Are you looking for an easy collard greens recipe? Try my favorite Sweetened Collard Greens side dish recipe.
It's based on a classic Southern collard greens recipe from Hugh Acheson's cookbook, A New Turn in the South.
This is a lovely side dish that goes with just about any dinner entrée. Serve with cornbread for a true Southern meal.
What are collard greens?
Collards are a staple Southern side dish and a member of the cabbage family.
They feature dark green leaves and tough stems (remove before cooking). The flavor is a cross between cabbage and kale.
Collard greens are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and calcium. They are a good source of iron, vitamin B-6, and magnesium.
You can find them at most grocery stores along with leafy greens like mustard greens.
It’s a big time-saver to buy bags of already pre-washed and pre-chopped collard greens.
Sure, buying bunches of collard greens is cheaper. But the bags of pre-washed and chopped collard greens are worth the extra cost.
Also, when cooking fresh greens, you’ll need a very big pot (or several smaller pots) since a big mess of greens does cook down.
Why sweet collard greens?
The first time I cooked up collards for Thanksgiving, I found them too bitter. While my husband and I liked them, the kids thought the recipe was too bitter.
After reading Hugh's recipe, I thought I found a solution – add something sweet!
Hugh recommends sorghum syrup or maple syrup. I used maple syrup, but I bet honey or brown sugar would work, too.
The best way to cook this easy collard greens recipe
I made some changes to Hugh's collard greens recipe since I wanted to use up a few things in my kitchen.
Bacon grease: I had some leftover bacon grease from breakfast. I figured a few teaspoons of bacon fat per pound of collards wasn't too unhealthy and would add a lot of flavors.
Ham: Most recipes use ham hocks. Instead, I used thick ham slices leftover from the kids' lunches.
Broth: I defrosted some ham broth that I made over Thanksgiving. But you can use vegetable or chicken broth.
Vinegar: I used red wine vinegar instead of Hugh's sherry vinegar. But you can use apple cider vinegar, too.
Spices: I left out the red pepper flakes in order to entice the kids to eat them. You can add the chili pepper flakes back (or a pinch of cayenne pepper) if you like spicier food.
The family had mixed reactions. My daughter, Lucie refused to try them.
But my son, Nathan loved them and asked for seconds! My husband, Paul, also ate seconds while telling me how good they tasted.
Tips for making sweeten collard greens
This will take some time to cook up – about an hour for the fresh collard greens to soften. So if you're making Sweetened Collard Greens on a busy weeknight, plan accordingly.
Initially, these take up a whole pot, but they'll eventually soften and cook down.
If you don't have a large stockpot, divide and cook up a batch in two smaller stockpots.
Leftovers taste great cold or heated up in the microwave.
How to serve southern-style collard greens
Serve them in a bowl family-style with a bottle of your favorite hot sauce.
I love serving greens with Thanksgiving turkey dishes like:
Or chicken recipes like:
You can serve this versatile side dish with pork or beef with these beautiful greens, too.
- 3 tablespoons bacon grease
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 pounds cleaned collard greens, chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sorghum or maple syrup
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 thick slices black forest ham, diced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Salt and black pepper for seasoning
- Heat the bacon grease or olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook until it starts turning color.
- Add the collard greens to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the vinegar and cook down for 5 minutes.
- Add the maple or sorghum syrup, stock, ham, and kosher salt to the pot. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until stock is just about gone and collards are tender.
- Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve while hot.
- Keep leftovers in the refrigerator.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 1291mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 7gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g
Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.
Originally published on January 25, 2013. Updated with new photos and information.