Collard Greens

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

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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

  • Collard Green Bob

    8 to 10 minutes? Not unless you want under cooked greens. More like 45 to 90 minutes of simmer.
    Check the rest of the net for cook times.
    If you eat after 8 minutes, I think you will never eat them again.

    It completely depends on how tender your greens are to begin with. ~Elise

  • cynthia

    Okay, regarding cooking tough collards, first, it’s better to wait until after the frost hits after October. Second, pre-boil your greens for about 20 to 30 minutes [in the meantime have your seasoned meat boiling in another pot]. Remove the greens from the pre-boiled water and discard water. Place the greens in the seasoned water and cook until tender. Season with salt and red pepper flakes, a dash of onions, garlic season, 1 tbls apple cider vinegar, and 1 tea sugar [optional]. After greens have cooked until done, but remain tough, add a very, very little [dash of] baking soda to cooking pot. Enjoy!

  • Susan

    Just made this for our New Year’s day good luck and prosperity fest and we LOVED it! Followed directions mostly, skipped bacon fat, no bbq sauce, added some ginger and black pepper, in 10 minutes we had tender delicious greens! My young kids even loved them. This is a keeper, not just for new year’s day!

  • Sophia

    Definitely enjoyed these. My greens must have been tender because they were good after 10 -12 minutes. This was my first time to try collard greens – courtesy of my local CSA. I’ve loved your bacon, brown sugar & vinegar recipe as well. This way you add all that in the sauce.
    Thanks again!!

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