Soulful Collard Greens: A Must-Try Recipe

Y’all, let me tell you, this recipe for the Best Ever Collard Greens has been passed down through generations of my family. These Southern-style collard greens are the perfect combination of smoky and savory, and they’re always a hit at any gathering. I’m excited to share this recipe with you today, so let’s get cookin’!

Collard greens are a staple in Southern cuisine, and for good reason. They’re full of nutrients and flavor, and they pair perfectly with all sorts of classic Southern dishes like fried chicken, mac and cheese, and cornbread.

Now, I know that some folks out there might be a little intimidated by the thought of cooking collard greens. But I promise you, it’s really not that hard! With a few simple ingredients and a little bit of time, you can make the best collard greens you’ve ever tasted. So let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Best Ever Collard Greens
Best Ever Collard Greens

I want to tell you why you’re going to love this Southern-style collard greens recipe. First of all, the flavors are rich, savory, and absolutely delicious. This recipe includes smoked ham hocks, smoked turkey, and bacon slices that infuse the greens with a smoky flavor that is out of this world.

But that’s not all. The greens are also cooked with sweet onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a touch of red wine vinegar that add just the right amount of kick and tang to the dish. The result is a soulful, comforting meal that will make you feel like you’re sitting at the table with your favorite auntie.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s incredibly versatile. If you don’t eat meat, you can easily make this recipe vegan by leaving out the ham hocks and turkey and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. You can also substitute the bacon with smoked tofu or tempeh for a vegetarian option.

And let’s not forget about the health benefits of collard greens. These leafy greens are loaded with vitamins and minerals, and are known for their anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties. So not only is this recipe delicious, it’s also good for you!

Whether you’re a seasoned collard greens enthusiast or a newcomer to soul food, this recipe is sure to become a favorite. So grab a bunch of collard greens, fire up the stove, and get ready to experience the best collard greens you’ve ever tasted.

Ingredient List

“Get your greens on with these delicious collard greens!”

Before we get started on this best-ever collard greens recipe, let’s take a closer look at the ingredients you will need. This is a classic Southern dish, so it’s no surprise that it calls for delicious and flavorful ingredients. The combination of smoked ham hocks, bacon, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes will make your mouth water just thinking about it. Here is what you will need to make this soul food favorite:


  • 2 pounds collard greens (about 2 bunches), stemmed and washed thoroughly
  • 1 pound smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey necks
  • 6 bacon slices, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

These are the essential ingredients for making Southern-style collard greens, and they are easily accessible in most grocery stores. However, if you cannot find collard greens, or if you are a vegan, you can use frozen collard greens or substitute them with other greens such as kale or spinach. You can also try adding some canned mandarin oranges for a citrusy twist to your greens recipe. Just be creative and experiment with what you have on hand.

The Recipe How-To

“A southern staple, perfected.”

Now that we have gathered all the ingredients we need for this Best Ever Collard Greens Recipe, let’s get to cooking!

Step 1: Preparation

  1. Thoroughly wash collard greens and remove the tough stems. Stack the leaves, roll them tightly, and slice them into thin ribbons.
  2. Peel and chop onion into small pieces.
  3. Mince garlic cloves.
  4. Chop smoked ham or smoked turkey into small pieces.

Step 2: Cooking

  1. In a large dutch oven or pressure cooker, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add smoked ham or smoked turkey and cook until lightly browned.
  2. Add onions and garlic to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add collard greens, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and chicken broth to the pot. Stir the ingredients together.
  4. Add ham hocks or smoked neck bones to the pot. If you are making this recipe vegan, you can skip this step.
  5. Add red wine vinegar and white vinegar to the pot. This adds a tangy kick to the dish.
  6. Cover the pot and let the ingredients simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours or until the collard greens are tender.

Step 3: Finishing Touches

  1. Once the collard greens are tender, remove the ham hocks or neck bones from the pot.
  2. Add canned mandarin oranges or chopped bacon to the pot, if desired. This adds a sweet or savory crunch to the dish.
  3. Taste the collard greens and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more salt, black pepper, or red pepper flakes to your taste.

Your Southern-Style Collard Greens are now ready to serve!

