Southern Collard Greens Recipe

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A Southern collard greens recipe is a staple of every Southern kitchen. 

The South’s favorite leafy greens are partnered with onions, garlic, sauces, and smoked turkey meat (optional), then simmered and seasoned to perfection! 

Southern Collard Greens Recipe

What are collard greens?

Collard greens are edible green vegetables from the cabbage family, such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. The leaves have a rough texture and grow in a ruffled shape. Raw collard leaves taste bitter and pungent.

What do Southern collard greens taste like?

Smoky and savory, with a mild vinegary tang! A Southern soul food collard greens recipe is made with a combination of seasonings, onions, and vinegar, which gives the dish a delicious taste different from any traditional collard greens recipe. 

Why do Southerners eat collard greens?

Why are collard greens popular in the South? Southern cuisine features collard greens as the main staple of any proper Southern meal. But why? 

The availability of these leafy greens all year round has also made them an integral part of Southern soul food cuisine. 

What is the history of collard greens?

Collard greens are an old-fashioned Southern dish attributed to African Americans. Enslaved African Americans brought their traditional cooking methods from Africa. They are credited for elevating collard greens to the Southern soul food recipe we know and love today.

What are the best seasonings for collard greens?

Easy Southern collard greens recipe

Making collard greens in an Instant Pot simplifies the tedious process of preparing a Southern collard greens recipe. You won’t have to spend hours in the kitchen stewing over a stockpot at the stove.

Recommended kitchen equipment for a Southern collard greens recipe

Ingredients for a Southern collard greens recipe

*See the recipe card below for a complete list of ingredients with measurements.

  • Collard greens – How many collard greens do you need? Fresh collards are often sold in bundles. 3 bundles equals the 2 pounds needed.
  • Smoked turkey leg – For an infusion of smokey flavor.
  • Yellow onion – A flavor powerhouse of sweet and savory.
  • Tomatoes – An acidic balance to the greens and seasonings.
  • Chicken stock – Use a chicken stock base instead of water for more flavor. (Use vegetable stock for vegan and vegetarian.)
  • Apple cider vinegar – Why do you put vinegar in collard greens? Vinegar adds flavor, helps to tenderize the greens while cooking, and cuts the bitter taste.
  • Worcestershire sauce – Infuses warmth and unique flavor.
  • Honey – For a mildly sweet balance to the savory dish.
  • Sriracha or hot sauce – For mild heat!
  • Garlic – The perfect flavor to marry with the dish’s seasonings and spices.
  • Old Bay seasoning, Cajun, or Creole seasoning – For an unexpected tangy, well-seasoned profile.
  • Red pepper flakes – For a seasoned yet mild kick.
  • Salt – The seasoning base. 
  • Black pepper – Salt’s seasoning and balancing counterpart.

What are the best seasonings for collard greens? Apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, salt, garlic, and more! Check out the recipe below for the tried and true soul food seasonings for Southern collard greens! 

How do you spice up greens? Adding hot sauce is one of the most delicious ways to spice up greens. This recipe calls for sriracha or hot sauce and red pepper flakes to add mild heat to the dish. (Surely you’ll impress your guests!)

What makes collard greens taste so good?

How long does it take to cook collard greens?

Seasoned to perfection in a broth called pot likker stew, you can cook collards slowly on the stovetop in about an hour or in a matter of minutes with an Instant Pot (15 minutes to be exact)!
I explain more about how long to cook collard greens in my post HERE.

How to make your collard greens tender?

Cooking the greens – pressure cooking or slow cooking on the stovetop- makes the collards tender. The vinegar also aids in tenderizing them.

How do you make the best Instant Pot collard greens?

Follow the recipe instructions below for flavor, seasonings, and how to cook collard greens in the Instant Pot! Because it takes only 15 minutes to cook a Southern collard greens recipe in an Instant Pot, followed by a 15-minute pressure release. 

*See the recipe card below for a detailed list of instructions with step-by-step guided pictures.

  1. Clean the collard greens.
  2. Cut off the stems. 
  3. Chop the leaves in half through the midline and then into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the pot.
  5. Next, add the vegetables and seasonings. 
  6. Finally, add the collard greens, followed by the pre-cooked turkey leg. 
  7. Cook in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes or on the stovetop for an hour.
  8. Serve Black folks’ soul food collard greens right away and enjoy!
How long does it take to cook collard greens?

Success tips for a Southern collard greens recipe

How do you clean collard greens? Fresh collard, mustard, or turnip greens are easy to clean. Clean them by running each leaf under cold water, discarding limp leaves. I talk more about how to clean and cut collard greens in my post HERE.

Do you leave the stems on collard greens? Before cooking, chop the collards and remove the stems. I go over how to cut collard greens in my post HERE.

Do you leave the stems on collard greens?

Can you make Southern collard greens with pre-cleaned and cut greens in the bag, or do you have to use fresh collards? Great question! And the answer is yes – for your convenience, you can absolutely use the pre-cut greens in the bag if fresh collards aren’t handy. This will save you a step!

Why do you put vinegar in collard greens? Vinegar lends the dish tangy notes that balance the savory flavors.

