Sweetened Collard Greens Recipe

Sweetened Collard Greens

Are you looking for collard greens recipes? Try this easy to make Sweetened Collard Greens recipe.

It's based on a recipe from Chef Hugh Acheson’s cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen.

If you’ve read my post, Getting foodie at the Buick Encore Lifestyle Event, I was very excited to meet Chef Hugh Acheson at his Atlanta restaurant, Empire State South.

I’ve eaten at his two Athens restaurants, Five & Ten and The National, and was a big fan of his from watching Top Chef.

This Sweetened Collard Greens recipe will get your family asking for more. Click to get this easy and healthy recipe!

Sweetened Collard Greens - how to cook collard greens in a healthy way

Since I loved Hugh’s cookbook,I decided to share some of Hugh’s healthier and more practical recipes from A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen here at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet.

The first recipe I decided to tackle was collard greens since I bought a two pound bag of collards  and needed to cook it up pronto!

I did cook collard greens Southern style before when I made my Tangy Collard Greens recipe at Thanksgiving.

While my husband and I liked them, the kids thought the collard greens recipe  was too bitter. After reading Hugh’s recipe I thought I had the solution – add something sweet!

Hugh recommends sorghum or maple syrup. I used maple syrup, but I bet agave syrup or honey would work, too.

Love Southern cooking and collard greens? This Sweetened Collard Greens recipe will get your family asking for more. Click to get this easy and healthy recipe!

Best way cook collard greens: use what’s in the pantry

I made some changes to Hugh’s collard greens recipe since I wanted to use up a few things in my pantry along with the collard greens.

First, there was the bacon grease I had leftover from the previous weekend’s breakfast. I figured 1 1/2 tablespoons per pound of collard greens wasn’t too unhealthy and would add a lot of flavor.

Most collard greens recipes use ham hocks. Instead, I used thick ham slices leftover cold cuts from the kids’ lunches.

I defrosted some ham broth that I had made over Thanksgiving. (You can use gluten free low sodium vegetable broth or gluten free low sodium chicken stock instead.)

I made a few more substitutions to Hugh’s A New Turn in the South recipe such as using red wine vinegar instead of the sherry vinegar and leaving out the red pepper flakes in order to entice the kids to eat it.

The kids had mixed reactions. My daughter, Lucie refused to try them. But my son, Nathan loved the collard greens and asked for seconds! My husband, Paul, also had seconds while telling me how good the collards tasted.

Tips for making Sweetened Collard Greens

Collard green recipes take some time to cook up – about an hour for the collard greens to soften. So if you’re making Sweetened Collard Greens on a busy weeknight, plan accordingly.

To save time, buy prewashed and chopped collard greens, if they’re available at your grocery store.

You’ll need a large stock pot to cook Southern style collard greens in – the bigger the stock pot the better!

Initially, the collard greens will take up the whole pot, but they’ll eventually soften and cook down. If you don’t have a large pot, divide and cook up a batch in two large cooking pots.

Leftover collard greens taste great cold or heated up in the microwave.


Sweetened Collard Greens Recipe

Sweetened Collard Greens Recipe

Looking for collard greens recipes? Cook collard greens in a healthy way based on a cookbook recipe from Hugh Acheson.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 3 tablespoons bacon grease or olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds cleaned collard greens, chopped into small pieces (buy these prechopped and cleaned to save time)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sorghum or maple syrup
  • 4 cups ham broth - you can use gluten free low sodium chicken stock instead
  • 3 thick slices black forest ham, diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Serve and enjoy!


  1. Heat the bacon grease or olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until it starts turning color.
  3. Add the collard greens to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the vinegar and cook down for 5 minutes.
  5. 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.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 196Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 999mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 11g

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.

10 thoughts on “Sweetened Collard Greens Recipe

  1. Linda Castleberry

    Just want to know how to make canned collard greens sweet, not tangy. Just add sugar or what? No vinegar or that stuff simple please

  2. elayne

    the only place I ever had collard greens was at the buffet. most of their food I do not eat. I was looking at it and a lady said get it. it is rich in vitamins. I was hooked. $10 is a lot for a bowl of collard greens. thanks for the recipe. I can cook them my self and save money. thanks elayne

  3. Dee

    I love collard greens, it was a staple growing up in the South. All good cooks added a pinch or two of sugar to take the bitterness from the greens. Of course, some folks liked to add vinegar to their greens…..different strokes for different folks, I guess. LOL

  4. lisaeyt63

    any and all greens are great using this. i use mustard,turnip, kale,and collard greens i even add a few turnips if i can get my hands on them. I must admit its a challenge doing as i am in the north now.

  5. Rajean

    Yum. I haven’t had ‘true’ southern collard greens in a few decades and now my mouth is watering. I’m pretty sure my mom did a similar recipe with kale, the food of the moment 🙂 One thing I was always amazed by is how much of it cooks down – a huge bunch which looked like it would feed an army was just enough as a side for my small, three person family.


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