Braised Collard Greens ♥

Braised Collard Greens, a fine southern tradition at New Year's ♥ WW Friendly. Vegan. Low Carb. Low Fat. Gluten Free.
How to cook fresh collard greens in that inimitable southern fashion, just chopped collards, plenty of garlic, a touch of sugar and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, all slow-cooked on the stove until soft and almost buttery. These are the greens to cook to bring good fortune in the New Year but such a knock-out recipe, you just might find yourself hankering for a potful all year round ... and tempted to down the whole pot yourself.

Fresh & Seasonal, a Traditional Food at New Year's But Also a Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Great for Meal Prep. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free.

Since greens are a traditional way to bring on financial fortune in the new year, I half expected to hold this recipe, if it turned out, until next year. But the collard greens turned out so well, were so easy and tasted sooooo good, I decided not to wait!

Besides, if the pile of collards at my local supermarket on Monday is a prediction, it should be easy to find collard greens for the next few days. Plus, if there's a season for hearty greens like collards, kale and chard, it's right now and through the next couple of months, one of the few fresh vegetables right in the middle of winter. Ever since? This is my go-to way to slowly cook collard greens! (More into a soup? Try New Year's Soup with Black-eyed Peas & Collard Greens or Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Soup.)

What Are Collard Greens? What Are Collards?

Tired of the same old vegetables the same old ways? Try collard greens, the sturdy greens we eat for good luck at New Years. Recipes & inspiration in this collection of Collard Green Recipes ♥ Many Weight Watchers, vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, paleo and whole30 recipes, from weeknight easy to weekend special.

Collard greens (for short, just "collards") are a sturdy, hearty green, a cooking green versus a salad green. The stems are thick and fibrous, the leaves are dark, thick and smooth, floppy like giant elephant ears. Botanically, collards are cousins to both broccoli and cabbage. In fact, the very name "collard" comes from colewort which means "wild cabbage". Collard greens are slightly bitter, just like mustard greens, turnip greens, kale and other greens. More info? See Vegetables 101: What Are Bitter Greens?. Usually, however, we cook collard greens for a long while, that removes the bitterness and creates a certain sort of non-dairy butteriness!

Sources: Personal knowledge & experience supplemented by Wikipedia

Why Do We Eat Greens at New Year's? It's Tradition!

In the American South, it's traditional to eat greens at New Year's, symbolizing financial fortune in the year to come. This is a tradition that's widely written about after Christmas so the tradition's circle, I think, is widening.

Which Is Better? Loose Collards in Bundles or Bags of Collard Greens?

Well, it depends on your priorities, the usual balance between Taste vs Time & Convenience.

Loose Collards My grocery stores carry collards and other greens year-round, packed in big bundles of loose greens secured by elastic bands or metal ties. The bundles stay fresh for several days and if they begin to wilt, can be revived, see Vegetables 101: How to Revive Fresh Greens. But the downside to buying loose greens is that they need careful cleaning, otherwise they'll be gritty. This takes more than a quick rinse, especially if the collards are from a farmers market or a CSA. Now you see why bags of greens are sought after?!

Bags of Fresh, Cleaned Collards These are so convenient! I have good luck with bags of chopped collards from a company called Nature's Greens, found at at Walmart. Other greens packages can be weighed down by gnarly looking stems (hello, Trader Joe's kale). With Nature's Greens, a few stems need tossing but mostly, the bag is 99% chopped leaves and okay-looking stems and ribs. That said, I do think it's possible that bagged greens are less fresh and take longer to cook. Unless I'm super short on time, I'm going with loose collards.

Frozen Collard Greens I've never come across frozen collards but I'd sure be happy to experiment. Anyone else?

What Is Braising?

The Short Answer Braising is boiling with half the liquid. When we boil food, we fully cover the food with liquid, like boiling pasta or boiling green beans or boiling potatoes. When we braise food, the food rests in cooking liquid that comes up only about halfway.

The Details
Braising is a cooking technique, just like steaming and frying and baking and sautéeing are cooking techniques.
Braising occurs on the stovetop or in the oven or even in a slow cooker.
Braising usually calls for a skillet, a roasting pan, a Dutch oven, often but not always with the lid on to hold in the heat.
Braising is a slow-cooking technique that tenderizes meats, greens and other foods.

Here's the funny thing. I'm not sure why but the term itself is used less often, even if the method is described within the recipe. Anytime you see directions something like, "Add water about halfway up the sides" – those are directions to braise. So braising may be a new term for some cooks but I suspect it's not a new technique. Am I right?!

