Sauteed Spinach (That Tastes Amazing)

Here’s the very best sauteed spinach recipe, guaranteed to make eating your greens taste amazing! Even better, it takes just 10 minutes to whip up.

Sauteed Spinach

Wow, is this sauteed spinach something to write home about! Let’s go on record: Alex and I both love cooked spinach in recipes. But we didn’t think we liked straight-up sauteed spinach…until now. This spinach is scented with garlic, wilted until it’s bright green in a bit of olive oil. It’s finished off with lemon juice to give it a brightness. The flavor is fresh and vibrant, not lifeless and mushy as you would expect. This healthy side dish uses 3 large bunches of spinach, and Alex and I accidentally ate it all ourselves. It was that good.

Sauteed spinach

How to make sauteed spinach taste good (really!)

Are you intrigued? What are the secrets to the very best sauteed spinach? Well, a few things that apparently cooks in 1950’s America weren’t privy to. Even better: it takes only 10 minutes to make! Here are all the secrets to making spinach taste amazing:

  • Cook it with whole garlic cloves. This infuses a subtle garlic flavor throughout, without being too overwhelming. It also minimizes the risk of browning or burning the garlic.
  • Don’t overcook it! Cook just until its wilted. So many sauteed spinach recipes overcook it until it’s limp and lifeless. Don’t make that mistake too! Pull it from the heat when it’s just wilted and still a lovely green color.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon at the end. Add hint of fresh lemon juice adds brightness to the flavor. Use only real lemon juice (none of that bottled stuff).
  • Salt it perfectly. Many sauteed spinach recipes are too bland. Add that salt! Spinach soaks up so much that you won’t need a lot. Salt it until the flavor pops, but not so much that it tastes salty. (Keep tasting to get it just right!)

If you want to eat more spinach, this is the recipe for you.

Really! This sauteed spinach comes out so flavorful, you’ll find yourself sneaking more of it onto your plate. (Well, we did.) An interesting thing about spinach: its volume fresh seems very large, but when it’s sauteed it wilts into almost next to nothing.

When you see 3 large bunches of spinach, you’ll swear there’s no way you could ever eat them. And you couldn’t if they were fresh. But saute it down with olive oil and it loses most of its volume. Alex and I accidentally ate this recipe just the two of us in one sitting! So it’s a GREAT way to eat spinach without even realizing it. This easy plant based side dish is so delicious, even your dad might get over his childhood phobia. (I’m hoping mine will.)

Spinach

Fancy it up: add a topping!

Take this sauteed spinach over the top by adding a fancy topping! Our Sauteed Rainbow Chard recipe features a topping of Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts that adds savory flavor and crunch. This Italian-style topping takes this spinach the extra mile and would be great for a dinner party.

Is it better to use spinach bunches or baby spinach leaves?

Good question! Either works. Spinach in bunches actually works great here! This is what we used, and it’s the perfect way to use bunch spinach. Because you’re cooking it down and adding flavor, it’s not as “in your face” as it could be in a salad. But baby spinach leaves or spinach that comes as leaves in a box also works!

A note on sustainability: Alex and I do love the convenience of buying pre-washed baby spinach in plastic boxes at the grocery. But because we’re working to minimize our single use plastic consumption, we’ve been trying to buy more greens in bunches lately. Yes, it does take a little longer to wash and prepare: but it’s worth it in the long run.

Easy side dish

Does sauteed spinach make you stronger?

Well, yes and no! It doesn’t make you strong like Popeye said it would. However, it does fill you with vitamins and nutrients, which can make you healthy and strong! Spinach is one of the 20 best vegetables you can eat. Here are some of the benefits that this sauteed spinach offers as a healthy side dish:

  • High in calcium, more than other vegetables
  • Very high in Vitamin K and Vitamin A
  • Low in calories (1 cup of raw spinach has 45 calories)

More delicious spinach recipes

There are lots more tasty spinach recipes that we love. If you’re looking to eat more leafy greens outside of this easy side dish…here’s how to do it!

  1. Easy Spinach Apple Salad Our very favorite spinach salad! Starring tangy apples, glazed walnuts, and our best balsamic dressing.
  2. Spinach Artichoke Pizza Why not take all that’s great about spinach artichoke dip and put it on a pizza?
  3. Spinach Alfredo Pasta This one comes together in under 20 minutes and is a vegetarian dinner recipe the whole family will love! Or add spinach to our Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo.
  4. Easy Spinach Dip Comes together in just a few minutes and tastes incredible! It’s perfect for parties and no-fuss entertaining.
Best sauteed spinach

This sauteed spinach recipe is…

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

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Sauteed spinach

Sauteed Spinach (That Tastes Amazing)


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Here’s the very best sauteed spinach recipe, guaranteed to make eating your greens taste amazing! Even better, it takes just 10 minutes to whip up.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 bunches spinach (about 1 1/4 pounds total with stems) or 10 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peel & smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt plus 2 pinches
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. If your spinach is in a bunch, chop off the stems and chop the leaves roughly.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the whole garlic cloves for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Then carefully add the spinach leaves and immediately cover the pan (any water on the spinach may cause the oil to spit momentarily). The mound of leaves will seem like a lot of volume, but it will quickly wilt down to be very small. Cook covered for 1 minute, quickly uncover and stir for a few seconds to integrate cooked spinach with raw, then cook covered another 1 minute.
  3. Remove the lid. Stir and cook about 30 seconds more, until the spinach is fully wilted but still bright green. Stir in the kosher salt and fresh lemon juice, then remove from the heat.
  4. Taste and add a few more pinches of salt to taste. (Spinach is very susceptible to salt, so use only small bits at a time! The flavor should pop but not be salty.) Immediately remove to a bowl; the spinach will brown if you leave it any longer in the pan. Serve warm. 

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Sauteed
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Sauteed spinach

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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.

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