Easy Crockpot Collard Greens, also known as Slow Cooker Collard Greens have only 6 ingredients. And in my humble opinion, this is the best way to cook collard greens! The greens are cooked in a hearty broth and loaded with the smoky flavor of bacon. This is a fool-proof classic Southern side dish.
- Crockpot Collard Greens
- What are collard greens?
- Why Choose this Easy Slow Cooker Collard Greens Recipe
- Equipment Needed
- How to Clean Collard Greens for the Slow Cooker
- How to Cook Collard Greens in the Crockpot
- Pro Tips
- Serving Suggestions
- Storage Directions
- Why Cornbread, Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens on New Year's Day?
- More Amazing Recipes
Crockpot Collard Greens
Collard greens are a staple in Southern homes. In my family, they're especially popular and served for the holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, and Easter.
This Southern girl doesn't cook them often (my Mama and sister are the greens experts in my family), but I do know how to cook them and end up with a wonderful side dish.
These hearty and flavorful leafy greens are packed with nutrients and can be prepared in a variety of ways. But for those looking for a simple and hands-off approach, crock pot collard greens, are the way to go.
With just a few ingredients and minimal prep time, you can have a comforting and delicious bowl of collard greens ready to enjoy.
I'm going to walk you through a simple and tasty recipe for slow cooker collard greens that will bring a taste of the South right to your kitchen. Get ready for some Southern comfort in a bowl!
What are collard greens?
Collard greens are a type of leafy green vegetable that hails from the same family as kale and broccoli. In my family, they're often just called "greens." But "fresh greens" might also refer to mustard greens, turnip greens spinach, etc.
Each of these leafy greens has different tastes & textures but they are all rich in vitamins and minerals and they're a high-fiber superfood. They're dark green leaves packed with vitamins A, C, and K, along with a good amount of calcium. Plus, they're a fantastic source of antioxidants, which are great for combating inflammation and overall health.
Cooking greens requires some knowledge of how to get them tender and avoid the bitter taste they can be known for. Whether you're a seasoned Southern cook or new to cooking greens, this slow cooker recipe is a great way to enjoy this classic southern delicious side dish.
Why Choose this Easy Slow Cooker Collard Greens Recipe
Choosing a collard greens crockpot recipe isn't just a matter of convenience, it truly enhances the overall flavor and texture of this classic Southern dish.
And this recipe is not 100% done in the crockpot. For this recipe, you're first going to blanch the greens before putting them in the crockpot. This quick boil will prevent you from having bitter greens.
You can skip this step and go straight to the slow cooker if you want but I do recommend the 10-minute boil at the beginning before slow cooking for the absolute best collards.
But once they're in the slow cooker, this easy collard greens recipe means there's no need to hover over the stove, constantly stirring and adjusting the heat. Instead, you have the freedom to go about your day, knowing that the collard greens cooked in crock pot will be tender, delicious greens.
The magic of the slow cooker lies in its ability to let the collard greens bathe in a flavorful broth for hours on end. Using the crockpot instead of traditional cooking methods allows the greens to fully absorb the smoky bacon flavor and the spicy kick from the jalapenos.
What you end up with is a combination of flavors that blend together, creating a richness that can only be achieved with slow, steady cooking.
What's more, cooking collard greens in crockpot ensures that they reach just the right texture. These leafy greens are notoriously tough, but after several hours in the slow cooker, you will have melt-in-your-mouth delicious, tender collard greens.
- Knife - any sharp smooth blade knife will work
- Cutting Board
- Large Pot
- Slow cooker - I recommend your slow cooker be at least 4 quarts, but I prefer to use my 6-quart slow cooker. You can also use the slow cooker setting on your Instant Pot pressure cooker if you like.
These ingredients are basic, but the cooked greens are not. Here's what you'll need:
Fresh bunches of collard greens or bagged greens from the store
Fresh Jalapeño peppers
Chicken broth or chicken stock
Apple Cider Vinegar (not pictured)
Bacon - cooked and chopped with the grease reserved
This Collard Greens Crock Pot recipe is great as is, but you can make some substitutions if you like.
Jalapeno Peppers: fresh jalapenos are perfect for this recipe - but pickled jalapenos are great too. If you use pickled jalapenos, you're not only adding spice but also the tanginess of the vinegar helps cut the bitter. If you want to use fresh jalapenos, one large one or two small ones, sliced with seeds removed should do the trick. For pickled, use about 2 tablespoons of them diced up.
