Collard Greens

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.

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


  • 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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  • Pia

    Great recipe. MMMMMMM


  • 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.

  • Black Jack

    Here is a more traditional southern recipe:

    Wash the collard greens well and pull the leaves off of the stems.

    Fry bacon or fat back in a large pot until done, then remove the meat. Add a half cup of black coffee to the hot grease and scrape the bottom of the pan, in effect making red eye gravy.

    Fill the pot with greens and cover. Cook on medium low so that you do not burn the greens. In this method, the greens are steamed, with most of the water provided by water in the greens themselves.

    As the greens collapse place the left over bacon or fat back on top and sprinkle about two table spoons of sugar over it all. The greens will be bitter without the sugar. Place more greens on top of this to fill the pot. Cook for two hours or so on low to medium low until done.

    The greens are good as cooked and should not need a topping. The liquid in the bottom should be delicious and is called pot liquor.

    Serve with corn bread, black eyed peas and pork roast.

    • steph

      Yeah, that’s HOW it’s done!! The bitterness comes from the stems.

  • 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!!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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

  • dasmb

    Very good recipe. I altered a bit — omitted the sugar, and added about a 1/4c of sweet rice wine vinegar, as I like my collards on the sour side. I then stuck the whole lot in a hobo pack (double packet of aluminum foil, which i also use to cook the bacon so it was nice and slick with bacon grease) and cooked them on dying embers of a charcoal fire. The result was very good, if a bit greasy. Next time I think I’ll omit the olive oil — but not the bacon grease and sesame, which make this recipe a winner.

  • Chiara

    These are awesome. I had never tried collard greens before. They are a very healthy green too. I will definately add these to my diet. Thanks for the great recipe. I prepared exactly as written. First I tried w/out the BBQ and liked it but after the BBQ…wow, I’m hooked!

  • Bang

    You can use mustard or kale greens and they taste similar to collard greens.

  • Susan

    Made this with beet greens. A little spicy for my taste but I may have used a pinch extra of red pepper flakes. Otherwise, very good and BBQ sauce is a YES!

  • Lucinda

    I really enjoy your site – used many recipes. I wanted to say that I always make my collard greens with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. So, since both ingredients are usually found in bbq sauce it makes sense why they are so tasty. We are also vegetarians in our house and I make the greens with Morningstar’s fake bacon (facon). I take a whole package of the facon and cut it into 1/4″ pieces and then saute that on a low heat until they are all crispy – takes a litte while but I like my facon crispy. Then they have that smokey flavor when they get thrown in with the greens to cook. Thanks for such a great site. I share it with friends whenever I can.

  • DOT

    How to cook tough collards? Does anyone know?

  • Mechelle

    Try throwing 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers in the pot to kick it up. I like mine with a pepper vinegar juice. I like the bbq sauce too.

  • stephanie

    My father in law is from the North Carolina. He cooks his collards with smoked turkey legs and serves them with chow-chow relish. yum.

  • Wanda

    I Love Collard Greens. My husband grew up partly in the South (myself in the North) and we lived there for a year. I had never tried them before I met him but I just love them and are growing them in my garden as we speak (type). His family from the South loves my recipe for Collards..saute a diced shallot or two with a little olive oil and butter in a stock pot until soft and fragrant…then add the collards with some chicken broth and let them “hang out” for a while..until the chicken broth is gone….Delicious!!!! It’s great to try new things!!

  • Emily

    I was wondering how much is 2 lbs? Can you give a general estimate, like a large bunch or two large bunches or something like that? The grocery store where I get my produce doesn’t have any scales and I’m at a loss. I can’t wait to try it!

  • Deanne

    Excellent! I had to fry up some small bacon pieces for the fat, and I decided to throw in the bacon pieces and that made it even better!

  • Ken Broadhurst

    I live in France now but grew up in North Carolina, where nearly every family had a collard patch if possible. Traditionally, collards were the green vegetable that you could have almost year-round, because only a very hard freeze kills the plants.

    We always ate collards (stewed with salt or smoked pork meat and, optionally, onions) sprinkled with cider vinegar or hot pepper vinegar. Barbecue sauce might be good too if you like the sweetness.

    I grow collard greens in my garden here in Saiont-Aigan-sur-Cher in the Loire Valley. They are tender and sweet because the weather here is mild.

  • Nancy Smith

    I think any kind of greens would be good cooked this way…..even canned turnip greens and collards! I did it night using all of your dad’s recipe except for the bacon grease….I would have loved the bacon but cannot have it any more…..I thought they were pretty darn good..hubby had two servings and said how good they were….instead of the BBQ sauce I used “pickapeppa” sauce……..I will use this again for sure…………