In need of a quick and easy green side dish? Sauteed Kale takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and can be made with any type of kale!
Cooking Kale on the Stove
Whether you’re a kale lover who buys it in abundance or someone who’s not yet figured out how to make kale taste good, this simple recipe for sauteed kale is sure to be a winner.
We adore kale, but I know it’s an acquired taste for some people. Raw kale is incredibly fibrous and bitter, but when cooked it’s reminiscent of sauteed spinach or collard greens.
This recipe calls for a full pound of kale, which is perfect when kale is in season and you want to take advantage of it. The leafy greens are cooked with garlic and shallot for flavor, plus a little white wine and lemon juice to balance out the kale’s earthy, slightly bitter flavor.
This recipe takes about 15 minutes to prepare and is a wonderful side dish for pastas, casseroles, grilled or baked proteins, and more. As a bonus, you can use any type of kale you like! Lacinato and curly kale will both work, so use what you have and dig in!
Tools You’ll Need to Sauté Kale
Sauteing kale requires minimal equipment, but here’s what I recommend having on hand:
- Chef’s Knife and Cutting Board — For chopping the aromatics and kale leaves.
- Colander — For rinsing and draining the kale leaves.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons — A must for almost any recipe!
- Citrus Juicer — For getting the most juice from your lemon.
- Large Sautè Pan — For cooking the kale on the stovetop.
Sautéed Kale Recipe Ingredients
I kept this as simple a kale recipe as possible, so hopefully you won’t need to run to the grocery store for any of the following ingredients.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Fresh Kale (leaves only)
- Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- Dry White Wine
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions to make sautéed kale, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.
What’s the Best Type of Kale to Sauté?
Either lacinato or curly kale will work, it all depends on your personal preferences. Curly kale is slightly more textured and is more bitter in flavor, but lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale is more delicate in texture and less bitter.
How to Prep Kale for Cooking
You’ll want to use the leaves only when making this kale garlic saute. Here’s my preferred method for removing kale leaves from the stems:
- Hold the base of the kale stem in one hand.
- Grasp the stem with three fingers, just above base.
- Run your fingers up the stem. The leaves should come off easily!
- Rinse the kale leaves under cold tap water and dry thoroughly before chopping and sauteing.
How to Sauté Kale
If you’re not a kale lover yet, this recipe will convince you otherwise! The combination of aromatics, spices, and acidity from the lemon juice and wine balance out the earthy bitterness of the kale and make it taste incredible.
- Add olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic, shallot, and crushed red pepper, sauteéing until the garlic and shallot are translucent and soft.
- Add the chopped kale leaves to the pan.
- Pour the chicken stock and white wine into the pan.
- Increase heat to medium-high, cover with a lid, and cook just until the kale is bright green, soft, and wilted.
- Remove the lid from the pan. Continue cooking until the broth and wine mixture has mostly evaporated.
- Season with salt and pepper, squeeze the lemon juice over top and then serve.
The above is simply a quick summary of this kale sauté recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.
How Long Does It Take to Sauté Kale?
The kale first needs to cook, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes with the broth, wine, and aromatics. Then, the lid needs to be removed and the kale must cook for an additional 2 minutes.
That means kale needs to saute for no more than 9 minutes total.
Tips for Making Sautéed Kale
- Use only the leaves — The stems are tough and fibrous and I prefer discarding them.
- Use a dry white wine — Something like a Chardonnay is perfect for sauteing kale.
- Do NOT crank up the heat — You can’t rush the cooking process.
- Sauteed doesn’t mean soft and mushy! Sauteed kale will be vibrant green in color and will retain some of its hearty texture.
- To make more or less spicy — Add more or less crushed red pepper flakes depending on how hot you want the kale. As written, the crushed red pepper flakes do not make the kale taste spicy, simply flavorful.
- Topping ideas — We love topping the kale with shaved Parmesan and lemon wedges.
- Have leftovers? You can add sauteed kale to soups, frittata, omelets, and more!
Sautéed Kale Recipe FAQs
Got questions about how to make this recipe? Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions. Feel free to leave any other questions in the comments on this post and I’ll respond with answers.
What type of kale should I use in this recipe?
