Southern-Style Collard Greens

collard greens with meat
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  • 70 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Ratings (6)

Collard greens are related to cabbage and kale and are used in many cuisines, including Portuguese, African, Southern U.S., and Brazil. 

Southern collard greens are typically cooked with some smoked pork. This recipe calls for a large ham hock or two small hocks, but a meaty ham bone, 6 to 8 strips of bacon, or about 1/4 pound of salt pork can be substituted. Alternatively, smoked turkey legs or wings are often used to season Southern greens. Feel free to add 1/2 cup of leftover diced cooked ham to the collard greens if you have it.

Like many other kinds of greens, sand and grit can be clinging to the leaves. It's important to wash the greens thoroughly. There's nothing worse than gritty greens! Even if the green claim to be "washed," give them another rinse to be certain they are dirt-free. 

The stems of the collard greens are often discarded, but they can be chopped cooked along with the leaves. Or chop the stems and freeze them to use in stocks or sauces.

Southern greens are traditionally served with some of the cooking liquids, or  "pot likker." Freshly baked cornbread or cornbread muffins are essential for sopping up the delicious juices, and pepper vinegar sauce is often drizzled over the greens (see below). Add some sliced garden-fresh tomatoes alongside the greens for a delicious lunch or dinner dish. 

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds of collard greens
  • 1 smoked ham hock (large, or two small hocks)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)
  • Black pepper, to taste

How to Make It

  1. Fill the sink or a large pot or dishpan with water. Add the greens and swish them around. Drain and repeat a few more times, or until you can't feel any grit in the bottom of the sink or pan. 
  2. Cut the stems out of the leaves. Discard the stems or chop them if you plan to cook them along with the leaves. The stems can be frozen and used to make stock as well. Stack the leaves and roll them up like a cigar. Slice them into 1/2-inch strips.
  1. Place the greens in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. 
  2. Rinse the ham hock and pat dry; add it to the pot with the greens. 
  3. Peel the onion and chop it or slice it. Add it to the pot along with the crushed red pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt.
  4. Add enough water to the pot to cover the collard greens and cook for about 1 hour, or until the greens are very tender. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, as needed.


Southern Pepper Sauce: Sterilize a 16-ounce canning jar and lid. Fill the jar with small hot peppers, such as serrano or cayenne. Bring 1 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar to a boil with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Pour the hot vinegar over the peppers. Seal the jar and store in a cool, dark place for a week or two. Refrigerate after opening.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 68
Total Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Unsaturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 3 mg
Sodium 854 mg
Carbohydrates 11 g
Dietary Fiber 7 g
Protein 5 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)