Garlicky Sautéed Greens

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Olive oil, lemon wedges, and red pepper flakes around a bowl of sautéed garlicky greens

Eat your vegetables, they say, and we really try! But it’s so much more enjoyable (and more likely to happen) when they taste good. Enter our go-to sautéed greens recipe that actually makes us crave leafy greens! They’re garlicky, bright, flavorful, nutrient-packed, and come together fast with just 5 ingredients.

Got kale? Chard? Collards? Mustard, turnip, or beet greens? They all work here! This recipe is super versatile and easy enough for weeknights or meal prep. Let’s make greens!

Kale, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, olive oil, and lemon juice

These 1-pan sautéed greens begin with cooking the garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil (or avocado oil) to infuse the oil with savory, subtly spicy flavor. If you’re not into heat, you can leave out the red pepper flakes and these will still be full of flavor!

Sautéing minced garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil

Next come your greens of choice. We’ve tested this recipe with kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and chard, and they all work beautifully. You’ll just need a little more water if using collard greens because of their lower moisture content.

Squeezing lemon juice into a pan of chopped kale

The remaining essentials for these sautéed greens are salt for overall flavor and lemon juice for brightness. After adding water and covering with a lid, the greens will soften and soak up all the flavors.

Red pepper flakes, lemon wedges, and olive oil around a pan of sautéed kale

We hope you LOVE these sautéed greens. They’re:

Subtly spicy
& SO easy!

Enjoy as a versatile side with nearly any main or other sides. These greens pair especially well with Italian-inspired recipes, including our Easy Penne Arrabbiata, Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta, Easy Pizza Burgers, and Easy Vegan Zucchini Boats.

More Flavorful Greens Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Fork spearing a bite of garlicky greens over a bowl

Garlicky Sautéed Greens

A flavorful, versatile recipe for sautéed greens that can be made with kale, chard, mustard greens, and beyond. Perfect for weeknights or meal prep with just 30 minutes and 5 ingredients required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Wooden spoon in a pan of simple garlicky sautéed kale
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 (Servings)
Course Side
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 3-4 Days


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (or avocado oil)
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic (3-4 cloves yield ~1 ½ Tbsp or 14 g)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 bunch hearty greens of choice, chopped (such as kale, collards, chard, turnip, or mustard greens // 1 bunch yields ~8 cups or 520 g chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (~1/2 small lemon yields ~1 Tbsp or 15 ml juice)
  • 2-8 Tbsp water (or broth)


  • Add the oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes (optional) to a large rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once lightly sizzling and fragrant, add the greens. Toss to evenly coat the greens in the oil and get the garlic off the bottom of the pan.
  • Once the greens have wilted slightly (1-2 minutes), add the salt and toss to evenly distribute. Add the lemon juice and 2 Tbsp (30 ml) water, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover with a lid. Let cook for 4-5 minutes, then remove the lid and toss.
  • Depending on the type of greens you’re using, they may have released a bit of moisture or they may be dry (we find collard greens are the driest). The greens should be in a very shallow amount of liquid, not submerged or sizzling in a dry pan. Add the remaining water if needed and cover for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed. After 15 minutes, the greens should be fully tender, darker in color, and most of the liquid should have evaporated. Depending on your preferred texture, they may be done at this point or they may need 5-10 more minutes with a bit more water.
  • Serve immediately! Leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Not freezer friendly.



*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with kale and without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 2 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 100 Carbohydrates: 6.2 g Protein: 2.9 g Fat: 8.1 g Saturated Fat: 1.1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.3 g Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 338 mg Potassium: 324 mg Fiber: 3.6 g Sugar: 1.1 g Vitamin A: 4044 IU Vitamin C: 83 mg Calcium: 225 mg Iron: 1.4 mg

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My Rating:

  1. Margaret Mary St. Pierre says

    I made this using 1 bag of Costco Power Greens, which contains 8 C. Of greens
    per the package. I used half the oil. Other than that, I followed the recipe. It was too salty with the sea salt and the lemon juice, though I acknowledge I used about 1/3 less greens than the recipe calls for.

    The Power Greens I used were not thick, like kale, so I should have reduced the cooking time.

    My strong suggestion is to make this in a pan with *very* high sides or in a pot, if you have one wide enough. It was pretty much impossible to keep all the greens inside the pan for the first and second stirs.

    I’ll make this again! And I like the suggestion to add tofu.

  2. Scott Grenerth says

    This was amazing!!!
    I made it with some tofu fried in (vegan) butter flavored coconut oil, and I used chard fo the greens. I cannot wait to get back to the farmer’s market for more chard and garlic to make this again, and again, and again…

  3. TH says

    Yes, that makes sense. I was referring to the measurements listed, it suggests that 6 Tbsp is equivalent to 30 ml. Maybe you meant 6 Tsp?
    Just trying to clarify the recipe.

  4. TH says

    Add the remaining 6 Tbsp (30 ml) water if needed and cover for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed.

    Did you mean 6 Tsp or 90 ml?

    Thanks, your recipes are great!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi, With more watery greens, you shouldn’t need any more than the 2 Tbsp in step 2. You’ll only add more water (up to 6 Tbsp more) if the pan is looking dry. Hope that helps!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Any rimmed skillet with a lid should work. We’ve used stainless steel, non-stick, and enameled cast iron with success. Hope you love it!

  5. Nicole G says

    Hi! The recipe says it is freezer friendly for a month at the top of the recipe and then the bottom notes say it is not freezer friendly. Could you specify if it is or isn’t? Thank you!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Nicole, sorry for the confusion! It would be okay, but we think it would lose some flavor and texture.