Spanakorizo (Σπανακόρυζο)

Spanakorizo (Σπανακόρυζο)

A classic recipe for Greek spanakorizo, a spinach and rice dish served in a tomato base.

If we were to assign a relationship status to each of our parents’ recipes, the one for spanakorizo would definitely read “it’s complicated”.  You see, as children, we hated this dish almost as much as we love it now.  And we didn’t just, not like it…no.  The mention of spanakorizo for supper, or the smell of it cooking for lunch, elicited a physical response which included gagging and waves of nausea.  The upside is that our visceral dislike for spanakorizo did support sibling connectedness, as we all worked together to rid ourselves of the vile meal without actually having to consume much of it.  Many a times, a diversion was created, just enough of a distraction to allow us to wrap some of the spanakorizo in a paper towel and toss it in the trash.  Our poor parents.  We don’t think they ever caught on.

Spanakorizo (Σπανακόρυζο)

Anyhow, I guess we were pretty dumb kids because really, spanakorizo is anything but gross. It is a classic,  easy,  nutritious dish which reminds us that simple, wholesome ingredients can come together to create something which is pretty darn good.  The name spanakorizo is a composite of the two key ingredients: spanaki meaning spinach and rizi meaning rice.  There are a few other things thrown in of course, but the main stars are the greens and grain. Despite admitting that our childhood-selves loathed this meal, we hope that you do give it a try. Remember, today we crave it!  And for the record, when we made spanakorizo for our kids when they were little, they loved it and would gobble it all up….we think.

Helpful hints:

When the snow is gone and the weather is warm, our parents plant and then tend to their bountiful garden.  One of the most amazing things that our parents grow is spinach; wonderful not only because it is so good for us, but also because once cut, it grows back!  An endless (almost) supply of fresh, organic, deliciousness.


Of course, if you don’t have spinach growing in your garden, you can use what you find in the market.  Try to select spinach which looks fresh, is not wilted and does not have any brown or yellow leaves.  If you do find the occasional spoiled leaf, just remove it.

When our parents use their own fresh spinach they do not remove the stem as it is quite tender.  If, however, you find that store bought spinach leaves have tough stems, take the extra bit of time to cut them off, particularly if you will be serving this meal to young kids.  There is nothing inherently wrong with the stem, and they are perfectly fine to eat, but they might be a little too tough for little mouths.

Wash your spinach thoroughly by filling a large bowl with water, dunking the spinach in it and swirling it around, a bit at a time.  Do this a few times, with a fresh bowl of water each time,  until the water in the bowl is clean and does not have any dirt or grit.


When you see the amount of spinach you need for this recipe your first reaction might be, “That’s a LOT of spinach”, and then you may worry that you don’t have a pot large enough to cook it in.  But spinach, like most other greens, wilts quite a bit when cooked, and you go from thinking, “That’s a LOT of spinach” to “Where the heck is the spinach?”


Our parents make spanakorizo with their own bottled tomato sauce.  If you don’t make your own tomato sauce, you can use a good quality tomato juice or passata.  Your choice may affect the colour of your spanakorizo (the passata may result in a redder meal than the tomato juice), but either is really fine.  Don’t worry about it too much.


Our parents’ spanakorizo is not dry.  The spinach and rice bathe in the rich, tomato based sauce. This is the perfect time to grab a piece of bread and dunk away.  Don’t worry, nobody is looking.

Spanakorizo (Σπανακόρυζο)
Spanakorizo (Σπανακόρυζο)

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A classic recipe for Greek spanakorizo, a spinach and rice dish served in a tomato base.

Spanakorizo (Greek spinach and rice)

A classic recipe for Greek spanakorizo, a spinach and rice dish served in a tomato base.
4.81 from 21 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 432kcal
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • sauce pot


  • 3/4 cup long grain rice, uncooked
  • 20 ounces chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup Greek olive oil extra virgin
  • 3-4 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice optional


  • Rinse 3/4 cup rice in cold water and set aside.
    3/4 cup long grain rice, uncooked
  • Rinse the chopped spinach well.  Rinse the parsley.  Set aside.
    20 ounces chopped fresh spinach
  • In a large pot sauté in the 1/2 cup of olive oil the 3-4 spring onions for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly so that they do not burn.  To the pot add the spinach and the 1/4 cup parsley.  It may appear that there is too much spinach for the pot, but as it heats it will wilt and decrease in volume.  Add rice on top of the spinach.
    1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 cup Greek olive oil, 3-4 spring onions, chopped
  • Add 2 cups water and 2 cups tomato sauce to the pot.  Cover and cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes check to see how much liquid is in the pot, and test to see if the rice is cooked.  If the spanakorizo appears too liquidy, continue to cook, uncovered, for a few minutes. Remove from the heat, and let sit a few minutes before serving; The longer it sits, the more it will thicken up.
    2 cups tomato sauce, 2 cups water
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
    salt and pepper
  • Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a side of feta if desired.
    freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Enjoy!



Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Sodium: 704mg | Potassium: 1241mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 14228IU | Vitamin C: 55mg | Calcium: 183mg | Iron: 6mg

Thanks for sharing!


  1. Great story 🙂 🙂 and thank you for recipe. Spinach is not my favourite. But maybe I am now grown up enough? ….:)

    1. miakouppa says:

      hehehe. Let us know if you try it, and like it 🙂

  2. elliebleu says:

    I laughed when I read about the love/hate relationship with spanakorizo. This is one of my favorite dishes to make for my nieces. Sometimes, I add a few more veggies that I have on hand and bake it in a casserole with a little feta on top. Its a great way to sneak spinach into a little one’s diet.

    1. miakouppa says:

      It certainly is! Spinach is not a favourite for the little ones, that is for sure.. I guess our tastes change as we ahem….mature 🙂

      1. elliebleu says:

        mature is the key word 🙂 lol

    2. I’m married to a Greek and my elderly in-laws used to make this a lot. I love making it now because I miss it and it’s tasty and healthy and I know my in-laws (Yiayia and Papou) appreciate it when we make Greek dishes, but my husband and youngest child (who still lives at home) are never keen. Tomorrow, I’m going to add shrimp at the child’s request, so maybe I’ll win them over this time! No complaints, however, when we make avgolemono or pastisio.

      1. miakouppa says:

        Amazing! The addition of shrimp may make all the difference for your family!!! We hope so!! In fact, as children we both HATED this meal! But now it is one of our favourites, so there is hope! lol. Hope you find much to love here with us xoxo Helen & Billie

  3. chefkreso says:

    Really lovely recipe and a really nice post 🙂

  4. all i have left to buy for this recipe is spinach; 20 cups for 4-6 people is almost 3-4 cups per person. Your lovely pictures are what draws me to this recipe. I am looking at your keywords since i am afraid that the recipe wont be on the right hand side anymore by the time I am ready to make it.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Marina. If you type spanakorizo in the search bar, you should find it! Otherwise, it is in the drop down menu of recipes under Vegan and also Nistisimo. I hope you enjoy this meal – it is really a delicious and easy way to eat your greens 🙂

  5. Marb Rivera says:

    Hi, I absolutely love Greek food along with Persian cuisine. Those two are my most loved foreign cuisine. I am looking in the internet for that perfect and authentic spanakorizo recipe that I can try cooking at home. I am just curious why your recipe used tomato sauce thus ending a bit redder than usual and soupier. All the spanakorizo I’ve encountered so far are white-greenish and dry. Is it really how the Greeks make it over there?

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Marb! Thank you for your interest in Mia Kouppa. Indeed, this is how our parents have always made spanakorizo, and this is how everyone in our family has as well. I’m sure there are regional and familial variations, all of which are likely delicious! Hope you try our version. Let us know how you like it! 🙂

  6. This looks delicious! Can frozen spinach be substituted for fresh?

    1. miakouppa says:

      Thanks Tiffany! Sure, you can try the recipe with frozen spinach 🙂

  7. Great to read. My mum suggested a few springs of mint and anything green going in the garden (eg silverbeet/ leek). Our little girl dubbed spanakorizo and its variations, a “yucky yum yum” food. That is, it looks yucky but tastes yum yum! She reckons a lot of Greek dishes fall into this category eg lentil soup (fakes) and fasolia me patates (green bean and potato stew).

    1. miakouppa says:

      This is hilarious!!! “Yucky yum yum” is classic, and we might borrow it 🙂

  8. Rene Lemelin says:

    I had a Greek Uncle that made this recipe exactly as you make it with the addition of mint for flavor. Poli Cala. 👍😋

    1. miakouppa says:

      Oh that’s awesome! We’re so happy that our recipe brought back fond food memories.

