Dairy free, Entree, Gluten free, Mediterranean Recipes, Mediterranean Vegan Recipes, Pasta & Grains, Sides, Vegetable Main Courses, Vegetarian Mediterranean Recipes

Greek Spinach and Rice – Spanakorizo

spanakorizo Greek spinach and rice

Ah the spanakorizo … This dish was a winter staple in our home. My mom would make it once a week, all winter long. She would usually accompany it with a small cheese pie (tiropitaki) or one or two Greek meatballs, and while you may think that as children we would hate it because of the spinach, it actually was a comfort food.

It is soft and creamy, and along with plenty of lemon juice, a bit of olive oil and of course feta, it was delicious (and still is).

Spanakorizo is such a simple dish as many Greek ones are, but yet delicious and easy to make. Oh, and did I mention its nutritional value? Spinach full of antioxidants and fiber, the lemon helps with some absorption of the iron in the spinach and the rice is a source of carbohydrates to provide sustenance. The actual recipe has little olive oil during the cooking stage, but adding some olive oil while serving makes it even more delicious and the addition of fat helps with the absorption of antioxidants. Now this recipe makes about 2 main course servings, so basically you are getting ½ pound of vegetables in one sitting. The beauty of the Greek diet… getting your vegetables effortlessly.

The rice

A note about the rice: It is important to use the right type which in this case is medium grain rice. You do not want short grain rice which may end up giving your dish a sticky texture, but not long grain either as you will not have the smooth texture we are looking for in this recipe. As for brown rice, it takes a while longer to cook and as a result you may be overcooking the spinach as well.

This can be enjoyed plain (without feta) for a vegan dish or with feta. And this is considered a main course, but you may serve it as a side dish. It goes well with fish or beef patties (biftekia).

Greek Spinach and Rice – Spanakokorizo

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Spanakorizo: A traditional Greek rice and spinach dish that will become a winter staple, thanks to its flavor.
Course: Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean, Vegan
Keyword: Spanakorizo Greek Spinach Rice
Servings: 2 Main Course servings or 4 sides
Calories: 350kcal
Author: Elena Paravantes RDN
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  • 1 pound (450 g) fresh spinach rinsed
  • Juice of half lemon
  • 1 onion chopped or 2-3 spring onions chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • I teaspoon dry mint
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup (60 g) medium grain rice
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional


  • In a large pot wilt the spinach with the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Set aside to drain.
  • In another pot sauté the onion with the rest of the olive oil until soft.
  • Add the spinach, dry mint, dill and 2/3 cup warm water and bring to a boil.
  • Add the rice, salt (as needed) and pepper and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes until rice is soft. Add additional warm water as needed.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of olive oil and feta.


You may add the tomato paste in step 4.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Leave a comment or share on instagram and mention @greekdiet


Greek Spinach and Rice Spanakorizo

Image by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved

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  • Reply Elna van der Merwe June 11, 2021 at 7:27 am

    I am making this for the second time today as the first time round it was so delicious! Thank you so much, Elena. Today I am adding a whole bunch of mint leaves. Also, I only now discovered the function where I can type in the number of servings – and then have the ingredients adapted. So helpful!

  • Reply joan liakos April 7, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Tasted just like yiayias! Loved it.

  • Reply Karen Neale March 29, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    I love love love your cookbook. I’m making one or two recipes a week, and I just made this one. It’s perfect!5 stars

  • Reply Tracy March 3, 2021 at 11:19 am

    Gunna make this today

  • Reply iliana February 10, 2021 at 3:12 am

    Surprisingly fresh and delicious! My grandma use to make it without the lemon. I like it with lemon better!5 stars

  • Reply Lynette January 22, 2021 at 12:22 am

    Just made this and came out delicious and is very comforting. I recommend always using the tomato paste bc that’s how my yia ya made it .5 stars

  • Reply Stephanie Birn January 21, 2021 at 11:51 am

    Can I use frozen spinach?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 21, 2021 at 2:52 pm

      Generally frozen spinach doesn’t provide the texture and flavor as fresh.

  • Reply Jackie January 17, 2021 at 1:10 am

    Made this tonight for the first time and I was very pleased with the results. Worked well as a side dish with salmon. Will definitely make this again.5 stars

  • Reply Leah January 7, 2021 at 4:27 am

    Love your site! It is helping me add so many more veggies to my diet!

    I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it never has nearly the spinach-to-rice ratio you have in your picture. It’s WAY more spinach with just a little rice. That’s not a bad thing but I’m wondering if I’m doing it right. Maybe I’m not wilting the spinach enough? It’s arborio rice; is that the issue?