Tip: For a quick collard greens recipe, you can use frozen collard greens instead of fresh ones. Just thaw them and add them to the pot.

Note: If you want to make the best collard greens you’ve ever tasted, follow these recipe ingredients and instructions closely. You can also watch videos on YouTube, such as “How to Make Southern Collard Greens” or “Soul Food Collard Greens,” to get more inspiration from black folks’ soul food.

Substitutions and Variations

“The ultimate comfort food in a bowl.”

Collard greens are a versatile dish and can be customized to fit your taste preferences. Here are some substitutions and variations to consider:

– Vegetarian/Vegan: For a vegetarian or vegan option, substitute the smoked ham hock or turkey with vegetable broth or smoked paprika. Add a tablespoon of cider vinegar for acidity.

– Smoked Neck Bones: If you cannot find smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey, you can substitute them with smoked neck bones. They have a similar smoky flavor and will work well in this recipe.

– Frozen Collard Greens: If fresh collard greens are not available, frozen collard greens can be used. Just be sure to thaw them before cooking.

– Bacon: For a different flavor, you can substitute the smoked ham hock or turkey with bacon. Cook 6 slices of bacon until crispy, remove the bacon from the pan, and use the bacon drippings to sauté the onions and garlic. Crumble the bacon and add it to the collard greens before serving.

– Spicier: If you like your collard greens spicier, increase the amount of red pepper flakes to 1/2 teaspoon or add a diced jalapeño pepper.

– Tangier: Add a tablespoon of white vinegar or red wine vinegar for extra tanginess.

Experimenting with different substitutions and variations can lead to discovering your new favorite flavor of collard greens.

Serving and Pairing

“These greens are so good, you’ll be asking for seconds.”

Collard greens are a classic Southern dish that is usually served as a side dish to complement other soul food staples. They pair incredibly well with other traditional Southern dishes such as fried chicken or macaroni and cheese.

When it comes to serving, you can’t go wrong with a big bowl of collard greens alongside your favorite protein. I recommend serving them hot, right out of the pot, and topped with a drizzle of red wine vinegar for an extra kick.

If you want to get creative, you can also use collard greens as a topping for sandwiches or wraps. They add a delicious crunch and earthy flavor that pairs well with grilled chicken or turkey.

When it comes to pairing, a good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Stick with a full-bodied red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel. If you prefer beer, a pale ale or a lager will do the trick.

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option, you can’t go wrong with sweet tea. It’s a classic Southern drink that pairs perfectly with the hearty and savory flavor of collard greens.

Overall, collard greens are a versatile dish that can be paired with a variety of foods and drinks. Whether you’re serving them as a side dish or using them as a topping, they’re sure to add a delicious twist to any meal.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

“Soul food at its finest.”

Collard greens are one of those dishes that get better as they sit. So, if you’re making these greens for a special occasion or just want to save time on a busy weeknight, you can make them ahead of time. The good news is that collard greens can be stored in the fridge for up to four days and reheated when it’s time to serve.

To make ahead, prepare the collard greens according to the recipe instructions, then let them cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve. You can also freeze the greens for up to three months.

When it’s time to reheat, simply transfer the collard greens to a pot and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a bit of water or broth to loosen up the greens if they’ve thickened up in the fridge. Alternatively, you can reheat the greens in the microwave, covered with a damp paper towel to prevent drying out.

If you have leftovers or are meal prepping, divide the collard greens into individual portions and store in airtight containers or freezer bags in the fridge or freezer. This way, you can easily reheat a single portion without having to thaw the entire batch.

One thing to keep in mind is that collard greens tend to get saltier as they sit, so you may want to adjust the seasoning before serving. A splash of red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar can also help brighten up the flavors.

Whether you’re making these collard greens ahead of time, storing leftovers, or meal prepping for the week, you can enjoy the same delicious flavors and soul-warming comfort that make collard greens a Southern classic.

Tips for Perfect Results

“A dish so good, it’ll make your taste buds dance.”

When it comes to cooking collard greens, there are a few things you can do to ensure they turn out perfectly every time. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the best ever collard greens recipe:

1. Clean your greens thoroughly: It’s important to clean your collard greens thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. I like to soak mine in water for a few minutes and then rinse them under cold running water.

