Cooking Collard Greens: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re looking for a new side dish to pair with your meal, collard greens are a delicious and nutritious choice. However, for those who have never cooked them before, they may seem intimidating. Fear not! This beginner’s guide will give you all the tips and tricks you need to cook the perfect collard greens dish that you and your guests will love. From picking the perfect bunch to seasoning just right, we’ve got you covered.

Cooking Collard Greens: A Beginner's Guide | Eat Urban Garden
Cooking Collard Greens: A Beginner’s Guide

The History of Collard Greens

If you’re planning to cook collard greens, it might interest you to know that these leafy vegetables have a rich history. Collard greens are a member of the brassica family, which also includes broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. The earliest records of collard greens date back to ancient Greece and Rome, where they were cultivated for their nutritional value.

Collard Greens in Southern Cuisine

It’s no secret that collard greens are a staple in Southern cuisine, but how did they get to America? Collard greens were brought to the United States by African slaves in the 17th century. These slaves used their traditional cooking methods and combined them with local ingredients to create new dishes. Collard greens became an essential ingredient in this cuisine, as they were easy to grow, inexpensive and packed with nutrients.

  • During the American Civil War, collard greens became a vital source of sustenance for soldiers and civilians alike, as they provided a source of vitamin C and other essential nutrients.
  • After the Civil War, collard greens continued to be an important component of Southern cuisine, with each state having its unique take on the dish.

Health Benefits of Collard Greens

Collard greens are a staple in Southern cuisine and a true superfood packed with nutrients. Here are some health benefits of adding collard greens to your diet:

Improved Digestion

Collard greens are loaded with fiber, which is essential for maintaining good digestive health. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements and helps to prevent constipation. It also helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut, which can prevent digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and stomach discomfort, aiding in weight loss.

Heart Health

Collard greens contain high levels of antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, that can help to prevent heart disease and stroke. They are also rich in potassium, a mineral that can help to regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, collard greens have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, which is another risk factor for heart disease.

  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Lower cholesterol

Immunity Boost

Collard greens are packed with vitamins and minerals that can help to boost the immune system, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc. Eating collard greens regularly can help to prevent infections and illness and keep your immune system running strong.

How to Select and Store Collard Greens

Collard greens are a nutritious, leafy green vegetable that makes a great addition to any meal. Whether you’re new to cooking collard greens or have been enjoying them for years, it’s important to know how to choose the best ones and how to store them properly to keep them fresh and flavorful. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll provide you with some tips and tricks to help you select and store collard greens like a pro.

Choosing Collard Greens

When selecting collard greens, it’s important to look for leaves that are firm and crisp, with no signs of yellowing or wilting. Choose leaves that are vibrant green in color, with no brown spots or other discolorations. If you’re buying collard greens from a grocery store or farmers market, try to choose leaves that are of a similar size, so they will cook evenly.

If you’re buying collard greens from a farmers market, it’s a good idea to ask the vendor how the greens were grown and if any pesticides or other chemicals were used. If you’re concerned about the environment and want to support sustainable agriculture, look for collard greens that are certified organic.

Storing Collard Greens

Once you’ve selected your collard greens, it’s important to store them properly to keep them fresh and delicious. If you’re planning to use your collard greens within a day or two, you can simply wrap them in a damp paper towel and store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. If you’re planning to store them for longer, you’ll need to take a few additional steps.


Start by washing your collard greens thoroughly under running water. Use a sharp knife to remove the tough center stems, and chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Fill a large bowl with cold water, and add a few ice cubes. Place the chopped collard greens into the water, and let them soak for 10-15 minutes. This will help to remove any remaining dirt and debris.


Once your collard greens are clean and chopped, it’s time to blanch them. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the collard greens. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the greens are bright green and tender. Remove the greens from the pot using a slotted spoon, and transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.


To freeze your collard greens, first pat them dry with a clean towel or paper towel. Arrange the greens in a single layer on a baking sheet, and place the sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. Once the greens are frozen, transfer them to airtight plastic bags or storage containers. Label the bags with the date, and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Preparing Collard Greens for Cooking

If you are new to cooking collard greens, it may seem like a daunting task. However, with a few helpful tips and tricks, you can easily prepare them for a delicious and nutritious meal.

How to Remove the Tough Center Ribs

The first step in preparing collard greens for cooking is to remove the tough center ribs. These can be quite fibrous and chewy, so it is important to take them out before cooking.

  1. Start by washing your collard greens under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Next, take each collard green leaf and fold it in half lengthwise.
  3. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut along the stem to remove the tough center rib.
  4. Repeat this process with each leaf until you have removed all of the center ribs.

Cooking Methods for Collard Greens

Collard greens are a Southern staple and can be prepared in various ways. This beginner’s guide will explore the most common ways to cook collard greens, including boiling, steaming, sautéing, and braising. Each cooking method provides a unique and delicious flavor profile, and you can choose the best one for you based on your personal preference.


