The Perfect Southern Collard Greens

I promised my friend Tara’s daughters that I would learn how to make collard greens before Christmas. Over the last year I have made countless batches of collard greens, I’m proud to say that I have perfected my southern collard greens recipe!

How do I know that my collard greens are “perfect”?

I had a few friends over for a dinner party at my apartment here in Brooklyn. Most of my guests, including David Quarrels IV, Alvin Wayne and Carmeon Hamilton, are from the south and they said that my collard greens were perfect all the way down to the pot likker. As a California girl, living in New York City– southerners raving about my collard greens was all I needed to feel confident in my southern style collard greens recipe. So, I’m excited to share the recipe with you dolls. I hope you like it and if you make it, tag me on instagram and let me know!

The Secret to Perfect Southern Collard Greens

The secret to my perfect southern style collard greens is a cocktail of apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, liquid smoke and sea salt that takes the bitterness away without adding too much sweetness. I’ll teach you how to make my collard greens cocktail in the recipe below.

How to Clean Collard Greens

Growing up, I was given the task of removing the stems and cleaning collard greens for my aunts during the holidays– I hated the task. One hack that works for me is to purchase pre-cut collard greens in a bag. I personally don’t mind the stems, but I do my best to remove as many of them as possible during the washing process. I clean my collard greens with white vinegar, warm water and coarse sea salt to scrub the leaves down. I prefer maldon sea salt flakes, but you can use whatever you have at home. Be sure to rinse well so your greens aren’t too salty in the end.


Is there a Bacon Substitute for CeCe Olisa’s Perfect Southern Collard Greens?

Absolutely! When it comes to pork-free or meatless collard greens, you have a couple of options. One is to swap out the bacon for a smoked turkey leg, neck and/or wing. The other is to amp up the liquid smoke in your collard greens cocktail. When it comes to sautéing your veggies, swap out the bacon fat for extra virgin olive oil. Easy peasy!


What is the best pot to cook collard greens?

There are quite a few opinions on the best pot for perfect collard greens. Some use an instapot, some use a crock pot. I find that my le creuset dutch oven is best for my perfect southern collard greens. I like that I can use it for every step from frying the bacon, to sautéing the veggies and creating my aromatic broth. I also like that it keeps my greens warm once they’re done cooking.

Crispy bacon tips

If you choose to use bacon, I find it easier to cook the bacon in strips, set it aside and then use a fork to break up the full bacon strips into tiny crumbles. When I chopped the bacon before cooking, I didn’t love the texture as much– it was less crispy and more soft.






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The Perfect Southern Collard Greens

A simple recipe for the best collard greens ever! Not too bitter. Not to sweet. Southerner approved!

  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes




  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt


  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/21 1/2 tsp Sea Salt


  • 2 bunches fresh collard greens
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4-5 cups chicken broth
  • 4 strips thick-sliced bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces -or- 1 fully-cooked smoked turkey leg or wing, (about 13 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
  • Applewood smoked salt & black pepper, to season


  1. Scrub greens down with coarse sea salt. Bathe them in white vinegar and warm water. Rinse thoroughly.
  2. Coat the bottom of a large stockpot or Dutch oven with bacon over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until almost crisp. Remove bacon and set it aside. Leave bacon fat in the pot.
  3. Add shallot, and sauté in bacon fat until translucent, about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add broth, crushed red pepper and minced garlic to the bacon fat, bring it all to a boil
  5. Add collard greens
  6. Add CeCe Olisa’s Collard Green Cocktail
  7. Cover pot and simmer until greens are very tender, 40 to 50 minutes
  • Author: CeCe Olisa
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 50 mins

Keywords: collard greens

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