Easter is coming up and I know a lot of people will be cooking a big Easter ham, so here’s an easy recipe that will help you make use of that leftover ham bone, OR that you can make anytime the craving hits using a smoked ham hock. These Collard Greens are super easy, the leftovers reheat beautifully, and they make a great side for just about any dinner. Collard greens are a southern dinner staple and one of my all-time favorite side dishes!
What Are Collard Greens?
Collard greens are a super hearty green leafy cruciferous vegetable in the same family as cabbage and mustard greens. They have a smooth, sturdy, dark green leaf that can be used raw as a wrap, or cooked low and slow until they’re nice and tender.
We’re using the low and slow cooking method for these classic collard greens so the leaves become soft and easily digestible and the flavor deepens as it simmers in a mixture of chicken broth, ham, and aromatics and spices. The end result is a super comforting and flavorful green that you’ll love to serve with your favorite meal.
What Type of Ham to Use
Simmering collard greens with ham gives the greens extra rich flavor and tons of umami that will make you want to come back for seconds (yes, they’re THAT good). We used a smoked ham hock today because they’re inexpensive and provide TONS of flavor. You can also use a leftover ham bone from a ham roast, diced ham, salt pork, or pancetta. Just keep in mind that some type of bone-in ham will deliver the most scrumptious flavor.
Don’t want to use ham? No problem. Smoked turkey wings are a great alternative or you can make a delicious pot of vegetarian collard greens using the same method as our Vegetarian Mustard Greens recipe.
What to Serve with Collard Greens
Collard greens are a southern soul food staple and you’ll often see them served alongside other comfort foods like BBQ chicken, ribs, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, cornbread, and green beans. My mouth is watering just typing that out!!
- 1 lb. chopped collard greens ($2.99)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.37)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
- 1 smoked ham hock* ($1.50)
- 4 cups chicken broth ($0.64)
- 1 tsp sugar ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
- Prepare the collard greens by removing the stems and then chopping the leaves into one to two-inch pieces (or use bagged, pre-chopped collard greens). Place the collard greens in a colander and rinse well.
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to a large soup pot along with the cooking oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the washed collard greens, ham hock, sugar, red pepper, black pepper, and chicken broth to the pot. Stir briefly to combine.
- Place a lid on the pot and allow it to come up to a simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat down to low and let the green simmer for one hour, with a lid, stirring occasionally.
- After simmering for one hour, taste the greens and see if they are simmered to your desired tenderness. If not, simmer longer.
- Remove the ham hock and pull the meat from the bone. Chop the ham into small pieces, then stir it back into the greens.
- Give the collard greens a final taste and adjust the salt, sugar, or other seasonings to your liking. Serve hot with your favorite meal!
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Cook Collard Greens – Step By Step Photos
I love to use these bagged chopped collard greens because they’re cheap and half of the work is already done for me! If you don’t have access to pre-chopped collard greens, simply cut out the tough stems of your collard greens then chop the leaves into one to two-inch pieces. You’ll need one pound of collard greens.
Whether you’re using pre-chopped or chopping your own, make sure to wash your collard greens well. There’s no need to wait for them to drain well, as they’ll be simmering in a pot of liquid anyway.
Dice one yellow onion and mince four cloves of garlic. Add both to a large soup pot with one tablespoon of cooking oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent (about 5 minutes).
Add the washed collard greens, smoked ham hock, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, 1 tsp sugar, and 4 cups of chicken broth to the pot. Give everything a brief stir, place the lid on top, and let it come up to a simmer.
Once simmering, turn the heat down to low, and allow the collard greens to simmer for one hour (with the lid on top), stirring occasionally. After simmering for one hour, taste the greens to see if they have tenderized to your liking. If not, you can simmer even longer.
Once the collard greens are the texture that you like, remove the ham hock and pull the meat from the bone. Chop the ham into small pieces then return the meat to the pot.
Give the collard greens a taste and adjust the salt, sugar, or other seasonings to your liking.
Serve hot alongside your favorite comfort foods!
I am a weirdo; I love Ham hock skin after the cooking. I slice it in to thin slices and sprinkle it on soup or mac n cheese.