Boiling is the most traditional and straightforward method for cooking collard greens. Simply wash the collard greens thoroughly, remove the tough stems, and chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the collard greens. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the greens are tender.

For extra flavor, you can add diced onion, garlic, ham hock, or smoked meat to the water. Be mindful of the salt content you add to the pot if you are using salty meats.


Steaming collard greens is a healthier alternative to boiling. To steam collard greens, fill a pot with 1-2 inches of water, then add a steamer basket. Wash the collard greens, remove the tough stems, and chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place the collard greens in the steamer basket, then cover and steam for 5-10 minutes or until the greens are wilted and tender.

Steaming collard greens allows them to retain their vibrant green color and reduces the bitterness that can sometimes be present in boiled greens. It is also a great way to preserve the nutrients in the collard greens.


Sautéing collard greens is a quick and simple way to enjoy them. Begin by washing the collard greens, removing the tough stems, and chopping the leaves. Heat a large skillet with a touch of oil or butter, add garlic or onions, and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the collard greens and cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the greens are wilted and tender.

Sautéing collard greens allows for the addition of various flavors through spices, spices, seasonings, and other ingredients such as lemon juice, vinegar, and bacon. It’s a versatile way of cooking collard greens that allows creativity to the chef.


Braising collard greens is a slow-cooking method that makes collard greens tender and flavorful. Start by washing the collard greens, removing the tough stems, and chopping the leaves. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, add onions, garlic, or spices and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the collard greens and a liquid of your choice such as chicken broth, vegetable broth, or ham hock liquid. Braise the greens, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes

Braising helps to keep the collard greens tender and helps infuse its flavor into the broth or seasoning used. It creates a silky texture with a balance of flavors.

Tips for Seasoning and Serving

When seasoning collard greens, bear in mind that collard greens tend to absorb seasoning, so don’t add too much salt right away. Taste test often and be careful when using a meat with high sodium content.

Cooked collard greens can be served with a variety of sides, such as rice, blackened chicken, black-eyed peas, or fried fish.

Creative Collard Greens Recipes

If you’re tired of the same old collard greens recipes, it’s time to mix things up. Here are some unique and delicious ways to cook collard greens:

1. Collard Green Pesto

Who says pesto has to be made with basil? Collard greens make a tasty and healthy alternative. Simply blend collard greens, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese until smooth. Use it to top pasta, spread it on toast, or use it as a dip.

2. Collard Green Wraps

For a healthy and low-carb alternative to tortillas, try using collard green leaves as wraps. Simply blanch the leaves until they’re pliable, then fill them with your favorite ingredients. Try hummus and veggies, turkey and avocado, or chicken Caesar salad.

3. Collard Green Chips

If you’re a fan of kale chips, you’ll love collard green chips. Simply remove the stems and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then bake at 375 degrees until crispy.

4. Collard Green and Sausage Soup

Cook up some sausage, then remove it from the pot and sauté onions, garlic, and collard greens in the drippings. Add chicken broth, chopped tomatoes, and the cooked sausage back into the pot, then simmer until everything is tender and delicious.

5. Collard Green and Cornbread Stuffing

Add some Southern flavor to your Thanksgiving feast with this tasty stuffing. Sauté onions, celery, and collard greens, then mix them with crumbled cornbread, chicken broth, and your choice of seasonings. Bake until golden and crispy.

6. Collard Green and Sweet Potato Hash

This colorful and satisfying breakfast hash is packed with nutrients. Sauté diced sweet potatoes until crispy, then add collard greens, garlic, and smoked paprika. Cook until the greens are tender, then top with a fried egg.

Thanks for Reading!

Now that you know how to cook collard greens, it’s time to get in the kitchen and start experimenting. Whether you prefer them with bacon or vegan-style, with garlic or without, there are endless possibilities to make this dish your own. Remember to buy fresh, healthy greens and always wash them thoroughly. Follow our step-by-step guide, and in no time you’ll be enjoying a plate of delicious collard greens. Come back soon for more beginner-friendly cooking guides!

Cooking Collard Greens: A Beginner’s Guide

Learn how to cook collard greens with this easy beginner’s guide. Follow our step-by-step instructions on washing, chopping, and cooking collard greens with bacon or vegan-style.

  • 2 pounds of collard greens
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 4 slices of bacon (chopped)
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  1. Wash the collard greens thoroughly and remove the stems. Roll the leaves into a cigar shape and slice them into thin strips. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the bacon grease in the pot. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened.
  3. Add the minced garlic to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the collard greens to the pot and stir to coat with the bacon grease and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are wilted, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken or vegetable broth to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, about 1 hour.
  5. Stir in the apple cider vinegar, sugar, smoked paprika, and cooked bacon. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  6. Serve the collard greens hot with cornbread or your favorite Southern sides. Enjoy!
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