Collard Greens

Fresh collard greens cooked with onion, garlic, chile pepper flakes, bacon fat, and dark sesame oil.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

My brother Eddie was over for dinner a while ago one fortuitous night when we happened to be having collard greens. I say fortuitous because Ed introduced us to a wonderful new way to serve these healthful, somewhat bitter greens—with barbecue sauce.

Huh? Barbecue sauce?

Ed explained that whenever he had collard greens it was with barbecued ribs, and the sauce from the ribs would make its way over to the collard greens, making them taste oh so good. Well, that was enough incentive to try it, and I must agree, collard greens are excellent served with a little BBQ sauce.

They are also pretty good on their own with onions and garlic. Here’s a great base recipe, feel free to add the BBQ sauce!

Collard Greens

Collard Greens Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

We use bacon fat here primarily for flavor. Bacon fat provides an excellent balance to the natural bitter of the collard greens. That said, you can easily skip the bacon fat and just use a little more olive oil.


  • 2 lbs collard greens, tough stems discarded, leaves chopped
  • 2 Tbsp medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons bacon fat
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp dark sesame oil (Dynasty or comparable)
  • Chili pepper flakes, a pinch
  • Salt, a couple pinches
  • Sugar, a couple pinches
  • Barbecue sauce (optional)


1 Use a large skillet with a tight fitting cover. Melt bacon fat and heat olive oil on medium heat. Sauté onion until transparent, a couple of mintues. Add garlic and and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2 Mix in the greens, sesame oil, chili pepper flakes, salt, and sugar. Cover and cook until tender, 8-15 minutes. (Note that young collard greens will cook up relatively quickly. Older greens may take upwards of 45 minutes to tenderize.)

If you want, serve with barbecue sauce.

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Showing 4 of 24 Comments

  • Barbara

    I have a similar recipe for collard greens and wrote about making it in my memoirish and topical food blog called cooking the kitchen. Here is a preview of what I wrote:
    I had a lot of left over collard greens after preparing the recipe for Lasagna with Collard Greens, that had recently been featured on this web site. Always the girl scout, in that I like to be prepared for all possibilities, I bought a bit extra of those big, leafy green fronds. This was in case some of the leaves in the bunch to be used for the lasagna recipe, turned out to be less than stellar. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Thus this recipe for easy peasy, cheesy, saucy, collard green casserole was invented.
    Check out more at

  • Doug Barber

    Collards, yum. Oil of roasted sesame seeds – now that’s unique and does not appear in any known Shakespeare witch scene. But even if I cared not a bit about greens I’d have been delighted to stumble upon Elise’s serendipitous prose. I have a pot of collards concatenating as I type.

    Now where’s that Threadgills recipe for chicken fried steak….

  • Lynne

    Cooked this recipe with chinese sausage and my family loved it. The use of sesame oil inspired me to do that (plus I did not have bacon then). Thanks for posting it.

  • shelley

    Best recipe for down home good collards YUM YUM GOOOD. In a Lg stock pot cover 4 lg hocks with water, dice a lg. onion very small add salt& pepper.Cook the hocks about 3-4 hrs till meat starts to fall off the bone, clean collards well and cut small. Roll your collard tight and cut. Add collard to stock pot and cook another hour and a half. key is to let them cool and then eat! I like to serve the next day(better the 2nd day)

  • Russ

    My taste ffers a little. I merely steam the collards for five or six minutes ( this is for a steamer basket full of greens up to the top of a 4 quart stainless steel pot). I then dress them with a variety of simple things such as butter with salt and pepper, olive oil with a touch of vinegar and salt and pepper, and at times just plain. Hot sauces are good as well as the variations of the above recipes. The main thing is to have good fresh greens to start with. This applies to turnip, mustard and kale greens as well. Nothing is like a healthful food that tastes good too.

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