Fresh Southern-Style Collard Greens Recipe

Collard greens

Preston Schlebusch / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
139 Calories
7g Fat
13g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 139
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 711mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 7g 24%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 30mg 148%
Calcium 231mg 18%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 321mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These fresh collard greens are seasoned with diced bacon or hog jowl. Rinse the greens several times before trimming and chopping. There's nothing worse than biting into gritty greens.

We add about 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar or pepper vinegar sauce to the greens as they cook, and many Southern cooks add a teaspoon or two of sugar.

Serve the collard greens with hot baked cornbread and pepper vinegar sauce. To make your own homemade pepper sauce, see the instructions below the recipe.


  • 2 pounds collard greens

  • 6 to 8 thick slices bacon, or hog jowl, diced

  • 6 cups water

  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped onion

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, or seasoned salt blend, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Wash collard greens in about 3 to 4 changes of water, until no sandy sediment can be felt at the bottom of the sink or bowl.

  2. Lay each leaf out and cut out the thick center stalk and any very thick veins. Layer several leaves and roll them; Cut the rolled leaves into 1/2-inch strips (chiffonade style). You may also chop the leaves.

  3. In a large skillet over medium heat cook the diced bacon or jowl to render some of the fat. Discard the drippings or save and refrigerate for another use.

  4. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven bring the 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the cooked bacon or hog jowl, the chopped onions, salt, red and black peppers, and seasoned salt or Cajun seasoning, if using. Add the greens to boiling water. You might have to add the collard greens in batches.

  5. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 1 hour, or until greens are tender.

  6. Serve the collard greens with freshly baked cornbread and pass the hot pepper vinegar or pepper sauce at the table.

Serves 4 to 6.

Tips and Variations

  • Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and a few tablespoons of tomato paste to the greens along with the seasonings. 

  • Brown the onions with the bacon or hog jowl before adding them to the pot.

  • Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to the cooking liquid along with the seasonings.

  • Mince a few cloves of garlic and sauté in the drippings for a minute or two before adding to the pot. Or add about 1 teaspoon of garlic powder along with the other seasonings.

  • Add 1 to 2 cups of cooked black-eyed peas to the greens about 10 minutes before the greens are done.

  • Pepper Vinegar or Pepper Sauce: Sterilize a 1-pint canning jar and pack with small hot jalapeño and/or serrano chile peppers. Slice one or two of them before adding to the jar. Fill the jar with white vinegar and add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and a dash of salt. Cover and refrigerate the pepper sauce for at least five days before using.