Southern Collard Greens Recipe made with salty Ham Hocks is a simple side dish full of savory flavors. This classic southern side dish is easy to make and delicious!
Next time try this Braised Swiss chard Recipe is an excellent substitute for collard greens AND they don't require any soaking!
Why you'll love this recipe
The first time I had collard greens was when I lived in North Carolina. I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner and the guys I worked with said to go down to the gas station and get some fried chicken and be sure to get the collard greens.
I was like.... what? Go to the gas station for dinner?
They said yup! Best soul food around.
I was pretty sure they were pulling my leg, but they weren't! The fried chicken was crispy and delicious, but what had me going back were the sides!
This is a delicious side dish, savory collard greens are a southern tradition! The are great with pork chops for your family dinner and fancy enough to serve at Thanksgiving Dinner!
You'll only need a handful of ingredients to make this dish.
- collard greens - a dark green and leafy vegetable, turnip greens would be a good substitute. They are readily available in most grocery stores.
- smoked ham hocks - they are often found in the frozen food section. Check with your butcher if they aren't readily available. If you can't find a smoked ham hock, use smoked turkey legs or turkey necks. It's the smoked flavor that you're looking for.
- onion - recommend white or yellow onion
- garlic, Tabasco Sauce, olive oil and butter - to add flavor and richness, leftover bacon grease would be amazing as well!
How do you prep the greens
- For best results, start by soaking the fresh collard greens well in cold water. Wash collard greens to remove any grit or grime.
- The thick stems are tough and need to be removed, cut away and discard tough stems.
- Slice along either side of the stem with a knife or you can strip the leaves from the stalk using your hands.
- Stack the leaves in a single pile and roll the collard leaves up cigar-style.
- Using a sharp knife, cut collards crosswise into thick ribbons on a cutting board.
Cooking the greens
- Boil the ham hock in a large dutch oven covered with water to tenderize the meat. Remove ham hock, dice the meat into small pieces, set aside.
- Saute onion and garlic in butter and olive oil until soft.
- Add the chopped collard greens, diced ham, seasonings and reserved broth. Bring to a boil, cook collard greens stirring often.
- Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the leaves are tender. This is such an easy collard greens recipe!
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- Dutch Oven - I use my largest one because you really add a lot of greens to the pot.
- Then all you'll need is a wooden spoon and a good knife to slice the greens.
Collard Greens are leafy vegetables with thick tough stems. They are in the same family as turnips, kale and mustard greens.
They are filled with goodness! Low in calories, filled with vitamins and minerals. Here's what's important though, Southern Style Collard Greens are delicious!
The best way is to look for collard greens with firm, dark green leaves - not yellow. Smaller leaves will be more tender and the flavor will be milder.
Soaking them in saltwater for about 30 minutes will help remove any bitterness. Just be sure to rinse them well afterward.
- Uncooked the leafy greens will stay crisp for several days refrigerated. Do not wash prior to refrigerating. Keep in a sealed plastic bag or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel.
- When you're at your local grocery store, purchase more fresh collard greens than you think you'll need as they really cook down.
- When you're ready to cook them, really take the time to wash the large leaves well, if you don't remove all the grit you certainly won't be able to after they are cooked and you'll definitely taste them.
- Slicing the greens thinly will help ensure they are tender after cooking.
- Save the pot liquor to use in your next homemade bean soup recipe!
- At the end of cooking remove the ham hock. If desired pick off the lean meat and add it back to the greens and enjoy! Occasionally I will add a cup of diced ham to the greens as well.
No Ham Hock - no problem! Substitute with smoked turkey leg, smoked turkey wing or bacon fat. Both are delicious! And if you have extra collard greens be sure and add them to Black Eyed Pea Soup. It's a great way to use up leftovers!
Mix up this leafy green side dish by adding kale prior to cooking, you'll get even more goodness from this meal!
Would you prefer Vegan Collard Greens? Omit the meat entirely and add a ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke. Add it sparingly, it's very strong, but will add a nice smoky flavor!
Adding a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice will brighten the flavors.
This is a great dish to double, because leftovers are fantastic! Allow them to cool completely and store in a food storage container in the refrigerator. They will last 4-5 days.
Freezer storage - allow to cool completely and store well sealed in a food storage container. Freeze up to three months.
Collards pair really well with rich meals some of my favorite pairings are:
- Prime Rib - melt in your mouth tender meat
- Roast Turkey - perfect combination! Better yet, smoked turkey and collards are a match made in heaven!
- Fried Chicken - of course!
I may have not been born in the south, but I sure love their food! Some of my favorites are: Instant Pot Green Beans - salty bacon, onions and garlic - these are a classic side everyone loves!
There's a debate whether fried apples are a side dish or dessert - you choose! Just make this recipe soon because it's delicious!
Pan Roasted Vegetables are easy to make with a light pan sauce. Make them ahead of time and reheat before serving.
Love over the top deliciousness? This recipe for candied sweet potatoes is a family favorite. With only a handful of ingredients, they are easy to make and everyone loves them!
Ham Pasta Salad - creamy pasta filled with salty ham and feta cheese along with plenty of crispy vegetables make this a side dish that is fantastic with every meal.
Southern Collard Greens
- 2 bunches collard greens
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 ham hock
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 dashes Tabasco Sauce Substitute with red pepper flakes if Tabasco sauce isn't available. Season with black pepper if you want to avoid the heat.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Start by placing the ham hock in a large skillet covered with water. Cover and over high heat bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue to boil for an hour to tenderize the meat.
- Remove ham hock, reserving the stock. Allow the meat to cool and pull the meat off the bone, diced into small pieces, set aside.
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
- Return the pot to the burner and place over medium heat. Melt the butter, add the olive oil.
- Next add the onions and saute for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the cleaned, chopped greens. Season with Tabasco Sauce. Add three cups of the reserved broth and diced ham. Bring to a boil, stirring often. The greens will reduce dramatically.
- Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 35-45 minutes until the leaves are tender.
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First published November 18, 2019. Updated August 1, 2021 to improve instructions and reader experience.