Healthy and Delicious Southern Greens Recipe

Welcome to my recipe article for Perfect Southern Greens! As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I have always believed that greens are the soul of soul food. They are packed full of flavor and nutrients and can be cooked in a variety of ways to suit your personal taste. Whether you’re a fan of collard greens, kale, beet greens, or mustard greens, this recipe has everything you need to make the best southern greens.

Now, I know that many people find cooking greens to be intimidating. Some say they’re bitter, some say they’re tough, and others aren’t quite sure how to get them just right. But with this recipe, I assure you that cooking perfect southern greens is easy and straightforward.

In this article, I will walk you through each step of the cooking process so that you can achieve tender, flavorful greens every time. From selecting the right type of greens to washing and cooking them just right, I’ve got you covered.

So put on your favorite apron and get ready to experience the true taste of southern-style greens. Whether for a special occasion or just a regular weeknight dinner, these perfect southern greens will leave your taste buds happy and satisfied.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Perfect Southern Greens (Kale, Beet, Collard Greens, Mustard)
Perfect Southern Greens (Kale, Beet, Collard Greens, Mustard)

If you’re looking for the perfect Southern greens recipe, look no further. This recipe combines the best of three different types of leafy greens: kale, collard, and mustard. You’ll love this hearty and flavorful dish that’s perfect for a cozy family dinner or a soulful Sunday brunch with friends.

One reason you’ll love this greens recipe is its versatility. Whether you prefer your greens slightly bitter or milder, this recipe has everything you need to make your ideal Southern greens. Plus, it’s easy to swap out one type of green for another if you have a specific preference.

Another reason to love this recipe is its depth of flavors. The bacon and ham add a smoky taste while the garlic cloves and crushed red pepper flakes give it that extra kick. And the olive oil and onion keep everything balanced and delicious.

Not to mention, this recipe calls for turnip and beet greens, which are often underutilized in cooking. By adding these ingredients to the mix, you’ll create an even more tangy and flavorful dish that will have everyone begging for seconds.

Lastly, this dish can be served any way you like it – hot or cold, as a side or in a salad, with or without vinegar. You can even cook it ahead of time and store it for later use.

This Southern-style recipe offers everything you need in a green dish – tasty ingredients, easy preparation tactics, versatility, flavor and warmth. Give your taste buds the treat they deserve with these perfect Southern greens today!

Ingredient List

 These greens will have you saying
These greens will have you saying “y’all” with every bite.

Here are the ingredients you need to make the perfect Southern Greens:

1. Leafy Greens

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • 1 bunch mustard greens
  • Note: You can also use mixed greens such as turnip greens and mustard leaves

2. Bacon, Ham, or Smoked Turkey

  • 4 slices of bacon or 1 cup of cooked ham or smoked turkey

3. Onion and Garlic

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

4. Olive Oil and Vinegar

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Note: Use bacon grease instead for additional flavor
  • ¼ cup of vinegar (people like apple cider, red wine, or white vinegar)

Other Ingredients

  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tip: Choose the freshest ingredients possible for a better taste.

The Recipe How-To

 Greens so good, even your grandma will be asking for the recipe.
Greens so good, even your grandma will be asking for the recipe.

Now, let’s dive into the exciting part- preparing the perfect southern greens. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with the outcome.


Below is a list of everything you need to make Perfect Southern Greens:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 bunch of collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and beet greens
    _ Note: Don’t worry too much about the amounts here; use as much or little as you like – This recipe is flexible._


  1. To start, clean and remove any tough stems or veins from your green leaves.
  2. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Put your bacon into a large pan over high heat.
  4. Cook until crisp and set aside.
  5. Add your ham hock and onions to the same pan that you cooked bacon in.
  6. Stir occasionally until the onions are translucent.
  7. Next, add in your crushed garlic and cook for about half a minute.
  8. Finally, add the prepared greens on top of the ham and onion mixture.
  9. Stir to coat and wilt slightly.

Cooking Method

Add a cup of water to the pot and cover with a lid. Let this steam for about 15-20 minutes over medium heat. You can stir occasionally if needed.

Flavoring Your Perfect Southern Greens

To flavor your greens, add in two pinchesof Crushed Red Pepper Flakes at this point. If you prefer spicier greens, you may be more generous- but I wouldn’t recommend adding too much more than two pinches at a time.
If you’d like to cut some bitterness from your greens, add in one-fourth teaspoonof vinegar. Many people like the vinegar flavor, so use your discretion here. To get bitterness out of the beet greens, add a bunch of beet leaves into the pot with collards, mustard, and turnip greens.

Serving Your Perfect Southern Greens

Serve them hot with cornbread or rice to soak up all that juice.
These greens are perfect as a side dish for any meal- or even on their own. Enjoy your soulful Perfect Southern Greens!

Substitutions and Variations

 The perfect side dish to any southern feast.
The perfect side dish to any southern feast.

If you’re feeling adventurous or want to change things up a bit, there are many substitutions and variations you can make when preparing perfect southern greens. One of the great things about this recipe is that it’s versatile and allows for some experimentation.

