Collard Greens Recipe (2024)

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by Mike Hultquist · · 56 Comments · Jump to Recipe

Learn how to cook collard greens the ultimate way, cooked low and slow with bacon, ham, and spices for the most tender greens and to-die-for pot likker. You'll never want them any other way.

Collard Greens Recipe (1)

Southern Collard Greens Recipe

We're cooking up a big batch of collard greens in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. Are you a fan of collard greens?

Southern style collard greens are something special. With Southern Collard Greens, the greens are treated more like a tough cut of meat, simmered low and slow until they are wonderfully tender and loaded with flavor.

If you've never tried collards before, or are just not a fan of them, this is the recipe you need to try.

What are Collard Greens?

Collard greens are leafy vegetables known for their dark green leaves and slightly bitter taste. They belong to the same plant family as cabbage and kale.

Collard greens are popular in Southern cuisine in the United States and are rich in vitamins and minerals, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked.

They are versatile in cooking and can be sautéed, braised, steamed, or boiled, often seasoned with ingredients like garlic, onions, and bacon.

Let's talk about how to make collard greens, shall we?

Collard Greens Recipe (2)

Southern Collard Greens Ingredients

  • Collard Greens. Yes, you need fresh collard greens to make collard greens! You can usually find them in the grocery store produce section.
  • Bacon. I love smoked bacon for my collard greens.
  • Smoked Ham. Extra flavor and meatiness. Ham hocks are wonderful here, too. I love collard greens with ham hocks.
  • Vegetables. Onion, jalapeno peppers (or use milder peppers, or hotter!), garlic. Peppers are not traditional when making southern collards, but I just love them, as you may have already discovered.
  • Chicken Stock. Chicken broth is great, or use vegetable stock.
  • Liquids. Apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey for a touch of sweet, hot sauce.
  • Seasonings. Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. You can use others to your preference.

How to Make Collard Greens - the Recipe Method

Rinse and Trim the Collard Greens. Thoroughly clean the collard greens to remove any grit. Trim them into ribbons, remove the stems, and set aside in a large bowl.

Collards can be pretty gritty and have lots of dirt clinging to them, so the rinsing and cleaning step is very important.

You'll notice if any of the grit gets into the pot. It isn't pleasant.

Cook the Bacon. Heat a large pot to medium heat and add the bacon. Cook for 10 minutes, or until they begin to crisp up.

Collard Greens Recipe (3)

Cook the Onions, Peppers, Ham and Garlic. Add the onion and peppers (with a little olive oil, if needed - you should have plenty of bacon grease in the pan).

Cook for 5 minutes, stirring here and there, until softened.

Add garlic and ham. Cook for 1 minute.

Collard Greens Recipe (4)

Remaining Ingredients. Stir in the chicken stock or chicken broth, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, chili flakes, salt and pepper, hot sauce.

Add the greens to the pot.

Simmer the Collard Greens. Reduce heat, cover and cook the collard greens for 1 hour, then taste for tenderness. Some people like to cook for 2 hours, and some for 3 hours for super tender collard greens.

Collard Greens Recipe (5)

Boom! Done! You collard greens are ready to serve. They look so good, don't they? Sprinkle on the red pepper flakes, maybe a couple splashes of hot sauce.

So good! Such a great side dish.

Recipe Tips & Notes

About the Pot Liquor (or Pot Likker). After slow cooking the collard greens, you'll notice the color of the liquid in the pot has darkened and taken on the wonderful flavor of the collards and other ingredients.

This liquid is called "collard liquor" or "pot liquor", or "pot likker", and it is delicious.

Pot liquor is essentially the liquid remaining from simmering any type of greens or beans. It is enriched with many nutrients from the greens cooking process.

You can enhance the flavor with smoked meats and seasonings, making it not only good for you, but extra tasty, as we've done here.

Cooking Time. I sometimes prefer to simmer my collard greens for the whole 3 hours, but they are nice and tender with a bit of bite after 1-2 hours. Just cook to your preference.

You can get away with a stronger simmer for 45 minutes, but much will depend on the collard greens themselves, whether or not your particular batch wants to soften up enough for you.

