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Sauteed kale is the best way to eat this healthy leafy green! Scented with garlic and cooked in olive oil until tender, you’ll want to eat it every day.

Sauteed kale

“I’m going to eat this every day.” That was Alex, after the first bite of this sauteed kale. The flavor of this kale is so good, it will have you wanting to make it daily. Which is a big feat! Leafy greens can be a difficult flavor to acquire when they’re served solo (versus stuffed into spinach artichoke dip). But it takes only 10 minutes to make kale into a side dish you won’t want to stop eating. It’s lightly flavored with garlic and cooked until bright green and tender. Here’s what you need to know to make this healthy vegetable part of your everyday!

Sauteed kale

Tuscan kale vs curly kale (use Tuscan if you can find it!)

First off: if you’re going to make this sauteed kale, look for Tuscan kale. It’s sold in most mainstream grocery stores, and it has a milder, sweeter flavor than curly kale. Of course, you can use curly kale too! Here’s a breakdown:

  • Tuscan kale is also called Lacinato kale, dinosaur kale, black kale, or cavolo nero (black cabbage in Italian). It has flat, ruffly leaves that are green black. The flavor is milder and sweeter than curly kale; because of that, it can appeal to people who think they don’t like this veggie!
  • Curly kale has very curly leaves and a more bitter flavor than Tuscan kale. It’s an easy to find variety of kale. It also works in this recipe, so don’t shy away from it! We just like the flavor of Tuscan kale best.
Tuscan kale
Here’s the difference: Tuscan kale vs curly

How to cook kale

Now, learning how to cook kale is very easy: it’s simply a matter of sauteing it in a hot pan with olive oil and a little garlic to flavor it! The nice thing about this recipe is you’ll use whole garlic cloves to infuse flavor: so you don’t even need to mince it! All you’ll need to chop is the kale. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Step 1: Destem and roughly chop the kale (see the section below). Smash and peel the garlic cloves.
  2. Step 2: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and kale and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often, until the kale is wiled and bright green.
  3. Step 3: Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper. That’s it!

For the full quantities, head to the full recipe below.

How to cook kale

How to chop kale

Before you can cook kale, you need to know how to cut it! This method shows you an easy way to remove the stem of the kale. Technically you can cook with the stem of Tuscan kale since it’s not as tough as curly kale, but we still like to remove it to make it easy to eat. Here’s how to do it: make sure to watch the video below!

  1. Fold the leaves of the kale together and hold them with your non-cutting hand. Use a large chef’s knife to cut off the tough stem.
  2. Roll up a few kale leaves at once.
  3. Cut the kale into thick slices, using a circular motion with the knife. Rotate the slices and then chop them in the other direction to make small pieces. Repeat for all the kale leaves.

Ways to serve sauteed kale

This sauteed kale is an easy side dish perfect for food plant based (WFPB) meals. It pairs with main dishes of all kinds. Because it’s made with Italian kale, it’s particularly nice with Italian or Mediterranean-style recipes. You could even serve it as part of a bowl bowl with a whole grain like quinoa or farro! Here are some ideas:

Want more with kale? Go to our Best Kale Recipes.

Tuscan kale

This sauteed kale recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Sauteed kale

Best Ever Sauteed Kale

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Sauteed kale is the best way to eat this healthy leafy green! Scented with garlic and cooked in olive oil until tender, you’ll want to eat it every day.


  • 1 pound or 2 bunches Tuscan kale*
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Optional: Lemon wedges, shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Wash and dry the kale leaves, then destem and roughly chop the kale.
  2. Smash and peel the garlic cloves.
  3. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic and kale and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently until wilted and bright green.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the kosher salt and several grinds of fresh ground pepper. Discard the garlic cloves and serve immediately. (If desired, you can add lemon juice or Parmesan: but neither are necessary with the sweet flavor of Tuscan kale! You may want to consider them if using curly kale.)


*Tuscan kale has a milder flavor than curly kale and flatter, dark green leaves. We recommend it for this recipe: though curly kale works too! Tuscan kale is available in most standard grocery stores.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Sauteed Kale, How to Cook Kale

More easy side dish recipes

There are so many tasty and easy ways to cook vegetables! Here are some of our best vegetable side dishes:

  • Best Ever Sauteed Mushrooms or Roasted Mushrooms Here are THE perfect mushrooms recipes! They bring out the best savory flavor with lemon and fresh herbs.
  • Sauteed Rainbow Chard Top this leafy green with Parmesan and pine nuts and it’s outstanding.
  • Roasted Broccoli Tastes SO GOOD you can’t stop sneaking bites! It’s charred until tender, then spritzed with lemon juice.
  • Sauteed Spinach (That Tastes Amazing) Wow, this sauteed spinach really does taste amazing! It’s scented with garlic and lemon.
  • Roasted Okra The best roasted okra around! Baking it might be the best way to cook this vegetable.
  • Peas with Lemon This peas recipe takes just 5 minutes! Cooking frozen peas with garlic and lemon makes them taste incredible.
  • Roasted Carrots The best way to make this healthy vegetable taste amazing? Bake slices with lemon wedges and fresh thyme.
  • Homemade Sauerkraut A surprisingly tasty side filled with probiotics!

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. This was the worst curlyor lacinto kale that I have ever made. Even with lemon and parm it was much more bitter than my own recipes

  2. This was SOOO good, quick, and easy! Can’t wait to make it again and again. I did keep the garlic in for extra flavor and health benefits.

  3. I’ve never liked kale, but this was really good! I sauteed half of a thinly sliced small onion and 4 garlic cloves, cooked them about 2 minutes before adding the kale. One of your commenters eats this for breakfast, so I think I’ll try that as a delicious way to increase my daily vegetable intake. Thanks for this recipe.

  4. This is how I eat kale with my eggs for breakfast (sauté the kale and top with two eggs, over well, sometimes I add a sprinkle of goat cheese). So good!