Southern Collard Greens with Bacon is a delicious and surprisingly easy side dish you can easily make anytime. Once you learn how to clean and cook this leafy vegetable, you can sauté it up with bacon for the best flavor. This simple recipe is perfect for New Year’s Day or with your favorite pork or chicken dishes throughout the year.

Southern collard greens are served with a side of corn bread.

Here in the South New Year’s Eve is often welcomed in with a bit of cornbread, black eyed peas, and of course… collard greens.

The cornbread is symbolic of gold, the peas of coins, and the green of paper money.

For my entire childhood I would often eat a nibble of the greens, a slightly bigger bite of the peas, and then stuff myself with the cornbread.

But as I’ve gotten older, the collard greens have now become my favorite part of this traditional meal… especially when they’re cooked the REALLY Southern waywith bacon.

When cooked low and slow for a long time not only do the collard greens break down and lose their fibrous bite, but they also take on incredible flavor from the onions, garlic, and bacon grease.

Yes, you heard that right.

We’re sautéing both the onions AND collard greens in a bit of bacon grease which will inevitably give this dish a TON of flavor.

The recipe is actually rather simple to make, but it does take a little bit of time for it to simmer – so be sure to give yourself plenty of wiggle room to get those greens nice and tender!

(And if you’re not a huge collard greens fan, check out this Fried Cabbage with Bacon recipe instead!)

Collard greens, bacon, vinegar, broth, onion, garlic, seasonings are the ingredients for this recipe.
Email this recipe!
Simply enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! You’ll also get the newest recipes from us every week!

Ingredients

The simple ingredients you need to make this Southern collard greens recipe include:

  • Fresh Collard Greens. Two large bunches are needed. They are often dirty so you will want to rinse and dry them really good. (See below or learn How to Clean Collard Greens!)
  • Bacon. Choose either 4-5 strips of regular pork bacon, or turkey bacon if you’d like to make it a bit healthier.
  • Onion. Sweet onion was tested in this recipe. You can substitute for white or yellow onion, just note they will be more potent.
  • Garlic. Fresh minced garlic cloves are best. Garlic powder will work but won’t have nearly the same effect.
  • Broth. Regular sodium chicken broth is preferred but vegetable broth is a good option. Beef broth is not recommended as it has a pretty strong flavor. Reduced sodium can be used as well, but you will need to adjust the salt level to taste.
  • Vinegar. A little bit goes in at the end to balance out the savory-ness of the bacon. Select either apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar, or even lemon juice.
  • Red Pepper Flakes. This is optional but gives a good kick.

How to Cook Southern Collard Greens

The basic steps for making Southern-style collard greens are simple to follow:

How to Clean Collard Greens

Collard greens often come with a ton of dirt hidden in the leaves.

To remove it, fill a clean sink or large bowl with water and completely submerge the leaves. Shake them in the water until all dirt is removed.

Dry the leaves thoroughly by patting them with a towel until all of the moisture is gone.

Here’s some more tips on how to clean collard greens.

Cutting Collard Greens

First cut and remove the rib from the base of each collard green by making a V-shaped incision.

Then either cut each one with a sharp knife or tear by hand into 1-inch by 2-inch long pieces. They’ll break down quite a bit while cooking, so no need to worry about cutting them super small.

Cook Bacon

Place a large skillet or pot over medium-heat and add in the oil and bacon pieces. Cook the bacon for about 7-8 minutes, or until it is cooked through and crispy.

Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces from the skillet and keep the remaining grease in the skillet. Place bacon on a paper towel-lined plate so the excess oil can drain.

You should have bacon grease left in the skillet that you will use to cook the greens. If there is not a lot, add in more oil until you have at least 2 tablespoons.

Sauté Onion and Cook Greens

Add the diced onion to the pan with the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for about a minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.

Mix the cut greens into the onions and garlic. Finally pour in the chicken broth and add the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir everything together until it is well combined.

Use a lid to cover the skillet and adjust the heat to medium-low. Cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring the greens every 10 minutes.