    Thank you!5 stars

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 7, 2021 at 10:22 am

      No,it’s not a bad thing at all! Arborio should fine.The spinach continues to cook in the pot so I don’t think it is the wilting.

  • Reply George January 3, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    4+need honey+walnuts. Try.

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  • Reply Nicky September 16, 2020 at 2:28 am

    Can I use silverbeet instead of spinach?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN September 18, 2020 at 5:32 am

      Yes, you can! It will have a slightly different flavor but it will work texture-wise

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  • Reply Jean Neely May 20, 2020 at 12:27 am

    This was delicious. I will be making it again!
    The only issue I had was that the rice was not quite done. Close but a few grains had a wee bit of crunch.
    I saw in answer to another comment that it should be covered while the rice is cooking. Yes? I did stir it occasionally to make sure all the grains got submerged at times. I was afraid to add too much water and make it too soupy. Any more details you can give about this step?
    Thanks!!5 stars

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 20, 2020 at 6:10 am

      Thanks Jean! Yes, it should be covered ( I just added that to the instructions). Regarding the rice, when l make, I’ll taste the rice, if not done I’ll add 1-2 tablespoons at a time of hot water and continue simmering until the rice is done.

  • Reply Anthony Vrondissis April 24, 2020 at 4:26 am

    I love this dish, and thank you for sharing. Have you ever tried cooking any of these rice and vegetable dishes in a slow cooker? If so, how long would it take and what setting would you use?

  • Reply Patricia Reilly March 15, 2020 at 4:34 am

    This feels so delicious to my mind’s tongue! I thought I might serve it on a buffet in mini pitas with a scatter of chopped tomato and perhaps black olive to make it zip . Would that be blasphemous?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN March 19, 2020 at 11:36 am

      Sounds like an interesting idea, although the flavors of this recipe are best showcased as is, with a squeeze of lemon and some feta. It also may be a bit liquidy and may make the pita soggy.

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  • Reply Brenda February 24, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    We use alot of your recipes and love them all but this one is incredible. Literally can’t stop eating it!!

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  • Reply Alexandra December 1, 2019 at 8:44 am

    Excellent!! My favorite recipe, works every time we make it a few times a month.5 stars

  • Reply Nejat October 30, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Hi Elena, Can I use pudding rice?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN November 6, 2019 at 6:26 am

      The rice should be medium grain, otherwise the texture will not be right.

  • Reply Duncan Witt October 11, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Staying at our house on Skiathos Island, we like to cook authentic Greek meals. Thank you for this great site with lovely recipes. My wife didn’t like spinach until I cooked Spinach this way with the rice and onion, I followed the recipe except I added the wilted spinach at the end. Needless to say she loved it so much so that we have had it twice in a week! Many thanks.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN October 11, 2019 at 6:35 am

      Thank you for sharing Duncan! Happy that this recipe changed your wife’s opinion about spinach 🙂

  • Reply Gabriela August 1, 2019 at 2:34 am

    Thank you for this recipe, it’s the first time I have made rice with spinach that turned out right! I love it.
    I made your praso rizo as well and it was delicious. I had no clue that rice with lemon could work so well.
    I loooove your blog!

  • Reply The Complete Guide to The Authentic Mediterranean Diet | Olive TomatoOlive Tomato June 27, 2019 at 3:54 pm

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    • Reply jean spagadoros November 27, 2019 at 6:08 am

      05 stars

  • Reply O. Filakouris May 13, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    Do you think I could make this with quinoa?

  • Reply Lucy M Garcia May 11, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    do you cover the rice while its cooking.

  • Reply Dan May 11, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Hi, I tried your recipe and loved the flavor! The only thing is I have no reference since I’m completely new to Greek cuisine and where I live, there is no place for reference, so I’m not sure about its consistency. I know this dish is probably its own thing and I’m embarrassed to even ask, but should I aim more for the consistency of pilaf or that of risotto?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 11, 2019 at 5:36 pm

      Hi Dan, It should have more of a soft consistency (not totally like a risotto but it should well cooked. A good spanakorizo should not have a pilaf consistency.

    • Reply Duncan Witt October 11, 2019 at 6:15 am

      In answer to Lucy. If you cover rice or pasta it will boil over onto the cooker.

      • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN October 11, 2019 at 6:17 am

        Thanks Duncan, in this case you would cover it as it is simmering with the spinach, so it would not boil over.

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  • Reply Calsly March 4, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    Hello; I’m new to your site and wanted to say thank you, this dish is absolutely delicious and incredibly filling. I have also prepared the Barley Rusks and it was delicious and crispy this morning with greek yogurt and tomato. I am so glad I found your site!