Braised Collard Greens, a fine southern tradition at New Year's ♥ WW Friendly. Vegan. Low Carb. Low Fat. Gluten Free.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes plus occasional attention afterward
Time to table: about an hour
Serves 4 with large-ish servings, 8 in small-ish ones

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 or more large garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound fresh collard greens, cleaned, trimmed & chopped (see below for more detail)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider vinegar, balsamic, rice, malt, etc.)
2 teaspoons sugar (don't skip!)
Salt to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
Additional stock, as needed

HOW TO CLEAN/CHOP COLLARD GREENS (If you're cleaning/prepping the greens yourself, you may want to do so before starting the skillet, for it takes some time to clean and chop the greens.) Wash the greens well. I rinse them under slightly warm running water. Others like to soak greens in water for a few minutes to loosen any dirt, then rinse well. Trim away any rough stems pieces or bruised leaves. Cut out the stems/ribs from all the leaves, collect together and chop the stems/ribs into one-inch pieces. Roll one or two leaves into a "cigar roll". Holding a roll with your fingers to hold it together, slice into it lengthwise, turn ninety degrees and cut lengthwise again. Then cut cross-wise about an inch apart, you'll end up with one-inch squares! Slick, eh?!

COOK THE COLLARD GREENS Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet with a lid until shimmery. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in the greens, in batches if necessary, stirring to coat with fat. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook until tender about 45 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed and stirring occasionally. Watch the water level, there should always be at least a noticeable liquid in the bottom of the skillet, this becomes the "pot likker" that's so delicious. Every so often, lift out a leaf and taste, then add additional vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT PAN I'm partial to non-stick pans for cooking greens. We love this large Cuisinart non-stick skillet, it has a glass lid! It's my only non-stick pan right now and it gets used every single day.
MAKE WITHOUT FAT? I suspect that these collards could be braised with no fat for anyone really counting calories.
HOW LONG TO COOK COLLARDS I cooked these just until tender, so there was still plenty of structure and chewiness. This went over well with the grown-ups at the table but the kids were less excited. Next time I might cook them to the point of butter-iness. I also get the idea that older greens take longer to cook so the timing might vary in individual situations. If they take longer than you think, just keep adding water to keep them cooking without scorching.
SMALL SERVINGS Heavy greens like collards, I think, can be served in slightly smaller servings. I think of a pound serving 8, not 4, as is usual for vegetables here on A Veggie Venture.
LEFTOVERS These taste good cold, too! The leftovers will be chopped up and sprinkled with lemon juice for a quick lunch salad.
BUDGET IDEAS Bunches of fresh collard greens were selling for $1.35 a pound. For $3, there were also one-pound bags of fresh collards, already cleaned and chopped. Collards are especially easy to clean and chop, it took maybe 10 minutes. That makes the convenience factor worth about $10 an hour.

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic

Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2008, 2011 & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Yum. Good for you for going with some Southern greens for the new year! We had braised kale last night with sundried tomatoes and jerk sauce--a recipe that I tweaked from with cornbread for dinner. I was going to throw in some black-eyed peas, but we apparently forgot to buy some. Anyway, Happy New Year!

  2. looks great! nice to meet a fellow vegetarian who's not an indian:)

    Wish you a happy and healthy 2008!!

  3. Hey babe :) happy new year to you and the family!

  4. I discovered last year that I just love collards, so this looks like one to try for sure!

  5. If you toss the stems instead of adding them in, the collards will be less bitter and you can skip the sugar.

  6. This is a good recipe, but most of the time people eat collard greens because of there bitterness. so the only thing i did different is got rid of the sugar

  7. Sally ~ Ooo, sounds good!

    Mansi ~ Oops, well it's nice to meet you too but I'm not a vegetarian -- nor Indian!

    Cynthia ~ To you too!

    Kalyn ~ For sure!

    Amy ~ Great idea. I liked the stems, however, so for such a small amount of sugar, think I'll keep them.

    Anonymous ~ Or wait, maybe not! I did like the tiny bit of sugar (and if you look at the 600+ recipes here, I bet only a handful include sugar) but will see how it tastes without, the next time.

  8. Woah Alanna this is amazing. I received a bunch of collards in my CSA box this week and wasn't sure how to prepare them. You are my veggi queen.

  9. I added corn and onions to mine... will try this with vinegar - should add a nice tang

  10. AnonymousJuly 19, 2012

    I love your site! I just want to thankyou:)


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna