Collard greens with bacon is a big on flavor Southern style recipe and so easy to make. The bacon in this recipe is pancetta (Italian bacon), and we like to bulk up the dish with additional ham and beans but you can use what you have on hand and it will taste amazing either way. I love serving this Southern collard greens recipe with a side of white rice for a delicious meal anytime of year.
About these cooked collard greens:
While I am not from the deep south in the U.S., I am from the east coast and raised around traditional Southern food growing up in Florida. When I think of traditional southern food I think of BBQ with all the sides and my favorite is Southern collard greens.
Slow cooked collard greens is always a side to southern BBQ along with fluffy biscuits, Southern green beans, mac and cheese, coleslaw and a few more usual suspects. When I moved to Texas, they have their own version of BBQ and none of it includes these delicious Southern sides.
Texas BBQ has potato salad, white squishy bread and pickles. Nothing else. I do love living here in Texas but I also had to learn how to make these southern side dishes at home if we wanted to eat them.
Collard greens are definitely my favorite of the southern BBQ side dishes and that is what I created first. Traditionally, this dish is made with ham hocks but I have changed it the recipe up a bit.
Making this cooked collard green recipe your own:
I did put my own twist on this collard green recipe by adding pancetta (Italian bacon), beans and ham. All of these ingredients impart that delicious meaty flavor you would get from the traditional ham hocks used in Southern collard greens.
Adding extras to your cooked collard greens:
The other addition to the simple collard greens recipe is adding pinto beans and ham. Some people do this in their cooking of collard greens so it is not revolutionary but I really like the additional nutrition that it adds to the dish making it a full meal.
I also make this recipe without the beans and ham too. Sometimes I make this as a collard greens with ham, sometimes collard greens and beans and sometimes just collard greens and bacon. It tastes great anyway you make it!
This collard greens with bacon, ham and beans is a little spicy, a little sweet and a little tart all rounded out with a delicious meaty profile. The exact way collard greens should taste.
Cooking the collard greens:
When cooking collard greens, it is a little bit of sautéing and then adding your ingredients into a large pot to simmer away to allow all the flavors to come together and to wilt down the collard greens.
It will take a lot of collard greens to make this dish. Much like other leafy green vegetables, when cooking collard greens, it will cook down quite a bit in the simmering process. I will usually buy 3 large bags of chopped collard greens when making this dish.
If you are unable to fit all the greens in the pot at once, just give the heat a little time to cook it down then you can cram some more into the pot until all of your greens are in there.
You can make this as a full meal like I do or you can serve it as a side dish at a BBQ or potluck. You can serve it alongside some dijon steak tips for a BBQ side or just with a side of fluffy rice. I promise no matter when you serve it, it will be a hit!
Collard Greens with Bacon
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- 2 large bags of chopped collard greens about 32 ounces per bag
- 32 ounces unsalted chicken stock
- 8 ounces diced pancetta or regular bacon
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar you can also use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 shallot diced finely
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes You can use less if you want it less spicy.
- 1 tablespoon salt plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 ham steak cubed about 8 ounces
- 2 15 ounce cans of pinto beans rinsed
- In a very large pot, heat your olive oil over medium heat.2 tablespoon olive oil
- Add your red pepper flakes and let it cook for a minute.1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Now add your shallots and add them to the heated pot and cook for 3 minutes.1 shallot diced finely
- Next add your diced pancetta or bacon and cook for about 5 minutes or until the pancetta renders some of its fat and starts to crisp up a little.8 ounces diced pancetta
- After bacon is cooked, add your garlic and then add that to your pot and cook for 2 minutes.1 clove garlic minced
- Now add your chicken stock and mix well.32 ounces unsalted chicken stock
- Start adding your collard greens to the pot. Try to fit as much in as possible and place lid on the pot.2 large bags of chopped collard greens
- Simmer on medium heat for a few minutes and if you still need to add more of your collard greens, try to do that now. You can shove them into the pot if you need to.
- Cook for another few minutes stirring and tossing the collard greens around a bit in the pot.
- Now add your sugar, vinegar, salt & pepper.¼ cup red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- If you are adding ham, add it in now and mix it in to the other ingredients.1 ham steak cubed
- Mix everything well.
- Cover your pot and turn the heat down to a simmer on low.
- Cook for about 1 hour making sure to stir occasionally (every 15 minutes).
- After 1 hour, taste for seasoning. Add more salt if needed.
- If using beans, add your beans and mix them in gently and let simmer for another 5 minutes.2 15 ounce cans of pinto beans rinsed
- Serve immediately or let come to room temperature and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here