Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard
Who are my Swiss Chard lovers? If you love Swiss Chard you will fall head over heels for this Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard Recipe. It is so easy to prepare, and only 80 calories per serving. Naturally vegan and only 7 grams net carbs per serving.
Table of contents
Why Try This Recipe?
If you are stuck in the rut of baby spinach from a plastic box every week, it’s time to get on the Chard train! Don’t be intimidated by it, it’s not as scary as it looks and it is so good for you. This basic side dish is low in calories, extremely healthy, simple to prepare and can be paired with a wide variety of meals! Along with our Sauteed Green Beans, it is one of our most popular side dish recipes!
Before we get to the tips on how to make this simple sautéed Swiss chard, here are some useful facts about it!
Loved this recipe. Very easy to prepare and delicious. Makes me want to eat chard often! Thank you!~Penny
What is Swiss Chard?
Swiss Chard is a leafy vegetable that is related to beets. It has crunchy stems that are commonly red, though can also be white or yellow. The leaves range in color from dark green to reddish green. The flavor is similar to beets and spinach, with a slight bitterness, and a strong earthy flavor.
Swiss Chard is somewhat of a misnomer because it implies that it is a variety of chard from Switzerland. But actually, it is a general common name for chard and got the designation from the botanist who determined the plant’s scientific name in the 19th century. So to clarify, Swiss Chard and Chard are the same things.
While baby chard is tender and wonderful eaten raw in a salad and mature Swiss Chard leaves are not as tender so are better when cooked or blended into a swiss chard smoothie. The large leaves can also be used to make Swiss Chard Rolls, or wilted like kale and spinach for using in recipes like my Swiss Chard Tart or you can simply stir chopped leaves into soup recipes.
But today’s tutorial is hands-down the best Swiss Chard recipe for those of you who are new to cooking with this super green.
Of course, the star of the show in this recipe is Swiss chard! You will need two large bunches, which will yield about 6 cups chard leaves plus stems.
The sweetness of sauteed onions is key to this recipe. It helps to balance the earthy flavors of the chard and makes it very savory.
For the seasonings, you’ll need salt, pepper and dry thyme. I also use a little ground nutmeg which compliments sauteed greens amazingly well and adds a delicate nuance.
While it may be counterintuitive to add vinegar to make it more palatable, the acidity in the vinegar balances the bitter taste in the chard and the overall effect is more harmonious.
How to Cook Swiss Chard
Step 1: Chop and Clean The Swiss Chard
To cut the Swiss Chard, lay a few leaves on top of each other on the cutting board, and remove the stems. (PHOTO 1a) Chop up the leaves and place them in a salad spinner. Repeat until you have a stack of stems and a spinner full of greens. Fill the salad spinner with water, swish it around and drain it. If it is a particularly muddy or dirty batch of chard, wash it again. Spin the chard greens dry.
Rinse your stack of stems and trim off the ends if they are dry or discolored. Chop the stems up, just like you would celery. (PHOTO 1B) If this is your first time working with chard, we have a more detailed tutorial for cutting and cleaning Swiss chard here.
Step 2: Cook The Onions and Chard Stems
Because the stems are high in cellulose you will need to cook them longer than the greens. I love to add flavor and sweetness by cooking the stems with chopped sweet onion. (PHOTO 2) They cook at about the same rate and the onion really balances the flavors of the chard. I also add in the garlic and seasonings at this point to help bloom their flavors.
Step 3: Add Chard Greens, Cover and Wilt
Once the stems and onions are softened and the onions are starting to caramelize a bit, then add the green leaves at the end, since they don’t need as much cooking time to become tender.
To wilt the greens, splash in a couple tablespoons water and cover the skillet with a lid. (PHOTO 3) Note: If you don’t have a very large skillet with a lid you can do this in a wide Dutch oven instead.
Step 4: Soften Greens
Once the greens are wilted down, remove the lid and continue cooking and stirring until the greens are tender.
Step 5: Finish with Balsamic Vinegar
Remove the skillet from the heat and drizzle on the Balsamic vinegar just before serving.
FAQs and Expert Tips
Chard cooks down a lot when you cook it, so I like to make a big batch of it. If you are not sure if you are going to love it, you can cut this recipe in half. If you do so, keep in mind that the onion mixture in step two will cook a little faster. To double it you’ll need a large heavy bottom soup pot.
