Creamed leeks is a simple side dish that tastes fancier than you might think! Leeks simmer in a mixture of broth and wine for tons of flavor, with just a small amount of cream tying it all together. This post also includes in-depth instructions on cleaning and preparing the leeks for cooking.
It took coming across an article about Julia Child's favorite soup (vichyssoise, allegedly) and Googling a few things ("what is vichyssoise", "how do you pronounce vichyssoise") to have a lightbulb moment that my leek repertoire started and ended with potato leek soup. With how much I like these long onion-esque vegetables, why didn't I cook them any other way?
So I got to work. After experimenting with sautéing sliced leeks and then adding liquid to simmer, I did more leek recipe research and realized I'd landed pretty close to a general creamed leeks recipe, minus the cream.
Turns out a small amount of cream was the missing ingredient from my fairly basic first attempts at a leek side dish. It immediately ups the sophistication level and frankly turns a simple dish into something worthy of a holiday dinner side.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- Starting the leeks off with a sauté and then a brief covered simmer tenderizes them perfectly.
- This recipe only uses a quarter cup of cream to become ideally creamy, a good deal less than many creamed leeks recipes out there. This leek side dish isn't swimming in cream.
- Simmering the leeks in a combination of chicken broth and white wine imparts "fancy" flavor in a super simple way.
- This recipe can easily be doubled (or tripled!) to serve a crowd.
- Leeks: Leek sizes vary greatly. One large leek will yield roughly one cup of sliced leeks. Use three large, four medium leeks, etc. to end up with three cups of sliced leeks for this recipe.
- Butter and Olive Oil: Using an equal blend of the two brings wonderful flavor.
- Garlic: Two cloves complement the leek's sharpness well.
- Chicken Broth: I always recommend reduced-sodium to keep that in check. This provides much more flavor than simmering in water, though you can substitute in vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian.
- White Wine: Use something not-pricey and drier, like a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chardonnay.
- Cream: Just ¼ cup of heavy cream adds a luxe feel without going overboard.
This recipe can be boiled down to two main parts: cleaning the leeks and preparing the final dish.
Cleaning the Leeks
Much of the edible portion of a leek remains underground while growing, leading to lots of soil, rock, and sandy particles becoming trapped within its layers. Hence, leeks needing a thorough wash before cooking. Simply rinsing a whole leek isn't going to do it.
- Slice the white and light green portion of a leek in half lengthwise, so you have two half-circle shaped pieces. With the flat side down, cut each piece into thin strips.
- Add these strips to a large bowl filled with cool water. Use your hands to separate out the layers and swish the strips back and forth in the water to dislodge any dirt. Lift out the sliced leeks and pat dry on a plate. Notice the dirt that has settled on the bottom of the bowl!
Preparing the Recipe
- Sauté the sliced leeks in a mixture of butter and olive oil over medium heat for 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then season with a small amount of salt and pepper.
- Pour in the chicken broth and white wine and place a tight-fitting lid on the pan. Adjust the heat so it's at a simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and cook until nearly all of the liquid has reduced out.
- Pour in the cream and cook for several minutes, or until it has thickened to your liking. Serve warm.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Buying leeks: Because they're often priced per unit and not by weight, select leeks that have the largest white and light green segments versus unusable dark green tops to be cost-efficient.
- Start small with seasonings: Add just a pinch of salt and pepper during the cook time, keeping in mind that broth will be reduced down later on and add some saltiness. Take a taste before serving and add more salt and/or pepper if you'd like then.
- Wiggle room: While ¼ cup cream is just right for my tastes, if you'd like more simply adjust the amount to your preference.
- Serving size: As written this recipe will yield approximately three side dish servings. If serving these creamed leeks for a dinner party or holiday you'll likely want to scale the recipe up. Plan on about one large leek per person.
While they're the creamiest when prepared fresh, you can make creamed leeks 1-2 days ahead of time. Keep them refrigerated in an air-tight container. Prior to serving, heat them on the stovetop over low heat with an extra drizzle of cream if needed.
Fresh thyme would be a nice garnish if you'd like an herb-y element. And beyond a straight-up side dish, creamed leeks are also good served as a bed under something, such as fish or chicken.
More Side Dish Recipes
- For a serious time saver, my creamy polenta from a tube takes minutes and has so much more flavor than the recipe printed on the package!
- Skillet roasted corn takes canned corn to the next level in no time. There are lots of different directions you can take this flavor-wise.
- One basic ingredient jazzes up a classic in roasted garlic mashed potatoes. (It's the roasted garlic).
- The ideal air fryer baked potato starts off in the microwave to really save some time. Crispy skin with fluffy interiors here.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
- 3 large leeks (about 3 cups sliced)
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- ½ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup heavy cream
Prepping the Leeks:
- Slice off the very bottom root piece and the dark green tops of each leek, leaving you with the white and light green segments to cook with. Discard the root piece and discard or reserve the dark green tops for another use.
- Slice each white/light green leek segment in half length-wise, then slice each half into strips ¼-inch wide. Repeat for all leeks, until you have roughly 3 cups of sliced leeks.
- Place the sliced leeks in a mixing bowl, then fill the bowl with cool water. Using your hands, swish the leeks around the water vigorously, separating them into strips and removing all visible dirt and sand.
- Once done, use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lift up and transfer the leeks to a paper towel-lined plate or bowl. Do not pour everything through a colander to drain as all of the debris will have settled to the bottom of the bowl and will become commingled with the leeks again. Pat the leeks dry.
Preparing the Dish:
- Add butter and olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Swirl the pan around as the butter melts. Once melted, add the sliced leeks and cook for 6 minutes, then add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
- Pour in the chicken broth and wine, stir, and then tightly cover the skillet with a lid. Adjust the heat to a simmer and then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and cook until the liquid has nearly all absorbed, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the cream and stir for 2-3 minutes as it heats and thickens to your liking. Taste for salt and pepper before serving.
- Add just a small amount of salt and pepper during the cook time as reducing the broth will add some saltiness. Season to taste with salt and pepper if you'd like extra before serving.
- Creamed leeks can be made 1-2 days ahead of time. Store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Reheat over low heat on the stove, adding an extra little drizzle of cream if needed to become fully creamy again.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer