Sautéed kale with apple cider vinegar is a simple, flavorful, and tender dish that is the perfect side for any meal. A slightly fruity hint from the vinegar and a subtle sweetness from the golden onions make the greens sing!

sauteed kale with cider vinegar in circular white serving dish

I published this easy sauteed kale recipe on August 18th, 2015. I have updated the text and photos to share it with you again today.

Why We Love This Recipe For Sautéed Kale

Sauteed vegetables are a go-to side dish in my house. We love sauteing because it’s a quick and easy way to get a flavorful side on the table within 30-minutes! And, if you are like us, and looking for more ways to sneak healthy greens into your daily diet, then you’ve come to the right place!

Kale is a nutrient-dense, low-calorie superfood that appears on our table whenever possible. And if you are new to the world of kale, this Sauteed Kale with Cider Vinegar is the perfect beginner dish that needs to be in your recipe box!

Peppery kale and sweet onions are cooked to perfection and then drizzled with a slightly sour-slightly sweet apple cider vinegar. And let us tell you, that apple cider vinegar is just the thing to balance the bitterness in the kale! Plus, it gets cooked in one pan, is vegan, Paleo-friendly, and naturally gluten-free making it the perfect accompaniment to any family-friendly meal.

Key Ingredients For This Recipe

sauteed kale ingredients with text overlay

Kale

Curly kale is a bright green, tightly curled variety of kale that tends to have a bright, peppery flavor. Kale tends to have a thick center rib and stem that is too tough to be in this simple sauteed dish; therefore, remove it before cooking. Feel free to substitute another variety of kale, such as Lacinato, Red Kale or Red Russian.

Apple Cider Vinegar

You can use raw unfiltered cider vinegar or filtered. However, to receive all health benefits of the vinegar, I would recommend using the raw unfiltered cider, also known as apple cider vinegar with the mother.

Feel free to swap in Balsamic Vinegar which is slightly sweeter and more palatable for those who are sensitive to sour tastes. Red wine vinegar or lemon juice are other options.

Olive Oil

To make this lower in saturated fat, we used good quality extra virgin olive oil when sautéing the onion.

Onion

The recipe calls for 1 small diced onion. I would recommend using a sweet onion but feel free to use white if you prefer.

Water

Helps to wilt the kale and prevents onion and kale from burning.

Salt

Note that we recommend using coarse kosher salt instead of table salt. However, you can use table salt, but you will want to cut the amount used in half.

Step By Step Instructions To Make Sautéed Kale

sauteed kale steps 1 and 2

Step 1: Sauté Onion

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and salt to the hot pan, and cook stirring often until the onion starts to soften and brown, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 2: Add Kale To Skillet

Add the kale and stir to coat with the onions. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover and cook for 2 minutes.

sauteed kale steps 3 and 4

Step 3: Sauté The Kale

Remove lid and stir. Check to see if more water is needed, you don’t want the skillet to become dry. Cover and continue to cook until kale is tender.

Step 4: Add Apple Cider Vinegar

Remove lid and stir in apple cider vinegar before serving. If you add the vinegar too early, it will turn the bright green color of the kale into a muted army green color; not pretty but still delicious!

close up of sauteed kale in circular white serving dish

FAQ And Expert Tips for Sautéed Kale

How do I store leftovers?

Leftover sautéed kale can be stored it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Leftovers taste delicious cold or warmed back up in a skillet, making sure to add a tablespoon of water to add moisture.  

Does kale need to be cleaned prior to cooking?

Yes. Kale stems tend to be thick and woody and should be removed as they are not palatable. To remove, simply grasp the stem and run your hand up the stem, tearing the leaf as you go. Once removed, chop the leaves and wash in a salad spinner

Can you eat yellow kale leaves?

In short, yes, it is safe to eat the yellowed leaves but, they will have a more bitter taste. Most dark leafy greens including kale, are nutrient-dense superfoods. When the leaves begin to yellow, the nutrients start to diminish meaning you won’t get the same nutritional punch as you would from the bright green leaves.

Why do you add vinegar to kale?

Kale has a slightly bitter taste that can be offputting for some palates. Vinegar is a traditional accompaniment because it is sour which balances the bitter taste. In this recipe, we also have a bit of sweetness from the onions and salt to make the kale even more palatable.

What are more variations to try?

