This is my go-to collards recipe. These easy collard greens have a richness about them and a melt-in-your-mouth quality. Vegan & gluten-free side dish.
Garlicky greens are one of my all-time favorite foods.
While they weren’t something that I grew up eating, I have more than made up for lost time since then.
Slow-cooked collards are tender and melt in your mouth.
And they make a great side dish along with vegan mac and cheese. If I make that for dinner, I can rest assured I will be very popular in my house that night.
Are collard greens bitter?
One question I’m often asked about collards is if they are bitter.
If you’re used to milder greens like romaine or spinach, collards may seem bitter at first. They have a much stronger, grassier flavor.
That’s one benefit of cooking the collard greens low and slow.
They lose a lot of their bitterness. And the flavor becomes richer with an almost tinny quality.
I cook my collards for about a half an hour with lots of sautéed garlic. But some people cook theirs for hours!
You can also add something sweet like dried cranberries to balance some of that bitterness, as I did in my recipe for smoky sweet vegan collard greens.
After a while, you will become accustomed to the strong flavors of dark, leafy greens. You may notice that your palate changes.
Who knows? With a little time you may be making collard leaf raw tacos!
How to cook them
Start by getting out a big soup pot.
(The collards will shrink a lot. But when you start, you will have a pretty big pile.)
Put a bit of oil in the bottom of the pot.
Sauté minced garlic until softened and fragrant.
Add the chopped collard greens to the pot, along with vegetable broth or water + a pinch of a vegetable bouillon cube.
The size of a bunch of greens varies. You don’t want the collards to be boiling in the broth or water.
So add as much as seems appropriate to keep the greens from burning. Then add more if the liquid is cooking off too quickly.
Once the liquid is at a simmer, turn the heat to low and cover with a lid.
Allow the greens to cook for 25 minutes. You want them to be almost falling apart soft.
Greens are one of those rare foods that is actually better when it’s overcooked. So don’t be afraid to start the collards first before getting the rest of dinner going. It will only be improved by it.
(Just make sure they don’t run out of liquid and burn.)
Make it your own
You can make this dish your own by varying the ingredients & seasonings.
Add curly kale to the mix
You can make collard greens your own by adding an equal amount of kale to your collards.
When you’re putting the collards into the soup pot, add an equal amount of kale. Then double the rest of the ingredients.
If collards taste bitter to you, kale makes the dish a little milder. (My husband always prefers collards with an equal amount of kale.)
Plus, both greens cook down a lot. So you’re more likely to get some leftovers out of it if you double up!
Add a splash of liquid smoke
Often, people will add smoked pig parts to greens. But why not leave the pigs out of it?
The only reason that product tastes smoky is because it has been cooked in a smoker. You can just as easily use liquid smoke instead.
As the name suggests, liquid smoke is simply smoke that has been condensed into a liquid.
(If you’d like specific amounts, check out this recipe for smoky sweet vegan collard greens.)
Serve greens with these main dishes
- Vegan pulled pork
- Buffalo Soy Curls sandwich
- Vegan BBQ sandwich
- BBQ jackfruit
- Vegan fried chicken
- Hot open faced sandwich
Collards pair well with these side dishes
- The best vegan potato salad
- Vegan coleslaw
- Red wine mushrooms
- Vegan fried green tomatoes
- Buffalo corn on the cob
- Roasted delicata squash with rosemary
- Vegan grits
Easy collard greens (Vegan)
- 1 teaspoon organic canola oil or other neutral flavored oil
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 bunch collard greens leaves removed from tough center rib and roughly chopped in medium-sized pieces
- ½ cup vegetable broth Or ½ cup water + ¼ of a vegan vegetable bouillon cube
- Salt to taste
- In a medium-sized pot or skillet with lid, bring oil to a medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about five minutes.
- Add the chopped collard greens and vegetable broth (or water plus bouillon cube section). Add a pinch of salt, keeping in mind that your broth or bouillon cube may already have salt in it. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Once it is simmering, turn the heat to medium low and cover. Remove lid to stir and check occasionally, making sure there is still enough liquid on the bottom and that the collards aren’t sticking. If they start to stick, lower the heat and add a tablespoon or two of water, as necessary.
- Cover and continue cooking for 25 minutes, until the collard greens have become soft to the bite.
Originally posted July 2013. Content, photos, and recipe updated May 2019.