Sautéed Kale with Smoked Paprika

Low CarbPaleoVeganKale

BEST sautéed kale you will ever taste! Seasoned with smoked paprika and crushed chile pepper flakes.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

We have a thing for greens in our family. Beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, kale. My mother even picks dandelion greens to add to soups, and mix in with other greens.

The thing about most greens is that they tend to be bitter, and some, like collard and kale, a little tough as well. Blanching before sautéing can help take the edge off the bitterness, and soften the greens.

Greens are often prepared with garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, bacon, chili pepper, or barbecue sauce, strong flavors that can balance the inherent bitterness of the greens.

In this recipe, the kale is first boiled, then sautéed with onions, chili flakes, and smoked paprika. We’ve used smoked paprika in a few other recipes here; it sort of has the flavor of barbecued potato chips. It takes just a little more than a pinch to bring a little smokey kick to these kale greens.

My father made this kale for us last night, from a Deborah Madison recipe in Bon Appetit. It was so good (truly, the best kale I’ve ever eaten, ever), not only did I take more than my fair share, I insisted that he make them again today, for lunch, so I could eat even more and try to take a good photo. (Thanks dad!)

Sautéed Kale with Smoked Paprika Recipe

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

Kale tends to collect dirt in the leaf wrinkles, so rinse carefully before using. To prep, cut the leaf away from the center rib and stem of each leaf. Discard stems and center ribs.


  • 1 lb fresh kale, carefully rinsed, stems and center ribs cut away and discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (also sold as Pimenton), sweet or hot
  • Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • Salt


1 Blanch the kale: Bring a large pot (4 qts) of water to a boil. Add a Tablespoon of salt to the water. Add the chopped kale. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2 Sauté onions, add smoked paprika and crushed red pepper: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the smoked paprika and crushed red pepper.

3 Add the kale and sauté for several more minutes. Sprinkle on more salt and smoked paprika to taste.

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Barely adapted from a recipe by Deborah Madison in Bon Appetit Magazine.

Showing 4 of 19 Comments / Reviews

  • Jessica

    This recipe is ok. I wouldn’t give it more than that. I think i’m going to try the bacon instead of the oil. Thank you

  • Diane

    I just tried something different: instead of oil I diced 1/2# thick-sliced bacon & sautéed that. When the fat had rendered, I stirred in the onion & proceeded without any more changes. Yummy! My husband loved it. Guess I’ll be cooking kale more often.

  • Adrian

    This was yummy! I might add more salt. It is hard to get it all mixed evenly…stir a lot once everything is in the pan!

  • Alanna @ A Veggie Venture

    Lovely, Elise. Pimenton can be hard to find in the usual spice aisles although Penzey carries it so is easily available online. It’s addictive, completely different than hot or sweet paprika. I lent a friend my can to make paella a few weeks ago, he liked it so much I needed to get another. But he’s using it in everything from morning eggs to supper stews. I know that everything made with pimenton just seems deeper, darker, smokier, so it’s a great choice for kale.

  • Joseph

    Kale is such a great ingredient during the cold weather months. I love that bitterness that gives way to a mellow sweetness when cooked. I usually don’t remove any part of the kale because I like the soft wilted leaves and the crunchy center rib and stem. I find blending in some dried fruits and toasted nuts often tones down some of the bitterness.

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