Grandma’s Southern Collard Greens

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. Cook: 2 hours


6 servings

Updated: Nov. 10, 2023
My grandmother made the best southern collard greens recipe in the world. Eating them with a slice of buttermilk cornbread is pure bliss. —Sherri Williams, Crestview, Florida

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  • 3 tablespoons lard or shortening, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large bunch collard greens (about 2 pounds), coarsely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine


  1. In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon lard over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until tender. 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.
  2. Add collard greens, wine and remaining lard. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until greens are very tender, 55-60 minutes. Remove meat from bones; finely chop meat and return to pan. Discard bones. Serve with a slotted spoon.
Southern Collard Greens Tips

How should you prep Southern Collard Greens?

De-stem the greens, then swish them around well in a bowl of cold water. Rinse them again in a fresh bowl of water if necessary. Drain, then pile the greens onto a cutting board and coarsely chop them. If you purchase bagged collard greens from the grocery store, a quick rinse is all you need. Purchase 1-3/4 pounds of prepared collards to equal roughly the amount of a 2-pound bunch you’d prepare by hand. Explore more leafy green vegetables.

Can you make Southern Collard Greens without ham?

Yes. You can add cooked bacon to the prepared collard greens instead. Or, simmer the greens with smoked turkey necks or pork neck bones instead of a ham hock. To create a vegan option, use cooking oil instead of lard and omit the meat altogether. Season greens with smoked paprika or hickory salt to impart smoky flavor. Thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms will give your vegetarian collard greens a rich, meaty texture you can sink your teeth into. All that being said, ham hocks are inexpensive, collagen-rich and packed with flavor, so consider learning more about cooking with ham hocks.

What can you serve with Southern Collard Greens?

Cornbread is wonderful for soaking up the collard greens’ flavorful cooking juices. Here are 20+ sweet and savory cornbreads to bake. Round out your meal with black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, and any of our other top soul-food recipes.

Christine Rukavena, Taste of Home Senior Book Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 204 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated fat), 19mg cholesterol, 849mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 7g fiber), 10g protein.