Old-fashioned spinach balls are great served fresh and hot from the oven or at room temperature, making them a perfect appetizer for any time of the year. Also with air fryer instructions!
Why you’ll love it: These spinach balls are make-ahead friendly and delicious hot or cold, making them an easy, healthy appetizer for all seasons.
How long it takes: about 20 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to bake. It’s even faster in the air fryer!
Equipment you’ll need: a baking sheet, large pan with a lid, mesh strainer, and a large bowl.
Old Fashioned Spinach Balls Recipe
Spinach balls are really quite easy to make, and they’re healthy, too! These are packed with nutritious spinach, whole wheat bread crumbs, and plenty of parmesan cheese, bound together by protein-rich eggs. I make mine with fresh spinach, but you can easily make them with frozen spinach instead.
These are destined to become a new favorite appetizer. I brought these spinach balls to a Memorial Day BBQ with my whipped feta dip and they were both a huge hit. My mother-in-law raved about them (and kept the leftovers!).
Old-fashioned spinach balls taste just as good served at room temperature as they do fresh from the oven or air fryer. I’ve included both ways to make them below!
Why You’ll Love This Spinach Appetizer
It’s easy to get addicted to these soft and cheesy, delicious spinach balls! Here’s why you’ll go crazy for them:
- Versatile. Any time of the year, these spinach balls are terrific fresh out of the oven, and just as delicious as they cool to room temperature. The last one tastes as good as the first!
- Healthy. Nutrition isn’t usually a high priority when it comes to party appetizers but these spinach balls are packed with protein and vitamin-rich greens. I’ll eat these with a salad or a bowl of tomato soup for lunch as easily as I gobble them down guilt-free at the appetizer table.
- Easy to make. This spinach balls recipe is a cinch to make. Bake them on parchment paper for quick and easy cleanup. Or, make them in half the time using your air fryer!
What You’ll Need
Below is a short overview of the ingredients you’ll need to make easy spinach balls. Remember to refer to the recipe card for the full recipe details.
- Fresh Spinach – I love using fresh spinach leaves. You can also use frozen spinach, see below.
- Eggs – Eggs help bind the ingredients and also bring an extra dose of protein to this spinach appetizer.
- Bread Crumbs – I recommend either regular or whole wheat panko for this recipe. Homemade breadcrumbs are another good option.
- Parmesan – Freshly grated parmesan cheese is best in terms of flavor but the shelf-stable pre-grated kind works well, too.
- Onion – I mix in finely minced onion for additional texture and flavor.
- Butter – You’ll need one half-stick of butter, either salted or unsalted. Melt the butter in the microwave before you start so that it’s easy to mix.
- Seasoning – This recipe calls for a combination of garlic powder, Italian seasoning, freshly ground nutmeg, and black pepper. You can use pre-ground nutmeg if that’s what you have on hand.
Can I Use Frozen Spinach?
Yes! You can substitute frozen spinach for the fresh spinach when making spinach balls. One 10-ounce bag of frozen spinach should be plenty. Remember to thaw the spinach completely before you start, and then simply strain it well, as directed in the recipe.
How to Make Spinach Balls (2 Ways)
Whether you bake these in the oven or cook them up in your air fryer, spinach balls are going to become your go-to appetizer, I just know it! Let’s break down how to make them both ways.
In the Oven
We’ll start with how to prepare traditional oven-baked spinach balls. It’s super easy and only takes 30 minutes of baking time.
- Prepare a baking sheet. Begin by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper while your oven preheats to 350ºF.
- Prepare the spinach. Lightly steam the spinach in a covered pan with a bit of water, stirring every so often until wilted. It will only take a few minutes. Afterward, drain the excess liquid by gently pressing the wilted spinach against a fine mesh strainer before finely chopping the leaves.
- Combine. Next, you’ll whisk together the eggs and add panko, parmesan, and the remaining ingredients, including the seasonings. Then, stir in the spinach.
- Roll into balls. Once the mixture is well-combined, portion and roll it into 32 bite-sized balls. Place the prepared spinach balls onto your lined baking sheet. Make sure to leave enough space between the balls so that they crisp up nicely, and bake in batches as needed.
- Bake. Bake the spinach parmesan balls in the oven for 30 minutes, until the outsides are golden. If you’re not sure if they’re done or not, check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. It should be around 165ºF. Serve your spinach balls right away or store them for later (see below for helpful make-ahead and storage instructions).
