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Buttered Leeks (How to Cook Leeks)

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Simple buttered leeks – a flavorful and easy to make vegetable side dish. Really melt-in-your mouth, sweet and delightful.

sauteed leeks on white plate on a green cloth.

You could hardly find an easier method for cooking leeks. Just the sliced veggies and a little butter is all you need. And of course the basic seasoning like salt and pepper. And a touch of dried thyme if you like. Lovely, but not mandatory, the buttered leeks will be delicious with or without it.

I love leeks. Any kind of onions actually, but leeks are really something special. When cooked properly they are sweet and soft, with a slight roast aroma, so good that you might even like them more than you like the main dish they would be served with.

Actually, I always reheat the leftovers (I take care that I always make more than I need for one meal) and eat them with bread and cheese. You definitely have to try that! So good!

And you should definitely try these Roasted Leeks, they are amazing as well.

close up of cooked green veggies.

What do you need?

  • Leeks
  • Butter: either salted or unsalted butter, just adjust the salt amount you add to the dish accordingly.
  • Alternatively, you can use olive oil, but in this case, you should call the dish sauteed leeks. They are lovely as well, but I prefer today’s version, the butter just adds extra flavor and comfort.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • And some thyme, if desired, either fresh or dried.

How to clean leeks?

  • The “most difficult” part of this recipe is to clean the vegetables properly, they are probably some of the dirtiest you could buy.
  • They have many layers of leaves and dirt collects between the layers at the transition from the white part to the green part of the vegetable, so you will have to actually separate the layers and thoroughly wash the leek in between the layers.
  • First of all, wash them thoroughly on the outside.
  • Cut and discard the roots and the last 2 cm/ 1 inch or so of the dark green ends as well, they are often wilted.
  • Slice lengthwise.
  • Carefully fan open the layers without taking the leek apart and rinse under cold running water until all the dirt is removed.

How to cut leeks?

  • Clean as indicated above.
  • Slice lengthwise into strips. Cut the strips crosswise into bite-sized pieces.
collage of four pictures showing how to cut leeks into pieces.

How to make buttered leeks?

  • Heat a large non-stick or thick-bottomed pan and melt the butter over medium-high heat. (1)
  • Add the chopped veggies and stir to coat with the butter. (2)
  • Add plenty of seasoning and some dried thyme, if using. The buttered leeks need to be seasoned very generously, just take care with the salt if the butter is already salted. You will still need salt, but not as much as when the butter is plain. (3)
  • Stir well, lower the heat to medium-low.
  • Saute the leek pieces for 12-15 minutes, stirring often, until they are soft and begin to brown.
  • Add the rest of the butter, stir well and adjust the taste again. (4)
collage of four pictures showing how to cook leeks in a pan.

Tip

I often see leek recipes instructing you to only use the whites of the plant. I seldom agree to that, there might be a few recipes where that matters, but most of the time I find it to be a waste.

For this dish, you can definitely use both whites and greens, I only discard (or better said reserve for making stock) those leaves that are wilted and really not nice anymore.

Can you reheat the leftovers?

The dish is best cooked just before serving. But leftovers can definitely be reheated. Do that in a smaller pan and add a small splash of water to prevent them from getting too dry.

Add leftovers to soups or rice dishes.

plate with sauteed leeks on a striped kitchen cloth.

What to serve with buttered leeks?

  • Any kind of meat roast, roasted turkey or chicken either whole or just the breast or thighs.
  • Serve with a nut roast for a vegetarian meal.
  • Mix the buttered leeks with cooked pasta, add one or two tablespoons of softened cream cheese, the leeks, and lots of freshly ground pepper. A new and delicious main meal.

Here are some other suggestions:

More ways of cooking leeks:

sauteed leeks on white plate on a green cloth.

Buttered Leeks (How to Cook Leeks)

Yield: 2-4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Simple buttered leeks – a flavorful and easy to make vegetable side dish. Really melt-in-your mouth, sweet and delightful.

Ingredients

  • 2 large leeks (about 450 g/ 1 lb) (Note 1)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter, divided (Note 2)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (Note 3)
  • salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Wash the outside of the leeks. Cut and discard the roots and the last 2 cm/ 1 inch or so of the dark green ends as well, they are often wilted.
  2. Slice the leeks lengthwise. Fan open the layers without taking the leek apart and rinse under cold running water until all the dirt is removed.
  3. Slice the leeks lengthwise into strips. Cut the strips crosswise into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Heat a large non-stick or thick-bottomed pan and melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the leeks and stir to coat with butter.
  6. Add seasoning and thyme, if using. Stir well, lower the heat to medium-low. Saute for 12-15 minutes, stirring often, until they are soft and begin to brown.
  7. Add the remaining butter, stir well and adjust the taste again.

Notes

  1. Leeks in Germany are generally quite large. To make sure you get the right amount, it is better to weigh the leeks you are using as they can really differ in size.
  2. Salted or unsalted butter. Adjust the seasoning with salt accordingly.
  3. Optional, but nice. You can use 3-4 springs of fresh thyme instead.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 75Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 442mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

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