This delicious sautéed then steamed Swiss chard recipe will make you fall in love with this vegetable! It’s a great way to transform a bunch of chard into a vegetarian and vegan side dish, complete with a perfectly balanced mix of ingredients that complement the earthy flavor of chard.
Swiss chard is a beautiful vegetable, but its bitter flavor can turn people away. The key to preparing chard that actually tastes good is using the appropriate cooking method and the right seasonings.
In this recipe for steamed Swiss chard, it’s sautéed first then steamed in the same pan. This order of operations helps the chard break down so that 1) it has a softer texture and 2) some of the compounds that contribute to its bitterness dissipate.
Both steps also contribute plenty of flavor — in the form of onion, lemon zest, garlic, and broth. It’s an overall better method than just using a vegetable steamer basket to cook the chard, since it leads to a final product that’s been infused with flavor throughout cooking and has a palatable texture.
I think you’re going to love how flavorful chard becomes in this recipe! It’s such a good side dish that you can put together quickly and pair with nearly any meal. I especially like it with pasta or fish. If you’re in the mood for another easy chard side, check out the Swiss Chard Potatoes.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Swiss chard: You can use plain, red, or rainbow Swiss chard. These are just different varieties of the same vegetable. I love rainbow chard because the stems are SO pretty!
- Extra virgin olive oil: My favorite brand is Partanna.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is best IMO, but you can substitute about a teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Red onion: Feel free to substitute white or yellow onion if needed. Or add some onion powder if you don’t have fresh onion.
- Lemon zest: This is optional but adds some good flavor. I recommend serving steamed Swiss chard with lemon wedges that you can squeeze on top before eating, so you can use the zest from the same lemon you cut up for that.
- Vegetable broth: Use chicken broth or just water if you don’t have it.
- Kosher salt
The full recipe card for steamed Swiss chard is at the bottom of the post. Here’s a preview of the steps.
Cut the chard leaves and stems. See my tutorial on How to Cut Swiss Chard for more tips.
Warm olive oil in a large skillet. Add the red onion and chard stems and cook for a few minutes. The stems take longer to cook than the leaves, so that’s why you add them first.
Add the garlic, lemon zest, and chard leaves to the skillet, followed by the vegetable broth.
Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the leaves have wilted and softened.
Storage and Reheating
Steamed Swiss chard is best enjoyed right away, but leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Store in an airtight container. Reheat in a skillet until warmed through or in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.
Chard makes a great side to nearly any main dish, including pastas, meat, or fish. Try it on the side of my Beet Pasta or Italian Roasted Red Pepper Pasta. It’s also good for breakfast with fried or scrambled eggs. I love to pair it with my Healthy Fennel Stew with Shrimp or Sheet Pan Dill Radishes and Salmon for a spring-inspired meal.
More Swiss Chard Recipes
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Steamed Swiss Chard
- Slice off the stems of the Swiss chard, then slice them into pieces. Stack the leaves on top of each other, slice lengthwise into strips and then crosswise into smaller pieces. Rinse everything under running water to remove dirt. Pat dry. You'll likely have about 4 to 6 loosely packed cups of leaves and 1 cup of stems, depending on how big your bunch of chard is.
- Warm the olive oil (1 tablespoon) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion and chard stems and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onion is translucent.
- Stir in the garlic (2 minced cloves), lemon zest (2 teaspoons), and kosher salt (¼ teaspoon), followed by the chard leaves and vegetable broth (½ cup).
- Bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the broth has been absorbed and the leaves are wilted and soft.
- Serve warm with lemon wedges if desired. Enjoy!
- Leave a rating or review by tapping the stars on this recipe card (above) or in the comments section (at the end of the post)!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Reheat in a skillet or in the microwave until warmed through.
- You can use frozen instead of fresh chard in this recipe.
Enjoy this easy side! – Lizzie