How to Make Collard Greens Taste Good

How to Make Collard Greens Taste Good

It’s known as a lot of things – a superfood, a southern side dish – but tasty isn’t always one of them. However, once you know how to make collard greens taste good, you might just discover a new favorite veggie to boost your health!

Many people think of collared greens as soul food or a staple of America’s south. However, did you know these greens are also really popular in South America and southern Europe? There are a ton of different ways to prepare them, too – and it all depends on what type of food you like.

The problem is that lots of people don’t like collard greens. It’s true – on its own, this veggie does have a very bitter taste and is extremely tough to chew. However, those are both things that you can easily remedy when you cook them properly.

Thankfully, these greens are one of the most inexpensive vegetables you can buy. If you’re looking for an affordable way to add some healthy foods to your dinner table, then consider learning how to make collard greens taste better. It’s actually pretty easy!


What are collard greens?

Before we dive into all the different ways to make them taste good, it’s important to understand what they are.

Collard greens are extremely large, green, loose-leafed vegetables. They are known as cruciferous vegetables. Other cruciferous vegetables include broccoli and cauliflower. Kale is another type of plant that is very similar to collard greens.

Unlike broccoli or kale, however, collard greens don’t taste very good when they are raw. They have a really bitter and earthy flavor that doesn’t appeal to most people on its own.

Nutrition Profile of Collard Greens

These green veggies are extremely nutritious. One of the best things about collard greens is the antioxidant glutathione. It not only helps detox the liver, but it plays an important role in helping your body prevent cancer.

Collard greens are also really high in the following vitamins and nutrients:

  • Vitamin C – This boosts your immune system
  • Vitamin A – Supports eye health
  • Vitamin K – Helps with healthy blood clotting and strong bones
  • Calcium – Strengthens bones and helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Dietary Sulforaphane (dietary fiber) – Improves digestive and gut health

Here’s a quick glance at the nutrition profile of collard greens.

In 2 cups (72 grams) of raw collard greens, there are:

  • Calories: 24
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Fiber: 2.8 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0.4 grams

How To Cook Collard Greens

How to Make Collard Greens Taste Good

Collard greens are incredibly versatile. You can prepare them in five different ways. Try them all because how you prepare collard greens affects how they taste. See which method appeals to your tastebuds best!


This is the most popular way to cook collard greens. Boil them in chicken broth and your favorite seasonings. Then, you can either make a soup out of them or use a slotted spoon to serve them as a side dish without the broth.


Sauteeing collard greens seems like a quick and easy way to cook them, but many cooks warn against it. Unless you use a bunch of spices and seasonings, sauteeing them leaves them tasting quite bitter.


You can also season them and then steam them. This will make them delightfully tender and help to cut down on some of the bitter tastes.


Baking the collard greens gives them a slightly crispy texture. Think about when you roast kale or broccoli – they crisp up. The same goes for collard greens.


People also can collard greens. You’ll also find them canned at your grocery store too.

How To Make Collard Greens Taste Good

They might taste bitter at first, but once you learn how to make collard greens taste good, you’ll start making them a regular part of your family’s dinner menu.

Buy Them Fresh

One of the easiest ways to make collard greens taste good is to buy them when they are fresh! When you buy them out of season, they will have a stronger, more bitter flavor.

Even though you can find them year-round in grocery stores, it’s so much better to buy them at your local farmer’s market. They are tastier when they are fresh in the winter months.

Cook Them Long Enough

If you fail to cook them as long as they need, they will end up too crunchy and won’t have a pleasant taste. The best way to bring out the natural sweetness that is hiding in those green leaves is to cook them low and slow with a rich broth. The cooking process will slowly break down the astringent properties in the leaves.

Season Them Really Well

Remember, these leaves have a bitter and earthy flavor, so they need lots of seasonings. Skip any recipe that doesn’t include enough vinegar and spices. Find ones that use plenty of herbs and other taste-enhancing ingredients.

Make Fresh Collard Greens

As mentioned earlier, fresh collard greens are sweeter than those that are harvested too early and stored. Go to your farmer’s market in the fall or winter and buy them fresh. You’ll notice a huge difference in the flavors.

Cook them with meat

One of the best ways to cook collard greens is to use some store of meat with them. The best and tastiest collard green recipes include one of the following types of meat.

You can go as lean or as fatty as you wish. As they cook, the flavors from the meat infuse into the collard greens, which makes their flavors deeper and richer.

Smoked Turkey

Add collard greens to a pot of chicken broth with a turkey leg. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to simmer, cover with a lid, and let it cook for an hour or more.

Smoked turkey is a leaner meat that still has tons of flavors for the greens. As it cooks, the meat will fall off the bone, so you’ll have a delicious meal in one bowl.

