Healthy and Delightful Collard Greens Recipe for Your Family

My dear readers, allow me to take you on a culinary journey to the heart of Southern cuisine with my recipe for Southern Collard Greens. This dish is a staple in the South and is often served on special occasions or as a side dish alongside classic Southern favorites like fried chicken and cornbread.

The rich history of collard greens goes back generations, with enslaved Africans introducing this leafy green to the shores of the American South. And today, Southern Collard Greens are still celebrated as a quintessential soul food dish that combines the flavors of smoked ham hocks, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes to create a perfect blend of taste and aroma.

Preparing this delectable dish is an art form that requires patience, care, and attention to detail. But I assure you that the final result is well worth the effort. Whether it’s your first time trying Southern Collard Greens or you’re already a fan of this classic dish, this recipe will leave you wanting more.

So grab your aprons and let’s get cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Collard Greens
Southern Collard Greens

Oh, dear reader, let me tell you why you’ll love this Southern Collard Greens recipe. Imagine carefully selecting the freshest and most verdant collard greens from your local farmer’s market or grocery store. Picture the savory aroma of pancetta sizzling in a dutch oven, releasing its rich flavor into the dish. Visualize the smoky flavor of both smoked turkey and ham hock complementing one another as they simmer in the pot, imparting an undeniable depth of flavor to each leaf.

But that’s not all. This recipe is versatile too! You can swap out the pancetta for bacon or omit it entirely if you’re going for a vegan or vegetarian option. If collard greens aren’t your thing, try substituting them for turnip greens or a mixed greens blend. The possibilities are endless!

Now, let’s talk about taste. The apple cider vinegar adds a zesty tang that sets our Southern Collard Greens apart from any other greens recipe you may have tried before. The red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper elevate the recipe to new heights, providing a subtle yet satisfying heat that perfectly complements the richness of the chicken broth.

And what better side dish to enjoy with your fried chicken than this soul food classic? Our recipe strikes the perfect balance between Southern-style comfort food and healthy eating- 3 bunches of collard greens yield bundles of fiber-rich leaves that are low in calories but packed with nutrients.

So trust me when I say that this Southern Collard Greens dish will become a staple in your household. With its easy-to-follow instructions and flavorful ingredients, it’s simply too good to resist.

Ingredient List

 A hearty pot of collard greens, slow-cooked to perfection
A hearty pot of collard greens, slow-cooked to perfection

What You Need:

  • 2 pounds collard greens (3 bunches collard greens)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 pounds smoked ham hocks or smoked ham, pancetta or fried bacon, diced (recipe ingredients 2 ways: either use smoked ham hocks or smoked ham/pancetta/fried bacon)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon minced)
  • 1 large apple cider vinegar, plus additional to taste
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper, divided.

These southern style collard greens are not complete without the smoked meat flavor infused in the dish! You can choose between using smoked ham hocks or any other kinds of smoked meat such as smoked ham, pancetta, or fried bacon for a different twist. In this recipe, you’ll need 2 pounds of collard greens which is about 3 bunches that has been carefully stripped away from the stem and torn into desirable sizes. Add chicken broth to enhance the taste of your soul food collard greens. Don’t forget the onion and garlic that add a milder sweetness and aroma to the whole dish. Apple cider vinegar, canola oil, red pepper flakes and fresh ground black pepper are essential in making sure your collard greens recipe will be tasteful and well-seasoned.

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect side dish for any southern-style feast
The perfect side dish for any southern-style feast

Let’s start cookin’! This recipe will take around 2 hours to complete, so settle in and enjoy the process. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat up 2 tablespoons of canola oil. When the oil is hot, add in 1 pound of diced pancetta and sauté until crispy, then set aside.

Next up, it’s time to clean and prepare the collard greens. Remove the tough stems and wash thoroughly. Once you have 2 bunches of collard greens, stack them on top of each other and roll into a tight bunch. Chiffonade, or thinly slice crosswise into ribbons. Repeat with remaining collard greens until all are sliced.

Keeping the Dutch oven on medium-high heat, add in 1 large diced onion and sauté for 3 minutes before mixing in 2 finely chopped garlic cloves. Cook for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant. Add in the smoked ham hocks and toss with the onions and garlic.

Pour into the pot 4 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of apple cider. Stir well then add in 3-4 teaspoons of red pepper flakes (or to taste) and freshly ground pepper to taste.

At this point, we will add in our prepared collard green ribbons to our Dutch oven mixture. Mix well while pot is still on medium-high heat until they begin to wilt down.

