Southern Collard Greens Recipe

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This Southern Collard Greens Recipe is the perfect comfort food for a cold winter day. Made with bacon, onions, garlic, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, sugar, seasoned salt, red pepper, and black pepper. Cooked until tender and the flavors are perfectly balanced. This recipe is sure to become a new family favorite!

Collard Greens in a bowl

Collard Greens Recipe

If you have had collard greens before but didn’t enjoy them, I urge you to try this recipe. Collards have a bitter taste but when they are cooked properly with lots of aromatics, the flavor created is unmatched! Trust me when I say that bacon is the key ingredient to making the tastiest recipe you’ve ever had.

I have been to my fair share of cookouts and the one dish I used to never reach for was southern-style collard greens. I think what makes this recipe stand out for me is the balance between the salty bacon, tangy vinegar, and the kick from the crushed red pepper flakes. That hint of spice takes these collard greens to a whole new level.

What Are Collard Greens?

Collard greens are a dark, leafy green vegetable in the cabbage family. They are a Southern staple and full of vitamins and nutrients. Traditionally, they are prepared with smoked and salted meats such as smoked ham hock, bacon, and smoked turkey leg to infuse the dark green leaves of the collards with flavor. 

What is Pot Likker?

Pot likker or pot liquor is the rich broth left behind after cooking these tender greens. It’s infused with so much flavor. It is common in the south to save it and use it to dip cornbread or biscuits, and can also be used in soup recipes.

What You’ll Need

These are all of the ingredients needed to make this easy collard greens recipe. It requires a good amount of spices plus bacon, sugar, etc to remove the bitterness from the collards.

  • Collard Greens
  • Bacon: Use any kind of bacon that you prefer. I like the thicker slices because you get large chunks after the fat renders. 
  • Onion: I use yellow onion for this recipe, but you can use sweet onions.
  • Garlic: Fresh minced garlic will give you the best flavor.
  • Chicken Broth
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Sugar: Adding sugar helps all of the other flavors stand out.
  • Seasoned Salt: Any brand of seasoned salt is great or you can use plain salt if you like.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Black Pepper
Ingredients for Collard Greens.

How to Cook Collard Greens

Knowing how to properly cook these greens is so important if you want them to be tasty. Plenty of flavorful aromatics and simmering for the correct amount of time will give you deliciously tender collard greens.

  • Prepare the Collard Greens. Wash the fresh collard greens and pat dry completely with paper towels. Remove the stems, cut the leaves in half, and layer them. Cut into 1-inch strips and the strips into 2-inch lengths.
  • Cook the Bacon. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until brown and crispy.
  • Drain Fat. Remove the cooked bacon and set it aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease.
  • Cook Onions and Garlic. Add the onions and cook until soft. Then, add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. 
  • Add Broth. Pour in the chicken broth and stir to release all of the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.
  • Add Remaining Ingredients. Add cider vinegar, sugar, seasoned salt, red pepper, and black pepper. Stir until combined.
  • Submerge the Collard Greens. Place the greens into the liquid and reduce to a simmer.
  • Simmer. Cover the stockpot and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until tender.
  • Drain and Serve. Drain the liquid and enjoy hot.
Collard Greens in a stock pot.

What to Serve With Collard Greens

Here are some of the best ways to serve Southern Collard Greens:

  • Serve them as a side dish with fried chicken, chicken fried steak, or pork chops.
  • Add them to soups or stews for a hearty and flavorful meal.
  • Serve them over rice for a simple and satisfying dish.
  • Make a potato salad with greens for a twist on a classic dish.
  • Serve with Black Eyed Peas for New Year’s Day.
Collard Greens in a white bowl.

No matter how you serve them, Southern Greens are sure to be a hit!

Here are some ideas to complete a traditional southern meal!

Collard Greens on a fork.

More Southern Recipes

Southern Collard Greens feature
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Southern Collard Greens Recipe

This Southern Collard Greens Recipe is hands down the tastiest I’ve ever tried! They are cooked to perfection with bacon, onions, garlic, and more to give you so much flavor in every bite.
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour


  • 3 bunches collard greens washed trimmed, and cut
  • 10 slices bacon chopped (12 oz. package)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped, about 1 cup
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • Wash and pat dry collard leaves. Cut out the stem and cut the leaf in half. Layer leaves and cut into 1 inch strips, then cut strips into 2 inch lengths.
  • In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
  • Drain out bacon grease from the pot, leaving about 1 tablespoon.
  • Add onion to the pot and cook until soft. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant; about 1 minute.
  • Add chicken broth and scrap brown bits from the bottom.
  • To the pot, add apple cider vinegar, sugar, seasoned salt, red pepper, and black pepper.
  • Submerge collard greens in broth in the pot.
  • Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to keep greens simmering. Cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the greens are tender.
  • Drain and serve immediately.

Last Step:

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  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
  • Bacon is easier to cut if it is partially frozen.


Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.05g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 1216mg | Potassium: 149mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 318IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 0.4mg


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