Other Greens. You can definitely use other leafy greens for this recipe. Consider mustard greens, kale, beet greens, dandelion greens or other green leaves.

You may need to adjust your simmering time.

Meat Options. Pork is most often used, like bacon and ham. Ham hocks are very popular and add lots of flavor. Smoked turkey is also a nice addition or substitute.

You can realistically use any of your favorite meats. Serve this up with fried chicken!

Storage and Leftover Collard Greens

You can store your leftover collard greens in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Use them to enhance soups, sandwiches, wraps and more.

That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my southern collard greens recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!

Cookbook Recommendations

If you're interested in southern cooking and cuisine, check out these cookbooks for some great southern recipes and history. I'm learning quite a lot about southern food and barbecue from them. Definitely some great eating!

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

  • Butter Bean Succotash
  • Cowboy Caviar
  • Cowboy Beans
  • Charro Beans
  • Cajun Red Beans and Rice
  • Hoppin' John
  • Black Eye Peas
  • Southern Vinegar Coleslaw
  • Calabacitas
  • Skillet Cornbread
  • Tomato Gravy
Collard Greens Recipe (6)

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Collard Greens Recipe (7)


Southern Collard Greens Recipe (How to Cook Collard Greens)

Learn how to cook collard greens the ultimate way, cooked low and slow with bacon, ham, and spices for the most tender greens and to-die-for pot likker. You'll never want them any other way.

Save Recipe

Course: Side Dish

Cuisine: American

Keyword: bacon, greens, ham

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours hours

Calories: 333kcal

Author: Mike Hultquist

Servings: 12

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5 from 19 votes

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  • 1 large bunch of collard greens about 3 pounds
  • 1 pound bacon chopped (smoked bacon is ideal)
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers chopped - optional (use milder peppers for less heat)
  • 1 pound smoked ham chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced (or more to taste)
  • 12 cups chicken stock 3 quarts
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey or use sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste I use 1 tsp each
  • Hot sauce to taste a few dashes will do - use your favorite hot sauce




I usually simmer my collard greens for the whole 3 hours, but they are nice and tender with a bit of bite after 2 hours. Just cook to your preference.

Peppers are not traditionally used in most recipes, but I love them and add lots of them in for my own tastes.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 333kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 21gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 1089mgPotassium: 716mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 5789IUVitamin C: 44mgCalcium: 283mgIron: 2mg

Collard Greens Recipe (8)

Did You Enjoy This Recipe?I love hearing how you like it and how you made it your own. Leave a comment below and tag @ChiliPepperMadness on social media.

NOTE: This recipe was updated on 12/15/23 to include new information, photos, and video. It was originally published on 10/6/21.

Reader Interactions


    Leave a Reply

  1. Susan Griffin says

    I have previously commented on how much I love this recipe. I was challenged because I had a vegan who stayed with us. I do not have a vegan bone in my body. I added smoked paprika and she loved it. Of course the greens were extra spicy. I also used venison sausage. is the vinegar and other spices that make this so delicious.


    • Mike H. says

      Thank you, Susan. I am really happy to read this. Enjoy!


  2. Barbara says

    I never liked collard green until this recipe was served to me by a neighbor. A bit about myself: I’m southern and 64, I’ve tried many a “green”, so this review should mean a lot. This is so good, I wanted to drink the likkor. Instead, I’m saving it for the next batch of greens. Just one bit of advice; watch the amount of chicken broth, 3 quarts was 1 too many for my bunch.


    • Mike H. says

      Thank you, Barbara. I am so glad that my recipe made such an influence... I love it!


  3. Ruth Edwards says

    Collard Greens Recipe (9)
    I had some frozen ham hocks so I boiled them in enough water to cover then used that liquid and added enough chicken broth to make 12 cups. I added another 1/4 c ACV and another TBS Worchestershire sauce to make it a little tangier for my taste.
    My husband and I love these collards. (He didn’t think he liked collards). I made it once before for a party and everyone said they were the best collard greens they ever had!!!
    Thank you very much for this recipe!!!!


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Boom! This is so great to hear, Ruth. Honestly, this comment is pure joy to me. Thanks for sharing. I hope it is something you can enjoy for years to come!