Why put baking soda in collard greens? Not necessary, but some cooks add a pinch of baking soda when cooking collard greens to preserve the chlorophyll that gives green vegetables, like those in the cabbage family, their naturally vibrant green color.

What meat is used to season collard greens? It’s not required but highly encouraged that if you’re cooking with a Black folks soul food collard greens recipe, you season with the addition of meat. 

Can you make this Southern collard greens recipe without meat? Meat is optional, but it does add a nice smoky flavor that complements the greens nicely.

Why do Southerners eat collard greens?

Join the conversation about soul food Southern collard greens

🎙Check out episode 11 of The Soul Food Pod: soul food Southern collard greens recipe!

What goes with collard greens for dinner?

What can you serve with Southern collard greens?

Southern collard greens are a traditional holiday dish in the South, served with other Southern favorites like candied yamsbaked macaroni and cheese, red beans, and buttermilk fried chicken

Many Southerners love the smoky flavor of these greens and the creaminess of buttery mashed potatoes or black-eyed peas. Homemade cornbread or Southern cornbread dressing is also a regular appropriate accompaniment to a Southern collard greens recipe because it soaks up all the savory pot likker.

So what goes with collard greens for dinner?

Southern collard greens recipe FAQs

How long are you supposed to soak collard greens?

This step is not necessary, but some folks soak their greens before cleaning them. You can soak collards in water for about 10 minutes in your kitchen sink. 

How to store and reheat collard greens

Do you refrigerate collard greens? Yes, the recipe is full of perishable vegetables.

How long will collard greens last in the refrigerator? Cooked greens can be stored in the fridge for 5 days.

Can you reheat soul food collard greens? Yes, collards can be quickly rewarmed in the microwave or oven.

Can you use frozen collard greens? Frozen collard greens are a great example of how this vegetable can last in your freezer for months without losing any quality or flavor. Add them to the pot and cook as usual!

How long does it take to cook collard greens?

What do you think about this recipe?

Collard greens are a vegetable that I’ve been eating my whole life. I grew up in the South, so they were always on our plates. For Sunday soul food dinners, on the soul food Thanksgiving menuChristmas dinner, and New Year’s in a hoppin John recipe (a Southern collard green recipe with black-eyed peas and rice).

This Southern collard greens recipe is easy enough for anyone to make – and everyone to love!

Can you make this Southern collard greens recipe without meat?

Have you had it?

Would you make it? 

Comment below and lemme know. 

Then subscribe HERE for all the soul food!

The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
What is soul food? Soul food recipes are African-American recipes full of flavor! A legacy of Southern cooking the Black way. Check out this collection of the best soul food recipes!
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Southern Collard Greens
Southern Collard Greens Recipe

Southern Collard Greens Recipe

How long does it take to cook collard greens?
A Southern collard greens recipe is a staple of every Southern kitchen. 
Seasoned to perfection in a broth called pot likker stew. You can cook collards slowly on the stovetop or in a matter of minutes with an Instant Pot!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Pressure Release Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Southern Food, Vegan Soul Food
Servings: 8
Calories: 240kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
  • or a large pot or stockpot with a lid

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds collard greens 3 bundles
  • 1 turkey leg pre-cooked/smoked (this ingredient is optional)
  • 1 cup yellow onion diced
  • 2 cups tomatoes diced
  • 4 cups chicken stock use vegetable stock to make vegan and vegetarian-friendly
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce or sriracha sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning or Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Instructions for a Southern collard greens recipe in the Instant Pot

  • Clean the collard greens and cut off the stems.
    Clean the collard greens and cut off the stems.
  • Then roughly chop the leaves in half through the midline and then into bite-sized pieces.
    Chop the leaves in half through the midline and then into bite-sized pieces.
  • Open the Instant Pot lid and add the wet ingredients (chicken stock, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and hot sauce to the stainless-steel inner pot.
  • Next, add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, Old Bay or Cajun seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and stir to combine the ingredients.
  • Finally, add the collard greens, followed by the cooked turkey leg.
    Finally, add the collard greens, followed by the cooked turkey leg.
  • Press down to sink the greens as much as you can into the liquid broth.
  • Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 15 minutes.
    Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 15 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 15 minutes.
  • To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  • Serve Black folks’ soul food collard greens right away and enjoy!
    Serve Black folks’ soul food collard greens right away and enjoy!

Instructions for Southern collard greens on the stovetop

  • Clean the collard greens and cut off the stems.
  • Then roughly chop the leaves in half through the midline and then into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the pot: chicken stock, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and hot sauce.
  • Next, add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, Old Bay or Cajun seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and stir to combine the ingredients.
  • Finally, add the chopped collard greens and the pre-cooked turkey leg.
  • Press down to sink the greens as much as you can into the liquid broth.
  • Cook over medium-high heat with the lid on the pot for one hour, stirring occasionally. (The collards will wilt down as they cook.)
  • Serve this soul food Southern collard greens recipe right away, and enjoy!

Video

Notes

Easy Southern collard greens recipe

Nutrition

Calories: 240kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 1238mg | Potassium: 786mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 6095IU | Vitamin C: 49mg | Calcium: 302mg | Iron: 3mg
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