Southern Collard Greens

Southern Collard Greens were always something of a tradition in my family. A lot of dishes rotate throughout the years at family functions, but collards greens are the true OG. My family’s Southern Collard greens recipe has deep roots in Southern culinary traditions. We often make them for New Year’s Day, to symbolize prosperity and good luck for the coming year.

If you need another delicious side for the holidays, try my Mac and Cheese and Cornbread Dressing next!

Southern Collard greens with smoked turkey chef Kolby Kash

Moreover, Southern Collard Greens are a classic dish in Southern cuisine, renowned for its rich, smoky flavor and tender texture. Collard greens themselves are dark, leafy vegetables that belong to the cabbage family. In the South, collard greens are a staple side dish, enjoyed alongside other Southern classics like cornbread, fried chicken, and black-eyed peas.

Whether served on a holiday table or as a regular side dish, Southern Collard Greens are a beloved part of Southern culture.


  • Authentic Southern Flavors: My Southern Collard Greens recipe captures the essence of authentic Southern cuisine, delivering the rich, smoky, and savory flavors that make this dish a true Southern classic.
  • Versatile Dish: Whether you’re hosting a holiday feast, a Sunday family dinner, or a casual get-together, my Southern Collard Greens are a versatile side dish that complements a variety of main courses.
  • Simple Ingredients, Extraordinary Flavor: With basic ingredients like collard greens, smoked turkey, ham hock, or bacon, and aromatics, this recipe proves that simplicity can yield extraordinary results. It’s accessible for all cooking skill levels.
  • Balanced Flavors: The combination of savory collard greens, smoky meat, a touch of tangy vinegar, and a hint of heat from red pepper flakes creates a perfectly balanced flavor profile that will keep you coming back for more.
  • Soulful and Nourishing: Beyond being a delightful culinary experience, our Southern Collard Greens are a soulful and nourishing dish that brings people together. Share the love and warmth of Southern hospitality with each bite.
  • Potlikker Perfection: Don’t forget the potlikker – the flavorful broth left after cooking the collard greens. It’s a Southern tradition to savor this broth, either by soaking it up with cornbread or enjoying it as a hearty soup.
  • Symbol of Good Luck: Embrace the cultural significance of collard greens as a symbol of good luck, especially when enjoyed on New Year’s Day. This dish isn’t just about taste; it’s about bringing positive vibes to your dining experience
Collard greens chef Kolby Kash

Southern Collard Green Ingredients

  • Collard Greens: Fresh collard greens are the star of the dish. They are known for their robust, earthy flavor and hearty texture.
  • Smoked Turkey, Ham Hock, or Bacon: The smoky element is crucial for authentic Southern Collard Greens. Many recipes call for smoked ham hocks or bacon to infuse the dish with a deep, savory flavor.
  • Aromatics: Onions and garlic are often used to add depth and fragrance to the dish.
  • Chicken Broth: Chicken broth is commonly used as a cooking liquid to impart additional flavor and moisture to the collard greens.
  • Vinegar: A touch of vinegar, often apple cider vinegar, adds a bit of tang to balance the richness of the dish.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: For those who enjoy a hint of heat, red pepper flakes are sometimes added to give the collard greens a subtle kick.
  • Seasoning: Bayou City All Purpose Seasoning, Bayou City Garlic Pepper, onion powder, garlic pepper, salt, smoked paprika.
Collard greens ingredients chef Kolby Kash

How To Make Southern Collard Greens

  1. Prepare Collard Greens: Wash the collard greens thoroughly, remove the tough stems, and chop into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Sauté Aromatics: In a large pot add chopped onions and minced garlic, sauté until fragrant.
  3. Add smoked meat: Introduce the smoked meat to the pot, allowing it to infuse its smoky essence into the dish.
  4. Pour in Broth: Pour in the chicken broth, add apple cider vinegar, chicken bouillon, bayou city seasonings, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring the pot to a simmer and let cook until meat is tender.
  5. Combine Ingredients: Toss in the collard greens and stir until they are well-coated in the flavorful mixture.
  6. Simmer to Perfection: Allow the collard greens to simmer on low heat for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until they reach the desired tenderness.
How to make Southern Collard Greens chef Kolby Kash

Washing Collard Greens:

