Spanakorizo is a traditional Greek Spinach Rice recipe loaded with nutrients from spinach plus flavor from garlic, onions, herbs, and fresh lemon juice. Serve this easy and delicious spinach rice recipe as a vegetarian main or a side dish.

A closeup of spanakorizo in a serving bowl with a serving spoon.
Photo Credit: Ali Redmond

What is Spanakorizo?

A soft and creamy spinach rice recipe, Spanakorizo is considered classic Greek comfort food. It's one of my go-to dishes, especially when I want something cozy while sticking to healthy, whole foods.

Spanakorizo has vibes and flavors similar to spanakopita, my favorite crispy Greek spinach and feta pie, or my mac and cheese twist, but it's a little less involved, which means I can make it on a busy weeknight.

This spinach rice recipe can be served as a vegetarian meal, or make it vegan by omitting the feta cheese at the end (although I think it adds flavor and a touch of luxury). As a side, it is particularly great with meatballs, baked trout, or lemon chicken.

The benefit of cooking spinach is you can pack a ton of the nutrient-rich green into just a few bites, with this Greek rice dish or my spinach pasta, just to name a few. This recipe calls for 2 heaping cups of spinach to 1 cup of rice. It may sound like a lot of spinach, but the spinach wilts as it cooks making this rice-to-spinach ratio perfect. Plus, it's a way to amp up the nutrition since spinach adds antioxidants, fiber, iron, and calcium, as well as vitamins K, C, B12, B6, E, and more.

The next time you're craving comfort food, give spanakorizo a try!

Ingredients for spanakorizo including rice, olive oil, onion, baby spinach, lemon, garlic tomato paste, dried mint, dried dill, salt, pepper and feta cheese.

What is the Best Rice for Spanakorizo?

The kind of rice you use is key to the success of this recipe and achieving the perfect Greek spinach rice. I chose a medium-grain rice like arborio. This kind of rice is often used in risotto recipes like mushroom risotto or asparagus risotto or really any risotto for that matter.

If you use short-grain rice, you risk having a mushy/sticky result. And long grain rice will not give you the silky, creamy texture you need here.

And as far as brown rice vs. white rice. While brown rice may give you a slight advantage from a nutrition standpoint, it does take longer to cook and you risk overcooking the spinach and negatively impacting the flavor of this dish.

Ingredients Needed to Make Spinach Rice

The ingredients and flavors of spanakorizo are simple. This recipe focuses really on two star ingredients— rice and spinach. I use a couple of dried herbs, garlic, and a splash of lemon juice, which brightens the dish and lifts the flavor profile. Here's what you'll need to make this rice:

  • Medium-grain rice: I recommend medium-grain rice like arborio (and I have a few tips below for cooking it just right).
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Quality olive oils not only have loads of flavor but also high polyphenols (antioxidants). We offer high-quality Greek, Spanish, and California olive oils at our online shop.
  • Yellow onion: Chop the onion as finely as you can, it does not have to be perfect, but you don't want big chunks of onions in the rice.
  • Baby spinach: Look for spinach leaves that are dark in color and crisp-looking. You can use regular fresh spinach as well, but it will require some prep to remove the stem from the leaves and chop them into smaller pieces.
  • Lemon juice: Adds acidity and brightens the earthy flavor of the spinach. Freshly squeezed is best.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper: Think of salt as a flavor enhancer and the black pepper adds an subtle warmth.
  • Garlic cloves: Mince the garlic. You want the pieces small. If you need some tips we have you covered jus read, "How to Mince Garlic."
  • Tomato paste: This concentrated tomato powerhouse adds umami, color, and richness to the spinach rice.
  • Herbs: Mint and dill are bold flavor makers in their own right. They add an extra layer of complexity.
  • Feta: I like to use this salty Greek cheese as a garnish at the end. However, you can omit the feta to make the recipe vegan.

How to Make Greek Spinach Rice

This healthy spinach rice recipe is so easy to make, but it does take a little time. Including the time to soak the rice, you'll need just under an hour start to finish.

  • Rinse and soak rice. Rinse rice until the water runs clear, then cover it in a bowl with water to soak for about 20 minutes or until you can easily break a grain of rice.An overhead photo of rice soaking in a bowl of water for spinach rice recipe.
  • Cook the onions, spinach, and garlic. Saute the onions in extra virgin olive oil until soft and golden brown. Add the baby spinach, lemon juice, garlic, tomato paste, and a good dash of salt and pepper. Cook, tossing regularly, until the spinach is just wilted, then add the dried mint and dill weed.An overhead photo of onions and spinach after being sauteed in a skillet.
  • Add the rice and cook. Drain the rice well and add it to the pan with 1 ½ cups warm water. Boil for 3 minutes then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook covered until the rice is tender and fully cooked through and no liquid remains in the pot (about 20 minutes or so).An overhead photo of spanakorizo in a skillet.
  • Allow the rice to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Just leave it alone with the lid on top for 10 minutes or so, then you can fluff it up before serving.
  • Garnish and serve. I love adding a handful of crumbled creamy feta and finely chopped fresh spinach or minced parsley to finish this dish.
    An overhead photo of spanakorizio (Greek spinach rice recipe) in a skillet with a serving spoon next to a bowl of feta.

Tips for Cooking Rice

Properly cooking the rice is the most important part of making Spanakorizo. The goal is rice that's perfectly cooked, not mushy or sticky. Here are a few tips to help.

