How to Cook Leeks

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


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

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

Description

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. 


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 large leeks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  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

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

10 Comments

  • Reply
    Leah
    November 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm

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

    • Reply
      Sonja
      November 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm

      Great idea – now I want to try it with bulgur too! (My favorite of grain currently :) )

  • Reply
    Cucina49
    November 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    That dish looks delicious–and I’m with you, I adore leeks.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    November 8, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Oh I love the idea of pairing it with leeks! I want to add some craisins in here too! YUM!

  • Reply
    Cathy @ What Would Cathy Eat?
    November 9, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Wow. This looks incredibly good, yet nice and simple. You should link it to my Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge! http://www.whatwouldcathyeat.com/2011/10/announcing-the-healthy-thanksgiving-challenge/

  • Reply
    tasha - the clean eating mama
    November 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I wanted to let you know I share this amazing recipe on my own blog – http://www.thecleaneatingmama.com/2011/11/tofurkey-day-1.html

    I love your site – thank you for creating such wonderful recipes!
    XxOo
    Tasha

  • Reply
    Gabi Rupp
    November 21, 2013 at 5:59 am

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

  • Reply
    Scott
    July 23, 2016 at 12:05 am

    So easy, but oh so good.

  • Reply
    Krystal
    March 5, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      March 23, 2019 at 9:50 pm

      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!

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