Now drop the heat to low, cover the pot and allow it to simmer for around 2 hours or until the liquid thickens down.

And there you have it: a soulful plate of southern collard greens! You can serve your greens straight-up or mix in with fried chicken for that ultimate soul food experience.

Substitutions and Variations

 Just one bite of these collard greens and you'll feel like you're in the heart of Dixie
Just one bite of these collard greens and you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of Dixie

One of the joys of cooking is the ability to add your own personal touch to a recipe. Here are a few ways you can switch up this Southern collard greens recipe:

– For a vegetarian or vegan option, omit the pancetta and ham hock and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

– Swap out the collard greens for other greens like turnip greens, mixed greens, or even frozen collard greens.

– Add bacon in place of pancetta for a smoky flavor.

– Use smoked turkey instead of smoked ham hocks for a leaner protein option.

– If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, try using white vinegar or red wine vinegar instead.

– Adjust the level of spiciness by adding more or less red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper.

With these substitutions and variations, the possibilities are endless when it comes to making this Southern-style collard greens recipe your own. Keep in mind that the key to successful substitution is balance. Make sure to maintain the proportions of the ingredients and flavors that make this recipe truly unique.

Serving and Pairing

 This dish is all about soul food, and these collard greens definitely deliver
This dish is all about soul food, and these collard greens definitely deliver

When it comes to serving, there’s no better way to present your Southern collard greens than straight from the pot. These greens are a quintessential side dish that pairs perfectly with any classic soul food menu. Serve them alongside some crispy fried chicken or black-eyed peas, and you’ll have a true Southern feast.

If you’re looking for something lighter or vegetarian, try pairing these greens with a grain salad, a tofu scramble, or even some roasted vegetables. A white wine like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc would complement the dish well if you’re having guests for dinner.

Another great way to serve Southern collard greens is as a base for other dishes. Add them to sandwiches, tacos, or wraps for something new and unexpected. And if you have leftovers, add them to soups or stews for extra flavor and nutrition!

Whatever way you choose to serve these delicious greens, make sure you’ve got plenty of napkins handy. They’re messy but absolutely worth it!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A little bit of bacon and vinegar gives these collard greens a tangy, smoky kick
A little bit of bacon and vinegar gives these collard greens a tangy, smoky kick

My dear friends, as a true lover of Southern-style cuisine, I know the importance of savoring every single bite of a delicious meal. Therefore, I understand that sometimes convenience is key. That’s why I want to share with you some tips on how to make-ahead, store and reheat your Southern Collard Greens successfully.

Firstly, you must be careful when reheating collard greens, as they can easily turn into a mushy and unappetizing mess. To avoid this, it’s best to reheat them in the same way that you cooked them – low and slow. Simply place them in a pot over medium-low heat and stir occasionally for about 10-15 minutes until heated through.

If you wish to make-ahead your Southern Collard Greens for an event or dinner party, then simply cook it according to the recipe instructions, let it cool completely at room temperature, then place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

For longer storage, you can also freeze your collard greens by placing them in a freezer-safe container or bag and storing them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Before reheating frozen collard greens, allow them to thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for a few hours.

If you’re concerned about serving vegan or vegetarian options alongside your Southern Collard Greens dish, don’t worry! You can easily adapt this recipe by omitting the meat (ham hock and pancetta) and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. That being said – nothing beats the smoky flavor of smoked ham hocks!

To conclude, my dear readers, making-ahead and storing is done best with patience and care to ensure that your Southern Collard Greens remain fresh and delicious. Reheating requires low heat for top-quality results. And remember: whether made ahead or fresh from the oven, these greens will bring a touch of Southern hospitality to any meal!

Tips for Perfect Results

 You won't be able to resist going back for seconds (and maybe even thirds!)
You won’t be able to resist going back for seconds (and maybe even thirds!)

When it comes to making the best Southern-style collard greens, it’s important to not cut corners. Paying attention to some key details can take your dish from good to great. Here are some tips to help you achieve perfect results every time:

1. Don’t overcrowd the pot: It’s tempting to pack as many collard greens as possible into the Dutch oven or pot. However, this can lead to uneven cooking and soggy results. Be sure to leave enough space in the pot for the greens to cook evenly.

2. Use quality ingredients: The best Southern-style collard greens are made with high-quality ingredients such as smoked ham hocks, pancetta or bacon, and fresh garlic cloves minced.

