Easy Sautéed Spinach

Easy sautéed spinach! The best way to cook delicious fresh spinach, with olive oil and garlic.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Popeye was the best thing that ever hit the spinach industry. When I was a kid you couldn’t pay me to eat lima beans or peas, but spinach? I begged for it; we all did.

Especially if it came from a can.

We wanted to be cool like Popeye, who could knock Bluto to Kingdom Come just by downing a can of spinach, which always conveniently found its way to Popeye’s mouth when his situation was most dire.

Our parents worked hard to convince us that cooked fresh spinach was just as good, if not better than the canned stuff.

My father prepares spinach this way at least once or twice a week, usually made with fresh spinach from the farmer’s market. According to dad he overcooked it for years, until he learned that you shouldn’t cook spinach beyond the point that it just wilts.

The trick is to drain and dry the spinach leaves as well as you can, using a salad spinner if need be, before cooking them. His spinach is fabulous, I hope you give it a try.

From the recipe archive, first posted 2007.

Easy Sautéed Spinach Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 large bunches of spinach, about 1 lb
  • Olive oil, extra virgin
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Salt to taste


1 Cut off the thick stems of the spinach and discard. Clean the spinach by filling up your sink with water and soaking the spinach to loosen any sand or dirt. Drain the spinach and then repeat soaking and draining. Put the spinach in a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture.

2 Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, until the garlic is just beginning to brown.

3 Add the spinach to the pan, packing it down a bit if you need to with your hand. Use a couple spatulas to lift the spinach and turn it over in the pan so that you coat more of it with the olive oil and garlic. Do this a couple of times. Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute. Uncover and turn the spinach over again. Cover the pan and cook for an additional minute.

4 After 2 minutes of covered cooking the spinach should be completely wilted. Remove from heat.

Drain any excess moisture from the pan. Add a little more olive oil, sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

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Easy Sauteed Spinach

Showing 4 of 106 Comments

  • Frances

    Great recipe! I want to make this for my dinner party but will have to make it in advance (ie an hour or so) is it possible to make to do, or will it be too wilted by the time I serve it? Any suggestion…

  • Chris

    I always throw in some white vinegar when cleaning my spinach, to avoid e-coli. Great tips on cooking it!

  • Lois Acheson

    Don’t forget if you are not going to use your spinach right away, par boil it & then you can freeze it. When you’re doing that, always remember to add salt.

  • Tina

    OH how I LOVE spinach! I made this tonight, and it was great! Just my husband and me, so cut the recipe in half, and it was perfect. This may be our new favorite vegetable side dish recipe.

  • Aisyah

    This is exactly how Malay people cook at home! Tasty, and the spinach taste really jumps out. Sometimes we make it a bit liquidify, by cooking it with a little soup, because we eat it with white rice. And a kick of spiciness with chillies!

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