Easy Sautéed Spinach

Side DishPaleoVeganSpinach

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

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

‘Cause I eats me spinach

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.

How To Cook Spinach

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.

Spinach releases a lot of water as it cooks, so my father’s trick is to drain and dry the spinach leaves as well as you can, using a salad spinner if need be, before cooking them.

Then sauté some garlic in olive oil in a large wide pan, and add the cleaned, drained, and dried spinach leaves to the pan. Pack the pan with spinach, cover and cook for only a minute or two tops.

More great spinach recipes

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 Clean and prep the spinach: 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 Sauté garlic: 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 spinach to pan: 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 Remove from pan and drain excess liquid: After 2 minutes of covered cooking the spinach should be completely wilted. Remove from heat.

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

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Easy Sauteed Spinach Recipe

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

110 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Ramon de la Peña

    Start from bagged spinach to finish around ten minutes. I didn’t remove the leaf stems knowing they’d go limp and delicious. I drained but throw it away, believing they’d be very nutritious. Ate it with a strip of bacon and freshly chopped onions and tomatoes. SUPERB


  • Matty

    Spinach is always touted as being really rich in iron. The trouble is, that most of that iron cannot be absorbed. It needs to have a source of Vit. C along with it. That is why many recipes you see will have a splash of vinegar or lemon juice. Not only does it taste good, but it is better for you! Balsamic vinegar – yum! (Just don’t overdo it!)

  • [email protected]

    It was lovely


  • Dave Anderson

    I learned of this recipe 30+ years ago watching (on tv with rabbit ears, no cable) The Urban Peasant cooking show starring James Barber that aired at noon on CBC tv in British Columbia Canada. Only difference (and a must for this recipe) is a very small dash/hint of nutmeg lightly spread on the top spinach before turning over. also as a person added above I too like a sprinkle of cider vinegar at end.

  • 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…

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Sauteed Spinach RecipeEasy Sautéed Spinach