Ham Hocks

Using ham hocks to cook collard greens is the same process you use to make ham and beans. Ham hocks are salty and high in fat. The collard greens will become saturated in lip-licking flavor.


Similar to ham hocks, bacon has plenty of fat and salty flavors. You can choose from different bacon flavors, which gives you more control over the flavors of the collard greens.


Fatback is literally the fat from pork’s back. It can be used just like bacon, but it contains very little meat. If you are going to use fatback to make collard greens, I suggest adding some ham or bacon to the pot as well so you have some meat to eat with it.

Give Them a Vinegar Salt Bath

Before you cook the collard greens, soak them in your sink with vinegar and salt. This breaks the leaves down, which makes them more tender. It also makes it easier for the greens to soak up the flavors of whatever recipe you are going to follow.

This is also an excellent way to completely remove any dirt that they acquired after growing and harvesting.

It might take a few times to soak and scrub them before you completely remove all the dirt, but this step makes a huge difference.

Hot Sauce

Almost every popular collard green recipe will include some form of hot sauce. Use as much or as little as you like. Even a dash of hot sauce will improve how it tastes. Use hot sauce in conjunction with paprika, cayenne pepper, or chili powder.

Sweeten With Sugar

To soften the bitterness and balance out the flavors in the greens, some people add a tablespoon of sugar. This is optional but brings out really good results in many Southern dishes.

Add Them To Soup

If you browse pictures of collard green dishes, you’ll probably see them in a bowl with some meat. Some people like to keep them in the broth and serve them like soup.

If you want to make soup with these greens, you will have to add more water at the end because the broth will be really strong and salty.

Serve Them with Tasty Main Dishes

After you learn how to make collard greens taste good, add them to the dinner table with other classic Southern recipes. The more types of delicious food you serve with them, the more people will enjoy your meal.

Some of the most popular Southern recipes to serve with collard greens include:


How to Make Collard Greens Taste Good

Now that you know how to make collard greens taste good, here are some questions people often ask about these large-leafed vegetables.

Are Collard Greens Healthy?

Yes, they are so good for you that they are known as a super-food, just like kale! They are really high in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

Since they have such a dark green color, they are really high in iron too, which is fantastic for anyone that struggles with anemia.

They also have lots of antioxidants in them. Antioxidants fight free radicals in your body that try to cause cellular damage. This may help your body prevent cancer as well as many common health issues that come with aging.

What do you add to greens to make them taste better?

You can add three things to collard greens to make them taste better – fat, spices, and sauce.

  • Pick some sort of fat, whether that is pork or ham hocks.
  • Then add plenty of spices like garlic, onion, red pepper flakes.
  • Follow it up with some sort of sauce. Most people use hot sauce, but others prefer adding fat to broth and making a sauce out of that.

How do you get the bitterness out of collard greens?

The best way to get the bitterness out of collard greens is to cook them for a long time over low heat with lots of your favorite ingredients. The longer you cook them (and with the correct ingredients) the better they will taste.

You’ll also have better luck if you buy them fresh in the wintertime.

What do I soak my collard greens in?

Soak your collard greens in a sink that is filled with cool water, vinegar, and salt. Soaking the collard greens will soften them, break down the strong flavors, and help cleanse them at the same time.

What does adding vinegar to collard greens do?

When you soak the raw leaves in vinegar, you are removing any leftover dirt. Vinegar is a natural cleaner that is also safe to eat, so it works great as a vegetable wash.

Adding vinegar to the pot while the collard greens cook softens their flavors and allows the leaves to soak up the flavors of the broth that it’s cooking in.

Are canned collard greens as healthy as fresh collard greens?

Yes, canned vegetables still contain all the same nutrients as fresh or frozen. There are some differences in the fiber quality and salt content, however.

Canned collard greens are softer. They are as healthy as fresh, but they also contain more sodium content than fresh ones. If you wanted to add even more salt to enhance their flavor, you’ll have to watch out for that.

You can read this post about how to up the flavor on canned Glory Greens.

What is potlikker?

Also called pot liquor, this is the broth that is left behind after you cook collard greens.

Since the best ways to make them is with chicken broth and some kind of fatty meat, the broth ends up being very thick and very salty. Some people dunk cornbread into it, others crumble their cornbread and stir it into the potlikker.

Most southern cooks agree that the potlikker is the best part of any collard greens recipe. If you aren’t sure where to start with greens, I strongly suggest giving this a try!

Final Thoughts on How to Make Collard Greens Taste Good

That’s how to make collard greens taste good! Don’t let these leafy green veggies intimidate you. They are actually really easy to cook and end up tasting incredibly delicious! Try one of these simple ideas and enjoy a super-affordable and nutritious vegetable.

More Southern Dishes to Try

Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.