Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

4.75 from 16 votes
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Sauteed spinach is a quick and healthy side dish to elevate any meal. Fresh spinach cooks down in batches to wilt the large volume of greens. Minced garlic infuses into the cooking oil, seasoning the vegetable along with salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

Spinach can be a healthy and tasty mealtime hero or a mushy mess. Sauteeing these greens is the best way to make the leaves tender, while seamlessly adding in flavor. There are different types of spinach to choose from, but flat-leaf or curly-leaf works best for this method of cooking.

After some preparation and washing, we’re going to cook in batches to effectively wilt down the volume. The sauteed spinach is seasoned with a generous amount of minced garlic and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes. A delicious skillet of greens ready to serve with your favorite protein.

cooking fresh spinach leaves in a skillet

How to make sauteed spinach

  • Thoroughly wash the spinach leaves and dry in a salad spinner.
  • Heat olive oil over high heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the spinach in handfuls, stirring and cooking until wilted.
  • Transfer to a colander and squeeze out excess liquid.
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic to the pan.
  • Stir in the drained spinach.
  • Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper

Spinach selection

I prefer heartier varieties like the larger and more robust flat-leaf or curly-leaf that hold up better to high heat and movement in the pan. Baby spinach is delicate and prone to overcooking if not carefully watched. Make sure to remove the long stems if still left intact and wash the leaves very well before adding to the hot oil.

squeezing the liquid out of spinach leaves using metal tongs

Cook in batches

The fresh vibrant green leaves take up a large amount of space in the pan, so it’s best to cook a handful at a time until the spinach is wilted. This process takes only a few minutes to reduce 1 pound of leafy greens. Using high heat quickly cooks them down, while the brief cook time ensures that they don’t overcook.

Infusing flavor

One quick way to add aromatics to the dish is to use minced garlic. When added to the warmed olive oil, the pieces become lightly toasted, with a delightful nutty flavor. It’s important to constantly stir the garlic to prevent it from burning, and only cooking for under a minute until the aromas can be detected.

Adding in certain types of salt, like kosher salt or sea salt adds a pleasant briny taste to the neutral greens. A small amount of fresh lemon juice added right before serving provides a brightness to the greens and hides any bitterness.

hot skillet with oil and pieces of minced garlic

Other add-ins

  • Chopped bell peppers
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Crispy bacon
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

What to serve with sauteed spinach

sauteing spinach in a large stainless steel pan

Be sure to drain the spinach!

Raw spinach is made up of about 90% water, which moves to the surface when cooked. The excess water needs to be gently squeezed out right after cooking so that the leaves don’t become mushy. Using a pair of tongs does the trick!

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

Sauteed spinach is a quick and healthy side dish that elevates any meal. Using minced garlic infused into the cooking oil adds extra flavor.
4.75 from 16 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American


  • 1 pound spinach, flat-leaf or curly-leaf spinach
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  • Remove the stems from the spinach. Wash and dry using a salad spinner. It’s okay if there is a little residual moisture on the leaves.
  • Heat a large pan over high heat then add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • Once the oil is hot add the spinach a few handfuls at a time. Stir to allow the leaves to slightly wilt before adding in the next handful.
  • Cook and stir constantly until the spinach is evenly wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Transfer the spinach to a colander and use tongs to squeeze out the excess liquid.
  • Dry the pan with paper towels.
  • Heat the pan over medium heat, then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Add garlic and saute until fragrant and lightly browned, 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Add back the drained spinach and stir to combine, cook for 30 seconds.
  • Turn off the heat and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice then stir to combine.
  • Taste and season with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice as desired.
  • Transfer spinach to a bowl and serve warm.


  • This recipe yields about 2 cups sauteed spinach.
  • Serving Size: ½ cup

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 92kcal (5%)Carbohydrates 5g (2%)Protein 3g (6%)Fat 7g (11%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Sodium 235mg (10%)Potassium 633mg (18%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 10633IU (213%)Vitamin C 33mg (40%)Calcium 116mg (12%)Iron 3mg (17%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating

9 Comments Leave a comment or review


    I will not say how old I am but this was the best Spinach w/Garlic I have Ever Cooked though only one spinach recipe I knew which this one squashes! Jessia, I love your educational cooking method.

  2. Larry Vaught says

    I love the recipes. One suggestion I’d really like to see happen is that the suggestions you’ve made on what to serve along side of the recipes, is included within the recipe area when we go to print the recipes. Or a notes section. The additional suggestions do not show up during the print process preview.

  3. Robert H. says

    Simple, but fantastic! I make this tasty side dish often, as it pairs well with just about every type of entree.

    For a different flavor, I sometimes substitute the lemon juice with red wine or apple cider vinegar (depends on my “taste-mood”). Off heat, the vinegar is tossed with the spinach, during the recipe’s final seasoning/tasting step. I use 1 to 2 teaspoons of vinegar. But, the measurement can be easily adjusted to a desired taste. It also depends on the resulting amount of cooked spinach in the pan. Servings are topped with Peccorino-Romano cheese.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback, Robert! I love that you are adjusting the spinach seasonings, and switching it up. Great job!