Simple Southern Mustard Greens with Bacon

Mustard greens recipe

The Spruce / Emily Baker

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 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
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.)

Perhaps the assertive-tasting mustard greens aren't in your repertoire. Maybe you're familiar enough with them to know that these greens (and their brassica family siblings kale and collards) are somewhat synonymous with Southern cooking. 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, something magical happens. The taste mellows and balances out.

You can use many of these 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, purply-red (redbor), and 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.

Any way you make them, just be sure to serve with cornbread to achieve the full Southern taste experience.


  • 2 pounds mustard greens (about 2 bunches)
  • 4 ounces (about 4 strips) thickly sliced bacon (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.

    Ingredients for mustard greens
    The Spruce / Emily Baker
  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.

    Mustard greens
    The Spruce / Emily Baker 
  3. Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add the washed greens, one handful at a time, as the leaves wilt down. 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.

    Mustard greens
    The Spruce / Emily Baker
  4. 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.

    Dry spices
    The Spruce / Emily Baker
  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.

    Add onions
    The Spruce / Emily Baker
  6. Return the bacon to the pot and stir to combine.

    Spices in pot
    The Spruce / Emily Baker
  7. Add the cooked greens to the pot and stir in 1 1/2 cups of water.

    Mustard greens in pot
    The Spruce / Emily Baker
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with the optional sugar and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired. Stir to combine.

    Mustard greens
    The Spruce / Emily Baker
  9. Cover the pot and simmer the greens over low heat until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

    Cover pot
    The Spruce / Emily Baker
  10. Serve and enjoy!

    Serve mustard greens
    The Spruce / Emily Baker


Mustard seeds come from this plant, but if you see seeds on the greens when shopping, don't buy that bunch. The greens taste best without seeds.

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.

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 and refrigerated up 3 to 4 days. Add a little bit of water or oil to the pan and reheat gently. Eat them as is, or add to a cooked pork sandwich, or chop them up and put them in an omelet or frittata.