Firstly, instead of using bacon or ham, you may opt for smoked turkey as your meat choice. This adds a unique smoky flavor that pairs well with the earthy taste of the greens. It’s also a healthier option compared to pork-based products.

If you’re looking to reduce the spiciness of the recipe, cut back on the amount of crushed red pepper flakes used. On the other hand, if you prefer a more fiery flavor profile, feel free to add more flakes.

In terms of greens, you can mix and match different types depending on your personal preference. Whether it’s kale, beet greens, collard greens or mustard greens, each type brings its own unique texture and flavor to the recipe. You could even try combining multiple types of greens for added variety and nutritional benefits.

One popular substitution is using vinegar to cut through any bitterness in the greens. People like to use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar but feel free to choose whichever type of vinegar suits your taste buds best.

Finally, if for whatever reason you’re not able to find certain types of greens listed in this recipe, don’t worry! You can still make amazing southern-style greens with whichever leafy green vegetables are available in your area. Experimentation is key when trying out new dishes and techniques so don’t be afraid to get creative in your cooking approach.

Serving and Pairing

 Get your daily dose of greens with a bowl of these delicious veggies.
Get your daily dose of greens with a bowl of these delicious veggies.

Southern greens are very versatile and can accompany almost any dish. One of the best ways to enjoy them is by serving them with traditional southern soul food dishes. The sturdy texture of the greens and the smoky flavor from the bacon or ham make them perfect as a side dish for rich and hearty mains like fried chicken, beef ribs, or grilled steaks.

When pairing these greens with other dishes, you want to make sure that they balance each other out. If you are serving a spicier main dish, like jambalaya or gumbo, adding in some collard greens will help to counteract some of the heat. For a lighter meal, pair beet greens with grilled salmon or roasted chicken. They also pair well with beans or other vegetarian dishes.

If you are looking for a way to add more flavor to your meals, try mixing different types of greens together. Kale and collards work particularly well together because kale’s slightly bitter taste cuts through some of the earthiness from the collard greens. If you want something even milder, try adding in some mustard spinach or turnip greens for a more refreshing taste.

Lastly, don’t overlook serving Southern greens as a standalone dish. These nutritious leafy greens can be enjoyed all on their own as a filling side dish or made into a satisfying main course by topping them with a poached egg or smoked turkey.

Whatever your preferred pairing is, when it comes to Southern-style cuisine, you can never go wrong with these delicious greens!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A colorful blend of greens for a vibrant and healthy meal.
A colorful blend of greens for a vibrant and healthy meal.

Now that you’ve made a big batch of these perfect southern greens, you might be wondering how best to store them. Luckily, they keep well and taste just as good the next day, with the right storage and reheating methods.

If you plan to store your greens for later, it’s important to let them cool completely first. Once cooled, transfer the greens into an airtight container or cover your pot with plastic wrap before placing it in the refrigerator. They should last up to four days when stored properly.

When it’s time to reheat your greens, there are a few methods you can use depending on the amount of time that you have to work with. If you’re serving them immediately after storing, the microwave is a quick and easy option.

To reheat in the microwave, place your desired portion of the collard or mustard greens in a microwave-safe dish and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Heat for about 2-3 minutes or until hot. Be careful not to overheat them as they may lose their flavor and texture.

For longer term storage and reheating, I recommend using a stovetop or oven method. To reheat on the stovetop, place the refrigerated greens in a saucepan with a small amount of water and heat over medium heat until cooked through. You’ll want to stir occasionally while heating so that they don’t stick to the pan.

If using an oven, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Transfer your greens into an oven-safe casserole dish, add about 1/4 cup of water or broth, then cover tightly with foil. Place in the preheated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

No matter which reheating method you choose, your soulful southern style mixed greens are sure to taste just as fresh and delicious as when they were first prepared!

Tips for Perfect Results

 These greens are like a hug from your southern mama.
These greens are like a hug from your southern mama.

If you want to make the best Southern Greens recipe ever, you’ll need some tips for perfect results. Cooking greens can be tricky, and knowing a few tricks of the trade can make all the difference. Here are some tips and recommendations to help you make the perfect dish.

First and foremost, wash your greens thoroughly. It’s essential to remove any dirt or grit before cooking. Next, remove any tough or woody stems from your greens, especially in kale and collard greens. These stems can be tough to chew and can take away from the tenderness of the leaves.

To cut the bitterness of the greens, use a dab of vinegar. Don’t go overboard with the vinegar, as it will change the taste of your greens entirely. Experiment with different types of vinegar to find one you like best.

If you’re short on time, consider using smoked turkey or ham hocks instead of bacon. These options add an authentic Southern flavor without having to fry up bacon. Just add them to your pot of greens while they cook!

When it comes to seasoning greens, start with just a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or garlic cloves. You can always add more later, but it’s much more challenging to take seasoning out than it is to put it in.

