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There’s something about the flavor of leeks that makes them uniquely delicious! Here’s how to cook leeks, the sophisticated version of an onion.

How to Cook Leeks

There’s something distinctive about leeks that makes them uniquely delicious. I’m not sure what it is, but they’re not just any old onion. We’ve learned a lot about substitutions in cooking, but I truly can’t think of another ingredient that can quite capture their flavor. So when I saw leeks make their appearance at our local farmer’s market, I couldn’t wait to use them! Wondering how to cook leeks? See below for our tutorial on how to cut them, cook leeks, and use them in recipes.

Related: How to Cut Leeks

What are leeks?

First of all, what are leeks? A leek is a vegetable that is part of the onion family. Other vegetables in the same family, called Allium, are onion, garlic, shallot, scallion, and chives. Leeks have a long cylinder shape: the tough green top portion is not eaten, and the tender light green and white bottom portion is eaten. A leek is similar to a very large scallion (otherwise known as a green onion).

What does a leek taste like? Leeks have a mild, onion-y flavor: the taste is more nuanced and sophisticate than an onion.

How to cut leeks

How to cook leeks? The most difficult part is actually cutting them! If you’ve never cut a leek before, here is our tutorial. And make sure to watch our video below to see it in action!

  1. Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks and the bottom root.
  2. Slice the leeks in half length-wise.
  3. Place each leek half cut-side down on the cutting board, then slice it into thin slices, resulting in half-moon shapes. You will likely notice dirt in between each layer of the leeks,
  4. Rinse the sliced leeks thoroughly in a colander, then shake them dry.

Video: How to cut leeks

How to cook leeks

So, how to cook leeks? It’s truly simple once you’ve cut them! Heat some olive oil or butter in a skillet over medium high heat, then add the leeks. Cook them, stirring often, until they are just soft and just before they begin to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Keep your eye on them, because they can easily get browned if the heat is too high! They’re best when they’re just beginning to become golden brown.

How to cook leeks

Leek recipes

How to use leeks once you’ve cooked them? There are a variety of ways: here are some of our favorite leek recipes:

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How to Cut Leeks

How to Cook Leeks

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: About 1 cup 1x


There’s something about the flavor of leeks that makes them uniquely delicious! Here’s how to cook leeks, the sophisticated version of an onion. 


  • 3 large leeks
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper


  1. Chop the leeks (watch the video!): Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks, then slice them in half length-wise. Place each leek half cut-side down, then chop it into thin slices, resulting in half-moon shapes. Rinse the slices thoroughly in a colander to remove any dirt. 
  2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil or butter over medium high heat. Add the leeks and cook stirring often, about 4 to 5 minutes, until they soften and just before they begin to brown.
  3. Season with a few pinches of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  
  • Category: Component
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: How to cook leeks

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. I came across your recipes while googling about making soup with leeks. Years and years ago I made vichyssoise. Now I want to learn to cook leeks without cream or butter. thank you for your info. In order to get back to eating more plant or plant based foods, I think it is healthful and inspiring to widen the scope of what I eat. Like, I haven’t cooked leeks for decades, but I always enjoy seeing them in the market. They’re gorgeous. I am an artist so maybe my looking at the veggies is like looking at beautiful flowers. So I have some leeks in my refrigerator and will cook them tomorrow. Something good came out of this difficult time. Thank you.

  2. Hi! I read through your article here on leeks. Point of order: you said that shallots and green onions are the same thing. But they are not. And they are often used differently. Just thought I would pass that along!

    1. Thanks for reading! The article says that shallots, green onions and leeks are all part of the allium (onion) family: not that they are the same! They are each unique members of that family. Thanks!

  3. I was apprehensive about the amount of fresh sage and thyme this recipe called for, but it turned out to be delicious! Overall a nice way to switch up our normal night of plain quinoa. We’ll definitely be making this one again!

    1. Oh I am so glad that you enjoyed the amount of herbs in the recipe! So glad you found this one and that it was a hit. Thanks for making it!

  4. I love these kind of quick and healthy recipes –
    just 3 main ingredients: Quinoa, leek and walnuts – Wonderful!

  5. Oooh, going to make this but using some bulgur I have (need to clean the shelves before I purchase any more dried grains)!