November 23, 2022| By

Slow Cooker Collard Greens

Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 8 mins
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This easy slow cooker collard greens recipe is a family favorite! Slow-cooker collard greens are a classic soul food dish consisting of smoked meat and bunches of collards cooked in a delicious savory broth. This easy recipe is a delicious side dish during the holidays and perfect for family dinners.

For more soul food recipes, try this Old Fashioned Baked Mac and Cheese and Easy Homemade Biscuits!

slow cooker collard greens in a bowl with a spoon.
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I have fond memories from my childhood of my mom, aunts, and grandmom all cooking collard greens. They'd make them for almost every occasion - holidays, graduations, birthdays, cookouts, baby showers - you name it. The sink would be filled with water and vinegar and once those greens hit the pot, the smell of smoked meat and garlic would fill the house.

This collard greens recipe is not only a great side dish but it's a take on my family's recipe. During the holidays, I always need more space on the stove so I've gradually over the years have began using my slow cooker to ease the burden of holiday cooking.

That's where this recipe comes in hand. The first time I made greens in a slow cooker, I was shocked that I could get the same taste and flavor and tenderness without needing to take up space on the stove. In fact, I typically throw the greens in the crock pot the night before and let them cook down while I sleep. One less thing for me to cook!

I used my 4 quart crock pot slow cooker when I'm making a smaller batch for my family, but when I'm prepping a big holiday meal, I use the 7 quart size. They come out exception each and every time!

What do collard greens taste like?

Collard greens are part of the cabbage family so uncooked, they're a bit bitter - kind of like kale. However, when cooked in the delicious broth with smoked meat - these bitter greens transform into a savory and smokey dish with a nice bit of tang and a tiny bit of spice. Once cooked, all of the bitterness leaves and the tender greens take on the flavor of In a word, they are heavenly! Best of all, they're a pretty healthy side dish loaded with nutrients AND flavor. You get the best of both worlds.

History of Collard Greens

Collard greens actually originated in the Mediterranean and made their way to the American South via the atlantic slave trade. Enslaved Africans used their traditional cooking methods to make a multitude of dishes using the foods that were available to them.

Collard greens were a readily available vegetable that they were allowed to grow and use to feed their family, hence as to why this dish is a staple dish in African American culture and the quintessential soul food.

I'm no southern girl, but I believe that my great great grandmother was from South Carolina. My great grandmother taught my grandmom who taught my mom, who then taught me how to make these greens.

Ingredient Notes

ingredients to make collard greens recipe - collard greens, chicken broth, smoked turkey neck, smoked turkey drums, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, brown sugar, seasoned salt, and onion powder.
  • Smoked Meat - this recipe calls for both smoked turkey neck and smoked turkey drums. I like to combine both because the neck provides a lot of smoky flavor and the drums are more meaty so you can get nice meat chunks in every bite. It also makes for a delicious pot liquor (or pot likker as they say in the South)! You can also use smoked ham hocks (a smoked ham hock is a pork knuckle) and/or smoked turkey wings.
  • Collard Greens - I like to use whole fresh collard greens - the sturdy greens! However, you can use the pre-washed bagged kind too. Perhaps I'm a bit of a purist. I like to wash and cut my greens on my own - it's how my grandmom and mom both did theirs. To save time, using the bagged collard greens will not cause this to taste any differently so if you want to use that, feel free! I've also seen people use mustard greens and turnip greens mixed in with their collard greens so feel free to get creative if you'd like to mix things up.
  • Seasonings - you'll need garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, seasoned salt, and red pepper flakes. Of course salt and black pepper too.
  • Onions - dice the onions up nice and fine!
  • Garlic - what's a classic southern side dish without garlic? It's a must.
  • Apple cider vinegar - we use vinegar to both wash and cook the greens. First they'll soak in a water/vinegar solution to remove any dirt. Then, we add another dash to the both for flavor. You can also use red wine vinegar or white vinegar.
  • Chicken stock - you can also use chicken broth, beef broth, or veggie broth.

Equipment

collard greens in a slow cooker.

As with all slow cooker recipes, you'll need a slow cooker. It's one of my favorite ways to prepare collard greens. As you can see, there aren't many ingredients - but the #1 ingredient when making greens is time.

The cooking process is meant to be low and slow - it's the BEST way to prepare your greens. If you rush it, it'll be toothsome and tough. This recipe has a lot of love and a lot of history. You can't rush this one y'all - sorry not sorry! The finished product may take a bit of time but you'll see - it's worth it. You'll need:

  • Slow Cooker
  • Large Pot

Tips

  • Make sure to wash your greens thoroughly, especially if you're not buying the pre-shredded bagged kind. This step is critical to getting out any dirt that may be left behind!
  • If the lid of the slow cooker doesn't fit onto the slow cooker (depending on the type), add as many greens that will fit into the slow cooker. As the greens cook down (after about an hour or two), add the remaining amount of greens.

How to make Southern Collard Greens

collard greens in a crockpot.

Start by scrubbing your sink and making sure it's VERY clean. Fill the sink with about 6 inches of hot water and add a ½ cup of apple cider vinegar. Submerge the collard greens into the water and let them soak for 10 minutes.

collard greens submerged in a sink with water and vinegar.

