This is a recipe adapted from one that my friend, Melinda, often makes and brings to parties. She is a fantastic cook and always makes delicious appetizers, salads, and desserts! The first time I tried these spinach balls, I loved them and was surprised they were from a vintage recipe. I didn’t realize people had been making them for years! They are filled with spinach and are a great way to eat a green vegetable. If you are not too fond of cooked spinach (like me), you will be pleasantly surprised that these baked balls are a delicious appetizer. There is no overwhelming spinach taste!
I love to take vintage recipes and adapt them with a modern spin. In this case, I changed this recipe to a gluten-free version. The taste is the same as the original recipe, and the only substitution is a filler mix in place of store-bought stuffing.
This recipe is delicious as a gluten-free appetizer — it is hard to tell the difference from the original! However, if you choose to make it with the stuffing mix like the vintage recipe calls for, it will no longer be a gluten-free recipe. I have included these instructions in the Notes section of this recipe.
Rice Chex Cereal
I use crushed Rice Chex cereal for many gluten-free recipes. It works well as a replacement for crunchy-type bread crumbs such as panko. But to be honest, I prefer it over panko crumbs for many recipes! And in this recipe, Rice Chex cereal and a few herbs and spices make a suitable substitution for store-bought stuffing mix.
Using Frozen Spinach
Frozen spinach contains a lot of water. I bought mine in boxes and pressed the boxes to squeeze out all the liquid. You can drain it in a mesh strainer as well, but you will still need to press out the excess water. Also, it is not necessary, but you might want to finely chop the spinach to break up any long spinach leaves and stems. Occasionally, the large spinach stems can make it hard to roll the balls.
Rolling the Balls
When rolling the spinach balls, it helps to use a cookie dough scooper to make them uniform in size. If you are good at rolling balls, you might be able to shape “same-sized” balls easily with your hands by estimating the amount of mix. Try to make them about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Freezing Spinach Balls for Later
This recipe is great for making ahead when you are planning a party. Freeze the balls after you roll them but before you bake them. First, place the balls on a baking sheet to freeze them — so they are not touching. After they freeze, they can touch each other without sticking together and can be stored in an airtight container or freezer bag. They will keep in the freezer for a few weeks, and their taste is not altered by freezing them.
Baking Frozen Spinach Balls
When you are ready to bake them, place them on a baking sheet while frozen — there is no need to thaw them. Place them into the oven and bake for a longer time (20-25 minutes) than their unfrozen bake time of 12-15 minutes. This makes party planning easier since you can prepare ahead of time!
Serve with Skewer Sticks
These spinach balls are perfect for serving with skewer sticks because they don’t fall apart easily. If planning to serve them to guests who can’t eat gluten, make sure not to let them touch foods with gluten. I like to place them on a separate platter so there is no danger of them getting mixed with gluten-containing foods.