Spanakorizo (Spinach and Rice)

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spanakorizo / spinach and rice

Such a healthy, hearty, tasty dish – this meal can be on your table in less than 40 minutes. Spanakorizo (Σπανακόριζο) is traditionally served as both a main and side dish. Pair it with a wedge of lemon and a piece of bread, this dish is delicious right off the stove or served at room temperature.

Guaranteed to become one of your go-to Greek vegan and Meatless Monday recipes, spanakorizo is another great option for take-to-work/school lunch.  I use fresh spinach probably 90% of the time but in a pinch,will use frozen spinach with perfectly fine results. Which type of spinach you use is completely up to you and you can experiment with different varieties.

My favorite is spinach that is still attached to the roots.  This kind of spinach, though not available regularly in my area, has the sweetest stems! I keep as much of the stem as possible and cut as close to the root bulb as I can.  Bite a piece of raw stem and you’ll taste the difference immediately.

spinach with roots attached

spinach with roots attached

More often available here is small leaf or ‘baby’ spinach with sweet, light leaves and thin, tender stems. Baby spinach makes for an overall lighter dish. Large leaf spinach gives a delicious earthy, almost minerally taste to your spanakorizo but the stems are often tough and stringy so I usually cut them down quite short. Don’t worry about the tougher, larger leaves here as the cooking time for this recipe allows them to soften up fine.

rinsed baby spinach

If you go with frozen chopped spinach, make sure to let it thaw before using and drain off any liquid.  A whole 10 ounce bag, the usual amount that frozen spinach comes in, will give you a spanakorizo that is very spinachy.  I think using 3/4 of a 10 ounce bag (1 cup) will do fine unless you are a big fan of spinach!

And I’d suggest chopping your onions and garlic fairly small, no rough chopping here. You don’t need to go for a tiny dice but keep in  mind you may get 2 or 3 pieces of garlic per fork and 3 big chunks could easily overwhelm your taste buds and upset the flavor balance of the dish entirely.

garlic and onion

garlic and onion

This recipe gives you herb options too.  Both fresh dill and fresh mint are delicious partners to spinach – on their own or in combination! Try each and see which is your favorite. And remember to use authentic Greek oregano whenever possible and preferably off the stem and not bottled.

dried Greek oregano on stem

dried Greek oregano on stem

Traditionally spanakorizo is made both with tomato and without.  Its just a matter of personal preference really as its just as tasty either way.


  • 1 pound fresh spinach rinses and chopped OR 1 cup of frozen spinach thawed and drained
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill OR fresh chopped mint OR combination of both
  • 1 tbsp dried Greek oregano
  • 1 cup white rice (medium grain)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • optional :  1/4 cup tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water

Cooking Instructions

Sauté onions and garlic gently in olive oil over low heat. Add salt, pepper, oregano and dill or mint. Stir to combine well.

If adding tomato – mix tomato paste in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add to pot. Mix ingredients well.

Add rice and cook for 5 minutes stirring often. If rice starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, lower the heat just slightly.

Add spinach and 3 cups water to pot, mix well to combine and bring to a low boil.

Once you’ve reached a low boil, lower to a very gentle simmer and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes. Check the rice for doneness at 25 minutes. It may need an additional 5 minutes or so for longer grains.

When rice is completely cooked, mix ingredients well, cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes before serving.

This recipe serves 4/6 – a family of 2 adults, 2 children with leftovers OR 4 adults.

spanakorizo / spinach and rice

spanakorizo / spinach and rice

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35 Responses to Spanakorizo (Spinach and Rice)

  1. Lisa August 25, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    also made this dish earlier tonight. delicious!

  2. Heather September 10, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    This is so delicious! Have you ever made it with brown rice? Any idea of the cooking time for that?

    • Kiki September 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      Hi Heather! It’s one of my favorite meals 🙂 I’ve never made it with brown rice but based on cooking with brown rice in toehr recipes, I think it would be safe to add maybe 1/3 cup more water and cook, covered, for an additional 20 minutes or so. That;s for medium grain brown rice. Long grain I’m not sure. Hope this helps and please let me know how it turns out!

      • Heather September 10, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

        Thanks, Kiki! I plan to try it tomorrow, so I will let you know!

  3. suzanne jenkins April 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Oh my. I’m not sure what the stature of the four adults is supposed to be, but I just ate half of it by myself. Delish!