  • Always rinse and soak the rice first. Rinse the rice under cold water until it runs clear, instead of cloudy. Then soak it in a pan, covered with an inch of water, for 20 minutes. Rinsing the rice removes the starch, which makes the rice too sticky. Soaking also shortens the cooking time allowing the interior to cook before the exterior loses its shape.
  • Don't remove the lid during cooking. Though it may be tempting to peek, avoid removing the lid while the rice is cooking. Doing so will allow all the steam to escape and affect the cooking time.
  • Allow rice to sit undisturbed. Once the rice has finished cooking, allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so before adding the garnishes. This is the perfect time to finish up any meat or anything else you'll be serving with it.

What to Serve with Spanakorizo?

You can serve Greek spinach rice for an easy hot or cold vegetarian dinner. Just scoop it into a bowl, top with feta and a lemon slice. You can also add a dollop of Greek yogurt or even an egg on top. Or, serve it with a fresh side salad like Tomato Feta Salad or keep the theme going with a Traditional Greek Salad.

As a side dish, Spanakorizo pairs nicely with beef, lamb, and fish. A few of my favorites to serve it with are: Boneless Leg of Lamb, Chicken Souvlaki, and Garlic Salmon.

You can also turn it into a bowl meal and top it with Greek Meatballs or Shrimp Kabobs.

An overhead photo of spanakorizo in a serving bowl with a serving spoon. This is surrounded by a lemon and bowls of chopped parsley and feta.

How to Store Leftover Spinach Rice

This Spinach Rice recipe will keep an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Because this recipe tastes great either hot or cold, it's a great meal prep option. Pack spanakorizo in your lunch with some leftover Roasted Chicken. You don't even need to reheat it, but, of course, you can if you want to!

More Rice Recipes to Love

Private Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A high-quality olive oil perfect for everyday use! Our Private Reserve EVOO is medium in intensity with hints of fresh green herbs and a peppery finish.

a bottle of private reserve extra virgin olive oil from the mediterranean dish.

Browse more Greek recipes or all Mediterranean recipes.

Visit Our Shop for quality Mediterranean ingredients.

4.80 from 79 votes

Spanakorizo - Greek Spinach Rice

Suzy Karadsheh
A close up of spanakorizo (Greek spinach rice) in a skillet with a serving spoon.
Spanakorizo or Greek Spinach Rice is a comforting dish made with spinach and medium grain rice then flavor boosted with dried herbs, garlic, onion, and a splash of lemon juice. This easy spinach rice recipe can be enjoyed as a vegetarian main for 4 people or as a side with your favorite protein (up to 6 people).
Prep – 20 minutes
Cook – 40 minutes
Total – 1 hour
Cuisine:
Greek
Serves – 6 servings
Course:
Side Dish

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup medium grain rice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • Feta, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Soak the rice: Rinse the rice well a few times until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a bowl and add water to cover it by 1 inch. Let sit to soak for 20 minutes or until you can easily break one grain of rice between your fingers.
  • Saute the spinach: Heat ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil in a braising pan. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft and golden brown. Add the spinach, lemon juice, garlic, tomato paste, and a big pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Sautee the spinach until just wilted. Stir in the mint and dill.
  • Add the rice to the pan: Drain the rice well and add it to the pan. Add 1 ½ cups of warm water. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes until the water reduces a bit. Turn the heat to low and cover.
  • Cook: Let the rice cook undisturbed for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and fully cooked through and all the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Rest: Once cooked, let the rice sit covered for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve: When ready, fluff the rice with a fork and garnish with feta, additional finely chopped spinach, or minced parsley, if you like.

Notes

  • Medium grain rice like arborio is best to give you the right creamy texture without being too sticky. Brown rice takes longer to cook, so if you use brown rice here, you may overcook the spinach to a point that will affect the flavor. 
  • Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils and spices. 

Nutrition

Calories: 252.1kcalCarbohydrates: 37.2gProtein: 5.3gFat: 9.6gSaturated Fat: 1.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6.6gSodium: 201mgPotassium: 544.7mgFiber: 3.4gSugar: 1.8gVitamin A: 7193.7IUVitamin C: 24.2mgCalcium: 89mgIron: 4.2mg
Tried this recipe?

Share it with the world

I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
Learn More

Get our best recipes and all Things Mediterranean delivered to your inbox.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How many stars would you give this recipe?




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Sara says:

    1 star
    followed recipe perfectly but certain things stood out to me as not quite right.

    as made, to the letter, a completely bland dish with no dimension or flavor at all.

    pass on this, and pick a better recipe.

  2. Yolanda says:

    5 stars
    Delicious. We enjoyed it as a side to baked fish,and I plan to make this rice dish many more times!

  3. Emily says:

    5 stars
    I really enjoyed this dish. It came together quickly and was easy. Based on other comments, I used only 3/4Tbsp of lemon juice. I also left off the feta. My husband & I split the dish for supper. Next, I’m looking forward to trying the rice pilaf!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thanks for the great review, Emily!

  4. Donna says:

    Could you use basmatti rice?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Donna. We really prefer using a medium-grain rice for this recipe. Long grain rice, like basmati, will not give you the silky, creamy texture you need here.

  5. Angela says:

    5 stars
    This is SOOOO good!!! I added a can of chick peas for extra protein as a 1 course meal. Definitely a keeper!
    Thinking of making it again with some chicken Kebob with tzatziki sauce.

    1. TMD Team says:

      Great idea, Angela! Thanks for sharing!