Savor the Flavor: Southern Collard Greens Recipe

Are you looking for a comforting and soulful dish that will take your taste buds straight to the southern United States? Look no further than this Southern Collard Greens recipe. A staple in southern-style cuisine, collard greens are a leafy vegetable that can be cooked in many ways. In this recipe, we’ll teach you how to make the best southern-style collard greens with smoked ham hocks and apple cider vinegar.

Growing up in the south, I have fond memories of Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s house where we enjoyed a big pot of fresh collard greens. The aroma would fill the whole house, and we couldn’t wait to dig in. There’s something satisfying about biting into a tender leafy green infused with savory meat and tangy vinegar.

This recipe is perfect for sharing at potlucks, parties or family gatherings. And even better – it’s easy to make! So let’s get into the ingredients list and start cooking up the best Southern Collard Greens you’ve ever tasted.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Collard Greens
Southern Collard Greens

If you are a fan of delicious southern style food, then this Southern Collard Greens Recipe is an absolute must-try. Not only is it simple to make, but it’s a dish that will likely earn you lots of compliments and impressed looks.

Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that your body needs. This recipe combines classic greens with ham hocks, a staple ingredient in Southern cooking, to create an addictive depth of umami flavor that will leave you licking your lips. The slow cooked collard greens absorb the salty, smoky essence of the smoked ham hock that gets incorporated into the dish. This recipe has a complex yet subtle taste that will have everyone at your dinner table asking for seconds.

Additionally, the apple cider vinegar adds a tangy note which balances out the strong flavors of the smoked ham hocks. Although for some people vinegar might not be their taste buddy, in this recipe apple cider vinegar adds a perfect unique taste that cannot be achieved by any other ingredient.

Overall, if you are looking for an authentic Southern Collard Greens Recipe that is sure to impress all of your guests or family members, then look no further than this delicious recipe. It’s full of flavor, easy to make, and truly captures the soul of Southern cuisine.

Ingredient List

 Savor the flavor of the South with these delicious collard greens.
Savor the flavor of the South with these delicious collard greens.

Below you will find the ingredient list for the Southern Collard Greens Recipe. This southern-style dish is made with simple, yet flavorful, ingredients that are sure to satisfy your taste buds. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients – most of them are pantry staples that you might already have at home! Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 2 smoked ham hocks or 1 pound smoked ham
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth or water
  • 2 pounds collard greens (about 2 bunches), washed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Tip: If you can’t find collard greens, you can substitute them with turnip greens or mixed greens. If you prefer a vegan version of this recipe, simply omit the ham hocks and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Remember that the quality of your ingredients plays a big role in the final result of your dish. For example, using smoked ham hocks instead of regular ham will add a deeper smoky flavor to your collard greens. Similarly, using good quality apple cider vinegar will enhance the tangy flavor of the dish.

The Recipe How-To

 You'll love the smoky and savory aroma these greens add to your kitchen!
You’ll love the smoky and savory aroma these greens add to your kitchen!

Now that you have gathered all the recipe ingredients, let’s dive into how to prepare this Southern Collard Greens Recipe. Get ready to make a delicious and heartwarming dish that will remind you of Southern Style cuisine.

Preparing the Collard Greens

Step 1: Begin by preparing your collard greens. Take 2 bunches of collard greens, remove the tough stem in the center of each leaf, and chop up the leaves into small pieces.

Step 2: Next, wash and rinse the chopped collard greens in cold water to remove any dirt or debris. I like to rinse my collard greens three times to ensure they are perfectly clean.

Step 3: Once they’re clean, drain off the excess water and set them aside for later use.

Cooking the Smoked Ham Hocks

Step 4: Take your smoked ham hocks and place them in a Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover them completely.

Step 5: Bring your ham hocks to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat and let them simmer for 45 minutes.

Creating Your Flavorful Broth

Step 6: While the ham hocks are simmering, it’s time to create your flavorful broth. Start by finely chopping one onion and mincing two garlic cloves.

Step 7: In a separate pot, mix together four cups of chicken broth, one large onion – sliced, two garlic cloves – minced, three tablespoons apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons smoked ham, one tablespoon sugar, one teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

Step 8: Bring it all to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about an hour until it thickens slightly.

Combining Everything Together

Step 9: After the ham hocks have been simmering for 45 minutes, remove them from the Dutch oven and allow them to cool. Once cooled, remove the meat and discard the bones.

Step 10: Add the collard greens to the same Dutch oven with the smoked ham hock liquid.

Step 11: Pour in your broth mixture from step seven, and add the cooked, shredded ham hocks. Then stir everything until it is well combined.

