Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (2024)

Jump to Recipe

If you live in the south, collard greens are definitely a staple. Especially amongst black folks! You can’t go to any “soul food” or “southern” restaurant without them being on the menu.

And if by chance they’re not on the menu…RUN! These Easy Vegan Collard Greens are everything you’ve been wanting in a traditional batch of greens. Tender, smoky and flavorful!

The problem with most traditional collard green recipes is that they typically involve the addition of meat. It’s not uncommon for recipes to include a smoked turkey leg or ham hock for added flavor.

Well, obviously that’s not gonna fly around here! Lucky for us, there are other ways to make tasty greens without animal products.

These collard greens are made WITHOUT the addition of chicken broth and smoked meat, yet are still filled with southern flavorful and delicious.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • olive oil – you’ll use oil to cook down your onions and garlic until fragrant. You can also substitute with another neutral oil of your preference like grapeseed oil or vegetable oil. You could also get away with using water or additional vegetable broth if you’d like to make this dish oil-fre.
  • white onion and minced garlic – these two ingredients are going to be your aromatics. You’ll cook them first to create a flavorful foundation for your greens.
  • collard greens – the main event! I typically purchase my collard greens whole, but you could also save time by purchasing pre-washed and pre-cut greens so you can get right down to business! Be sure that the greens you choose are crisp and contain no brown spots.
  • vegetable broth – vegetable broth is what we’ll use to create a savory broth to simmer the greens in which will also help add to their flavor. You could also substitute with a vegan chicken broth if you’d like.
  • salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika – every good vegan collard green recipe needs some good seasonings to bring everything together. We’re keeping it simple by using a few basic ingredients, but don’t let them fool you… it’s everything you’ll need!
  • organic cane sugar – to help cut through the bitterness of the collard greens, we’ll use a little sugar to balance things out.
  • liquid smoke – this is one of my favorite ingredients in this recipe because it adds a smoky flavor that is often achieved by using smoked meat which is hard to replicate with other ingredients. If you’re in a pinch, try substituting with liquid aminos or soy sauce.
Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (1)

How to Make Easy Vegan Collard Greens

Making collard greens is actually pretty simple. Especially these days. You can choose to purchase your collard greens pre-washed and cut to save time, or you can purchase them whole and wash them yourself.

Washing Collard Greens:

Collards are one of those veggies you have to wash thoroughly, so you definitely don’t wanna cut corners when doing so. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is in my kitchen sink.

  1. First, I clean my sink out with soap and water, then follow up with rubbing alcohol to kill any germs and make sure that my sink is super clean.
  2. Next, I fill my sink with luke warm water and add a generous amount of apple cider vinegar (about ½ cup) and 2 teaspoons of baking powder to the sink with the water.
  3. Use a collard green to swish everything around in the sink, then add all of the greens in and allow them time to soak for about 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, scrub them gently with a vegetable brush, drain the water, and rinse all of the greens.
  5. Gently pat the greens dry with a clean dish towel and you’re ready to start chopping them!

Buying pre-washed and chopped greens really help speed up the process and cut down on your prep time.

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (2)

The only other prep you’ll need to do for this Easy Vegan Collard Greens is dicing the onions and fresh garlic if you don’t use jarred, which shouldn’t take much time at all.

The minced garlic and onion will provide the greens with a nice base of flavor. The seasonings used in this recipe are really simple, but also help to add a bold flavor to these easy vegan collard greens.

You probably already have all of them!

In a large pot, add the chopped onion and minced garlic with a little bit of oil, salt and pepper.

Cook them on a medium heat until the garlic is fragrant and the onions have been cooked down.

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (3)

Next, add in your chopped collard greens along with the remaining ingredients– your vegetable broth, more salt, pepper, sugar, red pepper flakes, ground paprika, and liquid smoke.

Grab a large spoon and stir all of the ingredients together until combined.

Increase the heat to a medium high temperature until you’ve reached a low boil (covering the pot with a lid helps speed this along).

Once you’ve reached a low boil, reduce the heat (keeping the lid on) to a low temperature and allow the greens to simmer for at least one hour. When they’re finished, they’ll be a deep green color.

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (4)


How can I make meatless collard greens taste good?

The key to making these easy vegan collard greens without meat is my secret weapon… LIQUID SMOKE!

This stuff is amazing! It’s truly a game-changer when it comes to giving your collard greens that extra something if you’re not adding meat.