A bunch is not a standard measure, so the size will vary. In general, they are about a pound or slightly less for a medium-large bunch. They usually have 5 to 7 stems, and once cut, will yield about 5 to 6 cups of loosely packed chopped leaves plus a cup or more of chopped stems per bunch. While this may not be reassuring if you are bringing in chard from your garden, the good news is that this recipe is incredibly forgiving so no matter how big or small your chard bunch is, it should work fine as written. Or simply adjust the seasonings to your taste preference.
Yes! Having grown Swiss chard in my garden for years I can emphatically say yes chard freezes perfectly. To do so, blanch it in boiling water for 45 seconds. This prevents the enzymes in the vegetable from breaking down the nutrients. Shock the blanched chard in an ice bath and then drain well (I like to do so on a clean dish towel.) Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet and freeze flat. Once the chard is frozen, transfer it to a resealable freezer bag. Keep frozen for up to four months.
Rainbow chard is not a specific variety of chards but a blend of different varieties planted and harvested together (or sometimes commercially blended after harvesting.) It is a combination of green chard, white seemed chard, yellow and red.
Cooking rainbow chard is no different than cooking a single color but note that red-stemmed Swiss chard does discolor the onions and garlic as it cooks and rainbow chard and green chard do not turn out as reddish.
Swiss Chard is entirely edible, including the leaves and stems. The stems need a little more cooking time than the leaves because they have a lot of cellulose that needs to soften for longer. The leaves cook quickly.
Swiss Chard can be eaten raw, though it contains oxalic acid, so it may be better for you to eat it cooked. Cooking it also makes it less bitter.
Variations To Try
In this recipe I used aged balsamic to add a balancing tart and sweet note. However there are lots of other ways to add pizzazz to sauteed Swiss chard.
- Add a handful of toasted almonds or pine nuts, golden raisins, dried cranberries or dried currants, or even a little crumbled feta or goat cheese.
- Fresh herbs can be added as well. Mint goes well with feta and pine nuts.
- Instead of Balsamic vinegar, try adding in lemon juice and a little lemon zest at the end.
- Use chopped leeks or shallot instead of garlic and onion
- Blend in 50% kale in place of some of the chard for a kale and chard side dish. Or try beet greens with it!
- Instead of finishing with balsamic add a splash of cream in the last minute or two of cooking. Once it comes off the heat stir in a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese.
What to Serve with this Sauteed Chard Recipe
- This Balsamic Chicken would be nice or my beloved Turkey Meatloaf recipe.
- I love to pair salmon (and arctic char) with chard. Try this Salmon Baked in Foil or these Lemon Caper Salmon Cakes. Add in my lentils with bacon and you have a five star meal!
- For a weekend meal, try this Crispy Skin Roasted Chicken and Steamed Potatoes with herbs.
- Or for a vegetarian meal, serve this with my pumpkin brown rice risotto.
More Easy Recipes For Swiss Chard
If you love Swiss Chard and want more healthy ideas here are a few of my favorites:
- This Chard Egg Bake is an easy way to use up extra greens and get in your veggies at breakfast!
- This Roasted Squash Swiss Chard Pasta is a great vegetarian weeknight meal.
- Make Spicy Lentil Sausage and Swiss Chard Soup for a chilly evening or to pack for lunches
- I’m so into the flavor combo here: Chard with Chicken and Curry.
- These Bruschetta are topped with Garlicky Greens and savory white bean puree
- Try this Savory Galette with a blend of Swiss chard and cooked greens.
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard
- Total Time: 20
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard with onions, garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It is a healthy low calorie side dish that’s perfect for beginners!
- 2 large bunches Swiss chard, or rainbow chard
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch each dry thyme and nutmeg
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, optional
- Chop and clean Swiss Chard: Stack several pieces of Swiss chard on work surface. Remove stems and set aside. Roughly cut leaves into pieces about 2-inch square. Repeat with the remaining swiss chard. Transfer the chopped leaves to a salad spinner filled with water. Drain, repeat washing if necessary, and spin dry. Rinse and chop the Swiss chard stems (about the same size as the diced onion.)