Step 12: Cover your Dutch oven with a lid and let it low cook for two hours. Make sure to stir every 30 minutes to ensure even cooking throughout.

Serving Your Delicious Southern Collard Greens

Once you have completed all of these steps, your Southern Collard Greens are ready to serve! You can pair your collard greens with some fried chicken or any other traditional Southern-style dish of your liking. One bite into this best Southern Collard Greens Recipe and you will be craving more. Enjoy!

Substitutions and Variations

 Not a fan of greens? Wait until you try these southern-style collards.
Not a fan of greens? Wait until you try these southern-style collards.

When it comes to Southern Collard Greens, there are many variations and substitutions that you can try to put your own unique twist on this classic dish. Here are some ideas:

– Ham Hocks: If you don’t have or don’t want to use ham hocks, you can substitute it with smoked turkey, bacon, or even a vegan alternative like liquid smoke. Just keep in mind that the flavor will be slightly different.

– Vinegar: While apple cider vinegar adds a tangy flavor that people like, you can try using other types like white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar.

– Onion: You can substitute a large onion with two medium onions for an even layer of flavor.

– Garlic: If you don’t have fresh garlic cloves, you can use 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder instead of the minced garlic.

– Greens: While collard greens are a Southern staple, you can use turnip greens or mixed greens for a different flavor profile.

– Low Cook Method: Instead of cooking the greens for two hours on medium-high heat, lower the heat and let them cook slowly for around 3 hours. This method helps in tenderizing the leaves as well as giving time to all flavors to mix well into the gravy.

Experimenting with these substitutions and variations is part of what makes cooking so fun and rewarding. So go ahead and make your own Southern Collard Greens recipe today!

Serving and Pairing

 Take your taste buds on a trip to the South with every bite of these collard greens.
Take your taste buds on a trip to the South with every bite of these collard greens.

Southern Collard Greens Recipe is a perfect hearty side dish that tastes best with any meaty main course. It pairs well with oven-roasted turkey or chicken, fried chicken, pulled pork, smoked ham, and barbecued beef. The best way to serve this dish is piping hot with a drizzle of vinegar on top.

To elevate your experience, you can also serve it alongside sweet cornbread, coleslaw, mac and cheese or mashed potatoes. These sides complement the savory and slightly bitter taste of collard greens. Additionally, adding some hot sauce on the side gives it an extra kick.

For those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan option, you can replace the ham hock with smoked tofu to give it an umami flavour. You can also add other greens like turnip greens or mixed greens to add more depth and texture.

With its combination of sweetness and tanginess, Southern Collard Greens will make a delicious addition to your festive table during Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s also perfect for comfort food dinners during cold winter nights in front of a roaring fire.

Overall, Southern Collard Greens are versatile and pair perfectly with many dishes. Try out different combinations of sides to create your own southern style feast.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Steaming hot and oh so fresh: these collard greens are the perfect comfort food.
Steaming hot and oh so fresh: these collard greens are the perfect comfort food.

When it comes to southern collard greens, the flavors only deepen over time. Making these greens ahead of time is an excellent way to ensure that they are even more delicious and flavorful when you serve them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months.

To make-ahead the dish, start by letting the cooked greens cool down to room temperature. Once they have cooled, transfer them to an airtight container with the cooking liquid still in there. You can then store them in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready.

When reheating your southern style collard green recipe, you need to be aware of some factors that apply specifically to this dish. First of all, always reheat your collard greens on low heat. This will allow them to warm up gently without overcooking and losing their tender texture.

If your collard greens have been frozen, be aware that the consistency may change once thawed. To prevent this from happening, you can place the frozen greens in the refrigerator overnight to defrost slowly. Alternatively, thaw them in a bowl of cold water for about an hour before reheating.

Lastly, if your collard greens have dried out after being stored in the refrigerator, simply add a bit of water or chicken broth while reheating on low heat. This will restore some of their moisture and ensure that each bite is as juicy and flavorful as before.

By using these tips on make-ahead storage and reheating, you can save time and never miss out on traditional Southern-style collard greens.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Backed by southern tradition, this collard greens recipe won't disappoint your taste buds.
Backed by southern tradition, this collard greens recipe won’t disappoint your taste buds.

To make the best Southern Collard Greens, there are some tips and tricks that you need to be aware of. Here are some recommendations that will help you achieve a perfect result every time.

Firstly, choose fresh collard greens from your local farmer’s market or grocery store. Fresh greens cook better than frozen ones, and they have a brighter color and less bitterness. Make sure to wash the leaves thoroughly in cold water to remove any dirt, sand or debris.

