Simple Southern Mustard Greens

mustard greens and bacon
Diana Rattray
  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
156 Calories
2g Fat
27g Carbs
6g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 156
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 140mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Protein 6g
Calcium 217mg 17%
*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.)

Everyone's heard about cooking and eating greens; the connection to what's called "soul food" is familiar to anyone who knows much about food, and the inclusion of collard and mustard greens in Southern cooking is iconic. But what exactly are these greens?

Collard greens are part of the cabbage family, with long leaves growing outward from a center axis. Kale, a current trendy vegetable with the foodies, is similar to collards but its leaves are curly and it has a much stronger flavor. Mustard greens, also a member of the cabbage family, look more fragile than kale, but they pack an even stronger punch. Mustard seeds come from this plant, but if you see seeds, don't buy that bunch. Mustard greens taste best without seeds, which are part of the plant's maturation process.


  • 2 pounds mustard greens (about 2 bunches)
  • 2 1/2 cups water (divided)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 4 strips bacon (thickly sliced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Optional: dash crushed red pepper flakes

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Wash the mustard greens thoroughly in 2 or 3 changes of water, or until you can't feel any grit in the bottom of the sink. Trim off and discard thick stems, and chop them coarsely.

  3. Add 1 cup of water to a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Bring the water to a boil and begin to add the washed greens. You will have to add them a handful at a time, adding more as they wilt down. Once all of the greens are in the pot, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the greens are tender.

  4. Drain the cooked mustard greens in a colander, and set aside.

  5. Dice the bacon. Wipe out the Dutch oven or stockpot that was used to cook the greens; add the bacon, and place the pot over medium heat. Fry the bacon until it is crisp; remove the bacon pieces, and drain on paper towels.

  6. Add the diced onion to the bacon drippings left in the pot and cook, stirring until they are softened and lightly browned.

  7. Add the bacon back into the pot with the onions, and stir to combine well. 

  8. Add the chopped cooked greens to the pot, and stir in 1 1/2 cups of water.

  9. Add salt and pepper to taste along with the sugar and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired. Stir until thoroughly combined.

  10. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low; simmer the greens for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until they are as tender as you like them.

  11. Serve and enjoy!


  • Serve with cornbread for a real taste of the South.

Recipe Variations

  • A classic Southern addition to mustard greens is hog jowl. An easier and possibly more appealing way to get this flavor is to use leftover ham or buy smoked ham from the deli.
  • Spice your mustard greens up with thyme, Old Bay seasoning, or garlic for a twist on the classic.