- Cook The Swiss Chard Stems with Onions: Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped chard stems, garlic, onion, salt, thyme, nutmeg and pepper and cook, stirring often until the onions are starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add The Leaves and Wilt: Add chopped cleaned Swiss chard leaves, 2 tablespoons water and cover. Let wilt, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Cook Until Softened: Remove lid and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the Swiss chard is completely wilted and softened, 1 to 3 minutes.
- To Finish and Serve: Remove from the heat and drizzle with balsamic vinegar if using. Serve hot.
Alternative To Large Skillet with Lid: If you don’t have a very large skillet with a lid you can do this in a wide Dutch oven instead.
Other Elements To Try Adding To This Recipe:
If you’re ready to get creative with this recipe here are some idea starters for ways to liven up this recipe even more!
- Add a handful of toasted almonds or pine nuts at the end.
- When you remove the lid add a handful of golden raisins, dried cranberries or dried currants
- When you pull it off the heat crumble on a little feta or goat cheese.
- Fresh herbs can be added as well. Savory woody herbs like oregano or thyme can go in with the onions, where as tender herbs like mint, basil or chives can be stirred in after it comes off the heat.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: side dish
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 2/3 cup
- Calories: 80
- Sugar: 5 g
- Fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 9 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 2 g
Keywords: Swiss Chard, Sauteed Swiss Chard,Swiss Chard Recipe,Chard Recipe
Absolutely delicious side dish. Amazing flavour and texture loved it.
Thank you so much Catherine. I am glad you liked it!
I’ve been experimenting with Swiss Chard. I like the idea of adding nutmeg & thyme. I’ll do this next time.
I have added sun dried tomatoes ( julienne cut) to the mixture at the end of cooking. Trader Joe’s carries them in a bag and they are convenient to keep in the pantry.
I decided to use this recipe when looking for ideas on how to make swiss chard. .I’ve always wanted to try of but concerned it might be too bitter. Well, made this way, it wasn’t at all bitter. I was pleasantly surprised. I added more garlic and topped it with Parmesan cheese when it was done. I like the idea of adding raisins, but I didn’t have any. I’ll try that next time.
Yum! This was a perfect way to use chard stems (plus the leaves, of course!). Thanks for posting.
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Loved this recipe. Very easy to prepare and delicious. Makes me want to eat chard often! Thank you!
My first time cooking red chard. It was delicious !!!
This was so good! I eat a lot of greens and was looking for something different and flavorful! I added the dried cranberries.
This is the best chard I have ever had. One bunch was perfect for two of us.
I made this exactly as described and it was quite good. Definitely use the balsamic vinegar. If I were making any adjustment in the future, I would add an extra pinch of the thyme and nutmeg.
Hi Ken. Thank you so much for letting me know that you liked it. I like you suggestions too. I appreciate that you came back to rate and review! Very helpful!
I made this and added pistachios and goat cheese . It was wonderful!!
That sounds so fantastic! I love goat cheese and chard together!
What about bacon? I believe that would be good, have some Swiss chard in my garden going to give it a try. I have never cooked it before. And was wondering how good this would be in bean soup
Yes you can add bacon. Chop and brown it in the skillet then remove the crispy bacon and let it drain. Pour off the fat and follow the recipe using the skillet with the bacon fond in the bottom. Then stir the cooked bacon in before adding in balsamic. Chard is wonderful in soup! I have a ton more chard recipes for you if you need more ideas for your garden so just shoot me an email if you need more ideas! Enjoy!
My first time; love it Your recipe perfect. Thank you.
Tried it for first time this evening. I didn’t read the recipe properly and so missed the thyme and nutmeg! But I did drizzle with balsamic and added some fresh chopped basil leaves. I served it with fish pie using mixed fish pieces courtesy of my local fresh fish van man. There was nutmeg in the pie sauce so perhaps that counted! Very nice and the family enjoyed.
Sounds like a yummy meal! Now I want to try fish pie!
Surprisingly yummy leftovers cold the next day! When cooking, I added thyme and nutmeg, then before serving, a little mint plus toasted pine nuts and goat feta. I omitted the balsamic vinegar only because I forgot about it. I might even like it better cold…
That sounds absolutely delish! Thanks so much for reporting back Karen!