Garlic Sautéed Spinach

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This Garlic Sautéed Spinach is the easiest and tastiest way to cook any kind of greens. It comes together in just minutes and is gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, and a healthy side dish. We make this non-stop year-round. And it’s such an easy recipe, I just had to share it with you. With just 3 ingredients you’ll be off and running for the best tasting greens of your life. Also, be sure and check out our favorite variations, especially the bacon and onions.

Garlic Sautéed Spinach in a white bowl with a wooden spoon on a white background with a tan linen napkin draped behind it..

Sautéed Spinach is such an easy side dish, that it hardly qualifies as a recipe. But since we make this a lot, I wanted to share it with you. It’s just a few ingredients, but this spinach is so tasty. And it pairs well with just about anything you could think of for dinner!

It’s also a very versatile recipe as well, and you can add extra flavors like my variations below. Or you use any other type of greens you’d like. I’ve made this recipe with everything from kale to turnip greens, and radish greens too.

Collards work, but I do recommend adding a touch of water to steam them into submission. And rainbow chard/regular chard is great here as well with just a few minutes more cooking for some greens than others.

A straight down view of Garlic Sautéed Spinach in a white bowl with a wooden serving spoon on a white background.

The other reason you need a handy recipe for greens is because there’s so much in season right now! We’re doing a CSA, (Community Supported Agriculture – where you get whatever is fresh from the farm that week) with our favorite local farmers again this year.

Early in the season, you get a lot of greens to use up. So this basic sautéed version is one of our favorites. But if you’re swimming in greens too, be sure to check out my kale pesto recipe. It’s outrageous as a sauce for steak or tossed with freshly cooked pasta.

ingredients for this Garlic Sautéed Spinach

  • Spinach – I go for the pre-washed baby spinach to save time, but the freshest spinach you have access to is the best. Store-bought is never as tasty as local, but this recipe is flavorful enough to make up for that!
  • Olive oil – I my favorite to use here, but you can use butter or even avocado oil too. Just be careful if you use butter because it burns much easier.
  • Garlic – Just a touch of minced garlic goes a long way in making this spinach perfectly addictive. I always recommend fresh here for the best results, but I have sprinkled in garlic powder in a pinch and it was tasty too.
  • Sea salt & pepper – Just to taste to bring out all the flavors here and the pepper adds a flavor punch that’s perfect with the garlic.

Now let’s make this recipe step by step

The olive oil, garlic, and sea salt measured out with the spinach on a wooden cutting board.

Step 1: Start by mincing the garlic and measuring out the olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.

If you buy spinach from a local farmers market, be sure to wash it with plenty of cold water and spin dry with a salad spinner.

The garlic and olive oil being sautéed together in a large stainless steel skillet.

Step 2: Then using the biggest skillet you have cook the garlic and olive oil together over medium heat until fragrant and barely turning a darker golden.

Don’t worry if the garlic lightly browns, it’s still tasty but I prefer it not to brown myself!

The barely wilted spinach sautéed in a stainless steel skillet with a wooden spoon.

Step 3: Next, add your giant pile of spinach to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes as you toss it together with the garlic oil mixture until just wilted. Season to taste with a sprinkling of sea salt and serve!

You can see there’s not a lot of finished spinach compared to the size of the skillet. But when you first start cooking the spinach, it will fill the skillet, and it’s easier to stir if it’s not heaped up too high.

A white bowl with Garlic Sautéed Spinach with a wooden serving spoon on a white background.

Ways to serve this


How do you get the bitterness out of sautéed spinach?

The most important way to keep the bitterness out of sautéed spinach is not to overheat the olive oil or burn the garlic. Both of these things will cause your spinach to be more bitter. Also, the freshest spinach won’t be bitter so try and buy local when you can. Store-bought greens almost always have a hint of bitterness you come to know with any kind of greens, but locally grown is a whole different story.

Is sautéed spinach healthy?

Sautéed spinach is a tasty way to add more greens to your diet easily. You can eat these as a side dish or stir them into your next soup or pasta dish.

Storing leftovers

  • To store – place any leftover sautéed spinach into an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.
  • Make ahead – this side dish is best eaten fresh, but I do like to make it ahead for a couple of reasons. First up it’s a great way to use up any greens that are on the verge in my fridge. Once they’re cooked down, I add some of this sautéed spinach to my scrambled eggs, soups, and pasta dishes for extra greens. If you want to eat the spinach plain as a side dish, I do recommend making it fresh for the best results.
  • Reheating – place any leftovers into a small skillet or pan and reheat stirring constantly, or microwave the leftovers.
  • To freeze – this dish can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and use in other dishes like eggs, soups, and pasta.
A close up macro view of the Garlic Sautéed Spinach with a wooden serving spoon.

Extra Flavor Variations

  • Onions – Add them in addition to the garlic, or leave the garlic out. Sauté about 1/2 of an onion until tender, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
  • Bacon – This one is obvious, but bacon really does make for incredibly sautéed greens! Dice it up as fine as you can, then sauté it until crispy and the fat has rendered out. Remove the bacon from the pan. Then drain off a bit of the grease if necessary, you need about 2 tablespoons in the pan. Omit the olive oil then proceed with cooking either the garlic or onions before adding the spinach to the pan with the bacon bits.
  • Add a little heat to taste with red pepper flakes.
  • Add a bright note with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
  • Italian seasoning – about 1/2 teaspoon or a light sprinkle while the garlic is cooking is a favorite.
  • Curry powder – this is the same as the above, about 1/2 teaspoon after the garlic is just done
  • Cumin, smoked paprika, etc. – I haven’t found a seasoning yet that I don’t like in sautéed spinach, but cumin and smoked paprika are extra good. They’re a bit stronger, so we like about 1/4 teaspoon, but you can add to your taste too.
A straight down view of a white bowl with Garlic Sautéed Spinach with a wooden serving spoon on a white background.

I really hope you enjoy this simple Garlic Sautéed Spinach! If you do get a chance to make it, I hope you’ll leave me a comment/rating below. I always love hearing from you here! Also for lots more side dish recipes, head over to the recipe index.

A white bowl with Garlic Sautéed Spinach with a wooden serving spoon on a white background.

Garlic Sautéed Spinach

5 from 1 vote
Author: Kari Peters
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Course: Side Dish


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 pound spinach - or 16 cups, washed and dried
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt - or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. (Mine is stainless steel and measures 14″x3″deep.) When the pan is hot but no smoking, add the olive oil and garlic.
  • Cook just until the garlic is fragrant, but preferably not browned, about 30-45 seconds. Add the spinach and continue to cook stirring frequently as the spinach wilts, 2-3 minutes. 
  • Season to taste with sea salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Bonus StepIf you made this recipe, please leave a rating/comment. Ratings really help us continue to bring you high-quality free recipes. Rate This Recipe!


You may need to add a bit more cooking time depending on how big your spinach leaves are. Or if you choose to use a tougher green like kale or chard, you can add a touch of water and steam the green for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Category: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keywords: Best Sautéed Spinach, Garlic Spinach, Sautéed Spinach, Spinach Recipe

nutrition facts

Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 235mg | Potassium: 641mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 10634IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 3mg
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