Southern Style Collard Greens {Granny's Recipe}

11:11 PM
Southern Collard Greens,  a delicious Southern dish served in most households all year long, especially around the holidays.   In the south, we generally cook large amounts of greens at one time, referring to them as an ole' mess of greens.

My Mother's recipe for collard greens is the best.   Her recipe brings out all the secrets to the perfectly cooked greens.

Mother cooks her greens on a low simmer for hours to get them tender and flavorful, starting off with some sort of smoked meat.  

She may use a leftover ham bone, a slab of bacon chopped, fatback (salt pork) or even ham hocks, smoked meat renders the best flavor.  

She starts cooking the smoked meat in a stock pot of water first, cooking it for about an hour or until it becomes slightly tender.  

While the smoked pork is cooking, it is the perfect time to trim the stems and cut the greens into wide ribbons.  

While the grocery stores today are stocked with pre-packaged fresh collard greens already washed and trimmed, I still like to cut and trim fresh collard greens on occasion.  It really doesn't take that long to do.

Once all the collard greens are trimmed and cut into wide ribbons, add them to the rich smoked pork broth.  

At this time season the greens really well.  I like to add a chopped onion and some red pepper flakes for some kick.  It adds a boost of flavor like no other.

One of my Mother's secrets to eliminate the bitter taste of the greens is adding a few tablespoons of sugar and equal amounts of vinegar to the broth.  More like a sip and taste to get the right balance of flavor.  It all depends on the sweetness of the greens.  There are those who say it depends on the time of harvest.  The earlier the harvest, the less bitter they are.  

If the greens need a little more water, add some, remembering all the liquid turns into this wonderfully delicious broth southerners call pot likker.  Perfect for sopping up with a slab of cornbread.

With the Thanksgiving around the corner, I hope you will get to make some Collard Greens for your holiday feast.  Enjoy!

Southern Collard Greens
Printable Recipe
  • 1-2 bunches of collard greens (or 32 oz. packaged cut collard greens)
  • 2 ham hocks (or 1/2 pound smoked meat)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 3 quarts water or chicken stock
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (my addition)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.  Add ham hocks, salt, and black pepper.  Cook until meat is tender about 1 hour.   Remove meat from broth and set aside to cool.

Wash collard greens thoroughly.  Remove the stems down the center of the leaf.   After stems are removed.  Stack 4-6 leaves on top of each other.  Starting at the round end, roll all the leaves together into a roll.  Cut leaves into 2" ribbons.  (If using packaged collard greens proceed to the next step)

Add cut collard greens, onion, and red pepper flakes to the broth.  Cover and simmer.

While greens are simmering, shred smoked meat and add to the greens. Continue simmer for 1-2 hours checking on the tenderness of the greens after 2 hours.

Just before the greens are finished cooking add the sugar and vinegar.  Tasting for balance.  If the broth is too sweet, add more vinegar, and if too acidic add more sugar.  Taste for additional salt and pepper.

Join me for Meal Plan Monday,  Weekend PotluckWhat's Cooking Wednesday and all these fabulous parties!

Looking for more recipes? Use the search bar in the top right hand corner or click on My Recipe Box in the top menu.

Disclosure: The following contains affiliate links. 
More Recipes!

Kay Little
Kay Little

This is a short biography of the post author and you can replace it with your own biography.


  1. This looks amazing. It has been too long since I have had collard greens. I hope to try your recipe soon!

  2. Yum! You just made up my mind on what green vegetable to serve with my Thanksgiving turkey. I'm going to make this in my crock-pot.

  3. Can I make these a day ahead and then reheat just before dinner?

  4. This is THE BEST recipe for collard greens! I made them for New Year's Day in 2018, and the crowd was wowed. My hostess said it was clear I'd made them a lot; no one makes greens that good without practice. I had to let out the secret that it was my first time ever making them!

    Fast forward to this week. I had my heart set on making these collards for my new husband and had been bragging on the recipe. When I went to bring up this page, whoa is me! I hadn't bookmarked it like I thought! I spent DAYS creatively searching Google and skimming recipe after recipe until I found this exact one. I'll accept no substitutes! Now my greens are simmering on the stove, and tonight I'll have a happy (and impressed) husband.

    Thank you for sharing this gem!

    1. are the gem! Happy cooking!


Post a Comment