Side dish

Not your grandma’s collard greens

Not your Grandmas collard greens DSC0101

My new friend Amy sent me collard greens last week. The gift was much appreciated and they were gorgeous, but there was only one problem—I couldn’t eat them because they were on Facebook.

Are you on Facebook? I just signed up about three weeks ago, and I’ve already reconnected with so many friends—both old and new. I’ve even discovered that worlds can collide as, say, I discover that a work friend is friends with a high school friend, unbeknownst to any of us that we all know each other.

Twitter is another application that has been occupying my time lately. It’s a microblogging site where you only have 140 characters to say your piece. There are many uses for Twitter, but I use it to chat with people and post the occasional query or inane thought. It’s kind of silly and sometimes feels a bit narcissistic—but it’s also a quick and easy way to connect with people, which for me is the great appeal of the Internet.

Not your Grandma's collard greens | Homesick Texan
All this virtual living is fun, especially when you’re tethered to your computer for eight hours a day. But a girl still has to eat.

And that brings me back to collard greens.

I love my collard greens soft and smooth, lightly dressed in a broth rich with smoked meat—be it ham, bacon or turkey (or all three if you’re feeling especially carniverous). There’s no instant gratification with collard greens as you’re looking at cooking them for at least an hour and a half to get them as soft as I like them. How soft? Well, as my grandma said when I made greens this summer at her farm, “Goodness, you’ve cooked those to the point of no nutrition!”

To which I reply, that’s why God invented pot liquor, which is the delicious cooking liquid. It’s super healthy as all the vitamins that are no longer in the vegetables will have leached into it. So drink up and you’ll be just fine. Though, truth be told, collard greens are remarkably hardy and actually retain much of their nutritional value even after cooking for hours on end.

Not your Grandma's collard greens | Homesick Texan
Giving a recipe for collard greens is sort of like giving a recipe for nachos—so intuitive and easy that there’s not much to say. For collards, you just throw the meat, onion, garlic, peppers and vinegar into a pot of boiling water. Let that cook for half an hour or so and then add your greens. Cover the pot and cook for another hour and a half or until they’re the texture you prefer. Simple.

But what if you don’t want meat in your collard greens? That makes it a bit more complicated if you want them to taste good. Collard greens are very bitter and the smoked meat adds balance to the pot. The richness of the meat also gives a rounder texture to both the greens and the broth. So you want to find vegetarian ingredients that counteract the bitterness and give a fuller mouthful.

Chipotles in adobo will provide the smoke, while garlic, onion tomatoes and carrots will provide the flavor. For acidity to balance the bitterness, a splash of vinegar is a must. And for that full, meaty feeling in the mouth? I like to use peanut butter.

Not your Grandma's collard greens | Homesick Texan
Now don’t shake your head—peanut butter and greens go magnificently together. Plus, Africans have long combined peanuts with their greens, so it’s a classic flavor combination. And while the peanut butter doesn’t make the greens overly nutty, it does add a richness to both the greens and the broth that can be missing in greens not made with meat. So while I love my greens both ways, sometimes you don’t want meat and need a suitable substitution.This is it.

And after I finish eating my greens at lunch today, you’ll again find me in front of the computer. If you want to say howdy, you will find me under Homesick Texan on Facebook and homesicktexan on Twitter.

Not your Grandmas collard greens DSC0101
5 from 4 votes

Not your grandma’s collard greens

Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 3 bunches collard greens (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and diced or 1 (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco, for serving


  1. Thoroughly clean each collard leaf and remove the ribs and stems. Tear each leaf in half.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté on medium heat the onions and carrots in the olive oil, until lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and chipotles. Add torn leaves to the pot and add four cups of water. Bring water to a boil, and then turn heat down to a simmer. Add the vinegar and stir in the peanut butter.
  3. Cook greens for an hour and a half, or until they are the texture you prefer. Taste and add salt and black pepper. Serve with pepper vinegar or hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco.

Recipe Notes

What? You say you want meat? Well, take the above recipe, swap 1/2 pound of smoked ham or bacon or turkey for the tomatoes, carrot, chipotles and peanut butter. Add them to the pot after you cook the onion and garlic. Add six cups of water, bring to a boil and cook for half an hour. Add the greens and vinegar, and cook for another hour and a half. You might want to add a teaspoon of cayenne as well. If you have any leftover ham or smoked turkey after Thanksgiving, collard greens are an excellent vehicle for their smoked goodness. Of course, collard greens are also appropriate the day of the big meal, too.

  1. Brave Sir Robin

    I saw a lady on TV cooking greens in coconut milk, and I’ve been meaning to try it.

    I think I’ll try this too. I love collards, but I always cook them with pork.

    This sounds pretty darn amazing.