In the Air Fryer
The air fryer is the best shortcut to perfectly golden and crispy spinach balls. It takes minutes and there’s hardly any cleanup! Here’s how to make spinach balls in the air fryer:
Prepare and roll the spinach balls as directed. After, place them into the air fryer, leaving space between each ball. Cook at 380ºF for about 10 minutes, or until the spinach balls are crisp and golden.
Make This Recipe Your Own
This classic spinach balls appetizer is delicious as is, but there are also loads of easy ways to change up the ingredients. Here are some fun variation ideas:
- Try different herbs and spices. Change up the flavors with finely-minced fresh herbs like basil, parsley, thyme, or your favorite spice blend. Add a sprinkle of Cajun seasoning or crushed red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
- More veggies. Dice up red bell peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini into tiny pieces and sauté them with the spinach. Try to not go overboard with add-ins, however, as the balls won’t hold their shape as nicely.
- Seasoned bread crumbs. You can make this recipe with seasoned panko crumbs, just omit the added Italian seasoning.
- Not a fan of spinach? Try my vegetable fritters which are made with grated zucchini, carrots, and red bell peppers.
What to Serve With Spinach Parmesan Balls
Serve spinach balls at Christmas or New Year’s alongside other party snacks like fried goat cheese and baked Brie. They’re just as great to make for Easter, paired with spring favorites like my asparagus Gruyère tart and deviled eggs.
To make your spinach balls into a light meal, throw them over a fresh arugula salad or into a vegetarian wrap, falafel-style, topped with homemade tzatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce). They’re also perfect as a side with roasted tomato soup!
Can I Make This Appetizer in Advance?
Absolutely. One more great thing about this recipe is that it’s make-ahead friendly! You can roll the spinach balls up to one day ahead so that they’re ready to pop into the oven or air fryer whenever you’re ready to cook them. You can also freeze the uncooked spinach balls, and they bake up perfectly right from frozen (see the following section for more details).
If you’re air frying or baking your spinach balls from frozen, add an additional 2 minutes to the cooking time.
How to Store and Reheat Extras
There’s more than one way to store these homemade spinach balls once they’re baked. They’ll keep great in the fridge, and they’re also freezer-friendly:
- Fridge. Store the cooked and cooled spinach balls in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to 3 days. Serve the balls cold from the fridge or reheat them in the oven or in the air fryer for a few minutes, until warmed through.
- Freezer. Store the cooked spinach balls in an airtight container or resealable bag and freeze them for up to 1 month. Reheat the balls (no need to thaw them) in your air fryer, oven, or microwave.
- Storing/Cooking Uncooked Spinach Balls: Freeze in a single layer until firm, 1 to 2 hours. Transfer to freezer safe container or bag. Can be frozen for at least 2 months. There’s no need to thaw them before cooking. Bake or air fry as directed, adding a few minutes to the cooking time if they are frozen.
- 16 ounces fresh spinach (see note)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup finely minced onion
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large pan with cover, heat 1 tablespoon of water and spinach over medium heat, covered, until wilted. Stir occasionally as needed to wilt all the leaves. Put spinach in a fine mesh strainer and press out excess liquid using the back of a spoon. Place on a cutting board and chop finely. Cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add panko, Parmesan cheese, onion, butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in spinach until well combined.
- Roll into 32 small, evenly sized balls (I use a 1 ½ tablespoon scoop) and place on prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown. If spinach balls are frozen, add 2 minutes to baking time.
- Serve immediately or cool completely before storing in an airtight container in refrigerator or freezer.
- You should have about 1 ½ cups of cooked spinach. One 10 oz. box of frozen spinach, thawed, can be substituted for the fresh spinach. Press out excess liquid as directed.
- If you prefer, whole wheat panko can be substituted or you can make homemade bread crumbs.
- Air Fryer Instructions: Arrange spinach balls on rack of air fryer, sides not touching. Air fry at 380°F for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Air fry an additional 2 minutes if spinach balls are frozen.
- Freezing Instructions: Freeze in a single layer until firm, 1 to 2 hours. Transfer to freezer safe container or bag. Can be frozen for at least 2 months. It’s not necessary to thaw them before baking or air frying.
- Reheating Instructions: To reheat cooked spinach balls, air fry for 3 to 5 minutes until heated through. They can also be microwaved until heated.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.