Southern-Style Turnip Greens (or Collard Greens)

turnip greens
Diana Rattray
  • Total: 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
268 Calories
10g Fat
21g Carbs
23g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 268
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 66mg 22%
Sodium 222mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Protein 23g
Calcium 124mg 10%
*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.)

Turnip greens have long been a favorite vegetable in the South. Turnip greens—like collard greens and mustard greens—are usually cooked with ham or pork. This version contains salt pork, but you could use another kind of pork cut—bacon, streaky bacon (pork belly), ham hocks, hog jowl, smoked pork chops, or similar meat. Many people like to add a small amount of sugar to their turnip greens, but that is entirely optional.

Cleaning the greens is an essential step when you are using fresh greens. Put the trimmed greens in a clean sink and cover them with cold water. Shake them and swish them around, drain them, and do it a few more times. When you no longer feel grit in the bottom of the sink. The greens should be grit-free. Even if the package states "cleaned," you should rinse them again to be sure. Sandy greens are very unpleasant.

To serve any Southern greens, make sure you offer plenty of hot, freshly baked cornbread or cornbread muffins. Hot pepper sauce (hot pepper vinegar) is wonderful, or serve them with plain apple cider vinegar. See the tips and variations for pepper sauce directions. It's easy to make but needs time in the fridge for best flavor.


Watch Now: How to Make Southern Turnip Greens


  • 4 pounds turnip greens, or collard greens
  • 1 pound salt pork, or similar fatty pork
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Optional: 1 dash crushed red pepper, or more to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Wash the greens thoroughly in the sink or large bowl; drain and wash again. Repeat the cleaning until you can't feel any grit on the greens or the bottom of the sink or container.

    Cut off and discard tough stems and discolored leaves from greens. For large leaves with large, tough stems, fold the leaf in half and cut or tear the stem out. Stack several leaves and slice them crosswise into 1-inch thick pieces.

  2. Gather the ingredients.

    Gather the ingredients
    Diana Rattray
  3. Scrape the salt off of the salt pork or rinse it under cold running water to remove the excess salt. The salt pork has a tough skin. Carefully run a sharp knife between the tough skin and the softer fat. Discard the tough skin and dice the fat. 

  4. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, cook the salt pork until it is crisp and browned. Add the chopped onion and cook for 2 minutes longer.

    Cook the salt pork and then add the chopped onions.
    Diana Rattray
  5. To the salt pork and onions, add the water, cleaned turnip greens, black pepper, sugar, if using, and crushed red pepper flakes.

    Add the greens to the pot.
    Diana Rattray
  6. Bring the greens to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer the greens for 40 to 50 minutes, or until they are tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings, as needed.

    Simmer the greens.
    Diana Rattray
  7. When the greens are ready, transfer them to a serving bowl.

    Transfer the turnip greens to a serving bowl.
    Diana Rattray
  8. Serve the greens with vinegar or pepper sauce (see below) and freshly baked cornbread.

  9. Enjoy!


  • To make pepper sauce (pepper vinegar sauce), sterilize a canning jar.
  • Pack the jar with cleaned small hot peppers.
  • Pour boiling white vinegar over the peppers, covering them completely and leave a little headspace. Cover and refrigerate the pepper sauce for a few weeks before using.


  • For greens with garlic, add 1 or 2 minced cloves of garlic to the greens along with the chopped onion.
  • For turnip greens with bacon, use thick sliced bacon in place of the salt pork.