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.
Here are the ingredients you will need to make this recipe.
Oil: Any neutral-flavored oil will work here. I use avocado oil.
Fresh garlic: Cloves vary in size. So choose the amount by your own affinity for garlic, and the size of the specific cloves.
Collard greens: Look for large leaves that are bright green & not wilting or shriveled.
Water: I like to use water & bouillon for their pantry-friendly ease. But if you’d rather, you can use vegetable broth instead.
Bouillon: Better Than Bouillon no chicken base works well here. Or you could use ¼ of a vegetable bouillon cube.
Salt: A pinch of salt amplifies the flavors. If your bouillon is super salty, you can use less or omit it altogether.
Step by step instructions
Here’s how to make this recipe at a glance. For complete ingredient amounts & instructions, keep scrolling to the recipe card below.
In a large soup pot, sauté minced garlic in oil until softened and fragrant.
Then add the following:
- Chopped collard greens
- Pinch of salt
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 or more. You want them to be almost falling apart soft.
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 do 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.
Tips for success
Here are a couple of tips to make your greens the best they can be.
Use enough liquid but not too much
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.
Cook low and slow
Collard greens are one of those rare foods that is actually better when it’s overcooked.
Start the collards first before getting the rest of dinner going. It will only be improved by it.
Make it your own
Make this dish your own by varying the ingredients & seasonings.
Add curly kale to the mix
For a milder flavor, add an equal amount of kale to your collards. Then double the water, bouillon, and salt.
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.
Liquid smoke is very strong in flavor. Start with ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke and work up from there.
Use smoked salt
Instead of table salt, add a pinch of smoked salt for smoky flavor.
Add a dash of hot sauce
If you like a little kick of heat, add a few dashes of hot sauce.
A vinegar-based hot sauce is especially nice here.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice
For a bit of tang, add a squeeze of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Collard greens are an excellent side dish for almost any main course.
Storage & reheating
Store leftover garlicky collard greens in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
They will keep for about 4 days.
Reheat in a pot on the stove or in the microwave until warm.
Easy collard greens (Vegan)
- 1 teaspoon avocado 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 water
- ¼ teaspoon Better Than Bouillon, no chicken base
- 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, water, and bouillon. Add a pinch of salt, keeping in mind that your broth or bouillon 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.
Content updated November 4, 2022. Originally posted July 15, 2013.