes called dinosaur kale) for best results and easy chewing.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 6 minutes
Cuisine American
Course side
Calories 94kcal
Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup loosely packed baby spinach or baby kale (chopped or snipped with kitchen shears into small pieces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar (or mozzarella, ricotta, or crumbled goat cheese)
  • Salt (to taste)
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Instructions

  • Place the greens into a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Drizzle on the olive oil and lemon juice and heat for 30 seconds.
  • Remove from the microwave, top with cheese, and heat for an additional 15-30 seconds until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
  • To make this on the stove top:
    Heat a nonstick or stainless-steel skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the greens. Stir to cook until greens are wilted, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat into a bowl. Top with cheese, lemon juice, and salt.

Notes

  • These greens are best eaten right after making.
  • Use baby spinach, spinach, kale, baby kale, or Swiss chard.
  • Remove the inner stem from greens including kale and chard.
  • Cut greens into small pieces with kitchen shears.
  • Dairy-free: Omit the cheese and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
  • Double or triple the recipe to feed more people.

Nutrition

Calories: 94kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 129mg, Potassium: 187mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 2984IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 152mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This recipe was first published June 2019.

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