Either lacinato (dinosaur) or curly kale will work. Curly kale is tougher in texture and more bitter, while lacinato kale is more delicate and less bitter.
Can this recipe be made with frozen kale?
No, I don’t recommend using frozen kale. It will be far too soft once sauteed.
Can kale stems be sautéed or just the leaves?
No, you should only saute kale leaves. Discard the stems; they’re incredibly tough and fibrous.
Can the white wine be omitted from this recipe?
Yes, but the flavor of the dish will be affected. However, you’re welcome to replace the white wine with additional stock and an extra tablespoon of lemon juice.
Can sautéed kale be made in advance?
If sauteing kale just for yourself to meal prep for the week, go for it. However, sauteed kale is best eaten right away since reheating it causes it to soften. So, if you’re cooking it for guests I recommend sauteing the kale fresh.
Sautéed Kale Storage Instructions
Let the kale cool to room temperature, then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. I do not recommend freezing the kale as it will change texture once frozen.
Since this recipe uses a full pound of kale, you might wind up with leftovers. Those leftovers can be thrown into soups, frittatas, omelets, wraps, and more! If a recipe asks you to add fresh spinach or kale to wilt down into the dish, just replace it with the already cooked kale!
What to Serve with Sautéed Kale
This simple garlic kale is a quick side dish you can whip up for pretty much any entree. Here are some of our favorites:
- Proteins: Instant Pot Chuck Roast, Sous Vide Steak, Apple Cider Pork Chops, Smoked Prime Rib, Creamy Orange Almond Chicken.
- Pastas: White Cheddar Mac and Cheese, Gorgonzola Pasta, Baked Ziti, Instant Pot Beef Ragu, Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta.
- Casseroles: Chicken Tetrazzini, Chicken Pot Pie.
Try Sauteing Kale at Home!
Next time you’re looking for an easy way to use up kale, give this sauteed kale recipe a try!
Did you think it was easy to make? Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see what you thought of it!
On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of this sauteed kale!
More Easy Recipes Using Kale:
Kale, purple cabbage, carrot, and red bell pepper are tossed with a jalapeño lime vinaigrette for a healthy Mexican inspired Cilantro Lime Kale Slaw.
If you’re looking for a creamy, rich and flavorful soup, try this Italian Sausage Kale Soup. It’s a lightened up version of an Olive Garden Classic and crowd favorite, Zuppa Toscana.
These “Cheesy” Kale Chips are a great, healthy way to satisfy your cravings for something salty and cheesy. Nutritional yeast gives this kale chips recipe a nutrient-rich cheesy flavor without any added dairy. You’ll be surprised at how much you like this healthy snack!
In this Massaged Kale Salad recipe, kale is lightly massaged with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then, it’s tossed with roasted delicata squash, roasted red onions, herbed goat cheese, and pepitas.
Colcannon is an Irish mashed potato recipe combined with leeks and kale. Come learn all about Colcannon, how to make Colcannon Potatoes, and my tips and tricks for preparing your very best Colcannon.
Get More Recipes via Email
Did you love this recipe for garlicky sautéed kale? Sign up to receive Good Life Eats Email Updates and never miss another recipe!
- ¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 cloves Fresh Garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 Shallot, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 16 ounces Fresh Kale (leaves only)
- ½ cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- ½ cup Dry White Wine (such as an Unoaked Chardonnay)
- 3 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
- Sea Salt, to taste
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- Remove the kale leaves from the stems. Discard the stems. Coarsely chop, rinse well and set over a strainer.
- Add olive oil to a large sauté pan. Heat over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. When oil is hot, add the garlic, shallot, and crushed red pepper, sauteéing until the garlic and shallot are translucent and soft.
- Add the kale leaves to the pan. Then, pour the chicken stock and white wine into the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat with the contents of the pan.
- Increase heat to medium-high, cover with a lid, and cook for 5 - 7 minutes. The kale should be bright green, soft and wilted.
- Remove the lid from the pan. Continue cooking, stirring periodically so the contents doesn’t burn on the bottom, until the broth and wine mixture has mostly evaporated, about 1 - 2 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper, according to your personal preference. Squeeze the lemon juice over top and stir.
- Serve immediately.
Garnish ideas: shaved parmesan and lemon slices/wedges
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 156Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 239mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g
GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy. This provided information is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.