Finally, cooking times might vary depending on different variables such as altitude and humidity. So monitor your greens often when cooking by stirring them gently, tasting them regularly and adjusting seasoning as needed.

Follow these tips for perfect results, and you’ll make something special that reminds people why Southern food is so beloved – warm food that brings comfort to families regardless of background or roots.


As you’re cooking these perfect southern greens, you might come across a few questions that need answering. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! In this section, we’ve gathered some frequently asked questions regarding these greens, including how to store them, what type of greens are best, and whether or not they can be made ahead of time. So read on and get ready to cook up some delicious soul food!

How to make Patti Labelle greens?

Let’s get cookin’! We’re gonna need to grab some collard greens and start adding some flavorful ingredients to turn them into the perfect southern-style side dish. After washing the collard greens, we’ll need to add some chicken stock, onions, kosher salt, pepper, and seasoning salt. Don’t forget to mix in some smoked turkey for an extra kick of savory flavor. Once everything is in the pot, lower the heat and let it cook covered. It should take around 35 minutes, but make sure not to overcook the greens. We want ’em tender, but not too soft.

Does collard greens take longer to cook than mustard greens?

Now it’s time to add the greens to the pan. Simply cover it up and let them cook until they’re tender enough to eat. Be sure to keep an eye on them though – depending on what type of greens you’re using, the cooking time can vary. Chard and beet greens will typically take around 8 to 10 minutes, while kale, mustard, turnip, and collard greens will need a bit longer, taking 15 to 20 minutes. Once they’re done, place them in a colander to cool off and drain. Press them gently to remove any excess liquid, and voila – your greens are ready to go!

How do you get the bitterness out of beet greens?

As a southern-style chef, I’ve learned that beet greens can be quite bitter. However, there’s a quick and easy trick to help cut that bitterness when cooking them. Using a combination of salt and lemon juice can do wonders in reducing the overpowering flavor of bitter greens. It’s important to keep in mind that these greens tend to fall under the bitter category when it comes to types of dark leafy greens.

Why do you put vinegar in collard greens?

When preparing collard greens, including vinegar in the dish can enhance its flavor and balance out any potential bitterness. It’s best to let your guests decide how much vinegar they would like to add. While apple cider vinegar is the classic choice, some may prefer white vinegar or even hot sauce to give the dish an extra kick.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, there is nothing more comforting than a hot and delicious pot of southern greens. The combination of kale, collard greens, beet greens, and mustard greens creates an explosion of flavor that will leave your taste buds wanting more. It is essential to use fresh leafy greens for this perfect southern greens recipe as this enhances the natural flavors and colors.

With my tips and tricks to cut bitterness using vinegar, you can adjust the flavors and taste until you achieve the perfect balance of tanginess and sweetness that will complement any dish. Don’t forget the bacon, ham, or smoked turkey! They add a smoky flavor that blends perfectly with the mixed greens.

Southern-style cuisine doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s all about simplicity and taking your time to cook the perfect ingredients to make soul food that will leave you and your family wanting more. I hope this recipe has been helpful in guiding you through the process of making perfect southern greens. Remember, when it comes to cooking these delicious greens, patience is key, so take your time and enjoy every moment as you create a savory Southern meal for those closest to you.

Perfect Southern Greens (Kale, Beet, Collard Greens, Mustard)

Perfect Southern Greens (Kale, Beet, Collard Greens, Mustard) Recipe

This recipe yields the best tasting greens I have ever eaten! I have yet to have a batch of bitter greens when cooked this way. This recipe has the potential to change the minds of green-haters and may even bring about a cute southern accent. Blanching the greens before adding to the slow cooker helps remove the natural bitterness. I usually make it with kale and beet greens but other greens work as well. The greens pair well with pilsner or an off-dry riesling, especially if you use the balsamic vinegar.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern cuisine
Calories 114.9 kcal


  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch beet leaves (collards, mustard, turnip) or 1 bunch other greens (collards, mustard, turnip)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, minced (discard seeds for less heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup cubed ham (I used prepackage mini cubes)
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 1/2 cups water (more if needed)
  • salt and pepper
  • balsamic vinegar (optional)


  • Tear greens into large pieces and discard the thick vein. Add greens to a pot of boiling salted water (I use kosher salt). Let boil for about 6 minutes. Drain and Rinse.
  • While the greens are boiling, preheat a heavy skillet with olive oil, add onion and garlic; sauté until onions are lightly brown, add minced jalapeno peppers and cook for an additional minute or two.
  • Put the sautéed onions in the slow-cooker then add the drained greens, ham, bacon, crushed red pepper and water.
  • Cook on high for 4 hours or until greens are tender.
  • Serve with balsamic vinegar, optional.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 262gCalories: 114.9kcalCarbohydrates: 9.6gProtein: 4.9gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1.6gCholesterol: 8.6mgSodium: 210.8mgFiber: 1.9gSugar: 1.9g
Keyword Chard, Collards, Greens, Kid-Friendly, Onions, St. Patrick's Day, Vegetable
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