  2. lisaiscooking

    I’ve been eating so many greens lately it’s crazy. They’re overflowing from CSA pick up each week. I’m on to the chipotle in greens idea, but peanut butter is new to me. I’ll have to try that with one of my many upcoming meals of greens.

  3. AnnerBee

    What would happen if I added the smoked meat, but did not refrain from using the carrots, tomatoes, and chipotles? Too much?

  4. Lisa Fain

    Brave Sir Robin–Greens in coconut milk with ginger is also very, very good!

    Lisaiscooking–That’s one of the reasons why I’ve never joined a CSA–too many greens! Though they cook down to practically nothing I reckon too many isn’t that bad of a problem.

    AnnerBee–I’m sure it would be delicious!

  5. class factotum

    Greens are also good sauteed quickly with lots and lots of bacon grease and a little bit of salt. You throw the pepper sauce on later.

  6. I’ve never made collard greens but I’m fascinated by the idea of using peanut butter instead of meat for richness. It makes sense, somehow.

  7. Farmer Jen

    Greens are good, cooked slow or fast. Very versatile and nutritious. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  8. NataleeRae

    Thanks for the greens recipe! I also have an overflow of greens in my CSA box.

    Also…facebook is a little like crack! VERY addicting. Have fun.

  9. I’ve never had greens without meat that met my expectations, though I LOVE them anyway. I think these might be the ones though. I can’t wait to try them!

  10. Trish Sharp

    i love to cook my greens in apple cider (deluted with some water) with lots and lots of onions. sometimes with apple smoked bacon, but a lot of the times with out. i think they are quite yummy that way. and as for the liquid, well that is what the cornbread is for. can’t eat a bowl of greens with out it.

  11. I’ll stick to the bacon, but wow, what a clever idea!

  12. April (The Hungry Engineer)

    This recipe looks wonderful! We eat a lot of greens at our house and tend to rely a little too heavily on bacon and cream to flavor them. This will provide a nice alternative – thanks!

    (We quit doing our CSA membership because for about 3 solid months we received tons of BEETS in our pickup box. I like them, my husband hates them, and they were just too much. Farmers market is preferable to me.)

  13. Culinarywannabe

    Watch out – Facebook is totally addicting! After years in the south and two very country grandmas, would you believe that I’ve never had collards. They were always served up at the table, but something about them just never appealed to me. Maybe I will take a leap of faith and have grandma make some while I’m home for turkey day.

  14. y’know, its weird, that’s exactly how we make collard greens at work except for the peanut butter. My whole life I never liked them, still bitter even with the ham, until I tried the carrot and chipotle spiked ones. It was like a greens epiphany. Now I love them. Strange it took nyc to make me love them, though people do look at me like i’m crazy when i want “the broth” too.

  15. Hm, perfect! I just got a boatload of collard greens in my CSA box… 🙂

  16. I’ve mostly used collard greens in soup, but I’d have to say they’re definitely my favorite type of greens. (And I like pretty much every type of greens, so that’s saying something!) Love the sound of this. The peanut butter is a real stroke of cooking genius!

  17. Love the new look of the blog, Lisa!

  18. Just a Plane Ride Away

    Oh, it’s such torture to read your posts when I’m hungry!

    I started facebooking and twittering recently too. I try to limit my time on both 😉

  19. Dianiewill

    I love collards, but mustard greens are my favorite. I know, too bitter for some, but nothing beats mustard greens with ham hocks served with cornbread (the “not sweet” kind, thank you very much.) Now that’s a meal! Thanks for the veggie recipe, I will use try it.

  20. Amy C Evans

    Glad you were inspired by my virtual gift of greens 😉 How are those tomato pickles? BTW, I also like peanut butter in my greens and, when I’m feeling a little giddy, a few chunks of pineapple. XO!

  21. Lisa Fain

    Class Factotum–Yes, they are! Though I’m hard pressed to find any vegetable not made better with bacon grease!

    Julie–Now’s the time as greens are one of the few things that grow in the winter.

    Farmer Jen–You’re welcome!

    NataleeRae–Tell me about it–I’m already spending way too much time on it!

    Jesse–I have to admit, I prefer them with meat but if you don’t have any meat this is an awesome substitution.

    Lisa–Ha! Thanks!

    April–That’s why I prefer the farmer’s market as well–I like to have some say in what I’m eating.

    Culinarywannabe–You should definitely have your grandma’s collard greens–I bet they’re are the best!

    Kassi–I know friends think I’m strange, too, for drinking the broth. But I have to say that it definitely keeps your from getting sick.


    Kalyn–Thank you–I felt very inspired when I added it to the pot and was pleasantly surprised that my hunch worked out.

