Collard greens are a Southern classic, and this is my favorite way to make them! They’re smoky, savory, and perfect for serving alongside homemade cornbread.

serving of collard greens with ham served in a white round bowl with a silver spoon.

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Collard greens are related to kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens. However, unlike kale, they’ve never exactly become an everyday food for most of us. While kale salads are everywhere, you’re not going to find very many raw collard salads on restaurant menus!

That’s because collard greens are tough and naturally bitter. However, when cooked long and slow, they become tender and almost silky-soft. Plus, the bitterness gives way to a smokey flavor!

top down image of collard greens with ham in a large dutch oven.

Southern Collard Greens Recipe

There’s a reason why so many Southerners love collard greens! When cooked correctly, they’re super tasty. Of course, everyone has their own favorite recipe, and this one is mine!

Collards are often served with black-eyed peas as part of a New Year’s Day meal. The black-eyed peas are said to bring prosperity, and the green color of the veggies brings good fortune! The perfect addition to this duo is a slice of homemade cornbread or buttermilk biscuits.

ingredients to make collard greens with ham.


  • Bacon fat
  • Onion – A yellow or white onion is perfect here.
  • Garlic
  • Smoked ham hocks – This, along with the bacon fat, is the key to allll the flavor in this recipe.
  • Water
  • Seasoned salt
  • Red pepper flakes – This could be optional if you want to leave out the heat.
  • Granulated sugar – Perfect for adding a tiny bit of sweetness.
  • Collard greens – Choose greens that aren’t wilted or slimy, with a uniform dark green color.
  • Chicken broth
steps to make southern collard greens.

How to Make Collard Greens

  1. Cook the aromatics: Heat a tablespoon of bacon fat in a stockpot set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened.
  2. Cook the meat: Add the ham hocks, water, seasoned salt, pepper flakes, and sugar to the stockpot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for about 55 to 60 minutes or until the ham hocks are tender.
  3. Cook the greens: Add the collard greens to the pot, along with the chicken broth and remaining bacon fat. Return the liquid to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to cook uncovered until the greens are tender, 55 to 60 minutes. 
  4. Finish: Pull the ham hocks out of the stockpot. Remove the meat from the bones, finely chop it, and return the meat pieces to the pot. Serve with a slotted spoon.
wooden spatula spoonful of collard green with ham.

How to Store and Reheat Leftover Collard Greens

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for about 4 days. You can reheat them in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Collard greens can also be frozen for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw them in the refrigerator, and reheat until the desired temperature is reached.


What exactly are collard greens?

Collard greens are an edible leaf that’s related to cabbage, mustard, and kale, among others. The leaves are large, with tough stems.

What do collard greens taste like?

Uncooked greens are tough and bitter. However, when you make them the traditional Southern way, they become smoky and tender.

Are collards and kale the same?

Nope! They come from the same family of greens, but they are not the same. Kale doesn’t require the same amount of cooking time as collard greens.

Should I add baking soda to my collard greens?

This is up to you. Some people will add a little bit to their recipe to help reduce some of the bitter taste associated with raw greens.

More Southern Side Dishes

Bowls of Southern-style collard greens next to a plate of cornbread.

Collard Greens

Collard greens are a Southern classic, and this is my favorite way to make them! They’re smoky, savory, and perfect for serving alongside homemade cornbread.
4 from 2 votes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes


  • 6 Qt. Stockpot


  • 3 Tablespoons bacon fat divided
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1-1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large bunch collard greens about 2 pounds, coarsely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth


  • In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon bacon fat over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until tender.
    3 Tablespoons bacon fat, 1 large onion, 6 garlic cloves
  • Add ham hocks, water, seasoned salt, pepper flakes, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until meat is tender, 55-60 minutes.
    1-1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks, 6 cups water, 2 teaspoons seasoned salt, 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Add collard greens, chicken broth, and remaining 1 tbsp bacon fat. Return to a boil.
    1 large bunch collard greens, 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until greens are very tender, 55-60 minutes. Remove meat from bones; finely chop and return to pan. Discard bones. Serve with a slotted spoon and cornbread


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 1465mg | Potassium: 291mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 298IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @kasey_allthingsmamma or tag #allthingsmamma!

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About Kasey Schwartz

For over 15 years, Kasey Schwartz, the mastermind behind All Things Mamma, has been the ultimate go-to for mouthwatering family recipes. Her work has been featured on, Buzz Feed, Better Homes and Gardens, and more, making her your go-to mom next door for all things delicious and family-friendly.


  1. just what I was looking for. the way my grandmother cooked them. Longer cook in the broth. Ham hock is a must

    Thank you!!!

    1. Shyanne - ATM Team says:

      We hope you enjoy it!

4 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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