Restaurant Style Sauteed Spinach

Sautéed spinach, a simple yet elegant dish, has long been a staple in kitchens around the world as it elevates so many main dishes. Its versatility, health benefits, and quick preparation make it a go-to option for both home cooks and professional chefs alike.

overhead shot of a pan with sauteed spinach

In this post, we will delve into the art of sautéing spinach, exploring its nutritional value, proper techniques, flavor enhancements, and creative variations. Whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or a seasoned pro, mastering the sautéed spinach technique will elevate your culinary prowess to new heights. For more healthy side dishes, check out this delicious corn salad recipe or these crispy air fryer broccoli. 

Before we embark on the sautéing journey, let’s take a moment to appreciate the nutritional profile of spinach. Packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, calcium, and fiber, spinach boasts a myriad of health benefits.

Its antioxidants contribute to promoting healthy skin, strong bones, and a boosted immune system. Incorporating sautéed spinach into your diet not only tantalizes your taste buds but also nourishes your body.

a platter with sauteed spinach topped with grated parmesan and a fork placed on the side


  • Fresh spinach leaves
  • Olive oil or butter
  • Optional: garlic, onions, lemon juice, salt, and pepper

How to make the best sauteed spinach from scratch?

  1. Prepare the Spinach: Start by washing the spinach leaves thoroughly under cold running water. Remove any tough stems or damaged leaves. You can choose to use baby spinach leaves or larger, mature leaves, depending on your preference.
  2. Heat the Pan: Place a wide, shallow skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil or a pat of butter and allow it to heat until it shimmers.
  3. Add Aromatics (Optional): For an extra layer of flavor, add minced garlic, finely chopped onions, or shallots to the hot oil. Sauté them for about a minute until fragrant and translucent, being careful not to burn them.
  4. Sauté the Spinach: Add the prepared spinach leaves to the pan. They will begin to wilt almost immediately. Use tongs or a spatula to toss the leaves gently, ensuring they come into contact with the hot surface. If you’re using a large amount of spinach, you may need to add it in batches.
  5. Season and Flavor: Lastly, sprinkle a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper over the spinach. If desired, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavors and cut through any richness. Continue tossing the spinach until it is uniformly wilted and tender, which should take about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Serve and Enjoy: Once the spinach is cooked to your desired level of tenderness, transfer it to a serving dish immediately. Sautéed spinach is best enjoyed hot, so serve it promptly as a side dish or incorporate it into your favorite recipes.

overhead shot of a serving plate with sauteed spinach and lemon wedges

Sautéed Spinach Variations:

  • Nutty Crunch: Add toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds for a delightful crunch and a hint of nutty flavor.
  • Cheesy Delight: Feel free to incorporate crumbled feta, grated Parmesan, or shaved Pecorino Romano for a creamy and savory twist.
  • Spicy Kick: Sprinkle red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne for a touch of heat that tantalizes the taste buds.
  • Herb Infusion: Experiment with fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or dill to infuse aromatic notes into your sautéed spinach.


Frequently Asked Questions

 What is sautéed spinach?

Sautéed spinach is a dish made by quickly cooking fresh spinach leaves in a hot pan with a small amount of oil or butter. The leaves are tossed until they wilt and turn vibrant green, resulting in a tender and flavorful side dish or ingredient.

What to serve with sautéed spinach?

This healthy and delicious side dish goes pretty much with everything. I love serving it with Air Fryer Salmon or with Blackened Chicken. 

Can I use frozen spinach for sautéing?

While fresh spinach is preferred for sautéing due to its texture and flavor, frozen spinach can be used in a pinch. Thaw and squeeze out excess moisture before sautéing, but be aware that frozen spinach may have a slightly different texture.

an oval platter with sauteed spinach served with lemon wedges

Do I need to remove the stems from the spinach before sautéing?

For mature spinach leaves, it’s recommended to trim the tough stems and use mainly the leaves. Baby spinach leaves usually have tender stems and can be used whole. Removing stems can help ensure a more pleasant texture in the final dish.

What type of oil is best for sautéing spinach?

Olive oil and butter are popular choices for sautéing spinach. Olive oil adds a pleasant flavor, while butter lends a rich taste. Both options can withstand the high heat required for sautéing without burning.

How do I prevent the spinach from becoming too watery during sautéing?

Thoroughly wash and dry the spinach leaves before cooking to remove excess moisture. Additionally, make sure your pan is hot before adding the spinach to prevent excessive water release.

close shot of a fork with sauteed spinach

Cooking tips:

  • Use High Heat: Sautéing spinach requires high heat to ensure quick cooking and prevent the greens from becoming mushy.
  • Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: Also, if you’re cooking a large amount of spinach, sauté it in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan and to allow for even cooking.
  • Minimal Oil: Use a modest amount of olive oil or butter to lightly coat the spinach leaves without making them greasy.
  • Add Flavor Boosters: Experiment with different aromatics like garlic, onions, or shallots to enhance the taste of your sautéed spinach.
5 from 3 votes
overhead shot of a serving plate with sauteed spinach and lemon wedges
Sautéed Spinach
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins

Sautéed spinach, a simple yet elegant dish, has long been a staple in kitchens around the world as it elevates so many main dishes.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Sautéed Spinach
Servings: 4 serv
Calories: 101 kcal
Author: Catalina Castravet
  • 16 oz baby spinach fresh
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste - optional
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan grated - optional
  1. First, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  2. Next, add the shallot, stir, and cook for one minute, and after that, add the garlic and cook stirring for 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Then add the spinach leaves and immediately cover the pan, the leaves will quickly wilt down. Cook covered for 1 minute, uncover and stir for a few seconds, then cook covered for another 1 minute.

  4. After that, uncover again and stir and cook for about 30 seconds more, or until the spinach is fully wilted but still bright green.

  5. Stir in the kosher salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, then remove from the heat.

  6. Immediately transfer to a serving plate, the spinach will brown if you leave it in the hot pan.

  7. Serve warm topped with grated parmesan and lemon wedges on the side.

  8. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts
Sautéed Spinach
Amount Per Serving
Calories 101 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 1mg0%
Sodium 111mg5%
Potassium 664mg19%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 10644IU213%
Vitamin C 33mg40%
Calcium 134mg13%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

easy sauteed spinach pin


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