    Just a Plane Ride Away–My mom used to only let me watch two hours of TV when I was a kid, and I think I need follow suit and impose on myself some sort of restriction on my social-media time. It’s so addicting!

    Dianiewill–Nope, never the sweet kind of cornbread! And mustard greens are wonderful as well.

  22. Lisa Fain

    Amy–Pineapple? My you’re fancy. And those tomato pickles make the best BLT!

  23. What a great idea. I actually have never made collards…

  24. I think collard greens and brussel sprouts share some the same bitter compounds and cooking them in a specific manner will reduce the bitterness.Maybe boiling the daylights outta them is one way. I know some people that say you need to chop and slice these greens and sprouts a certain way to release the compounds.

    Any coincidence that most popular recipes for both CG's & BS's all call for some type of pork product to enhance flavor ?

  25. Anonymous

    i also love greens, but my favorite is swiss chard and spinach. not together but seperately fixed. i have always put some kind of smoked meat and salt pork in my swiss chard. collards are just on the bitter side for me to. grams also put a dash of sugar in the pot.

  26. Lisa, Can you believe I’ve never even tasted collard greens? I’ve always wanted to make them but never really knew what to do. Thanks so much for this post, I’m going to give it a try! With meat!

  27. Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe

    Those greens look great!
    ~ and I am glad to see that slice of cornbread on the plate.
    The only way!

  28. HiHoOhio

    thanks for this one, I love collards!

  29. beckiwithani

    Oh, thank you thank you!

    I have never made collard greens at home, because I tend not to buy the sorts of meats that go in them. I don’t remember the last time I bought bacon or (non-deli) ham. So I just have them if I go to a BBQ place.

    I will definitely make them now, with this lovely recipe.

  30. the very first time i had collards was in 94 when i was dating a really country guy from southern va. i fell in love with soul food at that moment. his mom used to stick her feet in them!

  31. Turnip greens or collard greens (or a mix) cooked down with a meaty ham hock and a bit of tasso, ladled over a bowl of crumbled cornbread (I echo the “no sugar”)and topped with a dollop of chow-chow.


  32. I loved Facebook when I first joined last summer, back when it was all about networking. Then they came out with all the silly applications and I resented it for a while, nearly going right off it, throwing sheep, pah! Since the redesigned platform I can easily ignore them and am back to communicating with friends!

    At university they used to serve collard greens – in Texas of course! Our heads filled with book-larnin’ we never bothered to differentiate and would always call boiled leaves “spinach” and they’d correct us, “it’s greens”.

  33. This looks delicious. And I have to say I kind of am enjoying fb; have reconnected with some old friends and it’s fun to see what everyone is up to these days. Plus, you know, it’s an entertaining time-waster.

  34. popeyemoon

    Well since your bring up green’s, poke salad anyone!

  35. Susan from Food Blogga

    I make kale and peanut butter, so I’m shaking my head in agreement with you. Collards need a little coaxing, and this is just the trick.

  36. I’ve never had collard greens. I don’t remember hearing about them or seeing them until I moved to North Carolina. Guess I need to make up for it.

  37. kittysmith

    Our first CSA pickup was last week: collards, arugula, beet greens and easter egg radishes. I’ve been adding the greens to everything: lentil soup, shrimp creole, potato /oinion/egg/greens frittata. I’m already deleriously happy to see new recipes!

  38. Lisa Fain

    Maggie–You should try making them sometime, they’re delicious!

    Tommy–I know, the two are similar and both go wonderfully with pork.

    Anon–Sugar’s not a bad idea.

    Nicole–Seriously? It’s hard to believe that someone who loves sweet potatoes as much as you has never had collards. You need to try them!

    Sandi–It’s the only way, indeed!

    HiHoOhio–You’re very welcome!

    Beckiwithani–You’re welcome, enjoy!

    Bren–What? She stuck her feet in them? What does that mean?

    Debra–Oh, tasso! That’s a great idea! Cajun bacon, I like to call it.

    Olivia–That’s funny, though even saying greens is a bit confusing since there are all sorts of greens–turnip greens, swiss chard, kale, collards, etc.

    Nicole–One friend calls it the most awesome-friend-finding tool and I agree–I keep running into people I haven’t seen in years!

    Popeyemoon–I have to admit that I don’t know what poke salad is!

    Susan–Great minds think alike!

  39. Lisa Fain

    Jerry–I can’t believe you never had them in Texas. Oh, well…it’s never too late!

    Kittysmith–I am planning on making a green mole that uses radish greens and I will post if it turns out good!