  1. Separate the Leaves:
    • Begin by separating the collard green leaves from the stems. You can do this by holding the stem and tearing the leaf away or using a knife to cut along the stem.
  2. Soak in Water:
    • Fill a large bowl or clean sink with cold water. Submerge the collard greens in the water and gently agitate them to help loosen any dirt or grit.
  3. Swish and Rinse:
    • Swish the collard greens around in the water, allowing any dirt to sink to the bottom. Lift the leaves out of the water, drain the sink or bowl, and repeat this process until the water remains clear.
  4. Inspect for Residue:
    • After rinsing, inspect each leaf for any remaining dirt or debris. If you find any, repeat the washing process for those specific leaves.
  5. Pat Dry or Use a Salad Spinner:
    • Once clean, pat the collard greens dry with a clean kitchen towel or use a salad spinner to remove excess water. Dry leaves are easier to work with and will help prevent excess water from diluting the flavors during cooking.
washing your greens chef kolbykash

Tips for making the best Southern Collard Greens

  1. Freshness Matters: Opt for fresh collard greens for the best flavor and texture.
  2. Don’t Rush the Simmer: Low and slow is the key to tender collard greens, so be patient during the simmering process.
  3. Balance the Flavors: Adjust the salt, pepper, and vinegar to find the perfect balance of savory, spicy, and tangy.
Southern Collard greens with smoked turkey chef Kolby Kash

Storing Leftovers

  • Allow the collard greens to cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. Do not leave them at room temperature for an extended period, as this can promote bacterial growth.
  • If using the leftovers within a few days, store them in airtight containers and place them in the refrigerator. Divide collard greens into smaller portions for easier reheating.
  • If you want to store the collard greens for an extended period, consider freezing them. Portion the collard greens into containers or resealable bags.
  • If you have leftover potlikker (the flavorful broth), store it separately from the collard greens.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use pre-cut collard greens?

A: While fresh is always best, pre-cut collard greens can be a time-saving alternative.

Q: Can I make this recipe vegetarian?

A: Absolutely! Omit the ham hock and bacon, and use vegetable broth for a delicious vegetarian version.

Q: How do I store leftovers?

A: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze for longer shelf life.

Southern Collard greens with smoked turkey chef Kolby Kash

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Southern Collard greens with smoked turkey chef Kolby Kash

Southern Collard Green

Indulge in the soulful charm of Southern Collard Greens – a classic dish that brings the rich, smoky flavors of smoked ham hock or bacon, perfectly balanced with a touch of tangy vinegar and a hint of heat. Discover the warmth of tradition on your plate with this heartwarming Southern favorite, a celebration of culinary heritage and comfort.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Creole
Servings 8 servings
Calories 300 kcal


  • 3-4 bunches collard greens washed and chopped
  • 2 smoked turkey wings
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 6-8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp Bayou City All Purpose Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Bayou City Garlic Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Separate the collard green leaves from the stems. You can do this by holding the stem and tearing the leaf away or using a knife to cut along the stem.
  • Wash your collards by filling a large bowl or clean sink with cold water. Submerge the collard greens in the water and gently agitate them to help loosen any dirt or grit.
  • chop collards into ribbons and set aside
  • In a large stock pot add chopped onions and minced garlic; sauté until onions are translucent.
  • Place turkey wings in the pot to brown slightly and infuse smoky flavor.
  • Add chicken broth, sugar, apple cider vinegar, bayou city seasonings, cayenne, chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cover. Let cook for about 1 hour until the smoked turkey is tender.
  • Remove turkey wings and separate the meat from the bone, roughly pulling the meat apart with your hands.
  • Add the meat back to the pot along with the collard greens. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Serve hot and savor the smoky, savory goodness.



  • Save any leftover potlikker—the flavorful broth—for future use. It makes a fantastic base for soups or can be enjoyed by soaking it up with cornbread.
  • Consider preparing the collard greens a day ahead for even deeper flavors. Simply reheat before serving, and the dish will taste even better.
Keyword collard greens, holiday recipes, how to make southern collard greens, side dish, Southern Collard Greens, thanksgiving

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  1. 5 stars
    I love it.. very detailed instructions and you answer all the questions asked with substitutions. Thank you.

  2. 5 stars
    i switched to smoked turkey aa a healthier choice. Great recipes Thanks for suggestion to freezing leftovers. Also i adjust smokey taste using liquid smoke.Love my greens.

  3. Truly one of the best recipes that I have seen that just about Everyone I known In the way I make mine.. Collard greens.

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