  4. Susan Griffin says

    Collard Greens Recipe (10)
    OMG! My family farmed. We grew greens. My Grandmother made collard, turnip, etc. greens. I love to cook, but never cooked them. The grocery had beautiful collard greens. I decided to cook them for New Years instead of cabbage. They were the best I have ever tasted. This recipe is perfect. My Dad used to put vinegar and pepper sauce on his. No need. This recipe is perfect. I used more garlic, but that is it. . I could have eaten the entire pot myself. Homemade cornbread and it is the perfect, healthy meal.


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing this, Susan! I know, I LOVE LOVE LOVE collards! Glad you enjoyed them! I can eat the whole pot, too. =)


  5. Emily F says

    Collard Greens Recipe (11)
    First time making collard greens and the whole family approved. This is going to become a staple!


    • Mike H. says

      That's what I am talking about, Emily. Well done!


  6. Tammy says


    This looks great! Any tips for cooking in a crock pot?


    • Mike H. says

      Hi, Tammy. One of our readers, Erin, made it in a crock pot and left her feedback in the comments - hit this link to check it out.


  7. Diana says

    Collard Greens Recipe (12)
    Okay, so this is the second recipe I made from Mike for Christmas this year (I also did the outstanding standing rib roast recipe).

    My husband wasn't too happy about the idea of having collard greens for Christmas feast. But he loved this so much. He said he was wrong. (He doesn't admit that often.) Personally, I think I could have gone with less vinegar, but because my husband and son loved so much I'm going with five stars. Thank you, Mike!


    • Mike H. says

      You are very welcome, Diana! Thank you for the review, and I am really happy to hear that!


  8. Ramya says

    Cant wait to make this soon for me can i use tofu / tempeh / vegetable stock and vegan worcestershire sauce i never had southern collard greens before perfect for my after office meals love your recipes as always brightens up my day everyday after work


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Enjoy, Ramya.


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Great! Thanks, Fay!


  9. Linda says

    Collard Greens Recipe (14)
    My family said these were my best collard greens ever.The only thing I did differently was added a leftover smoked turkey leg. It was meaty and delicious.


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Awesome to hear, Linda! Glad they all enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing this.


  10. Jill says

    Collard Greens Recipe (15)
    This was great. Since I enjoy peoples adjustments, so I will leave mine. I used a bit over 1/4 cup vinegar only, added the 2 jalapenos and a ham hock. I made two big pots. Party of about 30 and all loved it!!


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Great to hear, Jill! Glad it was enjoyed!!!


  11. Francine Nancy Posa says

    Collard Greens Recipe (16)
    I absolutely love this recipe. I've tweaked it only to suit my husband's tastes, but this has really taught me how to cook collards to perfection! Thank you so very much


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Wonderful! Yes, very glad to help! And very happy you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!


  12. Lindsay says

    Collard Greens Recipe (17)
    I made these last night and OMG they were amazing. Everyone loved them!


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Wonderful! I know, so good! Thanks, Lindsay.


  13. Tom says

    Collard Greens Recipe (18)
    This recipe is fantastic! I grew the greens my garden and cut a bunch yesterday. Didn’t have any ham so I threw in some andouille
    So Good!!!!!


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it, Tom!


  14. Tina says

    Seriously,12 cups, 3 quarts of chicken broth seriously?


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Tina, YES, 12 cups (3 quarts). This is for 3 pounds of collards and you will have a good amount of the potlicker leftover, which is SO GOOD. You CAN get away with half of the chicken broth, but keep an eye on it. You MAY need to add more liquid to the pot. I've made this many times and it comes out perfect the way it is. I hope you enjoy it.


  15. Niki says

    Collard Greens Recipe (19)
    Made this for NYE .. WOW SO DELICIOUS


    • Mike Hultquist says



  16. Vanessa Grace says

    Collard Greens Recipe (20)
    I made these today pretty much according to the recipe and let me say that they were absolutely the best I have ever made. This is definitely a keeper!


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Awesome!! I just made this again today! Happy New Year!! Definitely my favorite way to make it!


