Black Folks Collard Greens Recipe

The trick to making Black folks collard greens is to broke down each leaf into bite-sized pieces that slowly simmer away and tenderize in a rich, meaty, and flavorful broth; better known as the pot likker.

They’re both nutritious and delicious, especially when prepared the Black folks’ way – soul food seasoned to perfection!

Black folks’ soul food collard greens recipe is a mainstay of traditional Southern cooking. Southerners often cook them with a variety of meat additions for that special soul food flavor. 

From fatback to bacon or bacon grease. Smoked ham hock or smoked turkey leg. Then add vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes. The result is rich green leaves that are so good that, like they say in the South 

Black Folks Collard Greens Recipe

Fresh collard greens broken down into bite-sized pieces that slowly simmer away and tenderize in a rich, meaty, and flavorful broth; better known as the pot likker.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 10 people


  • 2 tbsp Vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 lbs Smoked Meat Ham Hocks or turkey wings
  • 1 Large white onion Finely chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic Minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp Red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt & Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups Chicken stock plus more as needed
  • t tbsp Hot sauce plus more to taste
  • 1 tbsp Packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 3 lbs Collard Greens Cleaned, stems removed, & then chopped into bite-sized pieces


  • Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, gently swirl the pot to evenly coat the bottom. Add in the smoked ham hocks/turkey wings and cook until a golden brown sear appears, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • Add in the chopped onion and sauté with the meat, stirring often, until the onions soften and become tender, about 4-5 minutes. Then add in the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt/pepper-to taste, stock, hot sauce, and stir everything well to fully combine. 
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot with a lid. Let the mixture simmer together for 1 hour, undisturbed. After simmering, the smoked meat should be falling apart, very tender.
  • Carefully remove the meat from the pot and set aside to cool down for a few minutes before handling. Then use a fork or your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to tear the meat off the bones. Discard the bones along with any excess fatty parts and add the pieces of meat back into the pot.
  • Add in the sugar, vinegar, and collard greens. Stir well to combine all ingredients together. It may seem like a lot of greens but the greens will wilt down significantly. If you see that some of the liquid has evaporated from the first braise, add about 1/4 cup more stock to replenish the pot, as you see that it’s needed.
  • Cover the pot with lid and allow the greens to braise together over medium-low heat for at least another 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
  • Taste the collard greens and adjusting seasoning to preference with more salt/pepper and/or hot sauce, if desired. Serve these greens warm, as-is or alongside your favorite main dishes. Enjoy!
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