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Spicy Southern Collard Greens with Bacon —soulful broth braised collard greens with bacon and a spicy blend of seasoning.
Greens, especially collards, are probably the easiest southern dish anyone can make. They don’t take a ton of spices to season. In fact, they taste great sautéed in olive oil with onion, garlic, and a dash of salt. They are naturally tasty greens so it doesn’t take a lot to season them. The idea is to make a flavorful braising liquid or potlikker to flavor the greens throughout as they slowly cook.
What you need to make spicy collard greens with bacon
Chicken bouillon cube
Red pepper flakes
Buying fresh collard greens year-round in Maryland is common but you get the biggest most beautiful collard leaves in late summer/early fall. For the big pretty leaves, I head to my local farmer’s market where they have the freshest pre-cut leaves. They even wash and bag them which is much appreciated.
How to prepare collards for cooking
Clean– Although the farm store where I purchase my collards gives a courtesy wash, I still treat them like I was taught. Use cold water in a clean sink to soak for a few minutes. Then give them a final rinse and gentle rub under cold water after removing the stem.
Trim– To remove the stem you tear the greens away from the steam on both sides by hand. You could use a knife but since the collards are in the sink it’s easier to do it by hand. Give a final rinse and set aside.
Cut– To cut the collards, stack about 3-4 trimmed leaves and roll them into a rod. Cut them width-wise into ribbons. The steams can be eaten as well. I don’t use them but they are usually sliced into 1/2 inch pieces and added to the pot with the cut leaves.
How to make collard greens
Start by using a large heavy-bottomed pot to sauté bacon, onion, and garlic in olive oil. Crumble in a chicken bouillon cube.
Next, add the spices then start piling on the greens. I like to let them wilt a little before adding more. Give them a stir so that the seasoning coats the leaves. Then pour in the water and cover the pot with a lid.
Let the greens simmer on low heat for an hour. The greens will be perfectly tender and full of flavor.
How to Serve Spicy Collard Greens
These greens can be made and served any day of the week. They are best served on a plate with Oven Fried Chicken, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, with either Flaky Biscuits or Buttermilk Cornbread on the side. The leftovers make an excellent Collar Green Omelet.
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*This recipe was updated on 9/10/2020 for improved content. It was first posted on 10/18/2019.*
Spicy Southern Collard Greens with Bacon
- 4 lb fresh collard green weight before trimming
- 1 1/2 c water
- 1/2 lb thick-cut bacon chopped
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 1 chicken bouillon cube see notes*
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes optional**
- Start by using a large heavy-bottomed pot to sauté bacon, onion, and garlic in olive oil. Crumble in a chicken bouillon cube. Next, add the spices then start piling on the greens. I like to let them wilt a little before adding more. Give them a stir so that the seasoning coats the leaves. Then pour in the water and cover the pot with a lid.
- Let the greens simmer on low heat for an hour. The greens will be perfectly tender and full of flavor.
** Red pepper flakes add a good deal of heat and a little flavor. You do not have to use the red pepper flakes in this recipe. It will still be amazing without it. Just not as spicy. The black pepper adds to the heat as well.