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. 

sauteed swiss chard in a white bowl

I originally shared this Swiss Chard recipe on November 19th, 2018. I have updated some of the text to share it with you again today.

Why You’ll Love This Swiss Chard 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 the easiest of swiss chard recipes! It 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. In fact it looks a lot like beet greens with bright red ribs and flat glossy green leaves. 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.

Key Ingredients

a bouquet of Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Of course, the star of the show in this recipe is Swiss chard! You will need two large bunches of raw Swiss chard, which will yield about 6 cups of chard leaves plus stems.

Onions

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.

Seasonings

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.

Balsamic Vinegar

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.

TIP: If you are new to Swiss chard, or you just picked some up from the farmers market, make sure to check out our tutorial on how to cut and clean and store Swiss Chard.

How to Cook Swiss Chard

cutting the leaves and stems

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 colorful stalks. (PHOTO 1a) The Swiss chard stems need to cook for longer than the leaves, so it is important to remove them and cut them separately. 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)

cooking onions and stems and then steaming the greens

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 bitter 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.

cook the chard until wilted then finish with balsamic

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.

the sauteed chard in the skillet, close-up

FAQs and Expert Tips

Can this be cut in half or doubled?

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.

How much chard is in a bunch?

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 for swiss chard 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.

Can you freeze swiss chard?

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.

What is the difference between Swiss Chard and Rainbow Chard?

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.

What Part of Chard is Edible? Can you eat Chard Stems?

Raw swiss chard looks similar to rhubarb, which is known for having toxic leaves. Unlike rhubarb, Swiss chard stems and leaves are entirely edible. The stems need a little more cooking time than the dark green leaves because they have a lot of cellulose that needs to soften for longer. The leaves cook quickly.

Can you eat raw Swiss chard?

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.

overhead table scape with the skillet and a serving dish with chard in it

Variations To Try

In this easy side dish 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 fresh Swiss chard. Add in feta and pine nuts for a pop of great Mediterranean cooking inspiration.
  • 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!
  • Add crumbled cooked Italian sausage or drained canned cannellini beans to this simple sauteed swiss chard recipe for added protein.
  • 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.
  • Add a pinch of red pepper flakes with the onion and garlic mixture for spice

What to Serve with this Sauteed Chard Recipe

If you are looking for ways of incorporating this recipe for Swiss chard into your family’s dinner routine, here are some serving suggestions:

the chard in a white serving dish with the skillet in the background

More Easy Swiss Chard Recipes

If you love Swiss Chard and want more healthy ideas here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Swiss Chard Pasta is a great vegetarian dinner when fresh chard is in season.
  2. This Chard Egg Bake is an easy way to use up extra greens and get in your veggies at breakfast!
  3. This Roasted Squash Swiss Chard Pasta is a great vegetarian weeknight meal.
  4. Make Spicy Lentil Sausage and Swiss Chard Soup for a chilly evening or to pack for lunches
  5. I’m so into the flavor combo here: Chard with Chicken and Curry which is made with creamy coconut milk.
  6. These Bruschetta are topped with Garlicy Greens and savory puree made with white beans and onion.
  7. Try this Savory Galette with a blend of Swiss chard and cooked greens.

And make sure you check back too! As an avid gardner, I am always coming up with new recipes with Swiss Chard!

A white table and gray cloth with a skillet with chard in it

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! ~Katie

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Close up of Simple sauteed Swiss Chard in a cast iron skillet

Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard


Description

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!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 large bunches Swiss chard, or rainbow chard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch each dry thyme and nutmeg
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, optional

Instructions

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. Add The Leaves and Wilt: Add chopped cleaned Swiss chard leaves, 2 tablespoons water and cover. Let wilt, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Cook Until Softened: Remove lid and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the Swiss chard is completely wilted and softened, 1 to 3 minutes.
  5. To Finish and Serve: Remove from the heat and drizzle with balsamic vinegar if using. Serve hot.

Notes

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!

  1. Add a handful of toasted almonds or pine nuts at the end.
  2. When you remove the lid add a handful of golden raisins, dried cranberries or dried currants
  3. When you pull it off the heat crumble on a little feta or goat cheese.
  4. 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

Nutrition

  • 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