Southern Collards

Recipe by Mandy Pagano

Recipe originally published on on 2/5/19. It has been lightly edited for re-publication.


Collards are a Southern staple. Unfortunately, if they're not prepared well, greens (collards, mustards, or turnips) can be bitter. To combat the bitterness, it's not uncommon for folks to add a little sugar or even brown sugar to their pot liquor.

Which is gross, in my opinion.

There is nothing worse than spooning out some steaming greens, anticipating that savory goodness, then taking that first bite only to get a mouthful of sweet. Yuck!

Luckily, I know how to make greens taste good with zero sweetener needed. My two secret weapons are smoked ham hocks and time. That's right, folks. All it takes is the right seasoning and enough patience to let the pot liquor do its thing, and you can have a bowlful of savory greens that will make you appreciate the green leafies in a way you'd never considered. These greens are insanely flavorful and tender, and they taste so good even my nine-year-old eats them. And asks for seconds!

Kids asking for seconds on their veggies is a win, y'all.

Notes: One important thing to note is that greens can be a bit of a pain to clean properly. It involves a LOT of washing and removing them from the tough, thick stem in the middle. I linked a video in the recipe notes below showing how to properly stem and clean greens, but if you're like me and don't want to mess with all that, using pre-bagged greens is totally OK. I would give it another rinse, just to be sure they're clean, but otherwise, it's open and dump. Sure, it's less authentic that way, but I'm on #teamlazy, so unless I have a specific reason for starting from a whole bunch on the stem, I just grab a bag and go.

[tasty-recipe id="2775"]

Southern Collards

  •  Author: Mandy Pagano
  •  Prep Time: 10 mins
  •  Cook Time: 2 hours 30 mins
  •  Total Time: 2 hours 40 mins
  •  Yield: 10 servings
  •  Method: Stovetop
  •  Cuisine: Southern
  •  Keywords: comfort-food, greens, sides, southern, vegetables


  • 3 tbsp. bacon drippings
  • 3 oz (85 g) onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 lb (8 oz/ 227 g) smoked ham hocks (or smoked ham neck bones)
  • 1 lb (16 oz/ 454 g) cleaned collard greens (measured after cleaning off the stem)
  • 1 tbsp. (1/2 oz/ 14 g) butter, salted
  • 1 tbsp (1/2 fl oz/ 15 ml) Frank's Red Hot sauce (or similar)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 qt (64 fl oz/ 1893 ml) water


  1. In a large stock pot, melt the bacon drippings over medium heat.
  2. Once the drippings are melted and hot, add the onion and cook until just translucent.
  3. Add smoked ham hocks, collards, seasonings, and water. Stir well, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  4. Once it's at a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and put the lid on.
  5. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve hot.


  • Serving Size: 1/10 recipe
  • Calories: 114.3 cal
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.5 g
    • Fiber: 2 g
    • Net Carbs [total carbs - (fiber + sugar alcohol)] : 1.5 g
  • Protein: 5.9 g

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