  9. I was laughing and nodding my head yes at the start of your story. I hated this dish growing up and thankfully Yiayia didn’t make it too often. I remember not being able to stomach any more of it one night and my Thea Thekla made me sit at the counter and finish every last grain. I think I was 8-10 years old. My Yiayia never made me eat it again. Now since then (I’m now 51) I have actually had a craving for it and was looking around for about a year now, albeit not too aggressively, for recipe. This popped up in a post on a Facebook page. Just printed it! Thanks for the giggle, the memory you brought back and the recipe. I hope to try it out later this week, matter of fact I think I have everything already so it might be sooner rather than later.

    1. miakouppa says:

      That’s amazing Diana! Thanks for taking the time to write and share your spanakorizo memory, even if a bit traumatic! LOL We hope you did give this recipe a try, and loved it. We actually make this often now, and love it almost as much as we hated it as kids!!

  10. I hope I did you all proud! I agree about not liking it as a child. I did not have a visceral response but I didn’t enjoy it. My 21 year old, however, has been dying for me to make it since I told him I was going to! LOL! He’s liked it since very young. Thank you once again for helping me with the boost of confidence I sincerely need cooking-wise as well as connecting culturally! 🙂

    1. miakouppa says:

      Oh that’s so great Gia!!! We’re so happy that you tried our spanakorizo, and we are VERY proud 🙂 Did your son enjoy it??

  11. helen hasapes says:

    My YiaYia would stay the 6 months allowed when we were growing up, many times over and helped raise my sister and I. Our mother passed away when my sister was 6 and I was almost 2. We however loved her cooking and this dish. She would add the juice from the lemons straight into the rice, spinach, tomato sauce as it cooked. Making the lemon a key flavor of the dish. A favorite she would make and something my sister and I still talk about how good it was even after 50 years.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Beautiful, and delicious, memories! Your yiayia’s version of spanakorizo sounds lovely. xoxo Helen & Billie

  12. Anastasia says:

    Hi there, I would swear we were related! I hated it so much that my parents would make me sit at the table with my uneaten plate of spanakorizo long after everyone else was done and the dishes were washed. I would then scrape it off my plate into the trash and cover it with a paper napkin.I would also wipe the edge of my plate of the oily evidence that it had gotten scraped off the plate. I think I only started loving it as a teen. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. miakouppa says:

      Ahahahaha, love it Anastasia!! You had quite a system going! We respect that 🙂 Funny how our tastes change as time goes on. So happy to have you here with us. xoxo Helen & Billie

      1. I would like to know if I can use a different type rice (instead of long grain rice) for the spanakorizo. Would Arborio be also good to use. Thank you

      2. miakouppa says:

        Hi Marina, Sorry for the delay in responding to you. You probably can without issue. Good luck! xoxo Helen & Billie

  13. This dish is a favorite of mine. My mom is from Kalamata and still makes this as a side dish to this day. In fact I had it yesterday. I make this often myself. This recipe is pretty similar to the way my mom makes it. Like yours, here is also more wet / saucy, though I have had versions that are much dryer. I prefer the saucier version. Side bar, in a pinch, when I have a craving and I do not have spinach in the house, I have used kale. It comes equally as tasty. Just need to make sure you cook it a teeny bit longer as kale can be tough. Bravo! Glad to see so many people loving it!

    1. miakouppa says:

      Thanks so much for your comment August! Agreed, spanakorizo is such an amazing food. Perfect as a side, or as a main meal which is how we usually have it. Love the idea of using kale for a twist. One of us (Billie) grows a ton of kale in her garden, so this will be a good way to use it! Thanks for stopping by, and hope you continue to find much to love here. xoxo Helen & Billie

  14. Layne Marshal says:

    My father favored avgolemono, which he made with orzo (pasta). I bet it would be a good substitute for this recipe.5 stars

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi there Layne! We have realized that many people use orzo in recipes where we traditionally use rice. It is very interesting! And we are sure equally delicious! xoxo Helen & Billie

  15. Great dish. I grew up on this. Only thing I changed is I used Cento Passata for the tomato sauce like my pappou did with homemade tomato sauce with tomatoes from the garden. Your recipe is the same and so very tasty. I make it alot. Kali oreksi5 stars

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Manolis! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. So glad that you love this recipe. The homemade tomato sauce that we use is very much like store bought Passata; strained tomatoes and not much else (well, some basil and olive oil…but mainly tomatoes 🙂 ). Hope you find much more to love here with us! xoxo Helen & Billie

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