Southern-Style Greens With Pepper Sauce

Collard greens in a cast iron skillet
sf_foodphoto/ Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Greens are a staple in the South, and they're usually served with cornbread and pepper sauce (see the instructions below) or plain vinegar. Even if the greens come "cleaned," give them a good rinse or two to make sure there's absolutely no grit clinging to the leaves.

Here are basic cooking instructions for turnip greens, collard greens, or mustard greens with popular variations and additions. You could use prepared pepper sauce to spice your greens as you desire, or you can make your own pepper sauce to add.



  • ​​​​​For the Greens:
  • 2 pounds greens: mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, kale, etc.
  • Water
  • Ham hock or salt pork
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper sauce (to taste)
  • For the Pepper Sauce:
  • Hot Peppers: about 15 large jalapenos for a pint.
  • 1-pint cider vinegar or white vinegar

Steps to Make It

To Make the Pepper Sauce:

  1. Fill a clean, sterilized canning jar or bottle about three-quarters full with cleaned and stemmed small, hot peppers or sliced larger peppers (such as jalapenos). Make slits in some of the peppers for more heat.

  2. Bring a pot of vinegar—cider or white—to a boil.

  3. Using a funnel, fill the jar of peppers.

  4. Refrigerate the pepper sauce stand for a week or two for best flavor.

  5. You may add a teaspoon of sugar and/or salt if desired.

To Make the Greens:

  1. Thoroughly wash 2 pounds of greens. Two or more washings may be necessary. Put them in the sink or a big dishpan, fill it with cold water, and swish them around. Drain and feel the bottom of the sink or pan. If you feel any sand or grit, repeat the rinse. Keep rinsing until the bottom of the sink or pan is grit-free.

  2. Trim tough stalks and tear or cut large greens into strips or pieces. Cut any thick veins out of collard greens. Roll large collard green leaves up (after removing tough stalks and large veins) and slice to make strips.

  3. In a large stockpot over high heat, bring 6 to 7 quarts of water to a boil.

  4. Add a large ham hock, two small ham hocks, or a 4-ounce piece of rinsed salt pork to the pot.

  5. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.

  6. Continue boiling for 10 or 15 minutes.

  7. Add the washed greens to the pot.

  8. Add pepper sauce to taste.

  9. Cover the pot and simmer until the greens are tender. Depending on the type of greens used, this might take an hour.