Sautéed Kale with Lemon and Garlic

bowl of sauteed kale with olive oil and lemon wedges

It was practically groundbreaking. The news I heard last summer while rifling through the fridge, looking for the bunch of kale I’d bought for dinner.

“Has anyone seen the kale?” I asked the kids, with zero expectation that they’d know of its whereabouts.

Instead the response came back, “Yeah, we had it for snack today.”

“Kale?” my eyebrows went up, “For snack?”

They’d sautéed and eaten six cups of kale for themselves and a a cousin visiting from out of town.

“How’d you make it?” I had to ask.

“We cooked it. Dale’s way,” they said.

Quick and Easy Sautéed Kale

Dale, as in Uncle Dale, who is famous for the quick and easy kale he makes whenever he cooks for the kids. It’s a method, apparently, so good, my children opted for leafy greens in lieu of the popcorn in the cupboard and the yogurt pops in the freezer.

Groundbreaking indeed. So much so, that I figured I ought not keep Dale’s Kale to myself (isn’t it a happy thing, by the way, that Dale, conveniently rhymes, with Kale?).

bowl and fork of sauteed kaleTips for Making Sautéed Kale

Here’s the “how to” for these savory sautéed greens. In truth, it’s MY interpretation of the KIDS interpretation of Dale’s Kale.

  1. Wash and dry the kale really well. I like my kale a little crispy, so drying it is key.
  2. Use a big, sturdy pan, such as a cast iron skillet.
  3. Heat the pan until very hot, which cooks the kale quickly, resulting in greens that are at once tender and spotted with appealingly crispy brown patches.
  4. Add a squeeze of lemon and pinch of red pepper flakes at the end.
    Maybe you’ll like this for supper.

Or who knows? Maybe for a snack. (watch your back, Goldfish).

bowl of sauteed kale with olive oil, lemon, and salt

Head here to find more kale recipes:

Kale and Crispy Chick Pea Caesar Salad

Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta with Kale and Bacon

A Kale Salad Kids Love

Baked Kale Chips from Shutterbean

Hearty Sweet Potato Kale Soup from A Couple Cooks

bowl and fork of sauteed kale
4.75 from 4 votes

Sautéed Kale with Lemon and Garlic

A quick method for cooking kale in a hot skillet with olive oil and garlic until tender with crispy patches. Finish with a pinch of chili flakes and big squeeze of lemon. 

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 70 kcal
Author Katie Morford


  • 1 bunch kale (any variety)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 pinch Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Strip the leaves of kale from the stems. Save the stems for making veggie stock or discard/compost.

  2. Tear the leaves into a few piece, wash and dry well. Wet kale won't get crispy and will spatter when it hits the pan.

  3. Set a large, heavy (ideally cast iron) pan over high heat. When it's good and hot, add the olive oil and garlic to the pan. Let it sizzle for about 30 seconds, doing your best not to let the garlic brown.

  4. Add as much of the kale as will comfortably fit in the pan (kale hates to be uncomfortable). Add a pinch of salt. Use a pair of tongs to turn the kale in the pan to wilt sightly. After about 30 seconds to a minute, when the kale reduces, add more raw kale and continue until all of the kale is in the pan.

  5. Cook until the kale is tender, with brown patches here and there. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.
  6. Transfer to serving dish.


10.06.2014 at7:27 AM #

Danielle Omar -- Food Confidence RD

Thank you! I have some kale that needs cookin’ in my fridge and this will be on the menu tonight! So simple and tasty!

10.06.2014 at7:27 AM #

Katie Morford

Perfect timing then!

10.06.2014 at7:59 AM #

Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

So easy, but so yum!

10.06.2014 at7:59 AM #

Katie Morford

Thanks for the comment, Rebecca. And yes, so yum.

10.06.2014 at8:17 AM #

Liz - Meal Makeover Mom

Kale for a snack. Your kids rock!! Pinning now to our Snack board!!

10.06.2014 at8:17 AM #

Katie Morford

Thanks Liz…and I was as surprised as anyone that they’d opted for kale for a snack. Kale chips, maybe, but sauteed kale? No.

10.08.2014 at4:23 PM #


Katie, are red pepper flakes the same thing as crushed red pepper? I have crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper, even a chili lime rub and but no flakes on hand. If you had to make a substitution, which would you make?

10.08.2014 at4:23 PM #

Katie Morford

Yes, crushed red pepper. Nice to hear from you:)

10.08.2014 at4:23 PM #

Katie Morford

Thanks for bringing my attention to that, by the way. They are labeled red pepper flakes, so I made that edit to the post for future cooks!

10.14.2014 at5:19 PM #


We just harvested some kale from our new backyard garden so timing was perfect to see this post. Oh my goodness – now I understand why your girls ate this for snack…so delicious!!! I literally ate every bit of kale we had in the fridge…by myself!

10.14.2014 at5:19 PM #

Katie Morford

Glad you like the recipe. Perhaps it’s especially good because of your home grown kale 🙂 !!

11.15.2014 at10:33 PM #


I have allergies to egg, dairy, wheat, gluten and soy. Always looking for sources to simple and interesting and taste good too. Thank you for something I can fix and if I need to tweak and it will still taste great. With my schedule, I love simple and delicious.

11.15.2014 at10:33 PM #

Katie Morford

That is a challenging set of allergies. You might check out the blog by Heather Christo since she recently turned her focus to low allergen foods and does beautiful recipes.

02.08.2017 at11:20 AM #

plasterers bristol

This sounds really nice. gonna make this for tea tonight. Thanks. Simon

01.22.2019 at5:08 PM #


Really really good and easy! Just made these, the only thing I would say is that “generously” adding salt might not be the best term to use. My kale was a little too salty!

07.04.2019 at5:41 PM #


Kale doesn’t like to be uncomfortable..haha
Made me laugh, thanks for the humor!

07.04.2019 at5:41 PM #

Katie Morford

And thank you for noticing 🙂

04.11.2020 at12:15 PM #


Great recipe. is Also use this as for pizza add-on topping

07.29.2020 at10:30 AM #


Came across your recipe today and made it.. it was amazing.. I polished off a whole bunch of kale myself.. lemon is an amazing add for taste too.. this recipe will be a permanent feature in my kitchen now.. thank you!!

07.29.2020 at10:30 AM #

Katie Morford

That’s awesome…and pretty much how we feel about cooking kale this way, too!

02.14.2021 at12:20 PM #


This was yummy and super easy to make! Loooooved it.

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