2. Remove the tough stems: Collard greens can have tough stems that are difficult to chew. To remove them, simply fold the leaf in half and cut along the stem.

3. Cut your greens into bite-sized pieces: Collard greens can be quite large, so it’s important to cut them into bite-sized pieces before cooking. This will help them cook more evenly and make them easier to eat.

4. Use a flavorful broth: I like to use a smoked ham hock or smoked turkey broth to add flavor to my collard greens. If you’re vegan or don’t eat pork, you can use vegetable broth or neck bones.

5. Cook low and slow: Collard greens are best cooked low and slow. I recommend cooking them for at least an hour to allow the flavors to develop and the greens to become tender.

6. Add acid: Adding a little acid to your collard greens can help balance out the flavors. I like to use a splash of apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar.

7. Don’t overcook: While it’s important to cook collard greens for a long time, it’s also important not to overcook them. Overcooking can cause them to become mushy and lose their flavor.

8. Add some spice: If you like your collard greens spicy, add some red pepper flakes or hot sauce to the pot.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make the best ever collard greens recipe. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.


As with all recipes, there are always questions that come up along the way. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help you make the best ever collard greens recipe possible.

What takes the bitterness out of collard greens?

When it comes to cooking greens, blanching is a technique that should not be skipped. This process involves briefly boiling the greens, which helps to reduce their bitterness. When we blanch greens, the water-soluble compounds known as glucosinolates are released into the water, leaving us with a milder, less bitter flavor. So, if you want to enjoy your greens without that harsh, bitter taste, be sure to blanch them first.

How do you make Patti Labelle collard greens?

Let’s give those collard greens some love! Grab your chicken stock, onions, kosher salt, pepper, and seasoning salt, and mix them in with the greens. Don’t forget to add our secret ingredient – some smoked turkey. Now, turn down the heat and cover the pot. Time to let those greens cook until they’re tender enough to eat, but not too soft. This should take around 35 minutes.

Bottom Line

Collard greens are a staple in Southern cuisine, and this recipe for the Best Ever Collard Greens is sure to become a favorite in your household. With the right ingredients, techniques, and a little bit of love, you can make a dish that is both flavorful and nutritious. Whether you are looking for a soulful meal or a healthy side dish, this recipe is sure to satisfy.

So, what are you waiting for? Give this recipe a try and impress your friends and family with your culinary skills. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different variations and substitutions to make it your own. Whether you choose to make it in a pressure cooker, with bacon or ham hocks, or even vegan, the possibilities are endless.

Make sure to follow the tips and recommendations provided in this article to achieve perfect results every time. And if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to refer to the FAQ section for guidance.

In conclusion, this recipe for the Best Ever Collard Greens is a must-try for anyone who loves Southern cuisine or is looking for a healthy and delicious side dish. With the right ingredients and techniques, you can make a dish that is both comforting and nutritious. So, put on your apron, grab your ingredients, and let’s get cooking!

Best Ever Collard Greens Recipe

While futzing and fiddling with some extra collards I had languishing in the refrigerator, and thinking of some recent recipes I made, I tried this. Whoa! Yum! So, here it is; there is a sort of a sweet-and-sour thing going on.

  • 1 bunch collard greens, fresh
  • 1 tablespoon oil, mild, of choice
  • 1 large onion
  • 16 ounces canned mandarin oranges
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • salt
  1. Trim the center ribs from the collards; wash well.
  2. Halve, stack, halve again, and cut into approximately 1/2" shreds.
  3. Peel, halve, and slice onion thinly.
  4. In very large pot, heat oil.
  5. Saute onion until caramelized.
  6. Add greens with their water; toss and cook until wilted.
  7. Strain mandarin oranges, reserving juice.
  8. Add orange juice to collards in pot.
  9. Lower heat and cover.
  10. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until tender.
  11. Add vinegar and season with salt to taste.
  12. Cook just a few minutes more.
  13. Add mandarin oranges and toss until heated through.
Side Dish
Southern American
< 30 Mins, Collards, Easy, Greens, Healthy, Inexpensive, Kid-Friendly, Low Cholesterol, Low Protein, Vegan, Vegetable, Weeknight

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