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Spicy Collard Greens

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 topped with bacon in a white bowl.

How To Serve

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.

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.

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.

Collard greens topped with bacon in white bowl.

Best Way To Eat

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.

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Spicy Collard Greens in a serving bowl.

More Collard Greens Recipes

Spicy Collard Greens

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.
PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 1 hour
TOTAL: 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 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
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: bacon, collard greens

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Originally posted September 12, 2014.

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44 thoughts on “Spicy Collard Greens”

  1. Always good to get the collards after the first frost. Much more tinder and sweet! I enjoy the hot spices.

    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

  2. Joy Lightfoot

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. My favorite greens have always been collards. I spice mine up the same, but add smoke turkey wings instead of bacon.

  5. 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!!!!

  6. 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!!

    1. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      Just the chicken broth. As long as the pot is covered, it should be enough liquid but you can always add more if too much evaporates.

  7. This recipe was incredible! I just made it tonight and my husband and I are big fans. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  8. Thalia @ butter and brioche

    Love the idea of adding bacon with collard greens, definitely kicks the flavour up a couple of notches. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  9. I love greens like this to begin with, but with the bacon and bacon broth, these would be over the top delicious! Pinning.

  10. Jess @ On Sugar Mountain

    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 🙂

  12. Oooo this looks delicious! I love collard greens and have gotten even more into them ever since we moved south! And if they are spicy, even better!

  13. Sarah@WholeandHeavenlyOven

    This looks, by far the BEST way to eat your greens! LOVE all that glorious crispy bacon on top! 😀

  14. I make a version of this, never thought about adding cider vinegar and dark brown sugar. This will be next time recipe.

  15. Amy @ The Blond Cook

    Oh my you’ve got my heart with these collard greens! They look sooooo good and I could throw down a huge bowl of these right now. I love that you added a kick with the red pepper flakes & hot sauce! 🙂

    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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