Instead of cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice is another option as are other types of vinegar. If you prefer a less bold vinegar flavor, balsamic vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar are also options. You can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes and a grind of black pepper to add a little heat to the recipe. Instead of onion, try finely chopping a few garlic cloves and cook them until they are just starting to brown slightly before adding in the kale.

Additional Healthy Kale Recipes To Try

  • This Massaged Kale Salad is a fresh, healthy, vegan dish. Massaged kale is tossed with apples, avocado, pecans, dried cranberries, a homemade vinaigrette, that will quickly become a staple in your salad rotation.
  • This vegan, paleo, and gluten-free Balsamic Kale with Cranberries is the perfect combination of sweet and tart and a delicious way to enjoy kale!
  • Overnight Kale Caesar Salad is a perfect make-ahead dish that softens and tenderizes the kale overnight in the fridge all while you sleep!
  • Garlic Almond Kale Chips are a gluten-free and vegan Super Snack that is ready in just 30-minutes!
  • 4-Ingredient Kale Cheddar Soup requires only 4-ingredients and is ready in less than 30-minutes. This naturally gluten-free soup is so velvety that it’s hard to believe that it requires no sautéing, no roux, and no fancy ingredients!
  • If you’re looking for one-spot with some amazingly easy and delicious kale recipes, be sure to check out my post on Healthy Living Blog that highlights 9 healthy kale recipes.
  • This easy 15-minute Lacinato Kale Caesar Salad is a delicious and quick way to enjoy raw kale. Plus, it’s a great side salad to enjoy with a wide variety of meals.
  • Lacinato Kale Chips require only 3 ingredients and 10-minutes of hands-on prep time. Within 30-minutes you’ll have a crunchy healthy snack that adults and kids alike will enjoy!
  • This vegan-friendly, naturally gluten-free Festive Kale Slaw with Raspberries is bursting with plant-based nutrients and happens to taste phenomenal!
  • This Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad is a healthy and festive slaw that is full of kale. Serve it for a 20-minute side dish for the holidays or any fall or winter meal.
  • For more on kale, be sure to check out this Ultimate Guide to Kale!

Additional Simple Sauteed Vegetables Dishes To Try

  • This easy Sauteed Zucchini with herbs and garlic is a no-fail, easy way to make a delicious side dish that’s ready in just 12-minutes.
  • Simple Sauteed Napa Cabbage is an easy low-calorie side-dish featuring Napa cabbage, a handful of pantry staples and only 15-minutes to make!
  • If you need a perfect side to almost any main dish, try my Simple Sauteed Celery Root with garlic and herbs. This recipe is easy to prepare, so flavorful, and will quickly become a family-favorite!
  • Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard is a healthy low-calorie side dish made with onions, garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • If you are looking for a simple vegan, paleo, naturally gluten-free one-pot healthy side dish than this Simple Skillet Green Bean recipe is for you! Made with garlic, olive oil, and a little spice this dish pairs so well with so many courses.
  • This simple-as-can-be Kohlrabi with Pistachios and Sage is the perfect low-carb, under 100 calories per serving side dish!
  • Skillet Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo will convert even the most ardent Brussels sprouts hater! This gluten-free and paleo side requires only a handful of ingredients and 30-minutes!
sauteed kale with cider vinegar in circular white serving dish

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter for healthy recipes delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make these recipes, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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close up of sauteed kale in white circular bowl with serving wear

Sautéed Kale with Cider Vinegar

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This vegan, paleo, and naturally gluten-free sauteed kale with cider vinegar is a basic and easy recipe that is the perfect side for any meal.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 12 cups chopped kale (stems removed)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and salt and cook, stirring often until the onion starts to soften and brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add kale and stir to coat with the onions. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Stir again and check if there is moisture on the bottom of the pan. If it has dried up, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of water. Cover and continue cooking, until the kale is tender, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  3. Remove lid and stir in vinegar before serving.

Notes

  1. If you are sensitive to the sour taste of apple cider vinegar, feel free to swap in balsamic vinegar in the same amount
  2. Leftover sautéed kale can be stored it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Leftovers taste delicious cold or warmed back up in a skillet.  If you are warming up, make sure to add a tablespoon of water to add moisture.  
  3. Preparing kale:  kale stems tend to be thick and woody and should be removed as they are not palatable. To remove, simply grasp the stem and run your hand up the stem, tearing the leaf as you go. Once removed, wash and chop the leaves.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 140
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 360 mg
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 8 g