Collard Greens

$5.06 recipe / $0.84 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.67 from 3 votes
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Today I learned to love the ham hock.

They used to scare me. Well, scare me and fascinate me all at the same time. I remember seeing them in the grocery store as a child and being in complete awe that people actually ate those nasty looking knuckle things. Then, throughout the years, I learned that they were used to flavor some of my most favorite dishes. I’ve looked at them in curious temptation a few times over the past year and finally decided to take the leap this week. I bought the ham hocks. Smoked ham hocks, specifically.

They’re ugly and inexpensive but will give your soups, stews and broths the most incredible, deep flavor that you’ve ever tasted. It’s just one of those things you have to get over. They come in packs of two and I only needed one so I wrapped the other tightly in plastic wrap, threw it in a freezer bag (labeled of course) and will use it to make an incredible split pea soup in the future.

Today’s ham hock was used to make an incredible batch of collard greens. If you’ve never had collard greens (I never had before moving to the south), you MUST try them. The best greens I had ever tasted were at Zea’s restaurant and I quickly put them on my “to cook” list after that. I knew I had succeeded when I wanted to eat the entire pot.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens with ham plated on white plate

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Collard Greens

4.67 from 3 votes
Collard greens slow cooked with a ham hock results in a tender texture and lots of flavor!
Servings 6
Prep 5 mins
Cook 2 hrs
Total 2 hrs 5 mins


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.10)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.12)
  • 1 whole smoked ham hock ($1.40)
  • 6 cups chicken broth ($0.60)
  • 1 lb. collard greens, chopped ($2.79)
  • crushed red pepper, to taste ($0.05)


  • Chop the garlic and place it in a pot with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes or until soft over medium heat.
  • Place the ham hock in the pot with chicken broth. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the hock from the pot and stir in the chopped collard greens. Continue to let simmer for another 45 minutes. While the greens are simmering, remove the meat from the bone of the hock and return it to the pot with the greens (there is only a small bit of meat but it’s worth saving).
  • Once the greens are tender (about 45 minutes), serve using a slotted spoon to let the extra broth fall away. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired.
  • OR Continue to let the greens simmer without a lid for 1-2 hrs or until the broth has reduced in volume by at least half. This will produce an extra rich broth and super tender greens. The choice is yours.

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Serving: 1ServingCalories: 66.9kcalCarbohydrates: 4.73gProtein: 4.63gFat: 3.98gSodium: 191.72mgFiber: 3.1g
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How to Make Collard Greens – Step By Step Photos

garlic and oil in pan
Start with the garlic and olive oil in a pot and cook until tender (1-2 minutes).

ham hock in packaging
Here is the smoked ham hock. If you’re scared, make yourself stare at it until the fear goes away. You’ll thank me.

ham hock, chicken broth and garlic in pan
Add the ham hock to the pot then add 6 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and let simmer for 45 minutes.

left over ham hock placed in ziplock bag to freeze
Wrap the other hock tightly, label and freeze. It’s too precious to waste.

chopped collard greens in packaging
I bought bagged, chopped collard greens because there were no bunches at the store. Bunches probably would have been half the price, btw.

simmering collared greens in pot with wooden spoon
After the hock has simmered for 45 minutes, remove it from the pot and add the chopped collard greens. Stir them then let simmer for 45 minutes.

ham hock on cutting board with fork and knife being shredded
While the collard greens are simmering, remove the meat from the boiled hock then add it back to the pot with the greens.

simmered collard greens in pot
After about 45 minutes, the greens should be tender enough to eat. Either serve them now or continue to let them simmer for another 45 min-1 hr. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired.

collard greens and ham hock plated on white plate with fork on side

NOTE: If you buy fresh bunches of collard greens, remove the stem by holding the base of the stem and pulling the tender leaf straight down off of the stem. Chop the leaves into 2 inch pieces and rinse well before cooking. Buying whole bunches of collard greens is usually much less expensive than the bagged type that I purchased.

If you do not eat ham, you can also use smoked turkey wings or smoked turkey necks.

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  1. I made this without the ham hock (vegetarian) and it was still really great. I used vegetable broth, a little extra oil and added shallots and a smoked chili powder.

  2. I veganized this for New Years and it was wonderful. I subbed Better than Bullion No Chicken flavor for chicken broth and added 1 tsp liquid smoke and 1 tsp salt-free Tony Chachere for the ham hock. Thanks for another keeper!

  3. I made this today, and I must say that although the flavor was delicious, by the time it was done simmering and reducing, (I let them simmer the extra hour) it was incredibly salty. I think that next time I make this I will cut the chicken base in half.

  4. Sounds like a big pile of yum to me, including that amazing sauce. I live in an RV and have to watch my propane . . . can you share any thoughts on using a slow cooker for this one?

    1. Yeah, I bet you could just let it simmer on high for a while just like it simmers on the stove. Yum!

  5. A ham hock is mainly fat. The add a very good flavor to black eye peas also. If you have high blood pressure done try the ham hack.

  6. Love, love, love this blog! I made the glazed pork chops and potato salad today. Thanks for such great recipes!

  7. I prefer to let the collards cook until they are just tender, maybe twenty minutes? Maybe it’s the type of collards I use, but if they cook for 45 minutes as stated above they get bitter. This also means the hock needs to cook longer, until fork tender, before adding greens. Once the hock is cooked, I drain off most of the resulting broth (save and freeze for later) and leave an inch of water or so on the bottom of the pot. Then I add the greens, and cover pot with a lid to steam them, for twenty minutes (more or less, check after ten minutes) Sometimes I also add peeled chunks of turnip along with the greens. Never tried using garlic, but I’m sure it would only make greens taste even yummier and I plan to use it next time I make greens! Never needed bouillon cubes or chicken broth, because of the ham hock flavor.

  8. Thanks for the info on ham hocks, I wanted to make a dish that I needed a ham bone (but didn’t feel like having a whole ham for myself) and never thought about using a ham hock.

  9. I’ve been waiting for a good recipe to inspire my first purchase of ham hocks, and this is it. This looks like a good simple flavorful dish.

  10. Oh btw.. my mom simmers her fresh greens all day on the stove and leaves the hock in there in tact. Eventually the meat falls off the bone and they are uber good and *drool*

  11. It is hysterical you had this post today. I made split pea soup with a hamhock yesterday. My husband is in love!