Simple Southern Mustard Greens With Bacon

Southern mustard greens with fried bacon bits on an oval serving platter

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 100 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
137 Calories
7g Fat
9g Carbs
11g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 137
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 19mg 6%
Sodium 547mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 107mg 533%
Calcium 184mg 14%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 707mg 15%
*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.)

Mustard greens (and their brassica family siblings kale and collards) are somewhat synonymous with Southern cooking, but they do have an assertive taste. In this recipe, the strong peppery bite plays well when paired with classic counterparts such as bacon, salt, and onions. When you simmer these ingredients together, the greens' prominent taste mellows and balances out with the warm and comforting flavors. Serve these greens with cornbread to achieve the full Southern experience.


Click Play to See These Southern Mustard Greens Come Together

"Southern girl approved! Although I like bitter greens, this recipe makes mustard greens more appealing for those who don’t." —Renae Wilson

Simple Southern Mustard Greens With Bacon Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 pounds mustard greens (about 2 bunches)

  • 2 1/2 cups water, divided

  • 4 ounces thickly sliced bacon (about 4 strips), diced

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • Salt, to taste

  • Pepper, to taste

  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar

  • Optional: Dash of crushed red pepper flakes

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Southern mustard greens with bacon recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  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 bowl. Trim off and discard the thick stems and coarsely chop the leaves.

    Leaves of mustard greens coarsely chopped and separated from thick stems on a wooden cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Bring 1 cup of the water to boil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add the washed greens in handfuls, waiting to add the next bunch until the leaves in the pot begin to wilt.

    Chopped mustard greens added to pot with water

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Once all of the greens are in the pot, cover 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.

    Wilted mustard greens draining in a plastic colander

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Wipe out the pot and add the bacon. 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.

    Bacon bits frying in their own fat in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

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

    Chopped onions frying in bacon fat in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

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

    Fried browned bacon bits added to fried chopped onions in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

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

    Wilted mustard greens added to onions and bacon in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

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

    Salt, sugar, and spices added to mustard greens and bacon in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

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

    Pot covered with a lid

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi


  • Mustard seeds come from mustard greens, but if you see seeds on the greens when shopping, don't buy that bunch. The greens taste best without seeds.
  • You can use many cooking greens interchangeably in recipes like this one, but understanding their differences is helpful. Collards have long, flat leaves and a mild flavor. Kale's varieties range from curly and green, to purply-red (redbor), to dark green and bumpy with smooth edges (lacinato, or Tuscan). Turnip greens can be substituted, too—they're smaller, more tender, and a little sweeter than collards.

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 smoked ham from the deli.
  • Spice your mustard greens up with thyme, Old Bay seasoning, or garlic for a twist on the classic.

How to Store Cooked Mustard Greens

In terms of texture, cooked greens are really the best the day you make them, but you can keep them covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Add a little bit of water or oil to the pan and reheat gently. Eat them as is, add to a cooked pork sandwich, or chop them up and put them in an omelet or frittata.