Southern Style Collard Greens with Bacon

Southern Style Collard Greens are simmered with bacon and onion and cooked slow and low until tender. This comfort side dish is down-home southern and quite delicious. If you’ve never tried collard greens, now is the time.

What Are Collard Greens?

Collards are a large leafy green vegetable and considered a staple to us southerners. They are served as a side dish and go great with meatloaf, ribs, fried pork chops, and sticky chicken. Heck, they go with just about anything, really.
Collards have big leaves and tough stems. Therefore, the stems should be removed before cooking. However, collards are not hard to cook. They just need a little care before starting.

Southern Collard Greens with Bacon

How to Clean and Cook Fresh Collard Greens

These greens need to be washed and rewashed to ensure they are free from grit, dirt, or any small critters that might be hiding under the leaves. Then the leaves should be pulled off and the stems discarded.
The easiest way to clean greens I have found is to fill up the sink with cold water. Remove the leaves from the stem and place them into the water. Swish them around a bit to release any grit or dirt. Drain the water and refill the sink. Continue this process until no more grit or dirt can be seen in the bottom of the sink. Roughly chop the leaves.

I bought a large bag of prewashed and shredded collard greens from the produce department at my local grocery store for this recipe. However, I did give them another quick rinse before adding them to the pot. By doing this, I could prepare this dish a lot faster.

How Do You Cook Southern Collard Greens?

In a large skillet or stockpot (with a fitting lid), fry bacon until “almost” crisp. Do not drain the bacon grease. Add onion and cook with the bacon until the onion is translucent. Add collards 3-4 cups at a time, allowing them to wilt and cook down slightly. Continue to add collards to the pot until all are in the pot. Stirring after each addition to ensure the collards are nicely coated with the bacon grease and onions.
Add chicken stock or water, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Give a good stir and add a lid. Cook for about an hour or until desired tenderness, stirring occasionally. Feel free to add more liquid if your pot runs dry. Add 1/4 cup at a time. Continue cooking until you reach desired tenderness.
Keep in mind the collards will cook down a great deal, and you will end up with several cups of cooked greens in the end.
Also, cook longer if desired and until the desired tenderness is reached. Fresher greens tend to take a little longer to cook- several hours. **If you want a lot of collard juice (pot likker), add more liquid.

Southern Collard Greens with Bacon

How do Collard Greens Taste?

Collards can have a bitter taste if not cooked long enough. However, the longer you cook them, the milder they become. Adding cooked meat such as salt pork, bacon, or ham can add flavor and make the collards mouth-watering delicious.

What is Pot Likker? (Pot Liquor)

Collard Green Pot Likker is the liquid left behind after boiling greens such as collards or turnips. The potlikker is full of flavors from the greens, the meat, and onion cooked down with the greens. It’s flavorful, salty, and porky and is usually sopped up with a nice slice of cornbread.
Any good southerner would never dream of pouring out or discarding the potlikker. Most of us, including myself, could just about sip it with a straw.
For this recipe, you will need to add another cup of broth, water, or chicken stock to the recipe to ensure you will have enough pot likker to your liking.

Where Do You Buy Collard Greens

Collard Greens can usually be purchased year-round in the grocery store.
However, you can purchase them in season during the winter and early spring from local farmers, grocery stores, farmers markets, or even better, you can grow them yourself in a garden.

Tips, Variations, and Add-Ins to Southern Style Collard Greens

*If you use fresh greens from the garden, farmers’ market, or the grocery store, you will want to clean them. Fresh Collards usually have dirt, sand, and sometimes a critter or two tucked inside the leaves. You will need to wash them and rewash them in water.
* Cut the woody stem out of each leaf and rough chop the leaves.
*Try other meats instead of bacon. Cook these meats before adding to the collards in this recipe. Ham hocks, leftover ham pieces, salt meat, and smoked turkey wings would be excellent choices.
*Add more liquid to the collards if you prefer more juices in the pot (pot likker). Add the liquid at the beginning of the cooking time.
*Cook the greens until they are tender enough to your liking.
*Add a splash or two of pepper sauce to the greens before eating. It gives them a nice kick.

How to Store and Reheat any Left-overs

Store any leftover collards in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Then, reheat in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave for a minute or two.

More Southern Sides You May Enjoy:

Southern Skillet Fried Potatoes and Onions

Southern Fried Cabbage and Onions

Southern Style Cheese Grits

Baked Beans with Ground Beef

Quick Pickled Vidalia Onions

Green Bean Casserole

 

Southern Collard Greens with Bacon

Southern Style Collard Greens

Southern Style Collard Greens with Bacon

Gina Abernathy
Southern Collard Greens are simmered with bacon and onion and cooked slow and low until tender. This comfort side dish is down-home southern and quite delicious. If you've never tried collard greens, now is the time.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 32 oz. bag Shredded Collard Greens found in the produce dept.
  • 6 strips bacon cut into 1" pieces
  • 4 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 14 oz. can chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet or stockpot with a fitting lid, fry bacon until "almost" crisp. Do not drain the bacon grease.
  • Add onion and cook with the bacon until the onion is translucent.
  • Add collards 3-4 cups at a time, allowing them to wilt and cook down slightly. Continue to add collards to the pot until all are in the pot. Stirring after each addition to ensure the collards are nicely coated with the bacon grease and onions.
  • Add chicken broth or water, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Give a good stir and add a lid. Cook for about an hour or until desired tenderness, stirring occasionally. Feel free to add more liquid if your pot runs dry. Add 1/4 cup at a time. Continue cooking until you reach desired tenderness.
Keyword Southern Style Collard Greens

Recipe FAQ’s

Fill a sink with cold water. Remove the leaves from the stem and place them into the water. Swish them around a bit to release any grit or dirt. Drain the water and refill the sink. Continue this process until no more grit or dirt can be seen in the bottom of the sink. Roughly chop the leaves.

Cook these meats before adding to the collards in this recipe. Ham hocks, leftover ham pieces, salt meat, bacon, and smoked turkey wings would be excellent choices.

10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for your great explanation of how to make southern style collard greens with bacon. Your tips about length of cooking time are very helpful. This recipe will be added to my list of southern style side dishes!

  2. I’ve never had collard greens but it’s something I have been curious about for many years. I don’t know if my grocery store sells collard greens, if they do they are probably in the freezer section, but if I can get my hands on some I will have to give this recipe a try.

  3. 5 stars
    What a fabulously comforrting side dish! I have fond memories of grandma making collard greens with bacon when I was a kid and this sounds like exactly what she did! Thank for sharing the recipe and great memories of southern style collard greens with bacon!

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