Spicy Collard Greens

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These Spicy Collard Greens are slow cooked in a bacon-flavored broth until tender and spiced up with some red pepper flakes and hot sauce.

Spicy Collard Greens

They make a perfect side to any meat or can be eaten on their own with cornbread. An hour of cooking makes the collard greens tender and almost silky, but they still have some bite and substance.

Spicy Collard Greens

With the addition of apple cider vinegar, these spicy collard greens really have some TWANG. And then the hot sauce fires up your mouth. There’s no lack of flavor here.

Spicy Collard Greens

We love our greens in the south whether they be turnip, mustard, or collard greens. Just about every southerner has a personal favorite. Mine is collard greens which is fitting since collard greens are the official state vegetable of my state. That would be South Carolina.

Spicy Collard Greens

The best way to eat collard greens is with cornbread to soak up the pot likker. That’s the highly concentrated, full of flavor broth that is the result of slow cooking collard greens. There’s nothing else that tastes quite like it. Southern grandmothers are known for saying, “Pot likker will cure what ails you and if nothing is ailing you, it will give you a good cleaning out.”

It certainly cures what ails me. I can’t get enough of it. Spicy Collard Greens are pure fall comfort food, southern style.

Spicy Collard Greens

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Spicy Collard Greens

Spicy Collard Greens

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 112kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
These Spicy Collard Greens are slow cooked in a bacon-flavored broth until tender and spiced up with some red pepper flakes and hot sauce.
Print Recipe


  • 2 pounds collard greens, rinsed
  • 5 slices think bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce or other hot sauce
  • salt and pepper


  • Use a knife to cut on either side of the large rib running up each collard green leaf. Remove it and discard it. You don't need to go all the way up the leaf, just remove the thickest part. For smaller leaves, just remove the stem. Stack about 4 to 5 leaves, roll them up, and cut into 1/2-inch strips. Repeat with remaining leaves.
  • Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
  • Add onion to bacon fat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  • Add broth, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, and tabasco sauce to pot. Stir to combine.
  • Add collard greens and use tongs to turn and mix them until they reduce in size some. Cover, turn heat to low and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Before serving, sprinkle bacon on top and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Calories: 112kcal

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38 thoughts on “Spicy Collard Greens

  1. I have never used ACV in my greens. This was wonderful and the brown sugar help cut the tang. I always try to go by the recipe as is the first time and then tweak if need be. I would probably add one more TBL of brown sugar. These were wonderful and I will make these again. I wish there was a cookbook!

  2. I’m not sure why this recipe has only 4 stars. It deserves all 5! My MIL makes greens every year for the holidays but due to COVID we didn’t see her this year. I found this recipe and decided to give it a whirl. Let me tell you, my husband LOVED these collards and said they rivaled his moms and she has been making them his whole life. I’ll be using this recipe again. They came out perfect!

  3. These are my go to for Greens!!! An Amazing recipe! One thing I did tweak was I used a whole pack of bacon instead of 5 slices and I keep the bacon in while the greens cook. Definitely a Family Favorite!!! 🙂 Hats off to the Chef!

  4. I cooked these for two hours to try to get them to taste better but instead had to throw 2 lbs. of greens out. They were just way too bitter. Not the recipes fault but I do believe greens should cook longer than an hour and needs more broth. You might give hints on getting bitterness out.

    1. The bitter in greens is water soluble. A little trick is to boil the greens for 2 minutes then dump the water out. With the water goes a lot of the bitterness.

  5. Ummmm noooo. You don’t just learn how to cook collard greens white people, cooking collard greens is a ritual, tradition that is earned. You definitely don’t cook collard greens just for 1 hour. Again, it’s a ritual and process its soul food not “Cindy teaches soul” Almost like a science experiment. And we don’t use apple cider vinegar, ewww.

    1. You really bring up color? Collards are a southern staple, not just a black staple. You don’t have to be rude to get your point across. Watch I will show you. I’m so white I’m almost translucent and I make killer greens. With that said, collards must simmer for a minimum of 2 but I typically cook them for 3-4, hours. The only time I cook less is when they are fresh from my garden. They are more tender then store bought therefore does not require 4 hours of simmering. Also vinegar is used. Some use apple cider to enhance the sweetness if you want sweet and savory. When I took my spicy greens to a cookout and a 70 year old African American lady asked me for my recipe I knew I nailed it. Best compliment ever. I’m gonna try your recipe but I agree, more broth and longer cooking time.

    1. Very true – but if you cannot wait for the first frost, you can clean them, cut them and stick them in the freezer overnight and they are 95% as good!!

      1. Overnight freezer is a Great Idea! Another way to bump up the flavor is to simmer the stems separately before discarding and using this as part of the stock

  6. I made collard greens with my mom today and they were so good, as usual. I am trying to learn how to make all of my mom’s best recipes. I did not follow this recipe exactly, but I am sure that it tastes good and I am going to try and incorporate some of these ideas in a future recipe. My mom renders her greens down like this recipe, only she renders her greens in a 1/2 cup of canola oil and then she adds vegetable stock, pepper, seasoned salt and cayenne pepper if you’re not feeding children the greens. They are really good and she put her foot in them. I am really looking forward to making these again later. Have a blessed day.

  7. Made this yesterday for our Memorial Day dinner.
    Big disappointment.
    The 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar was WAY too much – just too strong!
    Nobody liked it, had to throw it out.
    Too bad, because without that overpowering acid/vinegar taste, the greens would have been wonderful.

    1. I make mine using a few slices of pickled jalapeños in the original broth with the ham hock.. I put just a little splash or more of the juice from the jar into the broth.. that hits the mark perfectly… adds a little spice, a nice subtle flavor and a bit of the vinegar without being too much.
      I also don’t use brown sugar but just little bit of plain white sugar to help blend flavors.
      I cook mine slowly over 2 hours and don’t add the greens until my broth has had time to be at a full rolling boil for at least 30-60 minutes.
      I also add garlic at the beginning so it will mellow out and lend that sweet full flavor during cooking, then at the very end I toss in a bit more to give it that sharper garlic punch.
      Lots and lots of little tricks that work together to make an amazing ‘mess of greens’ as my mother used to say.

  8. I live in the south and you absolutely must have black eyed peas and collard greens on new years day!! I made your recipe this year and have saved it for what will be many more meals!!!!! Fabulous!! Everyone gobbled it up and there was barely any left for me for leftovers today!!!!

  9. I actually enjoyed the recipe and I’ve been using it for every holiday. I make a spicier version with salt pork for flavor. I take the olive oil in the pot and slowly fry the strips of salt pork. Remove the meat and continue the recipe. You crumble the pork and readd it after you wilt the collards down. The chicken stock is the key to flavor; way better than water. That’s the secret!!

  10. Did I just read “bacon-flavored broth’? I think I did. I think I just read that and started grinning like an idiot about stuffing my face full of these collard greens. Can you make all vegetables this exciting, please? 😀

  11. My husband thinks I’m weird but nothing makes my mouth water more than a big plate of greens! I love all collard greens and your photos are definitely making me drool – they look amazing! Love that these are spicy too 🙂

    1. Made this tonight, and they were a crowd pleaser! Not too spicy. Perfect balance of sweet and heat. Will be making them again soon per the family’s request! (First time making greens!)

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