Secondly, when selecting ham hocks or smoked ham for this recipe, look for meats with just the right amount of fat. Meats that are too lean or too fatty won’t give your collard greens enough flavor or texture. If you can’t find smoked ham hocks, you can use smoked turkey instead.

Thirdly, don’t be afraid to add garlic to your collard greens. Garlic cloves minced and onion finely chopped can provide a lot of flavor to the dish. Garlic also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Furthermore, to reduce bitterness in your collard greens, add a splash of apple cider vinegar (people like different amounts – start with 1/4 teaspoon). The vinegar adds acidity to the dish and balances out the flavor. You can also add a touch of sugar to achieve a sweet taste.

Lastly, low and slow is how you should cook Southern Collard Greens. Use a Dutch oven on medium-high heat to sauté the onion for 3 minutes before adding garlic and ham hocks. Once everything is heated through, add your ingredients (chicken broth/water) turning the pot down to low cook for 2+ hours until tender.

By following these tips, your Southern Collard Greens will be the talk of the town!


Now that you know how to prepare the best Southern Collard Greens recipe using the recipe instructions, our final section addresses some commonly asked questions about this dish. Whether it’s about ingredient substitutions, variations, or storage options, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover expert tips for perfecting your collard greens and impressing your guests with your culinary skills.

How do you make Patti Labelle collard greens?

Let’s start adding some flavor to those collard greens! Toss in the chicken stock, onions, a pinch of kosher salt, a dash of pepper and a sprinkle of seasoning salt. Don’t forget to also mix in some smoked turkey to add a smoky taste to the dish. Once everything is combined, let it simmer on low heat with a lid on for roughly 35 minutes. Keep an eye on it and make sure the greens become tender without being overcooked.

What takes the bitterness out of collard greens?

If you’re looking to reduce the bitterness in your greens, blanching is an essential step to include in your cooking process. This is because when blanching, water-soluble compounds called glucosinolates are removed from the greens, leading to a less bitter taste.

Why do you put vinegar in collard greens?

When it comes to collard greens, the addition of vinegar can make all the difference in taste. Not only does it enhance the overall flavor, but it also helps eliminate any bitterness. To cater to individual preferences, I suggest allowing people to add their desired amount of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is often the go-to choice, but options like white vinegar or hot sauce may also be favored by some. The choice is yours!

Why do people put sugar in collard greens?

Now, if you’re a first-timer when it comes to cooking collard greens, do not overlook this next suggestion. You may find it strange at first, but trust me when I say the addition of vinegar will revolutionize the entire dish. It adds a zingy tang that perfectly contrasts the salty, savory aspects of the greens. And, to keep things from getting too sour, a little bit of sugar goes a long way in finding the perfect balance.

Bottom Line

Now that you’ve followed the recipe instructions and cooked up a batch of these savory Southern collard greens, I hope you can see why this dish is such a beloved staple in many Southern households. The combination of smoked ham hocks, onion, garlic, and apple cider vinegar adds layers of flavor to the greens that are impossible to resist.

If you’re looking for a new side dish to impress your dinner guests or just want to add more soul food recipes to your repertoire, there’s simply no better choice than Southern collard greens. Serve them alongside some fried chicken or pork chops and cornbread for the ultimate Southern feast.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of collard greens or trying them for the first time, this recipe is sure to become a staple in your home. So don’t hesitate – get cooking and enjoy the best Southern-style collard greens you’ve ever tasted.

Southern Collard Greens

Southern Collard Greens Recipe

This recipe is so good it even makes canned and frozen greens taste like fresh. You could also use it for turnip greens and mustard greens. This is a mixture of both of my grandmothers' recipes.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern American
Calories 45.5 kcal


  • 1 bunch collard greens, washed and cut into pieces do not cut up the stems
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 hot peppers, chopped up
  • 2 large ham hocks (also you could use a ham bone,smoked bacon about 7 slices or any other smoked pork product)
  • 1/4 cup water


  • Saute your onion in a large cast iron pot with just a touch of oil (1 tsp). Add your smoked pork product and let some of the juices start to flow from it (about 5 minutes worth of cooking).
  • Meanwhile mix water, vinegar, 1 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoons of pepper and the chopped hot pepper together. Pour into pot and stir.
  • Add the greens. Mix up after each handfull. Don't worry, the greens will come to the top but will reduce as the cooking wilts them.
  • Continue to stir until wilted; then turn to low, cover and let cook for about 2 hours stirring once in a while and tasting to see if you need more salt and pepper.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 162gCalories: 45.5kcalCarbohydrates: 9.1gProtein: 2.7gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 18.3mgFiber: 3.4gSugar: 2.6g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Collards, Greens, Meat, One-Dish Meal, Pork, Stove Top, Vegetable, Weeknight
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