Sautéed Escarole

Don't be intimidated by this lightly bitter, leafy green! Cooking escarole is as quick and easy as a five-minute sauté and makes a healthy side dish for dinner.

Sautéed Escarole
Elise Bauer

Have you ever had escarole?

What Is Escarole?

It's easy to mistake for lettuce, but it's actually a slightly bitter green in the chicory family with endive, frisée, and radicchio.

The leaves are a bit thick, like kale, have raggedy edges and are light green on the outside with often a pale yellow center on the inside.

You can use escarole raw in salads, use it braised in soups (especially with white beans and sausage), or grill it.

My favorite way to enjoy escarole was taught to me by my friend chef Kathi Riley, formerly of Chez Panisse and Zuni Cafe. It's a simple sauté of the greens in olive oil with garlic.

Easy Escarole Sauté
Elise Bauer

How To Cook Escarole

The trick to this is to sauté the greens while they are still a bit wet. Escarole usually needs a good rinse with water to dislodge any remaining dirt that may be lurking in its folds and curls. So while the leaves are still wet, add them to the hot pan with oil.

Hot oil and water aren't usually happy friends (splatter alert!), but in this case, you add all the leaves at once, so any splattering takes place underneath the leaves, keeping you safe from sizzling oil projectiles.

Why the water? Some parts of the escarole leaves are delicate, and can dry out in a hot pan. The water provides an extra buffer to keep the leaves from drying out while giving the escarole enough time to cook and wilt.

Fresh escarole lettuce on a white background.
Elise Bauer

How To Serve Escarole

I usually eat the sautéed escarole on its own as a very simple vegetarian dish. It works also as a side green for dinner. Or, stir in some cooked white beans and Italian sausage and you'll have a complete meal.


Watch This Sautéed Escarole Recipe

How To Buy and Store Escarole

Look for escarole in the produce section. It's usually near the fresh lettuce. Farmers markets that sell seasonal produce will usually carry it in the cooler months. Choose escarole that is bright green with crisp, curly leaves.

If you don't use the escarole immediately, wrap it in a paper towel and store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator's vegetable crisper for four to five days. Before using the vegetable raw in a salad or cooking it, give it a thorough rinse since dirt can get trapped between the leaves.

More Ways To Enjoy Cooked Greens

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Sautéed Escarole

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, sliced

  • 1 small pinch red pepper flakes, optional

  • 1 head escarole, well rinsed (and still a little wet), leaves removed from core, torn or chopped into 3 to 4 inch pieces

  • 1 generous pinch sea salt or kosher salt


  1. Sauté the garlic:

    Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes (if using).

  2. Add the escarole leaves, turn with tongs:

    Once the garlic starts to cook and is fragrant, add the escarole leaves to the pan. The leaves should still be a little wet from rinsing. They'll sizzle as they hit the pan, but if you add them all at once, the oil shouldn't splatter.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    Use tongs to turn the escarole over in the pan as it cooks. Sprinkle with a little salt.

  3. Wilt the escarole:

    When the escarole starts to wilt and is barely cooked through, remove from the heat.

    Remove from the pan immediately to serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
83 Calories
7g Fat
4g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 83
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 167mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 4mg 20%
Calcium 54mg 4%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 283mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.