  17. Gaila says

    Well I found some turkey necks in addition to my ham hocks so I’m going for broke!!


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Nice!!! Enjoy!!


  18. Woodall says

    Collard Greens Recipe (21)
    I'll echo Steve, that first frost makes all the difference in how the collards taste. Also, a nice crusty pone of cornbread makes this a meal in of itself. On New Years Day with black eyed peas and some rice = Money (collards) and Luck (peas) for the coming year.

    A couple of tweaks, a little vinegar cuts the grease a bit (b/c you want all that fat) and I use a some off of my pickled hot peppers; some call it chow chow, some call it relish. I call mine hot pepper vinegar b/c I use the vinegar as much as the peppers/relish.

    Pour vinegar to taste into the cooking collards, and then garnish the greens with some of the pickled peppers/relish.

    Tastes like home.


  19. Patsy says

    Collard Greens Recipe (22)
    I love Greens! Whether it's collard or Turnip, Mustard, or even Poke Salad! I've even had Radish greens! But my method of cooking them came from my grandmother in Georgia! Ham hocks, Bacon, leftover ham! Browned up with onion, I guess you got to grow up with fresh from the garden greens as I did! I know bacon isn't supposed to be good for you! I told my grandmother who is 97 and she said she didn't give a flitter what they say! Ya gotta love her Spirit and her Mustard Greens! : -)


    • Mrs Gunn says

      Patsy, yessss. I grew up on them Georgia recipes. Delicious and the BEST!


  20. jamie says

    Mike how can you adapt this to using a slow cooker?


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Jamie, you can really just move everything to the slow cooker once you're ready to simmer, then cook on high for 3-4 hours, or high for 5-6 hours, or until the collards are nice and tender.


  21. Louellyn says

    These were superb! Great with cornbread sticks!


    • Mike Hultquist says

      Excellent! Glad you enjoyed it!


  22. Mo says

    Excellent collard greens!!! Everyone loves them.
    I added the meat from 2 ( trimmed of excess fat ) large smoked ham hocks Delicious!!!


    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Excellent, Mo! Super you happy you enjoyed it!


  23. Warren says

    Collard Greens Recipe (23)
    First time making collards. I forgot the bacon but added andouille. Great recipe ! Apple cider vinegar is a great addition.


    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Nice! Glad you enjoyed it, Warren! Thanks for sharing!


  24. Erin says

    Collard Greens Recipe (24)
    I tend use recipes as guidance, jumping off points for negotiations, if you will and AM I GLAD I FOUND THIS ONE!! The jalapeño was a fantastic addition!!! I crisped up the bacon and omitted the ham, sautéed the garlic, onions, jalapeños in the bacon fat, and removed. Deglazed the pan with the apple cider vinegar, and wilted the greens in the remaining bacon fat and vinegar with some chicken stock and then put it all in a crock pot! It was soooooo good! Thank you!


    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Perfection right there, Erin! I love it.


  25. Bill Morgan says

    Collard Greens Recipe (25)
    This is my favorite Greens recipe. i keep some or most of the bacon grease in the pan then combine the other ingredients. So not healthy but OMG... the one time of year I make it it's worth it. Smoked ham with the bacon makes this very flavorful.


    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Totally! I know, I love it. Thanks, Bill!


  26. Paulette says

    Collard Greens Recipe (26)
    This was my first attempt at homemade greens…They were a big hit, everyone loved them. I just wish I had made more. Thanks for such a easy recipe to follow, can’t wait to try some others.


    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Glad to hear it, Paulette! Glad everyone enjoyed them! Nice to hear! I appreciate it.


  27. Kayle Salinas says

    Collard Greens Recipe (27)
    I didn't have my grandma's collard recipe so I was a little skeptical of trying to find one online similar to it. But this turned out so good! It taste just like hers and it was a perfect addition to Thanksgiving dinner!


    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Awesome, Kayle! Glad you found this recipe! It really is SO GOOD. I LOVE making them this way. Happy Thanksgiving!


  28. Steve says

    The best collards are cut after the first hard frost hits them. They're sweeter then.