  • Reply Ann Sims February 26, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    I am new to the Med diet and so delighted to find this website. I made this Spanakopita and fell in love. I love lemons so that’s why I tried this recipe first. Even my husband who doesn’t like spinach ate his full share and agreed to have it again. I omitted the tomato & feta and used Parmesan & pine nuts.

  • Reply Michelle February 7, 2019 at 11:46 am

    Thank you so much for this recipe!
    I’ve been trying to incorporate more greens into my diet, and this was just wonderful. It tasted so vibrant and fresh, even using brown rice.
    Thank you!

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  • Reply Nan October 3, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Is this good the next day?

  • Reply Mary September 5, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    I always use cooked brown rice for this recipe. I also add some crushed garlic and use frozen spinach. My husband loves it. He is diabetic and cannot eat white rice. Believe me it turns out very good.

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  • Reply Kathy Hansen May 15, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    I just made my first recipe from your website, Greek Spinach and Rice. It is delicious! Tomorrow I’m making the Greek Green Beans, and then the Lentils. I shared your website with my doctor who is a D.O. and all about healthy cooking. She is excited to try your recipes too!

  • Reply Debbie February 15, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Hi, Can I use white basmati rice? not sure what a “medium” rice is…. looking forward to trying this!

  • Reply Joanne February 11, 2018 at 1:59 am

    I just made this for my kids tonight. It was a huge hit with my 8 yr old. I served it with some rosemary bread, potatoes sauteed in olive oil and garlic and green beens. He said it was really good. I did put out cheese but he’s not a huge fan of cheese right now. Thanks for the great recipe. I’ve Bern looking for a better way to serve spinach. It was delicious!

  • Reply Pam January 5, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    What if I used long grain brown rice….will it be a disaster?
    Thank you kindly for your reply. Pam

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 6, 2018 at 8:30 am

      Hi Pam, It most likely not have that smooth texture since brown rice has more of a “bite”.

  • Reply Nancy S November 29, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    I had this in Greece and LOVED it. Since then, I’ve tried a few recipes, but none of them were the same….can’t wait to try yours! Do you use fresh or dried dill in this recipe? If you’re using fresh, any idea how much dried I should try? Thanks!!

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  • Reply Peggie November 18, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    I have been looking for a spinach and rice recipe for a very long time. I am originally from Toronto and about 40 years ago started going out to a Greek restaurant on Pape Ave. I think it was called Ella’s just north of the Danforth. They had an “open kitchen” and that was one of my favourite dishes. I look forward to trying your recipe soon.

  • Reply Dina Kolokotas September 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Is the rice washed and uncooked when added to the wilted spinach? Can you use canned tomatoes with herbs instead of tomato paste?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN September 27, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Dina,
      Yes, the rice is uncooked when added to the spinach. You can add a small amount of canned tomatoes, not too much -you don’t want the dish very tomatoey, you do not even need to add any tomato.

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  • Reply Eleni April 11, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Do you precook rice? And when do you add the onion?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN April 11, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Eleni, No you do not precook the rice, it cooks with the rest of the ingredients for 20 minutes. For the onion in step 3 you add spinach etc. in the pot that you have sautéed the onion.

      • Reply Eleni April 11, 2017 at 5:47 pm

        Thank you

  • Reply Melanie April 3, 2017 at 10:30 am

    spanakorizo as a base for stir-fry – with or without meat/chicken – is delicious; a combination of culture-cooking, it is colourful & very healthy.

  • Reply A March 28, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    What a revelation! Elena, thank you so much for this recipe: it has been a staple of my diet throughout the winter, and even now that spring is here I can’t seem to stop making it. I’m not sure I even remember what I used to eat all the time! 🙂 It made me want to ask though – because the taste is similar – if you have a good recipe for dolmades (the vegetarian ones)? I love them and I eat them whenever I go to Greece, but I’ve never managed to find a recipe that tastes the same. If you have one I’d love if you could post it! Thanks again – love your site 🙂

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  • Reply Leila May 22, 2016 at 3:15 am

    Made this with whole wheat pastina instead of rice. Elena, I have made almost all your vegetarian recipes for my family and we just love them. As a full time working mom I’m always looking vegetarian recipes that are not labor-intensive but are nutritious– you deliver every time. My spouse and my 1 year old love every recipe we’ve tried. Thank you so much!

  • Reply Hafsa May 17, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    wonderful recipe !

  • Reply Julie Rigolfi May 8, 2016 at 2:07 am

    I am going to try this but use crumbled cauliflower in place of the rice. Yummm!

  • Reply Nancy May 6, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    My husband and I enjoyed this for lunch today! He said he would like it better as a side dish, than as a main dish as I served it (I guess too much of a good thing for him, lol). It was fabulous! Would have been terrific with grilled chicken, etc.

