Sautéed Kale with Tahini Sauce

Chopped kale sautéed with onions and garlic, mixed with a sauce of sesame tahini, sesame oil, lemon juice, and salt.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Oh my, this is a good one. I never would have thought to pair kale with tahini (thank you to my friend Peg for the suggestion), but it’s great!

Sort of reminiscent of a popular Japanese dish with spinach and sesame gomasio.

Sautéed Kale with Tahini Sauce

The slightly bitter green kale does a happy dance with the acidic lemon and salty richness of the tahini sauce. Very easy to pull together.

Would make an excellent addition to a Thanksgiving or holiday spread. Enjoy. (And as my dad says, eat your greens!)

Sautéed Kale with Tahini Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 pound kale, well rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • 4 Tbsp tahini (use tahini made with toasted sesame seeds, not raw)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3-4 Tbsp water
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds for garnish


1 Using a sharp paring knife, cut out the rib of each kale leaf. Discard or compost. Slice the leaves roughly 1/2-inch thick.

2 Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a large sauté pan. When hot, add the chopped onion. Cook for a couple of minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

3 Add the kale to the sauté pan. Even if you have a pretty large pan, the kale will be practically falling out of it. Put in as much as you can and use tongs to turn over and mix with the oil and onions.

After a couple minutes the kale should wilt a bit so you can add the rest of the raw kale.

Cook, turning the kale leaves over occasionally until the kales leaves have wilted and are tender. Sprinkle a little salt over the kale leaves while cooking.

4 While the kale is cooking, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and dark sesame oil. Add more salt and sesame oil to taste.

5 Once the kale is done, toss in the sauce, reserving a little to drizzle on top.

Serve, topped with a little sauce and toasted sesame seeds.

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Showing 4 of 22 Comments

  • cheri

    Just made this with kale from the farmers market and tahini that I made myself. Excellent and delicious recipe. Thank you….

  • molly

    I wrap the mid rib pieces in saran and freeze to dice later for soup…

  • Cheryl H

    Sounds just delicious, Elise! Thanks for another wonderful way to serve greens! Kale is one of my favorite foods & my fave way to prepare it developed as a diet dish when I was on a candida-busting diet: 1 head of turnip greens or bok choy, 1 head dinasaur or other kale, and sometimes 1/2 a bunch curly parsley. I chop all and cook in a little chicken broth, with 4 or 5 chopped garlic cloves, until all is wilted & soft–not much more than 5 min! Then I turn the stove off, stir in some chopped dandelion greens & cover for about 3-4 min. To each serving, I then add 2tsp flax or olive oil, about 1T chopped almonds, and sprinkle over the top 1T flax seeds (essential)that have been ground w a little wakame seaweed. Just delicious, IMHO,& my preferred breakfast for years, especially with a little added tofu.

    Isn’t flax oil great? This sounds terrific. Like the kind of food that my body craves after a little too much indulgence. ~Elise

  • Andrea Lee

    Sounds great! My tahini is made from raw sesame seeds. Will this recipe still work? Any suggestions to tweak?
    Thank you!

    Great question. You really do want the roasted flavor. You might try it, but add a lot more dark sesame oil, until you get the rich roasted flavor for the sauce. Personally I don’t like the taste of raw sesame tahini. But maybe it will work if you add enough sesame oil. ~Elise

  • Katie Mack

    I made this tonight…but I used Thai peanut sauce in place of tahini (that’s what I had in my fridge). Oh. My. Dear. Lord. I just ate a pound of kale by myself! I am a changed woman now! Great recipe.

    Oh, that would work. Totally. Great idea! ~Elise

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