Easy Sautéed Spinach

updated Nov 17, 2023
Easy Sautéed Spinach Recipe

Got five minutes? This is the easiest, most foolproof way to cook spinach on the stovetop.

Serves2 to 4

Cook5 minutes to 10 minutes

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Overhead shot of spinach being cooked down in a pan, and stirred by a wooden spoon.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

Spinach is one of the most versatile greens that you can find at the grocery store. It’s fairly affordable, and you can add it to almost anything you want, from omelets to soups. I always have a box of baby spinach on hand to mix into salads, quickly sauté to add to rice, or fold into eggs. My go-to method for cooking spinach is sautéing. It’s one of the easiest ways to cook spinach.

Even though this sautéed spinach is super straightforward, you can riff on this recipe based on your preferences. Make it slightly spicy by adding red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Or, make it lemony by finishing with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end. You can even add minced garlic to make it garlicky. Here’s how to sauté fresh spinach and how you can customize it with different spices and aromatics to make it exactly the way you want. 

What Type of Spinach to Choose

Typically, you will find two varieties at the grocery store: baby spinach and mature bunch spinach. Baby spinach is usually packaged in a box and most likely pre-washed, while spinach bundles are sold unwashed with stems on.

For quick sautéing, I recommend baby spinach, as you don’t normally have to wash it. If you’re looking to add it to hearty soups, I would go for mature spinach, as it has more bite — just make sure to chop it into bite-size pieces first.

How to Sauté Spinach

Sautéing is a delicious, easy, and flavorful way to prepare spinach. Here’s how to do it. 

  • Heat up your fat. You can use any type of fat, such as canola oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, and more. Using a blend of different fats is a great way to add more flavor. For this recipe, I like to combine unsalted butter and olive oil. 
  • Add your aromatics. Once the fat is melted over medium-high heat, add your choice of aromatics. To keep the recipe simple, I stick with red pepper flakes. But you can add chopped shallots, sliced scallions, or minced garlic if you like.
  • Cook the spinach. Once the aromatics are tender, add the spinach. You only need a few minutes to cook it down; it wilts pretty fast. Don’t forget that spinach cooks down a lot, so when sautéing, use more than you think.
  • Serve. You can serve the spinach as is, or add some garnishes for extra flavor, such as a squeeze of lemon or chopped scallions.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

What to Serve with Sautéed Spinach

Sautéed spinach is a great side dish to serve along with hefty proteins. These are some of my favorite dishes to pair it with.

Easy Sautéed Spinach Recipe

Got five minutes? This is the easiest, most foolproof way to cook spinach on the stovetop.

Cook time 5 minutes to 10 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 10 ounces

    baby spinach (about 10 packed cups), divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Add 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes if desired and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  2. Add 5 ounces of the baby spinach (about 5 packed cups) and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Toss with tongs and stir until the spinach is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining 5 ounces spinach and remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and toss until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.