These Easy Southern Collard Greens with bacon are a classic Southern recipe that couldn't be easier to make! With just 4 ingredients and a little patience, you can have delicious collards just like Grandma used to make!
My grandma in South Carolina would slow simmer her collards for hours on the back burner in a giant stockpot with ham hocks, turkey wings, turkey leg, or turkey neck. This easy collard greens recipe is one of my favorite southern recipes and shortens the process a bit and uses bacon as a shortcut but the end result is every bit as flavorful and tender!
Why I love this recipe
- it is much faster than traditional recipes made with smoked turkey leg or other larger pieces of meat
- you need only a few simple ingredients, nothing fancy here
- the slow cooking process gives the leafy greens so much flavor
- it is a classic recipe every southern cook should have on hand!
- fresh collards
How to Prep Collard Greens
It's important to properly prepare your fresh collard greens for cooking. There's nothing worse than taking a bite of collards and getting a mouthful of grit!
Start by cutting the inedible center stem from the center of the collard greens. I like to fold mine in half and cut the tough stems off with a paring knife.
After removing the stem, cut the large leaves into 1" strips and soak for 10 minutes in a large bowl full of cool water. Shake the greens around in the water to help remove any dirt.
Rinse thoroughly in a colander to remove all dirt and sand.
The Key to Cooking Collard Greens
When cooking southern-style collard greens, the characteristic smoky flavor is achieved with a traditional flavor base involves using ingredients like onions, garlic, and smoked meats such as ham hocks, smoked turkey, salt pork, or bacon. These elements infuse the greens with a rich, smoky taste that's a hallmark of southern cuisine.
When simmering collard greens, remember that they require a significant amount of liquid to cook properly. Slow cooking over low heat is key for achieving the desired tenderness and flavor development. This can involve simmering for a long time, at least an hour, although longer cooking times are often used to intensify the taste.
Throughout the cooking process, make sure to taste the greens and adjust seasoning as necessary to balance any bitterness and enhance the overall flavor profile.
Step by step
Using bacon instead of ham or turkey gives this easy collard greens recipe plenty of flavor and flavors them faster than the traditional method my grandmother used. (Because is it really even Southern cooking without bacon?!)
- Cook the bacon along with diced onion and butter in a large skillet.
- Add water and collards to the cooked bacon and bacon grease and simmer over medium heat for at least an hour until nice and tender!
- Use a slotted spoon to taste-test the collards to make sure the tough greens are now tender and check the flavor. If greens are still bitter you can add a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to offset the bitter taste.
Tips for best results
- my recipe calls for water but you can substitute store-bought or homemade chicken broth or chicken stock or even vegetable broth if desired
- don't season the collard greens with salt until the end of the cooking to prevent your collards from being too salty, the liquid boils off and concentrates as it cooks and can end up too salty if you add it at the beginning
- for spicy collard greens add a little red pepper flakes or hot sauce before serving
- you can also customize the flavor to your personal preference by adding a little brown sugar for a sweeter taste
Serve this comfort side dish with pork chops, ribs, pulled pork, shrimp and grits, or even pot roast. They are perfect alongside southern-style green beans, fried green tomatoes, creamed corn, or for good luck in the New Year serve with Hoppin' John with black-eyed peas!
You might also like these other classic Southern recipes:
- Southern Squash Casserole
- Southern Potato Salad
- Southern Pecan Pie
- Best Egg Salad Recipe
- Grape and Pecan Chicken Salad
- Homemade Pimento Cheese
- Lowcountry Boil
If you try this Collard Greens with Bacon recipe, please comment and rate it below, I love hearing from you!Print
These Easy Southern Collard Greens with bacon are a classic southen recipe that couldn't be easier to make! With just 4 ingredients and a little patience, you can have delicious collards just like Grandma used to make!
- ½ pound bacon, cut into 1" pieces
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 2-3 pounds collard greens
- 2 cups water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the collards by slicing the inedible stem off and cutting into 1 inch strips. Soak in cold water for ten minutes, then rinse thoroughly in a colander.
- In a large, deep saucepan cook bacon over medium high heat until browned.
- Add onion and butter and cook until onion is translucent and butter is melted.
- Add water and collards to the pan and reduce heat to low.
- Simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally, or until greens are tender. Add more water 1 cup at a time if needed.
- Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired.
- rinse collards very well prior to cooking to ensure no dirt or sand remains on the greens
- my recipe calls for water but you can substitute store-bought or homemade chicken stock if desired
- don't season the collard greens with salt until the end of the cooking, the liquid boils off and concentrates as it cooks and can end up to salty if you add it at the beginning
- season the collard greens with hot sauce before serving if desired
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 326
- Sugar: 1.9 g
- Sodium: 263.1 mg
- Fat: 30.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 7.1 g
- Protein: 7.4 g
- Cholesterol: 65.1 mg
Keywords: southern collard greens with bacon