Collard Greens

Side DishQuick and EasyGluten-FreeCollard Greens

Fresh collard greens cooked with onion, garlic, chile pepper flakes, bacon fat, and dark sesame oil. Learn how to cook collard greens with this basic recipe.

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!

How to Make Collard Greens

Sautéed Collard Greens in Bowl

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 extra virgin 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 Cook onions and garlic: 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 minutes.

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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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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35 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. John

    Made this today; it was definitely a keeper. Paired it with pressure cooker baby back ribs; two great tastes that go great together.

    Definitely on my regular rotation; thanks!


  2. Pam

    I actually used bok choy not knowing what it was to make this. It was incredible. Today I’m going to make it using real collard greens. I’m sure it will be delicious. I did use a tablespoon of bbq sauce btw.


  3. Courtney

    I’ve always traded out the collard greens in my CSA box, because I’ve been scared to try them, but I got some by mistake in the last box. Skipped the bacon and added a cup of vegetable broth at the end because I’ve never made them before and wasn’t sure how cooked my family would like them. Great recipe here; they’re so good!


  4. Eva

    First time I’ve grown collards for a change of pace. Delicious. Loved the sesame oil and hint of chili flakes….and the fact that the collards aren’t overcooked. I’ve made this 3 times this summer and we still love it.


  5. Vickie

    Made this tonight, it came out so nice. I’m the only collard green eater in the house. Looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow. Thanks :)


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