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.)

Most likely you have heard about cooking and eating greens. The connection of greens to what's called "soul food" is familiar to many, and the inclusion of collard, kale, and mustard greens in Southern cooking is iconic. But what exactly are these greens?

Many greens are part of the healthy brassica family, such as collard greens, which have long, flat green leaves growing outward from a center axis and a mild flavor. Kale, which is a popular and trendy green, has leaves that vary from curly green, to dark green and bumpy, to dark purple-green, and their flavor is stronger than collards.

Mustard greens are also a member of the brassica family. They look more fragile than kale, but their flavor packs a strong peppery bite. 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
  • 4 strips thickly sliced bacon, about 4 ounces, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Optional: Dash of crushed red pepper flakes

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

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

  3. Add 1 cup of water to a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Bring the water to a boil and add the washed greens, one handful at a time, adding more as the leaves wilt down. Once all of the greens are in the pot, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the greens are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the greens in a colander, squeezing out any excess moisture, and set aside.

  4. Wipe out the pot that was used to cook the greens. Add the bacon and fry over medium heat until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

  5. Add the chopped onion to the bacon drippings in the pot and sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft and lightly browned.

  6. Return the bacon to the pot and stir to combine.

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

  8. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with the optional sugar and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired, and stir to combine.

  9. Cover the pot and simmer the greens over low heat until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

  10. 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.