Fresh spinach is sautéed in garlic-infused olive oil, then dressed with butter and lemon juice. It’s a simple and delicious side dish that’s ready in minutes.
Not everyone enjoys spinach. I actually love it, but not surprisingly, my kids are not fans. So I’m always looking for ways to make this vegetable more palatable for them.
This recipe is an easy and tasty way to prepare fresh spinach. As it turns out, if I add enough butter, even The Picky Eater usually agrees to have some! Butter makes everything better, right?
The ingredients needed to make this recipe
You’ll only need a few ingredients to make sauteed spinach. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Olive oil: I love using extra virgin olive oil. It’s wonderfully flavorful.
Minced garlic: Mince it yourself, or use the stuff that comes in a jar. Both work. I’m lazy, so you know what I do!
Fresh spinach: I make life easy and buy a bag of pre-washed leaves. But you can obviously wash and dry them yourself. Just make sure they are thoroughly dried.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
To finish and flavor the dish: Butter and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I love using creamy European butter, and freshly squeezed lemon juice has the best flavor.
How to make sautéed spinach
This is a truly simple recipe that elevates spinach into a delicacy. It is also very easy to make: You start by cooking fresh spinach leaves in garlic-infused olive oil. Then you dress the cooked leaves with butter and lemon juice. That’s it!
Needless to say, spinach is delicious when prepared with heavy cream, butter, and parmesan. This creamed spinach recipe is wonderful.
But when you use truly fresh baby spinach leaves, they are so delicate, almost sweet. So you can use minimal ingredients and cook them very briefly for a truly delicious side dish.
In this recipe, the spinach is cooked in olive oil. The butter is used not for the actual cooking but for finishing the dish and adding another layer of flavor. The combination of olive oil, butter, garlic, and lemon juice is amazing.
Spinach reduces dramatically as it cooks
While 1 lb. of spinach may seem like a lot, remember that spinach loses quite a bit of volume as it cooks. So this is indeed a good amount of sauteed spinach to make for 4 people. And that’s why you need a large, deep skillet or saucepan when making this recipe – to accommodate the large volume of raw leaves.
What to serve with this dish?
This side dish is easy to make and it’s ready quickly. I like to pair it with oven-baked meats such as ribeye roast and crispy baked chicken thighs. But really, this is a very versatile side dish that goes with anything. You can even serve it with a couple of fried eggs for a tasty meatless meal.
Can you keep the leftovers?
I don’t typically have leftovers when making sautéed spinach. But on the rare occasion that I do, I find that they keep fine in the fridge for a couple of days in an airtight container. Although this dish is best when served fresh.
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 lb. baby spinach leaves pre washed
- 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon fine salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- In a very large, deep pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, until no longer raw, but not browned.
- Add the spinach, carefully mixing with a wooden spoon to coat the leaves in the olive oil. Depending on how deep your skillet is, you might need to add it in several batches, as I do in the video below.
- Cook the spinach, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it's just wilted, about 3 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and stir in the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and butter. You can also reserve the butter for topping the spinach after you remove it from the pan, as I do in the video. It makes for a pretty presentation.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sauteed spinach to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.