If you’re new to making meat-less collard greens, you might be surprised to find that the process to cook them is a lot similar to cooking them with meat (just without the meat of course).

In my opinion, it’s actually much easier because there’s not that added component, just simple veggies and seasonings cooked up together to make for an amazing side dish.

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (5)

Can these Easy Vegan Collard Greens be made in a slow cooker?

Yes! Check out my Slow Cooker Collard Greens Recipe with Fire Roasted Tomatoes!

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Absolutely! These store really well and if you need to, you can even freeze them! Just place them in an air tight container and store them until needed. They should keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can I use pre-cut collard greens?

Sure can! This will actually save you some time on the prep, so go for it!

What’s the sugar for in this recipe? Will they be sweet?

The sugar helps remove the bitterness from the greens and assists with balancing out the overall flavor. They won’t be sweet. Promise!

What does adding vinegar do to collard greens?

My recipe is made without, but if you prefer greens with vinegar you can most certainly add some! It’s not uncommon for recipes to include vinegar to add a tangy flavor that’s said to compliment the other flavors of the dish.

Ifyou’re going to experiment with this, I would start with 1 teaspoon at a time and adjust as needed so you don’t overdo it. I prefer my greens without vinegar, so I can’t offer much advice other than this!

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (6)

What’s the best way to store this recipe?

You can store this recipe in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to five days. Just be sure it’s cooled completely before doing so.

Can this dish be frozen?

Yes! You can store these Easy Vegan Collard Greens in the freezer for up to 3 months by placing them in an airtight container once completely cooled. To reheat them, retrieve the container from the freeze the day before and transfer them to the fridge to thaw.

Once thawed, they can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove over medium-low heat until warmed through.

How should I serve this dish?

Whenever I make these easy vegan collard greens I pair them with a bunch of other holiday fixings, but if I want a quick plate, I love these collards, mashed potatoes and cornbread together. Here are a few other suggestions:

  • Spicy Chicken Fried Cauliflower
  • Easy Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
  • Black-Eyed Pea Fritters
  • Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
  • Crispy Baked Breaded Tofu
  • Easy Vegan Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins
  • Southern Black-Eyed Peas

Tips for Making Easy Vegan Collard Greens

  • Cut your greens to size. The more narrow you cut your greens, the faster they will cook, so be mindful of this when the greens are cooking. Don’t worry, there’s no right or wrong aize to cut them.
  • Don’t overcook them. It’s easy to let these simmer for hours on end, but I’d like to encourage you not to! If the greens are overcooked, the texture of the finished dish will be impacted resulting in a much softer collard green. I find that cooking them for around one hour does the trick!
  • Wash your greens with care. Imagine cooking the best smelling pot of greens only to open the lid and find little bugs or dirt floating in them. Yikes! Be sure to wash your greens carefully by soaking them in a water + apple cider vinegar bath or using a store bought vegetable wash and gently scrub each leaf.

Hungry yet? Go ahead and give these Easy Vegan Collard Greens a try. I know you’ll love them! Let me know what you think of them in the comments below!

Hungry for more? Follow me onYoutube,Pinterest,Instagram,Twitter, andFacebook!

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (7)

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO]

Smoky, flavorful and tender Easy Vegan Collard Greens made completely meat free!

Course Side Dish

Cuisine American, Southern

Keyword Collard Greens, Collards, Greens

Prep Time 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time 1 hour hour

Total Time 1 hour hour 15 minutes minutes

Servings 4



  • In a large pot, saute minced garlic and diced onions in olive oil until fragrant over medium-low heat.

    ½ heaping cup white onion, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp minced garlic

  • Stir in the collard greens along with the vegetable broth and bring to a low boil.

    1 lb collard greens, 2-2¼ cups vegetable broth

  • Stir in all seasonings and liquid smoke. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce to a low simmer, stirring occasionally. Let cook for at least 1 hour (or more according to your preference).

    1½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp red pepper flakes, ¼ tsp paprika, ½ tsp liquid smoke, 2 tsp organic cane sugar

  • When finished, remove from the heat serve immediately. Enjoy!


Previous photo:

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (9)
Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO] | ICanYouCanVegan How To Season Vegan Collard Greens (2024)


How do you make can collards taste better? ›

Some options include adding a splash of lemon juice or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to add tanginess and spice. You can also drizzle them with a bit of olive oil or add a dash of your favorite seasoning blend for added depth of flavor.

What takes the bitterness out of collards? ›

The foods that help reduce bitterness are: Salt while cooking and/or while eating (like on bitter salad greens) Sweet or Spicy. Sour or Acids like lemon or vinegar.

Why do you put vinegar in collard greens? ›

This might seem like an unusual addition if you're new to making collard greens, but the vinegar adds a welcome tangy note that brightens the dish and balances out the salty, savory flavors. A tablespoon of sugar also helps balance out the greens' potential bitterness.

How do you make Patti Labelle collard greens? ›

Add the collard greens, chicken stock, onions, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt. Mix in the smoked turkey. Turn the heat to low and cook, covered, until the greens are tender but not too soft, 35 minutes.

What can I put on my greens to make them taste better? ›

Onion- Yellow onions will add flavor to the greens. Garlic– Garlic will compliment the flavor of the onion and greens. Red Pepper Flakes– Red Pepper flakes will add some slight heat to the greens. Fully-Cooked Smoked Turkey Leg- This is the best alternative for those who prefer not to use pork.

What can I add to greens to make it taste better? ›

15 Ways to Make Super Greens Powder Taste Better
  1. Try Different Greens Powder Bases. Super greens powders dissolve and mix well with juice, tea, smoothies, almond milk, and more. ...
  2. Mix with Soup. ...
  3. Add to Hummus or Pesto. ...
  4. Blend in a Smoothie. ...
  5. Mix in Oatmeal. ...
  6. Combine with Breakfast. ...
  7. Bake a Treat. ...
  8. Use Natural Sweeteners.
Jun 7, 2022

Why put baking soda in collard greens? ›

Baking soda has infinite uses in cooking and beyond: It's a leavening agent, an odor neutralizer, and an antacid to name a few. In the case of collard greens, baking soda's utility is threefold, serving as a flavor enhancer, a tenderizer, and a color protector.

What can I add to reduce bitterness? ›

Sweetness: From sugar, honey, fruits or otherwise, sweetness will counteract bitter and sour flavours. It can also be used to cut down the heat of a particularly spicy meal. Saltiness: Salt plays two very important roles in flavouring a dish. Firstly, it balances against bitterness.

What is the best meat for collard greens? ›

The most authentic collard greens, in my opinion, are made with smoked ham hocks or bacon. But, as time has passed, society has gotten more health conscious. So, many families began using alternatives such as smoked turkey necks, wings, and tails.

What makes collard greens good? ›

Rich in dietary fiber and potassium, collard greens help enhance good HDL levels and diminish bad LDL cholesterols, averting plaque and fatty deposits in heart vessels and improving cardiac muscle function and heart health. Boosts Gut Health.

Why do Southerners eat collard greens? ›

Often referred to as hoppin' john, black-eyed peas and collard greens are commonly eaten as part of a Southern tradition to bring forth good luck and prosperity in the new year.

How to cook collard greens Martha Stewart? ›

Heat 1 tablespoon butter and the garlic in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add greens, and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in stock, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and the zest, and cover. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

What are 3 ways you can eat collard greens? ›

10 Delicious Ways to Eat Collard Greens
  • Rolled up in a Wrap. This is where the sturdiness of these leaves pays off big time. ...
  • Mixed into a Meaty Braise. ...
  • Stirred into Soup. ...
  • Cooked into a Stir-Fry. ...
  • Shredded into a Casserole. ...
  • Puréed into Pesto. ...
  • Added to Chili. ...
  • In Salads and Slaws.

How do you doctor up canned collard greens? ›

A little bit of table or seasoned salt, some pepper, a pinch of sugar, a drop of vinegar, and something spicy like cayenne or red pepper flakes will help level up the flavor of your canned greens.

How do you doctor up a can of collard greens? ›

Once cooked (do not drain the grease), add your can of Glory Foods Seasoned Southern Style Collard Greens. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook until heated throughout and season additionally to taste. Serve warm and enjoy!

How to make canned collard greens good? ›

A dash of brown sugar can bring a salty-sweet element to your collard greens, making for a more addicting flavor profile. Even after properly rinsing and draining your canned greens, they will still have some salty flavor to them.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Last Updated:

Views: 6223

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Birthday: 2001-08-13

Address: 96487 Kris Cliff, Teresiafurt, WI 95201

Phone: +9418513585781

Job: Senior Designer

Hobby: Calligraphy, Rowing, Vacation, Geocaching, Web surfing, Electronics, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Benton Quitzon, I am a comfortable, charming, thankful, happy, adventurous, handsome, precious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.