3. Balance salty and sour flavors: Collard greens need some saltiness to balance out their natural bitterness. However, be careful not to go overboard with salt; add apple cider vinegar sparingly until the desired flavor balance is achieved.

4. Allow plenty of cooking time: Slow-cooking is essential for creating tender collard greens that are flavorful and delicious. Plan on cooking your greens for 2-3 hours on medium-low heat for optimal results.

5. Add spice selectively: Red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper can add a flavorful kick to your collard greens, but remember that a little goes a long way! Start with small amounts and adjust according to taste.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to impress your guests at your next soul food-inspired dinner party or family gathering. The result will be tender, flavorful, and perfectly cooked Southern-style collard greens every time!


Before you give this recipe a try, you might have a few questions in your mind. I anticipate your queries and have addressed some common ones below in the FAQ section. Read on to clarify any doubts about Southern Collard Greens Recipe, and feel free to experiment and personalize the recipe to meet your needs.

How do you make Patti Labelle collard greens?

Alright y’all, let’s get started on cooking some scrumptious collard greens! Grab a large pot and add those greens in there along with some chicken stock, onions, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of seasoning salt. And here’s the kicker folks, to add some smokiness to the dish, mix in some smoked turkey.

Once everything is in the pot, reduce the heat to low and cover it up. Let it simmer for about 35 minutes until the greens are tender, but not too mushy. Trust me, you don’t want them turning into a pile of mush. Just a warning though, the aroma is going to be driving you wild during this cooking process!

What takes the bitterness out of collard greens?

When preparing your greens, it’s important to blanch them before moving on to the next step. This technique will help to reduce any bitterness, as it allows the water-soluble glucosinolates to seep out and be discarded with the blanching water.

Why do you put vinegar in collard greens?

When preparing collard greens, it’s important to balance out any excess bitterness with a touch of vinegar. In my experience, allowing individuals to add their desired amount of apple cider vinegar provides the most satisfying flavor. However, some folks opt for alternative types of vinegar or prefer a bit of heat from hot sauce. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Why do people put sugar in collard greens?

When it comes to preparing collard greens, using vinegar may appear unconventional, but it can significantly enhance the flavor profile of the dish by introducing a pleasant sharpness that complements the savory taste. To achieve the right balance of flavors, adding a tablespoon of sugar can also go a long way.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Southern Collard Greens Recipe is perfect for any occasion with its unique blend of flavors and easy-to-follow instructions. Whether you are hosting a family dinner or just craving some delicious soul food, this recipe is guaranteed to satisfy. With the addition of smoked ham hocks, pancetta, and apple cider vinegar, each bite will transport your taste buds to the heart of Southern cuisine. Plus, with options for substitutions and variations, you can easily adjust the recipe to fit your dietary needs or preferences.

Not only is this recipe a delight for the taste buds, but it also boasts several health benefits due to its nutrient-rich ingredients like collard greens and chicken broth. These greens are full of vitamins and minerals that can help promote bone health, aid in digestion, and enhance overall wellbeing. So not only are you indulging in some mouthwatering food, but you’re also treating your body right!

In closing, I highly recommend trying out this Southern Collard Greens Recipe for your next meal. Impress your friends and family with your culinary skills and enjoy a delicious plate of greens in no time. And don’t forget to pair it with some fried chicken or cornbread for the ultimate Southern feast!

Southern Collard Greens

Southern Collard Greens Recipe

In 'Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking'
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern cuisine
Calories 112.1 kcal


  • 5 -6 lbs collard greens
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/4 lb pancetta, finely diced
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • Remove the coarse stems and center ribs from the collard greens, then rinse and drain the leaves.
  • Dry completely and coarsely chop.
  • In a small frying pan over med-high heat, warm the oil.
  • Add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 6 minutes.
  • Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  • To cook on stove top--In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
  • Add the greens to the pot, decrease heat to med-high, cover partially, and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 45 minutes.
  • To cook in slow cooker--transfer the greens to a slow cooker and add 4 quarts water.
  • Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are very tender, 2 hours on LOW.
  • In any liquid remains, drain the greens before transferring them to a serving bowl.
  • Season with pepper and stir in the reserved pancetta and red pepper flakes; serve warm.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 380gCalories: 112.1kcalCarbohydrates: 18.7gProtein: 8gFat: 2.9gSaturated Fat: 0.3gSodium: 60.6mgFiber: 10.6gSugar: 1.5g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Collards, Easy, Greens, Stove Top, Vegetable
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