Skip to Content

Skillet Kale Recipe: Quick and Delicious Healthy Side Dish

I’ve included some videos below for those who prefer to watch rather than read.

Skillet Kale Recipe

Cooking a delicious and nutritious side dish doesn’t have to be complicated. In just a few minutes, you can transform fresh kale into a savory, flavorful dish using a simple skillet method.

With a bit of olive oil, garlic, and a few seasonings, you can create a dish that pairs well with almost any meal. The best part? It’s easy and full of vitamins and minerals, making it a great option for a healthy diet.

Get ready for a quick and tasty way to enjoy your greens! This recipe is perfect for those busy weeknights when you need something fast and satisfying.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

Kale: You need about a bunch of fresh kale. Remove the stems and chop the leaves. If you can’t find kale, spinach or Swiss chard can work too.

Olive Oil: Use about 2 tablespoons of good-quality olive oil. As a substitute, you can use vegetable oil or coconut oil.

Garlic: You’ll need 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced. If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.

Salt and Pepper: Add these to taste. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper are best. In a pinch, regular table salt and pre-ground pepper will do.

Lemon Juice: Fresh juice from half a lemon adds a bright flavor. If you don’t have lemon, a splash of vinegar – like apple cider or white wine vinegar – will work.

Optional Ingredients

  • Red Pepper Flakes: For a touch of heat.
  • Onions: Slice and sauté along with the garlic for extra flavor.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Sprinkle over the top for a cheesy finish.

This mix of basic and optional ingredients gives you plenty of flexibility. Enjoy experimenting and finding your perfect blend!


  1. Prepare the Kale

    • Rinse the kale leaves under cold running water.
    • Remove the stems and chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
    • Dry the kale using a salad spinner or pat with a towel.
  2. Heat the Oil

    • Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.
    • Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and let it heat up.
  3. Cook the Garlic

    • Smash and peel 3 garlic cloves.
    • Add the garlic to the hot oil and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the Kale

    • Add the chopped kale to the skillet, a few handfuls at a time.
    • Stir after each addition so the kale starts to wilt.
  5. Season and Sauté

    • Once all the kale is in the skillet, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
    • Stir the kale to coat it with the oil and seasoning.
    • Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kale is just tender and vibrant green.
  6. Finish and Serve

    • Remove the skillet from the heat.
    • Squeeze the juice of 1 small lemon over the kale for a bright finish.
    • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Choose the Right Pan: Use a large skillet because kale takes up lots of space at first.

Prep Ahead: Remove kale stems and chop the leaves before cooking. It saves time.

Oil Choices: Both olive oil and vegetable oil work well. Heat the oil until it shimmers.

Don’t Overcook: Kale only needs a few minutes to wilt. Overcooked kale can become mushy.

Add Flavor: Garlic, onion, and spices like crushed red pepper can enhance the taste.


Cool Before Storing: Let the cooked kale cool completely before storing.

Use Airtight Containers: Store the kale in an airtight container. This keeps it fresh.

Refrigerate: You can keep sautéed kale in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.


Stovetop Reheating: Transfer the kale to a skillet. Add a splash of water to keep it from drying out.

Microwave Option: You can also use a microwave. Cover the kale partially and heat in short intervals.

Avoid Overheating: Heat just until warm to maintain texture and flavor.

Extra Tips

Add Liquid: A bit of chicken stock, vegetable broth, or white wine can add extra flavor and moisture.

Mix Regularly: Stir the kale occasionally while cooking to ensure even heat distribution.

Enhance Texture: Adding finely chopped nuts can give a nice crunch to the dish.

Season Wisely: Taste as you season with salt and pepper to avoid over-salting.

Following these tips will help you make and store delicious sautéed kale.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions


  • Onions: Sauté thinly sliced onions with the garlic for extra flavor.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Sprinkle a pinch for a spicy kick.
  • Bacon: Cook bacon bits first, then use the bacon fat instead of oil for a smoky taste.
  • Nuts: Toss in toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds for a crunchy texture.

Different Oils:

  • Olive Oil: Popular choice for a rich taste.
  • Coconut Oil: Adds a slightly sweet hint.
  • Avocado Oil: High smoke point and neutral flavor.

Lemon Zest: Add a teaspoon of lemon zest at the end for a fresh, tangy finish.


  • Spinach: Cooks quicker, giving a softer texture.
  • Chard: Adds vibrant color and a slightly earthy flavor.
  • Collards: Similar to kale but with a more robust taste.


  • Parmesan: Sprinkle over cooked kale for a savory, umami touch.
  • Feta: Crumble on top after cooking for a creamy, tangy bite.

Serving Suggestions:

As a Side Dish:
Pair with grilled fish, roast chicken, or pasta.


  • Eggs: Serve under a poached or fried egg for breakfast.
  • Quinoa or Rice: Mixed with grains for a hearty meal.

In Soups and Stews:
Add cooked kale to soups and stews for extra nutrients and texture.

Use these ideas to make your skillet kale dish unique and exciting!

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.