Spinach With Sesame and Garlic

Make this easy spinach recipe with sesame and garlic as a delicious side dish. It’s the perfect way to use fresh spinach.

fresh Spinach Sesame Garlic recipe
Elise Bauer

I never get tired of eating spinach. Good thing it's so good for you!

This is a fun take on a Korean version of spinach, with the spinach wilted in sesame oil with garlic and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

I found the recipe years ago in Mark Bittman's "The Best Recipes in the World." In typical Bittman style, the spinach is quick, easy, and good.

Updated, from the recipe archive. First posted November, 2005

Another Version of This Recipe

This recipe is a simplified version of sigeumchi namul, a Korean spinach banchan or side dish. This one has no scallions, while our other one does, and the seasonings are slightly different. We love both recipes and encourage you to read the other post if you’d like to learn more about Korean food.

Can Only Fresh Spinach Be Used?

We've not made this recipe with frozen spinach, but one of our readers used frozen chopped spinach and was pleased with the results. 

Make This Spinach Side Dish Recipe Your Own

  • Add in chopped green onions
  • Add a squirt of lemon juice
  • Add chili flakes
  • Omit sugar
  • Add in more veggies like carrots or cabbage
  • Add 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce

5 More Tasty  Spinach Side Dish Recipes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Spinach With Sesame and Garlic

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 2 to 4 servings

If you are using bagged baby spinach, the presoaking is not necessary, as that spinach is pretty clean. Also baby spinach does not need to be chopped. The spinach you get in bunches from the farmers market can have a lot of dirt at the root ball that needs to be washed out before you use the spinach.

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World.


  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  • 3 tablespoons toasted (dark) sesame oil, divided

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 1 pound fresh spinach (if using mature spinach, soak in water to clean, drain, squeeze out excess water, remove and discard large stems, roughly chop leaves)

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce for gluten-free version)

  • Salt, to taste


  1. Toast the sesame seeds:

    If you haven't already toasted the sesame seeds, do that first. Heat a stick-free skillet on medium-high. Add raw sesame seeds and use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir.

    The seeds may make a popping noise and jump up, almost like popcorn. They will toast very quickly, so stir constantly until they begin to brown and smell like they are toasted.

    Remove from pan into a separate bowl as soon as they are done.

  2. Cook the garlic and spinach in sesame oil:

    Heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is completely wilted. Turn the heat to low.

    baby spinach recipe
    Elise Bauer
    sautè fresh spinach
    Elise Bauer
  3. Add the sugar and soy sauce:

    Stir in the sugar and soy sauce. Remove from the heat. Add salt to taste.

    Serve hot, warm, room temperature, or cold, drizzled with the remaining sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
145 Calories
12g Fat
9g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 145
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 455mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 33mg 163%
Calcium 137mg 11%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 668mg 14%
*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.