    • Kiki April 21, 2014 at 2:14 am #

      It’s so good isn’t it? I base the 4 servings here on 3/4 cup portions. For cooked rice dishes, the normal serving size is half a cup but most of The Greek Vegan rice dishes are so good I figure in a bit more than ‘normal’ for serving sizes 🙂

  4. Anastasia April 28, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    Bravo! Amazing, flavorful dish! Made this tonight, and it was a hit for the family! Made Yiayia proud 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

    • Kiki April 30, 2014 at 2:23 am #

      Anastasia, Thank you for the sweet words – my Yiayias have been gone for some years now (9 & 20 yrs) and I often think how I hope they would be proud of this project. So glad you enjoyed the dish! Kiki xx

  5. Dana July 20, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    I just made this with medium grain brown rice and it was DELISH!!! I didn’t have greek oregano, so I used regular oregano and it tasted great. This dish mead me become a subscriber. Thank you for the recipe! I can’t wait to try the others as well! 🙂

    • Kiki July 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

      Hi Dana, So glad you found us! This is one of my favorite dishes, so quick and easy and yummy 🙂

  6. Allison Hopps September 9, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Hi! I made this tonight and the flavour was wonderful but there was too much water. I followed the recipe and used 3 cups…

    • Kiki September 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

      The flavors are so good aren’t they?! About the amount of water – can I ask, was the rice cooked before all the liquid was absorbed? Another question, what size grain of rice did you use? Sometimes short grain rice needs less liquid and can sometimes give you a more watery ‘looser’ finished dish. Happy to troubleshoot this with you directly at kiki(at) if thats easier so we can get your spanakorizo perfect! Kiki 🙂

  7. Ruthann September 11, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    I vary among the rices when I make this dish. Sometimes I use brown basmati instead of white. But I like the Arborio (risotto rice) the best. Since I don’t like to cook the life out of the spinach I cook the rice first, including the onions, garlic, oregano etc. in veggie broth; shortly before the broth is completely absorbed I stir in the raw spinach and in a few more minutes the dish is cooked. When using brown rice which takes a bit longer it is especially important. One can also make the traditional risotto and add the spinach toward the end. Lastly, sometimes I use chopped carrots, celery, red peppers, squash, tomatoes whatever I have on hand which I cook with the rice from the start but still add raw spinach toward the end. It makes more of vegetable rice pilaf. Growing my own lemons and being a fan I use lemons and zest in many of my dishes, but like the spinach I add these items just before the dish is fully cooked.

    • Kiki September 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

      Ruthann, love that you’re such are a fearless cook! 🙂
      Thanks for sharing those tips about the different kinds of rice and holding off on adding the spinach until the end. I’m going to try that one! Can’t tell you how jealous I am of your lemon tree – especially with the cost of lemons soaring here in the Boston area

  8. monica October 29, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    Love your recipes but unfortunately I assumed your “Print” button would print a printer friendly page. I just wasted about 25 pages printing only 4 recipes because every picture, link and comment was printed as well.

    • Kiki October 30, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      Hi Monica, So glad you enjoy our recipes! And thanks for letting me know about the print button – I’ll look into that right now. Kiki 🙂

  9. Miriam Kotsonis February 21, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    Just made it tonight with a blend of brown rice and farro, which I cooked separately (these days I cook rice/farro in lots of water and drain, like pasta) and added near the end. The change makes it more nutritious though less authentic in taste and texture. Thanks for the delicious recipe.

  10. Maria March 7, 2015 at 8:16 am #

    A variation I love is to add. A can of pumpkin (not the pie) with the tomato. Bulks it up nicely and givrs a creamy texture .

  11. Adahi April 6, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    Just made this using the tomato paste option. Absolute perfection. It tasted exactly like my beloved mother used to make it. I cannot thank you enough for the authentic recipe, and all the beautiful memories because of this dish.

  12. Mila Furman November 11, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    OMG this looks so heavenly!!!! I am DEFINITELY trying this out!!! YUM

  13. Johanna November 11, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

    Oh no, please, regular onion is not what I grew up on with this dish.
    The taste is so much better if you use a bunch of scallions, white and green parts, chopped up and added with the dill and rice and spinach and water and oil ALL at once at the beginning. Yes, squeeze lemon over the serving AND crumble feta on top.

    • Kiki November 11, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

      love love scallions, a great substitution – thanks for mentioning! and red onions are also lovely in this dish too 🙂

  14. Andrea E Tournis-Vagenas November 14, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    Made this last night but with riced cauliflower instead of rice, and it turned out amazing! I mixed the tomato paste with white wine, and added a few splashes instead of the water since I wasn’t cooking rice. Yummy!!!

    • Kiki November 14, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

      Andrea, that sounds fantastic!!! I’ve experimented a bit with cauli-rice but hadn’t thought of it in spanakorizo – can’t wait to try your version, thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  15. Lisa November 15, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi Kiki, I made this tonight — super good! I used a chopped up fresh tomato instead of paste, and it was about a cup of tomato, so I lowered the water to 2.5 cups. Delicious. Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. Barbara February 8, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

    Just made this with basmati brown rice….yum. I add the spinach after the rice has simmered for 15 min. I also use organic (when available) crushed tomatoes instead of sauce or paste for a richer sauce and lower sodium level. Looking forward to a comfort food dinner!

  17. Elaine May 15, 2016 at 11:20 pm #

    Can you estimate the calories in a 3/4 serving?

    • Kiki May 17, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

      Elaine, I really wouldn’t know how. So sorry! Kiki xx

  18. Toni Stratos April 14, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

    Love this dish but never had it with garlic!

  19. AV September 10, 2017 at 4:50 am #

    Here’s my manual pingback from trying your recipe:


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