Stir in Bacon and Serve

After the greens are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the cooked bacon and vinegar.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

A pan in shown with cooked southern collard greens and bacon.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: Cook the bacon and wash, dry, and cut the greens. Store each in individual containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You can also completely make the dish up to 24 hours in advance.
  • To Store: Keep cooked collard greens in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: Seal in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrosted collard greens make a great addition to soups and stews.
  • To Reheat: Return to a skillet over low heat or pop in the microwave until warm.

What Are Collard Greens?

Collard greens are a large leafy green vegetable. Turnip greens are similar but have smaller, more tender leaves that have a sweeter taste. These both differ from mustard greens which are in the same family but are categorized as an herb.

How do I get the bitterness out of collard greens?

A touch of salt and a little bit of acidity such as vinegar or lemon juice helps tame the bitterness of the greens.

Are collard greens good for you?

Yes, they are! Collard greens are a great source of minerals, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, and fiber.

What do Southern collard greens taste like?

The flavor is similar to cabbage but is more bitter, although not as strong as kale.

A fork is shown eating collard greens.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Wash ’em good. Make sure to rinse away all of the dirt, and don’t forget to dry well.
  • Keep the fat. Cooking in bacon grease adds wonderful flavor.
  • Fresh is best. Garlic cloves offer a much better taste than merely garlic powder.
  • Give yourself time. This recipe is easy, but takes close to an hour to prepare and cook.
  • A little acidity. Mixing in vinegar or lemon juice will reduce the bitterness of the greens.

What to Serve with Collard Greens

While they can be enjoyed year-round, people love collard greens at New Years. Try them with these Mini Cornbread Muffins, Gluten-Free Cornbread, and Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas.

Collard Greens can be enjoyed any time of year, though. Pair them with Texas Caviar and Jalapeño Cornbread for a flavorful twist.

And they are delicious with Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Spatchcock Chicken.

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 27 votes

Southern Collard Greens with Bacon

Southern Collard Greens with Bacon is a delicious and surprisingly easy Southern side dish you can make any time. Once you learn how to clean and cook this leafy vegetable, you can sauté it up with bacon for the best flavor.
A pan is shown filled with cooked collard greens.
Yield 6 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
An image of an envelope sealed shut with the Evolving Table logo.

Email this recipe!

Enter your email and we’ll send it directly to you.

Ingredients 

  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 4 oz. bacon cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ sweet onion finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 large bunches collard greens washed and drained
  • 2 cups chicken broth regular sodium
  • ½ tsp. salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes optional
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Instructions 

  • If collard greens have visible dirt, wash and dry them thoroughly before cooking. To do this, fill a clean sink with water and immerse the leaves. Shake the leaves in the water to remove any dirt. Dry thoroughly by patting with a towel until no moisture remains.
    2 large bunches collard greens
  • Cut and remove the rib from the base of each collard green by making a V-shaped incision. Then either cut each one with a sharp knife or tear by hand into 1-inch by 2-inch long pieces.
    2 large bunches collard greens
  • Add oil and bacon pieces to a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until bacon is crispy and cooked through. Remove bacon from the skillet and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve the bacon grease in the skillet. (You should end up with about 2 tablespoons of oil.)
    1 Tbsp. oil, 4 oz. bacon
  • Add the diced onion to the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for another minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.
    ½ sweet onion, 3 cloves garlic
  • Add the cut greens to the skillet. Pour in the chicken broth and add the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir until well combined.
    2 cups chicken broth, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper, 1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes, 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 35-40 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir the greens every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking.
  • Once greens are tender, turn off the heat and mix in the cooked bacon and vinegar. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 27 votes

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: Cook the bacon and wash, dry, and cut the greens. Store each in individual containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You can also completely make the dish up to 24 hours in advance.
  • To Store: Keep cooked collard greens in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: Seal in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrosted collard greens make a great addition to soups and stews.
  • To Reheat: Return to a skillet over low heat or pop in the microwave until warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 115kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 12mg, Sodium: 586mg, Potassium: 147mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 421IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 22mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

You May Also Like

Thanks for
Stopping By!

I’m London! Join me as we cook up nourishing meals for you and your loved ones and learn a few healthy cooking tips and tricks!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments