Savory Collard Greens: A Southern Favorite with a Twist

Step right into the spice heaven of southern soul food with this spicy southern collard greens recipe! These greens are not for the faint-hearted – packed with flavor and a kick of heat, this dish will surely tantalize your taste buds. Growing up in the south, collard greens were always a staple in my family’s table, but today I bring you a new and exciting twist to this southern classic.

Southern cooking is all about comfort food that nourishes both the body and soul, and these spicy collard greens embody that perfectly. They offer a sweet and spicy taste that reminds me of home-cooked meals on Sunday afternoons. This recipe is perfect for those who love bold flavors and want to add some variety to their traditional dining menu.

As a chef specializing in southern cuisine, I have mastered the art of crafting delectable dishes that impress even the pickiest eater. And this spicy southern collard greens recipe is no different! The secret ingredient in this dish is the crushed red pepper flakes that make it stand out from other collard green recipes.

I promise that once you try these spicy southern collard greens, you’ll never go back to plain old cooked greens again! Serve yourself a plate full of this soulful dish with some rice or cornbread on the side, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about! So why wait? Get your apron on, grab the skillet, and let’s make some delicious food!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Spicy  Southern Collard Greens
Spicy Southern Collard Greens

Picture this: it’s a chilly evening, and you’re craving some piping hot, delicious comfort food. What dish is at the top of your list? For me, it’s always southern collard greens – and not just any collard greens, but a spicy southern collard greens recipe that hits just the right notes of heat and flavor.

Now, I get it. Collard greens might not be everyone’s first choice for a cozy meal. But trust me when I say that once you try this recipe, you won’t be able to go back. The spice from the red pepper flakes and jalapeño gives the dish a perfect kick, while the vinegar adds a tangy bite that cuts through the richness of the smoked ham hock or turkey. And of course, let’s not forget about the collard greens themselves – tender but still with a bit of bite.

This spicy southern collard greens recipe is the ultimate in soul food cuisine. It’s what people often call “sticks to your rib” food that warms you up from the inside out. And if you’re looking for a healthier version of traditional southern-style collards, don’t worry – just omit the meat or use smoked turkey instead of bacon or ham hocks for a vegetarian or vegan option. Trust me; it will be just as delicious as the traditional version.

So whether you’re hosting a big family dinner or just satisfying your cravings for some comfort food, give this recipe a try. It’s a classic southern dish with a spicy twist that is sure to make all your taste buds happy.

Ingredient List

 A Southern twist on a classic dish
A Southern twist on a classic dish

Bold ingredient names are what make this spicy southern collard greens recipe pop. Here is what you need to replicate this flavorful and comforting dish:

Fresh Collard Greens

  • 2 bunches of collard greens

Seasonings and Spices

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of white distilled vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

Smoked Meat (Optional but Recommended)

  • 1/2 lb of smoked meat, such as smoked turkey or ham hocks

Note that if you are looking to make vegan or vegetarian collard greens, omit the smoked meat and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Finally, if you like your collards on the sweet and spicy side, consider adding in some chopped onion, chopped bacon, or even a sweetener like brown sugar or honey.

The Recipe How-To

 Smoky flavor and just the right amount of heat
Smoky flavor and just the right amount of heat

Step 1: Prep the Collard Greens

Start by washing 2 bunches of fresh collard greens thoroughly under cold running water. Ensure to remove any dirt or debris on the leaves. After washing, stack them on top of each other and roll them into a tight cylinder. Use a sharp knife to slice them into thin strips.

Step 2: Cook the Bacon

In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 chopped onion, diced 3 strips of bacon and cook until the bacon turns golden brown and the onions are translucent.

Step 3: Add Seasonings

Next, add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes, and a diced jalapeño pepper for an extra kick of spice.

Step 4: Add Liquid Ingredients

Add 4 cups of chicken broth, and then stir in 1-1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper. For more flavor, you may also add in a smoked turkey leg or ham hock.

Step 5: Boil with Greens

Increase heat to high and add prepped collard greens to the pot, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to ensure that greens are coated evenly in liquid.

Step 6: Simmer Collard Greens

Reduce heat to low, cover your pot with a lid, then let it simmer for at least an hour (an hour-and-a-half is ideal) until your collard greens become tender.

Step 7: Add Vinegar & Baking Soda

To balance out the bitterness from the collard greens, add half a teaspoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar as desired for taste.

Step 8: Adjust Taste

At this point, you will need to taste and adjust the seasoning of your spicy southern collard greens recipe. If needed, add more salt, pepper, or hot sauce to achieve the desired taste.

Step 9: Ready to Serve

Serve your spicy collard greens recipe with rice or cornbread for a heartwarming soul food experience.

Enjoy the best of southern-style cuisine in one dish – that’s fit for both meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

Substitutions and Variations

 Bold and beautiful collard greens
Bold and beautiful collard greens

I love finding new ways to mix things up in the kitchen, and collard greens are no different! Here are a few substitutions and variations you can try to make this recipe your own.

– Smoked turkey instead of bacon or ham hock: If you’re looking for a leaner option or don’t eat pork, try using smoked turkey instead. It will still give you that savory, smoky flavor without as much fat.

– Mustard greens or turnip greens instead of collard greens: If you can’t find collard greens, or just prefer a different type of green, try using mustard greens or turnip greens instead. They have a similar texture and taste great with the spicy seasoning.

– Vegan or vegetarian collard greens: Skip the ham hocks and bacon altogether for a vegan version of this dish. Instead, use vegetable broth and olive oil for cooking. For vegetarians, use smoked tofu in place of the pork products for a smoky flavor.

– Sweet and spicy: For those who love sweet and spicy flavors together, try adding a diced jalapeño pepper to the pot with the onions and garlic. You can also add a teaspoon of honey or brown sugar to balance out the spices.

– Southern-style mustard: To really bring out the southern flavor in this dish, add a teaspoon of yellow mustard to the pot along with the chicken broth. It will give it that classic tangy flavor that Guy Fieri would approve of.

No matter how you choose to switch things up, these variations will add some exciting twists to your southern style collard greens recipe!

Serving and Pairing

 Get your greens in with a bit of spice
Get your greens in with a bit of spice

You can never go wrong with serving these spicy Southern collard greens as a side dish or a main course. Pair it with your favorite protein such as fried chicken, baked ham, or blackened catfish to create that perfect soul food meal.

I also recommend serving it with a side of white rice, mac and cheese, or cornbread to soak up all the delicious sauce. The spice level in these collard greens pairs well with a refreshingly cool glass of sweet tea or an ice-cold beer.

For those of you who are trying to eat healthier, this recipe also goes great with grilled shrimp or tofu skewers for a vegan or vegetarian twist.

No matter how you serve it, these spicy Southern collard greens are sure to satisfy cravings for comfort food and leave you feeling warm and fulfilled.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The perfect side dish for any Southern meal
The perfect side dish for any Southern meal

Now that you’ve made these delectable spicy Southern collard greens, you may want to make some in advance or store leftovers for later. Luckily, this dish is perfect for making ahead of time and reheating later on.

To make-ahead, simply follow the recipe instructions as normal and once cooled, transfer your spicy collard greens into an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to three days until you are ready to serve. You can also freeze them for up to two months by placing them into a freezer-safe container.

When you’re ready to reheat the dish, take it out of the fridge or freezer and place it into a pot on medium heat. Add 1-2 cups of chicken broth or water and bring the vegetables to a simmer until they are heated through. You can also reheat them in the microwave by placing them into a microwave-safe bowl and heating in 30-second intervals until they reach your desired temperature.

Be aware that if you store the collard greens for too long, they may lose some of their texture or wilt slightly. However, adding a splash of vinegar or lemon juice before reheating will help restore their freshness.

In conclusion, whether it’s for meal prep or leftovers, storing and reheating your spicy Southern collard greens is easy and convenient. By following these few tips you can ensure that your greens come out just as delicious as when they were freshly made.

Tips for Perfect Results

 A little bit of spice makes everything nice
A little bit of spice makes everything nice

When it comes to cooking collard greens, there are a few tips that can help you achieve the most delicious results possible. As a chef who has cooked countless pots of Southern-style collard greens, I’m happy to share some of the tricks that I’ve learned along the way.

One key to making delicious collard greens is to take your time. These leafy greens need a good amount of simmering before they become tender and flavorful. Be sure to cook them on low heat for at least an hour, and even up to two hours for the most tender greens.

Another tip is to add acid towards the end of the cooking process. This can be in the form of cider vinegar, white vinegar, or white distilled vinegar depending on what you prefer. Acid helps cut through the bitterness of the greens and adds a bright tanginess to your dish.

When it comes to seasoning, don’t be afraid to add plenty of salt and pepper as well as crushed red pepper flakes for spice. However, be cautious when adding other seasonings like smoked meats or ham hocks, as these can quickly overpower the dish.

If you’re looking to make southern-style collard greens vegan or vegetarian-friendly, consider substituting smoked turkey or ham hocks with diced onion and garlic. You can also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Lastly, don’t forget that collard greens pair wonderfully with rice or cornbread on the side for a comforting soul food meal. Experiment with different variations like mustard greens or turnip greens for even more Southern-style flavor. With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to make a pot of delicious and authentic spicy Southern collard greens every time.


As our readers experience making the Spicy Southern Collard Greens recipe, we may encounter some common questions or confusions. To address these concerns, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and provided helpful answers to ensure that your cooking journey is a success.

How do you get the spicy taste out of collard greens?

When you find yourself with a dish that has turned out too spicy, there are a few tricks you can use to tame the heat. One option is to add a touch of sweetness, using sugar or honey, to counteract the spiciness. Alternatively, you can add more of the main ingredients of the dish, such as meat, broth, or vegetables, to dilute the spice. If those options don’t work, you can try getting creative and adding grated vegetables like squash, carrots, or potatoes – this will help to absorb some of the heat and temper the spice level.

How do you make Patti Labelle collard greens?

Alright, it’s time to add in our savory collard greens to the mix! Begin by pouring in some chicken stock followed by diced onions, a pinch of kosher salt, a generous dash of pepper, and a sprinkle of seasoning salt. To really bring out the flavors, we’ll toss in some smoked turkey. Lower the heat and let everything simmer, covered, for 35 minutes, taking care not to overcook the greens; we want them to be tender yet still retain a bit of their crunch.

What does adding vinegar to collard greens do?

When it comes to collard greens, one ingredient that can enhance its flavor and tame any bitterness is the addition of vinegar. In my experience as a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I recommend offering vinegar as a condiment so that guests can adjust the tanginess according to their preference. Although apple cider vinegar is the conventional choice, some folks may opt for white vinegar or even hot sauce to add a kick of spice.

Why put baking soda in collard greens?

When baking soda is added to boiling water, it creates an alkaline environment that helps to maintain the bright green hue of vegetables such as green beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. This is due to the preservation of chlorophyll, a natural pigment that gives these vegetables their vibrant color.

Bottom Line


In conclusion, this spicy Southern collard greens recipe is a must-try for any food enthusiast out there. With its perfect balance of flavors, this dish will undoubtedly leave you feeling satisfied and craving more. It’s the perfect comfort food for cold winter nights or anytime you need a warm bowl of soul food to lift your spirits.

Not only are collard greens packed with nutrients, but they’re also an excellent canvas for various other ingredients, like smoked turkey, bacon, ham hocks, or even vegan and vegetarian alternatives. You can customize the recipe to your liking and enjoy it with family and friends.

Overall, this dish is pure magic in a bowl that’s worth every ounce of effort put into making it. I highly recommend trying it out! So let’s gather our collard greens, onions, garlic, bacon or smoked turkey, chicken broth, and spices; And make unforgettable Southern style collard greens together!

Spicy Southern Collard Greens

Spicy Southern Collard Greens Recipe

savory, flavorful collard greens. They go perfect with chicken fried steak and sweet tea.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Fusion
Calories 33.6 kcal


  • 1 bunch collard greens, washed and torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 (10 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 ham hock
  • salt
  • pepper


  • place all ingredients in a big pot and cover with water.
  • simmer on low for at least one hour.
  • Drain and serve.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 159gCalories: 33.6kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 3.1gFat: 0.7gSaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 256.8mgFiber: 2.1gSugar: 0.6g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Collards, Easy, Greens, Vegetable
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommended Recipes Just For You