How To Cook Collard Greens Perfectly, 4 Ways

Collard Greens

How To Cook Collard Greens Perfectly, 4 Ways

Whether you’re looking for a healthy side for your meal or the perfect dish to bring to a barbecue, collard greens are a great option. There are plenty of ways to cook collard greens and you can bring out a lot of different flavors depending on the recipe you choose. If you haven’t made collard greens before, we’re going to look at how to cook collard greens perfectly.

While collard greens are most frequently seen as a side dish, especially in the South, they’re also a versatile vegetable you can use in numerous ways. Keep reading to find out how to cook collard greens for a healthy addition to any meal.

Cooked collard greens in a foam bowl, southern barbeque side
Southern style collard greens are the most popular type and are often served in barbecue restaurants.

©Elena Veselova/Shutterstock.com

What Are Collard Greens?

Collard greens are a healthy and delicious way to add more greens to your diet. These leafy greens are a part of the Brassicaceae family and they’re also a type of cabbage. There are many benefits to eating collard greens–they’re high in vitamin A and vitamin C. They’re also high in potassium and folate.

This vegetable has big green leaves and a tough stem that you’ll need to remove before you cook your greens. You can purchase them whole in the grocery store or you can buy them pre-packaged like kale or spinach.

It’s common to cook collard greens with some kind of smoked meat such as bacon but you can also use them as a replacement for lettuce or spinach in a salad or coleslaw. While you can eat collard greens raw, they do have a bitter flavor similar to kale. The key to removing some of the bitterness is cooking and seasoning them well. Some people even add a bit of sugar to their recipe to counteract some of the bitterness.

How to Prepare Collard Greens

No matter how you purchase collard greens, they can be simple to prepare. If you buy the greens prepackaged, all you need to do is wash the greens and add them to the pot or pan. However, there is a bit more preparation involved if you buy your collard greens whole.

If you’re purchasing them whole, here’s what you need to do to prepare your greens:

  • Remove the stem by either pulling it off or cutting it off with a knife
  • Chop your greens into the desired size for cooking
  • Soak your greens in water to remove any of the dirt

The next step is to start prepping the rest of your recipe. If you’re cooking your greens with bacon or other meat, leave enough time at the beginning of the cooking process for your meat to cook.

How to Simmer Collard Greens

Cooking collard greens on the stove is the most common way to prepare them. While most people choose to boil them with ham hocks, bacon, or another meat for flavor, you can keep your recipe vegetarian if you choose.

Here’s the best way to boil collard greens on the stove:

  • After cleaning and cutting the collard greens, add your aromatics or meat to a large pot with some olive oil
  • Add broth to the pot with enough to cover the collard greens
  • Toss your collard greens in the pot and stir
  • Season the greens with salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings
  • Cover and cook them for 45 minutes to an hour
  • Check to see if the collard greens are tender
  • If they’re tender enough, remove your pot from the heat

This is a simple recipe but there are plenty of ways to add your own flair to it. From adding different types of meat to mixing in other aromatics such as onions or peppers, there’s no limit to the ways you can simmer collard greens.

How to Roast Collard Greens

For a different type of flavor, you can roast your collard greens in the oven. Simmering the collard greens on the stove is a bit longer of a process while roasting them in the oven is a much quicker way to include collard greens in your weeknight meals. 

Here’s how to roast collard greens:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  • Cover a large baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil
  • Season your collard green slices and drizzle with olive oil
  • Place the collard greens on the baking sheet or pan
  • Roast for 25 minutes or until the collard greens are tender

For some extra flavor, you can add sliced garlic when you’re roasting the collard greens as well. You can also mix up the seasonings or add other aromatics to the roasting pan.

How to Microwave Collard Greens

While microwaving your vegetables isn’t always an effective way to make the best-tasting meal, collard greens can still be delicious in the microwave and it’s a quick way to make them if you’re short on time. With the right seasonings, you can cook a delicious batch of collard greens in the microwave and have them ready in no time.

Here’s how to microwave collard greens:

  • Place the strips of collard greens in a microwave-safe bowl or serving dish
  • Add a couple of inches of water to the bowl and cover
  • Microwave on high for 5 minutes or until tender
  • Stir in any desired seasonings, meat, or other toppings

This is a quick and easy way to cook collard greens especially if you have limited space on the stove. You can fry up some bacon in a skillet while you cook your collard greens in the microwave for a delicious but simple side dish.

How to Grill Collard Greens

Collard greens are a Southern specialty and you might wonder if it’s possible to cook them on the grill with the rest of your barbecue. Grilling your collard greens is a great way to make a tasty side dish for a gathering or cookout. 

Here’s how to grill collard greens:

  • Heat the grill to about 325 degrees F
  • Toss your collard greens with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings
  • Place the collard greens on top of a layer of aluminum foil with the edges folded up
  • Place the foil with the collard greens on the grill
  • Grill for about 10-12 minutes or until tender

Some choose to place the whole leaves directly on the grill for a smokey flavor, but whether this is an option will depend on what type of grill you have. Either way, you can make collard greens on any grill, but you may need to adjust the cooking times depending on the type you’re using.

Homemade Organic Green Collard Greens with Pepper and Ginger
You can include a variety of ingredients to make your collard green dish unique.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Ways to Serve Collard Greens

In addition to the cooking method you choose, there are also numerous ways to serve your collard greens. If you’re trying to include more greens in your diet, you might be stumped to find an enjoyable way to cook collard greens, especially if you’re feeding young children as well.

Collard greens aren’t just good for you, they can also be tasty if you cook them properly. Here are some ideas for serving collard greens:

  • Cook them up with bacon or another salted meat for a tasty side
  • Serve them in a salad with chicken and dressing
  • Use them as a base for your favorite coleslaw recipe
  • Add them to a quesadilla or burrito
  • Make a dip out of collard greens
  • Sprinkle them on a pizza

There’s no limit to the ways you can serve collard greens to your family or even to friends at a party or barbecue. Consider some of these options for a fresh and unique way to add more greens to your diet.

Cooking Collard Greens Perfectly

Collard greens can be a great base for a salad or even a tasty dish to include with your barbecue meal. No matter how you cook your collard greens, there are many benefits to eating them.
Next time you’re looking for the perfect way to cook collard greens, consider a different cooking method you haven’t tried before. All four of these methods will lead to perfectly cooked collard greens.

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