Smoked Meat: Any smoked pork will be good in your collard greens. Instead of bacon, you could use ham, smoked ham hocks, or even chunks of pork chops. Another option would be leftover smoked turkey wings or a smoked turkey leg (from Thanksgiving or Christmas).
Additionally, if you want to skip the meat, you could use only bacon grease or even butter to add fat and flavor.
How to Clean Collard Greens for the Slow Cooker
Tip: You can skip this prep step if you buy collards in a bag that have already been cleaned and chopped.
- Clean: Start by soaking your collard greens in the sink in cold water. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes, then rinse them to remove any dirt or grit. The first time may get all the dirt off but often you'll need to repeat this process until you don't have any grit on your greens.
- Remove stems: Use a sharp knife to remove the thick stems from the bottom and center of each leaf. To do this, lay the leaf flat and cut around the thick stem, saving all the leafy green outside. The stems can be really tough and have to cook for a very long time to get tender so it's best to remove most of them before you get started.
- Chop: Stack bunches of collards on top of each other, roll them up, then cut them into strips no more than an inch wide.
How to Cook Collard Greens in the Crockpot
- Place the cleaned, chopped, fresh collard greens into a large pot. Cover the greens with cold water, salting well.
- Bring the collards to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain the collards well and transfer them to a slow cooker.
- To the slow cooker, add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. The cooking time may vary depending on your slow cooker. I cook them a minimum of 6 hours for the best results. You can also increase or decrease the cooking time depending on how tender you like your greens to be.
Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipe
This easy recipe can also be adapted to a vegetarian variation or even vegan collard greens. If you want to make slow cooker collard greens without meat, you should use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth and skip the smoked meat.
Clean your greens! When preparing your Southern collard greens, don't forget to give them a good cleaning. Rinsing them once may not be enough; these leafy greens often carry a lot of dirt or grit in their crevices, and a thorough wash is key to ensuring that your final dish is grit-free.
Don't forget the apple cider vinegar! You might be tempted to skip this ingredient but trust me, the vinegar works to tone down the natural bitterness of collard greens. This is the secret behind the balanced, complex flavors of the dish. So remember, don't just throw your ingredients into the slow cooker and call it a day. Add that vinegar - it's a game-changer!
Tast the Pot Liquor! Pot liquor (or pot likker) is the liquid that cooks the collard greens - otherwise known as the seasoned broth. It is the primary source of flavor for your greens so taste it and make sure you are happy with the level of salt and spices. This is how you'll get the best collard greens! If you like a lot more flavor, you can add garlic, onions, red pepper flakes and more!
Few things are non-negotiable at a Southern table and one of those things is.. you must serve cornbread with your greens!
Otherwise, greens are most often served with other traditional southern dishes including a big baked ham, turkey, fried chicken, etc. It's a great side dish that can also be added to other side dishes.
For New Year's Day, we almost always have slow-cooker collard greens and black-eyed peas, along with ham, and usually corn casserole.
Serve with a slotted spoon if you don't want all the pot likker on your plate. Or if you're eating them in a bowl with crumbled cornbread (like my family does), you'll want a regular spoon so you get the liquid with the greens.
Wondering what to do with any leftovers from this crockpot collard greens recipe? Here's the good news: this hearty, delicious recipe keeps remarkably well, allowing you to savor the flavors for days or even months to come.
Refrigerator: store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
Freezer: cooked greens can be stored in your freezer for up to six months in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
When the craving hits, simply defrost your greens in the refrigerator overnight. Then, when you're ready to serve, warm them up gently in a pot over a medium flame until they're heated through or heat them in the microwave.
Remember, the flavorful pot likkor that your greens have been simmering in is part of the magic so don't forget to save the liquid along with your tender greens, be it in the fridge or the freezer.
Why Cornbread, Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens on New Year's Day?
Collard greens look like folded money and eating greens on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day is believed to bring about financial prosperity.
The black eyed peas are thought to look like coins and promise good luck, health and abundance.
And cornbread represents gold and brings with it the hope of extra spending money in the new year.
Yes. One cup of raw collard greens only have 11.5 calories, 2 grams of carbs, and 1.4 grams of fiber. Net carbs are only . 6 grams per cup.
Yes. Cooked greens can be stored in your freezer for up to six months in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.