Buttered Leeks

Chopped buttered leeks in various shades of green on an oval serving platter

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 2 to 3 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
80 Calories
6g Fat
7g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 80
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 274mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 4mg 20%
Calcium 30mg 2%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 83mg 2%
*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.


Click Play to See These Simple Buttered Leeks Come Together

"These were delicious and very tender after 30 minutes. Just to note, the number of servings depends on the size of the leeks, since they cook down a lot. 7 to 8 cups chopped (2 very large leeks, with greens) will make about 3 cups cooked. Also, taste and adjust the seasonings after cooking." —Diana Rattray

Buttered Leeks Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for buttered leeks recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Leek stalks sliced lengthwise being chopped into bite-size pieces on a wooden cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Chopped leeks immersed in water in a large bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. In a large frying pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter.

    Butter cube being melted in a cast-iron frying pan

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Leeks being cooked in a frying pan and stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Leeks wilting during cooking process while being stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Melted butter being stirred into the cooked leeks with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga 

How to Store

  • Store leftover cooked leeks in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze, transfer the cooked leeks to a zip-close freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 6 months.

How to Use Cooked Leeks

  • Arrange the hot cooked leeks in the center of a dinner plate and top with a cooked salmon fillet, halibut, or other fish.
  • Add cooked leeks to mashed potatoes.
  • Top baked or twice-baked potatoes or sweet potatoes with a spoonful of cooked leeks.
  • Spoon cooked leeks onto seasoned toasted baguette slices.
  • Add leftover cooked leeks to a creamy soup, such as potato soup.
  • Add cooked leeks to an omelet or frittata.
  • Add cooked leeks to a grilled cheese sandwich.

Recipe Variations

  • Drain the sliced leeks well and add them to the pan along with about 2 to 3 tablespoons each of white wine and chicken broth. Continue to cook as directed.
  • Cook the leeks as directed in an oven-safe skillet. When done, sprinkle them with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and place them under a preheated broiler; broil just until the cheese begins to brown.
  • For a vegan-friendly option, use olive oil instead of butter.

How Many Leeks Does It Take to Make 2 Cups Cooked?

Since you are using the green part in this recipe, 5 to 6 cups of raw leeks—about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds—should yield about 2 cups of cooked leeks.

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.

Raw 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.
  • 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.