Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Shane Martin · This post may contain affiliate links.

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The BEST and easiest way to sauté kale! Seasoned with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and a little lemon juice, it’s oil-free and ready in as little as 10 minutes.

Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (1)

Kale has a reputation for being a little “harsh” and bitter. Rip Esselstyn, the man behind PLANTSTRONG by Engine 2 and one of my heroes, refers to it as “angry lettuce.” But, with just a little effort and no oil, it becomes one of the most flavorful and healthiest side dishes.

My family and I LOVE kale and have it quite often. It’s great in dishes like my and this incredible Chipotle Chickpea Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing. It’s even great in a smoothie!

You will love this Easy Sautéed Kale with garlic and lemon. It’s so easy to make and can be on the table ready to eat in as little as 10 minutes. Let me show you!

Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (2)

Table of Contents

What Ingredients Do I Need

You only need a few staple ingredients to make this flavorful side dish. And, once you see how easy it is to make this sauteed kale you’ll want to have it over and over.

  • Kale: you can use curly kale, Lacinato kale (dinosaur kale), or Tuscan kale.
  • Nutritional Yeast: adds a nutty cheesy essence.
  • Garlic Powder: Kale and garlic just seem to go together
  • Lemon Juice: Lemon makes things bright and electric when it comes to flavor.

How To Sauté Kale With No Oil

  1. Remove the stems and roughly chop the kale leaves. You could also use a bag of pre-chopped kale as well.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. My favorite skillets are these Ballarini pans. They’re inexpensive, cook evenly, and nothing sticks. I love cooking pancakes in them too.
  3. Once the pan is ready add your kale and let it cook for several seconds. Add the water, stirring occasionally, and cook the kale until it wilts and turns bright green. It should be fairly tender.
  4. NOTE: If you don’t have a large enough pan, cook the kale in smaller batches.
  5. Transfer all the kale to a large serving bowl, add the nutritional yeast and garlic powder then toss.
  6. Finally, top it all off with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice.

That’s it! Delicious and Easy Sauteed Kale with garlic and lemon and just a hint of cheesiness from the nutritional yeast. It’s a bright and savory side dish that pairs well with almost any meal.

If you really want to make it more incredible sprinkle some of my Vegan Parmesan on top. Amazing!

Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (3)

Tips & Notes

  • Massaging the kale sounds weird but it does help to soften the texture when cooking and makes it easier to chew.
  • Be sure and use a sharp knife when chopping kale. It’s one of the more “sturdy” vegetables and a dull knife will only pose problems.
  • Steam kale: simply tear the kale leaves from the stem, tear them into bite-size pieces, place them into a steamer basket, and steam for 5-10 minutes.
  • Roasted garlic cloves make an excellent addition to this recipe.
  • Stir into your favorite soups or stews for extra heartiness and added nutrition.
Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (4)

Try These Vegan Recipes With This Sautéed Kale

  • Garlicky Lemon Tahini Dressing
  • Crispy Blackened Tofu
  • Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf
  • Vegan Squash Casserole
  • Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (5)

The 5-Day Plant-Based Kickstart

Just getting started on a plant-based diet and wondering where to begin? Well, check out my E-book, The 5 Day Plant-Based Kickstart.

Did you make this recipe? Please be sure to leave a comment and star rating below and let me know your thoughts. Your feedback is helpful.

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Easy Sautéed Kale (Oil-Free)

Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (6)

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4.9 from 9 reviews

The BEST and easiest Sauteed Kale recipe! Seasoned with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and a little lemon juice. It’s oil-free and ready to eat in as little as 10 minutes. The perfect side dish!

  • Author: Shane Martin
  • Prep Time: 5 mins.
  • Cook Time: 5 mins.
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Vegan
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

UnitsScale

  • (1) 10ounce bag of chopped kale (roughly 5 cups)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt to taste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Remove the stems and roughly chop the kale leaves. You could also use a bag of pre-chopped kale as well.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. My favorite skillets are these Ballarini pans. They’re inexpensive, cook evenly, and nothing sticks. I love cooking pancakes in them too.
  3. Once the pan is ready add your kale and let it cook for several seconds. Add the water, stirring occasionally, and cook the kale until it wilts and turns bright green. It should be fairly tender.
  4. NOTE: If you don’t have a large enough pan, cook the kale in smaller batches.
  5. Transfer all the kale to a large serving bowl, add the nutritional yeast and garlic powder then toss.
  6. Finally, top it all off with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice.

Notes

Cooking time is one for one batch.

Use whatever type of kale you prefer. I like cooking with curly kale.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 19
  • Sugar: 0.8 g
  • Sodium: 8 mg
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.7 g
  • Fiber: 0.9 g
  • Protein: 1.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (9)

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Reader Interactions

Comments

    Let Me Hear From You!

  1. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (14)Jetta

    Y,ummy Thanks for this recipe

    Reply

  2. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (15)Susan

    Yum. Finally tried this today and we love it. I especially appreciate how simple and qicuk it is to cook. Thank you, Shane.

    Reply

  3. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (16)Lila

    I’ve tried other preparations for greens including things like soy sauce, hime plum vinegar, vegetable broth etc. and even though I like greens it’s been hard for me to get cooked greens in every day. This super simple recipe has changed that for me. I find myself craving green now! I buy the large containers of baby kale and spinach mix. This recipe is done in minutes and I’m ready to check that greens box off in a delicious way. Thanks so much for all you do to share great WFPB recipes with us.

  4. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (17)Gail

    Made this recipe today and it’s delicious! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (18)Shane Martin

      Thank you!!!