  40. backdownsouth

    How timely. We were just discussing our Thanksgiving menu and I suggested I make greens. My wife, knowing that my motivation for cooking greens is the chance to include a hunk of some special pork product, reminded me that one of our friends, whom we will be visiting in Seattle, is a vegetarian. That damped my enthusiasm somewhat. But the peanut butter idea sounds intriguing and just might be the solution.
    I did make what I call my baby-friendly greens last week — organic chicken broth and some onion, leaving out smoked or cured pork (and garlic) still at this point. They were still delicious enough for baby, mom and dad to enjoy. Part of the key must have been the amazing greens from the Sunset Valley (Austin) farmers market.

  41. Caviar and Codfish

    These greens sound delicious, especially with meat though I’m interested in the peanut butter (itsn’t it National PB Day?)

  42. heidigoseek

    we have a ton of collards coming out of the garden. i made your recipe to see if the fam would love it as mech as they love my regular “vegetarian” version. these greens rock 🙂 The “fuller” texture makes such a difference. I’m making them again for Thanksgiving with sweet potato dumplings on top.

  43. Something new to try. Thank you. What about cornbread dressing?

  44. beckiwithani

    I FINALLY got around to making this, after saving it to my delicious account way back when you first posted it. And let me just say … oh wow. So, so yummy. I blogged it here. Thanks so much!

  45. last week i tossed some collards in olive oil and baked them with some cubed squash and garlic that i was going to toss into a pasta dish- it was a happy experiment- they take on a crispy texture and might start to look a little burnt- i fished the greens out halfway through thinking i’d burnt them, in fact, but once i took a taste i realized that the burned looking ones tasted amazing- crispy and soft at the same time, and not bitter. i put the rest back and let them finish cooking with the rest of the veggies. YUM!

  46. Finally got around to making this, and it was awesome! Too spicy for some of my guests, though. I plan to selfishly eat all the rest.

  47. Man, you get me thinkin'… Don't know why I never thought of adding the chipotle in adobe, I keep some in the fridge all the time. Nice addition! Thanks.

    I do meat, and even with the leftover bit of andouille and a couple of rashers of bacon, the chipotle's nice. I toss some red pepper flake in with the garlic, fwiw.

    Might do an extra bit of andouille, pile this on my cornbread and call it supper. Eat my meat like most of the rest of the world does: as a seasoning and not a big glop on the plate by its lonesome.

  48. Four cups of water…Really? What do you do with the water after the greens et al have cooked? Use it for soup base?

    • Lisa Fain

      Lily–It cooks down and creates a nice pot liquor.

      • Ah. Thank you for answering! Then how does one use pot liquor? As a soup base? Excuse my ignorance; I’ve never cooked collards. But I planted it in my garden this year because I’ve been interested in it for a long time. Another question: Doesn’t boiling it for an hour-and-a-half dissipate any vitamin advantages?

        (I zeroed in on your recipe because it doesn’t use pork or any other meat product, which is such the classic way of cooking it. But I don’t eat meat. I love your ideas of using peanut butter and chipotles.)

        • Lisa Fain

          Lily–You can serve it with the collards so they’re juicy. Though you can also skim it off and use it as broth or sip it, too. And in answer to your question about the vitamins, after boiling the collards for so long (they’re a tough green, but this will make them super tender and slick), guess where the vitamins go? Yep! The pot liquor! Glad you found this vegan version. I love them!

          • Thank you. I really appreciate you responding so quickly and helpfully. As soon as the greens get big enough, I can’t wait to try this.

            As an aside: Sometimes I wonder what makes people eat things that at first try are not very conducive to being edible, such as greens you have to boil for an hour and a half to make soft enough to chew. I imagine poverty has a lot to do with it. Horseradish is another head-scratcher. Who first thought that was something one could consume?? And what to do with it? Mind you, I have a big patch of it and make sauce with it, and love it! I use my noxious fumes face respirator when chopping it up in the blender. Works beautifully. Otherwise, that stuff will gas you out of the kitchen. I used to drag the blender outside, with a long extension cord. That works, too, but it’s a hassle to do that in winter.

            Thanks again.

  49. Lambchop

    Pretty sure you forgot the salt….

    • Lisa Fain

      Thanks! I’ve found there’s enough salt for me in the chipotle chiles and peanut butter, but it’s indeed wise to advise to taste and add more if needed.

  50. Cristine

    Hi Lisa! Do you think this recipe would work in a pressure cooker or instant pot if one was on a time crunch?? Thanks! Wanting to try your New Years Queso today. Happy New Year! 🙂

    • Lisa Fain

      Cristine–I’m sure you could make them in a pressure cooker, though unfortunately, I’ve never tried it that way so can’t give you specific instructions one time and such. Enjoy the collards and the queso! Happy New Year!

  51. Cristine

    Thanks for the quick reply!! I’ll give it a try, maybe will less water and we’ll see what happens!! I’m sure it will be delicious. Looking forward to sharing this with friends today! 🥳

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating