Easy Sautéed Spinach

One of the best, tastiest ways to cook spinach!

A white plate of sauteed spinach recipe.

Simply Recipes / Natalia Vela

Popeye was the best thing that ever hit the spinach industry. When I was a kid you couldn't pay me to eat lima beans or peas, but spinach? I begged for it; we all did.

Especially if it came from a can.

We wanted to be cool like Popeye, who could knock Bluto to Kingdom Come just by downing a can of spinach, which always conveniently found its way to Popeye's mouth when his situation was most dire.

Our parents worked hard to convince us that cooked fresh spinach was just as good, if not better than the canned stuff.

How to Cook Spinach

My father prepares spinach this way at least once or twice a week, usually with fresh spinach from the farmer's market. According to dad, he overcooked it for years, until he learned that you shouldn't cook spinach beyond the point that it just wilts.

Spinach releases a lot of water as it cooks. So my father's trick is to drain and dry the spinach leaves as well as you can, using a salad spinner if need be, before cooking them.

Then, sauté some garlic in olive oil in a large wide pan, and add the cleaned, drained, and dried spinach leaves to the pan. Pack the pan with spinach; cover and cook for only a minute or two tops.

Wooden spoon scooping up cooked spinach recipe.

Simply Recipes / Natalia Vela

More Great Spinach Recipes

How to Wash, Dry and Prep Spinach

  • Most baby spinach in pre-packaged bags comes pre-washed, but we recommend washing and drying it anyway.
  • Mature spinach that are sold in bundles are not pre-washed and can be gritty. Best to trim or de-stem them and at least double wash them by dunking them in a sink full of cold water.
  • No need to de-stem baby spinach. You can cook the bunches stems and all. However, with more mature spinach, you'll want to trim off most of the large stems, since they can be stringy.
  • A salad spinner makes quick work of drying spinach, but you can also leaves dry by placing them between two clean kitchen towels. Cloth towels absorb more water than paper ones.

What to Serve With Sautéed Spinach

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Easy Sautéed Spinach

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


  • 2 large bunches spinach, about 1 pound

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced

  • Salt to taste


  1. Clean and prep the spinach:

    Cut off the thick stems of the spinach and discard. Clean the spinach by filling up your sink with water and soaking the spinach to loosen any sand or dirt. Drain the spinach and then repeat, soaking and draining. Put the spinach in a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture.

  2. Sauté the garlic:

    Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, until the garlic just begins to brown.

    sauteed garlic spinach
    Elise Bauer
  3. Add the spinach to the pan and cook:

    Add the spinach to the pan, packing it down a bit if you need to with your hand. Use a couple of spatulas (or tongs) to lift the spinach and turn it over in the pan, so you coat more of it with the olive oil and garlic. Do this a couple of times. Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute. Uncover and turn the spinach over again. Cover the pan and cook for an additional minute.

    fresh spinach to saute
    Elise Bauer
    pan fried spinach
    Elise Bauer
  4. Remove from heat and drain the excess liquid:

    After 2 minutes of covered cooking the spinach should be completely wilted. Remove from heat.

    Drain any excess liquid from the pan. Add a little more olive oil, if you wish. Then, sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

    how to cook spinach in pan
    Elise Bauer
    best way to cook spinach is sauteed
    Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
89 Calories
7g Fat
5g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 89
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 225mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 12mg 59%
Calcium 158mg 12%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 538mg 11%
*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.