      Reply

  5. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (19)Linda

    What a delicious way to make Kale! My husband and I both loved this recipe. Making it again soon. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (20)Shane Martin

      Thank you!

      Reply

  6. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (21)Sunny White

    How would you suggest making this in an Instant Pot?

    Reply

    • Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (22)Shane Martin

      Select the sautee function and follow the same instructions for the stove top.

      Reply

  7. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (23)Beth

    We eat kale once or twice a week, but i never thought of these additions, I’ll try it this way, thank you!

    Reply

  8. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (24)Susan

    Hey Shane,

    The recipe looks delicious. But I wonder about that pan. Are you concerned about cooking with aluminum?

    Reply

    • Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (25)Shane Martin

      Not really, especially with these since they have the granite coating.

      Reply

  9. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (26)Shane Martin

    Easy, oil-free, and delicious!

    Reply

  10. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (27)Inez

    Loved it! So easy. Turns bright green almost immediately. Very tasty. Thanks.

    Reply

  11. Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (28)Vi

    This looks and sounds delicious! ! Definitely will make it for dinner tonight! Thank you so much for another amazing recipe!

    Reply

Easy Sautéed Kale Recipe (Oil-Free) (2024)

FAQs

How do you get the bitterness out of sauteed kale? ›

Adding salt and squeezing lemon make a big difference by removing bitterness.

What is the healthiest way to eat kale? ›

Steaming is a better option than boiling because you don't lose as many nutrients with this cooking method, according to Gray. “You're not giving it heat treatment for very long, so it's closest to raw that you can get and you still are cooking it to some degree,” she said.

How do you make kale taste better? ›

Massaging Kale – massaging kale with a little oil and/or lemon juice for just a few minutes makes it more tender and easier to chew. Plus, it adds an extra boost of flavor.

Is sautéed kale good for you? ›

It's great for a healthy heart, skin and eyes, as well as being a powerful anti-inflammatory. It has a very low calorie content so is incredibly nutrient-dense. So go saute some kale!

How do you soften kale without oil? ›

How do you soften kale without oil? You can also soften kale with lemon or another acidic ingredient, such as apple cider vinegar. Use about a tablespoon per bunch of kale. Follow the same steps as you would if you were using oil.

Why does my kale taste bad? ›

Much like in onions and garlic, kale's bitterness is only formed when the vegetable is sliced, chopped, massaged, or chewed. When cells in a leaf of kale are intact, an enzyme called myrosinase and sulfur-containing compound glucosinolate are separated from one another.

Is kale healthier for you than spinach? ›

Both of these leafy greens contain a variety of nutrients that are essential for good health, Guerot stressed. "However, if you are looking for a food that is particularly high in fiber, vitamins K and C, kale is a better choice," she said.

Should you eat kale stems? ›

Cutting the stems crossways shortens the fibres, much as with a tough steak, making them perfectly edible and preventing waste. Cut this way, the stems can be cooked in the same way as the rest of the leaf: sauteed, boiled or steamed.

Does sauteing kale destroy nutrients? ›

Cooking kale may lower its antioxidant content and vitamin C content, but that isn't to say cooked kale isn't healthy for you too.

How do you make kale easier to eat? ›

I love making a massaged kale salad with tahini dressing; massaging kale tenderizes it and makes it more palatable to eat raw. I love tossing the leaves with some olive oil and sea salt and roasting them on a cookie sheet in the oven until the edges are crisp and brown.

What Flavours go well with kale? ›

Kale is a nutrient-dense leafy green. It's a cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Taste-wise, kale can have bitter notes, so combining it with spicy, sweet or acidic elements, such as vinegar, lemon or red wine, can counteract and balance the mild bitterness.

How do you cook kale so it is not tough? ›

Instead, after you've washed the leaves, leave them damp. The water that clings to the leaves will create steam when you toss them in the hot skillet. As the kale cooks, you'll cover the skillet for a few minutes; that steam will help wilt and break down the kale perfectly.

Is it OK to eat kale everyday? ›

RELATED: Believe It Or Not, Kale Actually Lives Up To All Of Its Hype—Here's Why. Manganiello says you can eat kale every day, just don't overdo it. She recommends one to two servings maximum of kale per day, leaving room for other healthy foods that provide an assortment of nutrients.

What is the healthiest vegetable? ›

Here are 14 of the most nutrient-dense veggies available.
  1. Spinach. This leafy green tops the chart as one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables. ...
  2. Carrots. Carrots are packed with vitamin A, delivering 119% of the DV in just 1 cup (128 g) . ...
  3. Broccoli. ...
  4. Garlic. ...
  5. Brussels sprouts. ...
  6. Kale. ...
  7. Green peas. ...
  8. Swiss chard.

Does kale lose its bitterness when cooked? ›

However, the bitterness of kale can be reduced by cooking it. Cooking kale causes glucosinolates to break down further and can help to reduce its bitter taste. Steaming, sautéing, or roasting kale are all popular cooking methods that can help to make it more palatable.

How do you mellow bitter greens? ›

Blanching: Blanching bitter greens involves briefly boiling them in salted water and then quickly cooling them in ice water. This process can help reduce the bitterness and soften the texture. After blanching, you can incorporate the greens into your dish as desired.

How do you get rid of bitterness? ›

Join a support group or see a counselor. Acknowledge your emotions about the harm done to you, recognize how those emotions affect your behavior, and work to release them. Choose to forgive the person who's offended you. Release the control and power that the offending person and situation have had in your life.

How do you mask the taste of kale? ›

Adding something that's a bit tangy and sweet will help to balance out the earthy bitterness of the kale. Using lemon and/or vinegar will also help to break it down a bit more.

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