Collard Greens Recipe (2024)


What takes the bitterness out of collards? ›

The foods that help reduce bitterness are:
  • Salt while cooking and/or while eating (like on bitter salad greens)
  • Sweet or Spicy.
  • Sour or Acids like lemon or vinegar.
  • Long cooking like braising (think southern collard greens that are cooked for hours)
  • Blanch first.
Jul 7, 2021

What does adding vinegar to collard greens do? ›

This might seem like an unusual addition if you're new to making collard greens, but the vinegar adds a welcome tangy note that brightens the dish and balances out the salty, savory flavors. A tablespoon of sugar also helps balance out the greens' potential bitterness.

What do you soak collard greens in before cooking? ›

Here's how to properly wash collard greens.
  1. Fill your sink with water, and then add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar and 3 tablespoons salt. ( ...
  2. Swish this around, and then submerged your greens in the water. ...
  3. Let the greens soak for 20-30 minutes, giving them a good scrub midway.
Aug 1, 2021

Does baking soda make collard greens tender? ›

All you need to do is add a teaspoon of baking soda to your boiling water or stock to ensure that your collard greens are flavorful, tender, and vibrant.

How long does it take greens to get tender? ›

Stir in vegetable oil, bacon bits, sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Why put baking soda in collard greens? ›

In the case of collard greens, baking soda's utility is threefold, serving as a flavor enhancer, a tenderizer, and a color protector. Baking soda is an alkali salt possessing the tenderizing and flavor-enhancing properties of regular salt.

What do you put in greens to keep them from being bitter? ›

Add acid.

Acids, like vinegar and citrus juice, help to brighten up bitter greens and provide a light contrasting flavor.

How to cook collards that aren't bitter? ›

Braise Them

Many bitter greens such as collards, kale, and mustard greens can be very fibrous, and often braising these greens for a lengthy amount of time is essential to making them more tender. But braising has a secondary benefit too: It also helps with cutting down the bitterness.

Can you put too much water in collard greens? ›

Make sure you let the water drain out of you collard greens as much as possible. Too much water in your pot will ruin your greens. In a stock pot add Oive Oil, Onion, Green pepper, and Turkey bacon (or your choice of turkey or pork).

Which vinegar is best for collard greens? ›

Apple cider vinegar: Collards can be notoriously bitter. The vinegar balances the flavor and removes the bitterness. Stone House Seasoning: My favorite house blend seasoning of garlic, salt, and pepper. Sugar: A little bit helps remove any bitterness from the collard greens while giving a slightly sweet flavor.

What makes collard greens good? ›

Rich in dietary fiber and potassium, collard greens help enhance good HDL levels and diminish bad LDL cholesterols, averting plaque and fatty deposits in heart vessels and improving cardiac muscle function and heart health. Boosts Gut Health.

Can you overcook collard greens? ›

It is important to not overcook collard greens or kale, as they tend to give off a sulfur smell and taste bitter. Cut the leaves into one-half inch strips and steam for 5 minutes on the stove. Collard greens make a great addition to eggs and bean soup or can be served alone as a steamed vegetable with a dressing.

Why does collard greens take so long to cook? ›

Long cooking time.

Slowly cooking collard greens not only softens the tough leaves, it also tames the leaves' bitter flavor.

Can cooked collard greens be left out overnight? ›

The Two-Hour Rule

At two hours, the food must be consumed, stored correctly, or thrown away. This includes all cooked leftovers, [chopped] fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products."

Can you use apple cider vinegar in collard greens? ›

Add the collard greens to the skillet and cook, tossing occasionally, until they start to get tender, about 5 minutes. Mix together the apple cider vinegar, sugar and hot sauce. Pour over the collard greens and cook, stirring, until the greens absorb some of the moisture, about 8 minutes.

How to get rid of bitter taste in vegetables? ›

Chill the food to reduce bitterness.

This is a good trick for bitter vegetables. Leave them in the fridge for a few hours to cool off before eating them. You could also combine this with other tricks, like adding some salt or fat to the meal.

Are collard greens always bitter? ›

Raw collard greens are bitter, but not quite as bitter as kale. Heat mellows the flavor a bit and brings out a subtle earthiness. You can buy collard greens all year, but they taste best in the cooler months.


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