This easy sautéed kale is here to show you how to make the most out of a simple sauté. Dressed in olive oil, and sprinkled with garlic, this easy green can play side dish to just about anything. Plus it’s a little heartier than spinach, making it a great addition to your cold-weather dinner rotation.
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Best Kale for Sautéeing
This sautéed kale is cooked in liquid, which enables us to use tougher varieties, that aren’t tender enough for no-cook methods. I typically use curly kale as it’s easier to find–both curly and lacinato kale will do. Here are the differences:
- Curly kale – this is the most common kale variety–it’s got long stems, frilly leaves, and is dark green in color. It’s a bit tougher than other varieties, so does best sautéed or stewed to soften it up.
- Lacinato or Tuscan kale – this Italian variety of kale is dark green-blue and has long straight leaves. This kale is more tender and can be enjoyed raw.
What seasoning is good for kale?
Kale doesn’t need much to compliment its flavor. Here are a few ways that we love to flavor it:
- Simple salt and pepper with quality olive oil.
- Aromatics sautéed with the kale, like sautéed onion and garlic.
- Spice like cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
- Lemon juice or lemon zest.
- Cheese such as freshly grated parmesan or crumbled feta.
How to Prep Kale
Here’s how to get your kale ready to sauté; or take a shortcut and buy chopped kale from the store–either will work here.
- Rinse + dry well.
- Remove leaves from the thick stems.
- Chop leaves into bite-sized pieces.
How to Make Sautéed Kale (That’s Not Bitter)
Here’s how to make sautéed kale that’s tender and delicious, every time. Bonus? This side dish is so easy, you can easily make it while focusing on your main course:
Sauté aromatics in oil, just until they become fragrant. Add the kale and water, and toss to coat your greens in liquid.
Simmer. Place a lid on top of your kale and allow the kale to simmer until soft. Remove lid, add seasoning, and toss to coat. Continue cooking with the lid off until most of the liquid has evaporated.
How to Serve Sautéed Kale
Perfect to serve alongside chicken or fish but still hearty enough to stand up to pork or beef, kale can do anything. Master the method and this kale is even great with breakfast!
What to do with Leftovers
The obvious answer is to reheat any leftover sautéed kale–but we can do better than that. Here’s how:
- Eggs: Mix it into your morning scramble, omelet, egg muffins, or use them to make a kale frittata.
- Pasta: Twirl into your favorite pasta dish. I love sautéed kale with marinara, pesto, or alfredo sauce.
- Stuffed chicken: Grab your favorite cheese and stuff it inside a chicken breast.
- Grains: Serve over a bed of grains with a lemon-based dressing and feta cheese.
- Stir fry: Add to other veggies like sautéed mushrooms, onions, or spinach, and serve over rice with your favorite protein.
Is it Better to Eat Kale Raw or Cooked?
Here are the facts on how healthy kale is, both raw and cooked. And my quick take:
- Nutritionally speaking, raw kale is healthiest, as there’s a significant reduction in available antioxidants and minerals when roasted, sautéed, or steamed–oddly enough, the most effective way to maintain nutrients is steaming.
- In regards to its taste, raw kale is bitter–cooking it slightly removes its natural bitterness. Massaging it (hello massaged kale salad) will also reduce the bitterness.
- Will you eat more kale if it’s cooked? Probably. So even though cooking kale may reduce the number of nutrients, you’re getting more than you would if you skipped kale altogether!
- Want some raw kale recipes? Be sure to try my kale smoothie, kale chicken salad, or kale salad recipes.
More Veggie Sides You’ll Love
- Fried Green Beans
- Roasted Broccolini
- Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
- Mashed Cauliflower
- Jicama Fries
- Kale Slaw
Sautéed KalePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 large bunch kale (curly and Tuscan both work here) stem removed and roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch red pepper flakes
- In a large pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Once shimmering stir in the garlic and onion, and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Quickly add water to your pan (to prevent garlic from burning), and reduce the heat to low.
- Use tongs to add kale, twisting it in to coat the leaves in oil and water. Cover your pan with a lid, and cook the kale for 5-8 minutes. You'll know it's done once the kale has softened to your liking.
- Remove the lid, and sprinkle kale with seasoning–toss to combine. Continue to sauté until the liquid has cooked off, should be about 2-3 minutes more.
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