Buttered Leeks

Buttered leeks recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  • Total: 55 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
53 Calories
6g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 53
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 292mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 4mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Leeks are in the Allium genus, alongside onions, scallions, shallots, chives, and garlic. True to their lineage, the bulbs are flavorful but less pungent or strong in flavor than their closest relatives. Leeks are a great addition to soups, stews, and casseroles, but the simplicity of buttered leeks makes them an easy and wonderful accessory to any meal.

These leeks are easy to make, with just three ingredients. Gentle cooking coaxes out the sweet nature of leeks and makes them supremely tender and flavorful. By cooking them longer, our recipe uses the tougher leek greens so often discarded in cooking. Leek greens are as edible as the white parts, but they get a bad rep because of their tougher texture: Longer cooking time makes them softer and delicious.

Like so many simple dishes, this recipe is ripe for experimentation and customization: Add black pepper, chile, vinegar, or fresh or dried herbs. This recipe works well as a relish or warm salsa on grilled chicken, broiled fish, carne asada, baked potatoes, or rice.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for buttered leeks
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Trim off and discard the root ends of the leeks. Trim off and discard any dried out or browned ends of the leek greens. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, slice them crosswise into bite-sized pieces. You can use the dark green parts of the leek; chop it all up, just getting rid of any browned or dried ends.

    Slicing the leeks
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Put the leeks in a large bowl and cover with cool water. Swish the leeks around to loosen any dirt or grit. If you noticed any large clumps of grit when you were chopping the leeks, now is the time to make sure that they get rinsed off. Let the leeks sit a few minutes for the dirt and grit to settle to the bottom of the bowl.

    Leeks in a bowl with water
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. In a large frying pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter.

    Melting butter in a sauté pan
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Lift the leeks out of the water, shaking any excess, and add them to the pan. Do not drain the leeks into a colander, since that will dump the dirt back onto the leeks. Sprinkle the leeks with the salt and stir to combine.

    Stirring the leeks with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so until the leeks are very tender, 30 to 40 minutes total.

    Stirring the leeks over medium-low heat
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Take the pan off the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir until the butter is melted into the leeks. Serve hot or warm.

    Stirring more melted butter into the leeks
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  8. Enjoy.

Raw Leeks? Green Leeks? Dirty Leeks? How to Cook Leeks?

Leeks are a versatile vegetable, but most cooks don't take advantage of all the possibilities the bulb has to offer. Here are some answers to a few of the most common questions about leeks:

  • Can I eat raw leeks? Yes, you can. The white part of the bulb, thoroughly cleaned and thinly sliced, is a wonderful topping for soups, salads, and grilled meats. The flavor of raw leeks is pretty strong, but when chopped in tiny pieces, it adds a pungent kick to the meals it accompanies.
  • Can I eat the green part of the leeks? Absolutely. The only difference between the green part and white part is texture. The green part needs longer cooking time to soften up, like in our recipe, but it's equally flavorful.
  • Why are leeks so full of dirt? Leeks are protected from excessive sun exposure by piling dirt around the stems; by doing so, the stems turn out paler in color and softer in texture. Thus, a thorough wash and preparation are necessary.
  • How long do leeks need to be cooked? It depends on the method of cooking, as you can steam, boil, or braise them. Generally, sliced leeks need at least 7 to 10 minutes on medium-high heat; for whole smaller leeks, allow at least 12 to 15 minutes.