This 15-minute garlic-flavored sautéed kale is one of the easiest ways to cook kale on a stovetop. Serve it as an easy side dish, add it to pasta, or upgrade your salad with extra greens.
It’s a super easy and quick way to add leafy greens to your meals or use those kale leftovers from your fridge!
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While we adore raw kale – check out our rainbow kale salad or easy kale pesto – more often than not, we sauté kale on a pan to have it as a quick and easy side dish to boost the veggie content of our meals.
Sautéed kale tastes delicious, and the beautiful thing is that as the kale cooks, it gets flavorful and tender, the chewy fiber softens, it loses its roughness, and it gains an almost buttery texture.
This recipe takes 10 minutes to make, you can use any kale, from curly kale to dinosaur kale, and you’ll only need extra virgin olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic.
You can make this sauteed kale recipe with dinosaur kale, red kale, curly kale, lacinato kale, and cavolo nero. We make it with dinosaur kale here.
We’ll show you how to make it with whole kale leaves, but if you want to save some time, you can buy pre-chopped kale.
Try to go for good quality extra virgin olive oil as it’s healthier than regular olive oil and has a fruitier, nuttier, and more pleasant flavor.
Extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants that are good for you and make the oil more resistant to heat.
Garlic is terrific with kale, so we like to add a crushed clove or two.
Red pepper flakes
Just a pinch to add a slight spiciness that fits the kale perfectly. You can substitute black pepper for red pepper flakes.
We use sea salt or kosher salt.
Serve the kale as is or top it with:
- freshly squeezed lemon juice;
- a splash of balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar;
- shaved parmesan cheese
If you purchased a bunch of kale with whole leaves, the first step is to rinse the leaves to remove sand and dirt, shake the water away, then separate them from the woody stem.
Hold the thickest part of the stem with one hand and run the other along the stem to tear the leaf from the stem.
Note: kale stems are woody and not pleasant to eat when sautéed. If you don’t want to discard them, you can blend them into a soup, like our broccoli soup.
Put the leaves together, then chop them into bite-size pieces.
To a large skillet, you can use cast iron, stainless steel, or non-stick skillet; add extra virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes, and crushed garlic cloves.
Warm the oil up and fry the garlic and red pepper flakes on medium heat for 1 minute.
Add the chopped kale leaves, season them with salt, stir and toss, and cook (sauté) on medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes or until you reach your desired texture. A longer cooking time makes the kale softer.
If the pan gets dry, you can add some water to prevent the kale from burning.
Transfer the kale onto a serving platter and enjoy it as a wholesome and healthy side dish, or add it to other dishes, from salads, pasta, grain bowls, and curries to soups.
You can serve it with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar if you like it tangy.
Serve with pasta, curry, or stews:
- Creamy kale pasta: pasta in 15 minutes with this creamy lemon-ricotta sauce.
- Spaghetti aglio e olio: a quick and easy pasta that pairs perfectly with kale.
- Tofu curry with cauliflower is a great meal to add leafy greens such as kale.
- Italian bean stew with a rich tomato sauce is a wonderful sauce base for kale and spinach.
- Farro salad with Mediterranean vegetables.
Serve as a side dish with dinner, such as:
Make Ahead & Storage
Make Ahead: sautéed kale is an excellent recipe to make ahead as it keeps well in the fridge or freezer for several days.
Refrigerator: let the kale cool down at room temperature, then transfer it into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freezer: let the kale cool down completely, then transfer it into a freezer-friendly bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw: defrost frozen sautéed kale in the fridge over several hours or overnight. Alternatively, thaw in the microwave. You can also thaw it directly on a pan, on the stovetop, on medium-low heat, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or with a dash of water, stirring it often.
Reheat: you can reheat the kale in the microwave for 2 minutes or on a pan with oil or water.
More Kale Recipes
Here are some delicious ideas to help you add more kale to your meals:
- 30-minute kale soup with white beans, fresh herbs, and canned tomatoes.
- Kale pesto pasta: ready in 15 minutes, with an almond-kale pesto sauce.
- Rustic Tuscan soup: authentic Italian flavor that will transport you straight to the hills of central Italy.
- Rainbow kale salad with fresh greens, pomegranate seeds, and a creamy lemon dressing.
- Crispy oven-baked kale chips: perfect for snacking, appetizer, or side dish.
More Sautéed Recipes
- 15-minute sautéed mushrooms: a perfect addition to pasta, salads, and grain bowls.
- Easy pan-fried asparagus with lemon zest and slivered almonds.
- Sautéed eggplant with canned tomatoes, a 20-minute side dish, and pasta sauce idea.
- 10-minute sautéed zucchini with red onion, a spring and summer-friendly side dish!
For many more side dish ideas, check out our sides category page.
- 1 pound kale any, we use dinosaur or Tuscan kale
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt or more to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- freshly squeezed lemon juice or shaved parmesan
- Rinse and shake the water off the kale leaves, then separate the leaves from the woody stems.To do so, hold the thickest part of the stem with one hand and run the other along the stem to tear the leaf off.Tip: you can blend the stems into soups if you don't want to discard them.
- Put the leaves together then chop them into bite-size pieces.
- To a large skillet, add extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, and red pepper flakes. Fry on medium heat for 1 minute.
- Add kale, season with salt, stir and cook on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until you reach your desired texture. Add some water if the pan gets dry.
- Transfer sautéed kale onto a serving platter. You can serve as is, or with a squeeze of lemon juice and shaved parmesan on top.
- Reheat: you can reheat the kale in the microwave for 2 minutes or on a pan with oil or water.
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