    I went out and bought medium grain rice, and everything – and presume maybe it made a creamier dish like risotto, and stirred it often, adding more water.

    I was afraid to put the tomato paste in, and possibly “ruin” it. What is the verdict or practice that is most common, with the tomato paste?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 22, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Hi Nancy, Tomato paste is fine. My mother adds it. It will add a slight reddness to the dish.

  • Reply Le April 22, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Made this last night to go with Greek meatballs and it was great. I added some garlic but didn’t change anything else.

  • Reply Dee April 18, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    I was wondering if I could make this using rice pilaf in place of plain rice…..I really look forward to trying this recipe and thanks for providing this great source of information.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN April 26, 2016 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Dee, Do you mean long-grain rice? It will not provide the creamy risotto-like texture.

  • Reply Chris April 2, 2016 at 10:05 am

    This is great food.We make it everything week or so . Adding a handfull of shrimps makes it even better!

  • Reply Johanna March 23, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I’m not sure why, but my Cretan mother used Uncle Ben’s Converted rice for all her Greek recipes, including spanokorizo and spanakopita and in Gourvalakia.

  • Reply Alita March 3, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    I’ve only ever had this dish with tomato; maybe that’s why I’ve never liked it! Always felt too heavy on the stomach and gave me nausea. I didn’t know you can make it without tomato and I am very excited to try it this way, so thank you!

    • Reply Linda April 25, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      try using diced (petite) 8 oz can
      in the recipe it adds just the right amount of flavor.

  • Reply Kellie Guevara February 28, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    The first step of the cooking process, am I adding any water to the lemon and olive oil to wilt the spinach?

  • Reply Nicole February 22, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    First I want to say thank you for this website, it’s been wonderful in gaining knowledge on the Mediterranean diet. I did wonder though, there seems to be a lot of white rice/pasta/filo pastry. How often would pies or white rice and pasta be eaten? We’ve been taught that whole grains are better because they offer more fiber and do not convert into simple sugars as quickly, thus maintaining more constant blood sugar levels. Can you provide any insight on this? Thank you!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN February 23, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Nicole, Rice or pasta dishes I would say on average are consumed about once (sometimes twice) a week. Regarding the pies, this type of phyllo is quite thin. One piece of a typical pie wold correspond in terms of phyllo, to a half slice of bread.

  • Reply Theresa February 21, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    I’ve made this every week since first reading the recipe. It’s so good! Thank you!!

  • Reply Debbie February 16, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    My mother and I always added stewed tomatoes, and personally I can even eat it cold. Great with fish and pork.

  • Reply Catherine January 23, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I intended to eat half of this as a full meal but ended up eating the whole thing, as it was so good! Ah well, it’s healthy enough to splurge on and not a terrible number of calories.

  • Reply Anonymous January 19, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    What kind of rice do you recommend? I’ve read elsewhere that arborio works well for spanakorizo.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 22, 2016 at 6:18 am

      Arborio should work fine. You are looking for a medium grain rice -arborio is a short grain rice but works well.

  • Reply Sherry January 18, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    I think I’ll give it a try with kale. I bought quite a bit of it yesterday and I think it should work. I hope so anyway!

  • Reply Anthe January 18, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    My Mom always made it with frozen spinach and so do I along with the tomato paste and no mint just a little dill! Her family was Spartan. My dad’s Mom made it without the tomato paste, she was from Crete! Either was it’s good and the best comfort food dish!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 19, 2016 at 6:08 am

      Thanks for sharing. Yes, the tomato paste is a funny thing: my mom uses tomato paste, but my grandmother (her mom) did not.

      • Reply Artemi July 28, 2016 at 11:48 am

        I always use frozen spinach as well, comes out great and no tomato paste. Funny though because both my husband and I prefer it with lemon only, where both our Moms made it with tomato paste! Then again both our Moms used vinegar in most of their salads whereas my husband and I don’t care for vinegar so we use lemon in almost all salads. 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous January 18, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I was wondering how the recipe would be with frozen spinach. My second question : is spinach available all year round in Greece? Many thanks!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 18, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Almost year round, except in the summer months. Although I try to eat seasonal. Frozen spinach would not have the same flavor or texture, I really recommend using fresh for this recipe if you can find it.

  • Reply Nancy Messer January 18, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Can you make it with brown rice?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Hi Nancy,
      Yes, you could but, you want to make sure you cook the rice long enough without overcooking the spinach. I find brown rice always has a bite to it, so may not necessarily the best choice here as you want a creamy texture.

  • Reply Daphne Halkias January 18, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    I just made this today. Spanakorizo is a staple in our home once a week in the winter– a great way for kids to eat their veggies. I also add leek (prasso). We serve with feta and enjoy!

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