Begin removing the stems from the greens. Grab one leaf and fold it in half. Pull the stem away from the leaf all the way up the leaf. Throw away the stem. Rip the leaf into shreds and place it back into the vinegar solution. Repeat for all of the leafy greens. (You can also use a sharp knife to cut the stem away from the leaves if you don't want to use your hands - personal preference)

shredded collard greens in a sink.

Once you're finished removing the stems, continue to let the greens soak and get started on the cooking liquid. Add a large pot to the stove over medium heat and drizzle a little olive oil. Add diced onions and season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5-6 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add diced garlic and seasonings and continue to cook for 3 minutes.

onions, garlic, and seasonings in a pot.

Pour chicken broth into the pan and allow it to cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

chicken broth in a pot with onion, garlic, and seasonings.

Place the smoked meats into the crock pot and then place the greens on top. Pour the chicken broth mixture into the crockpot and cover with a lid. Cook on low heat for 8 hours, stirring occasionally. I do not recommend cooking these greens on high heat, low and slow is the way to go.

smoked meat and collard greens in a slow cooker.

Grab the bones of the smoked meat and use a fork to pull the meat away from the bone. Remove the bones and mix the meat into the greens. Enjoy with a bit of hot sauce.

What to eat with Collard Greens

This wonderful side dish goes with just about everything. We eat them all year long and they are the perfect compliment to any soul food recipe. Here are a few suggestions below:

Recipe FAQs

Can collard greens be eaten raw?

Yes! Collard greens can absolutely be eaten raw. They're great for salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and even as a wrap for spring rolls.

When are collard greens in season?

Collard greens prefer cool weather and are in season in the Spring, late summer, and Fall.

Are collard greens good for you?

Collard greens are exceptionally good for you. They have twice the amount of calcium as spinach and are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

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Let's stay connected on social media and continue to cook together! Also, if you decide to make this recipe, please leave a star rating on the recipe card and leave a comment below! Tag @BritneyBreaksBread on Instagram and hashtag #britneybreaksbread so I can see your creations! I hope that you love this recipe as much as we do!

slow cooker collard greens in a bowl with a spoon.

Slow Cooker Collard Greens

Collard greens are exceptionally good for you. They have twice the amount of calcium as spinach and are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Serving: 8
Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 8 mins
Total Time: 48 mins
Calories: 258kcal

Equipment

  • 7-Quart Slow Cooker
  • Large Pot

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs Collard Greens
  • ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar (for washing solution - see instructions)
  • 1 Yellow Onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves Garlic (diced)
  • 2 lbs Smoked Turkey Drums
  • 1 lb Smoked Turkey Neck
  • 2 tsp Seasoned Salt
  • 2 tbsps Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Directions

  • Start by scrubbing your sink and making sure it's VERY clean. Fill the sink with about 6 inches of hot water and add a ½ cup of apple cider vinegar. Submerge the collard greens into the sink and let them soak for 10 minutes.
  • Begin removing the stems from the greens. Grab one leaf and fold it in half. Pull the stem away from the leaf all the way up the leaf. Throw away the stem. Rip the leaf into shreds and place it back into the vinegar solution. Repeat for all of the leafy greens. (You can also use a sharp knife to cut the stem away from the leaves if you don't want to use your hands - personal preference)
  • Once you're finished removing the stems, continue to let the greens soak and get started on the cooking liquid. Add a large pot to the stove over medium heat and drizzle a little olive oil. Add diced onions and season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5-6 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add diced garlic and seasonings and continue to cook for 3 minutes.
  • Pour chicken broth into the pan and allow it to cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Place the smoked meats into the crock pot and then place the greens on top. Pour the chicken broth mixture into the crockpot and cover with a lid. Cook on low heat for 8 hours, stirring occasionally. I do not recommend cooking these greens on high heat, low and slow is the way to go.
  • Grab the bones of the smoked meat and use a fork to pull the meat away from the bone. Remove the bones and mix the meat into the greens. Enjoy with a bit of hot sauce.

Notes

Tips
  • Make sure to wash your greens thoroughly, especially if you're not buying the pre-shredded bagged kind. This step is critical to getting out any dirt that may be left behind!
  • If the lid of the slow cooker doesn't fit onto the slow cooker (depending on the type), add as many greens that will fit into the slow cooker. As the greens cook down (after about an hour or two), add the remaining amount of greens.

Nutrition

Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 1016mg | Potassium: 746mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 9219IU | Vitamin C: 66mg | Calcium: 465mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Christmas, Holidays, Side Dish, Soul Food, Thanksgiving
Cuisine: African-American

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  1. 5 stars
    Yes, yes and yes! Look no further for the most amazing southern collard greens recipe you will ever find on the Internet hands-down! Maybe even the best because you use the slow cooker so it’s fire and forget on sheer color green perfection. It has the combination of your grandmothers collar greens and a fine restaurants collard greens, damn damn damn as Florida Jefferson (Good Times) would say I love this recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    My Thanksgiving dinner was complete with this recipe. Everyone was pleasantly satiated. I didn’t have the nerve to say “No”when asked if they could take some home!