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Southern Collard Greens Recipe with Smoked Turkey

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This is the best collard greens recipe, featuring smoked turkey legs and a blend of savory spices. Simmered to perfection, these Southern style collard greens are tender, full of flavor, and sure to be on regular rotation for Sunday soul food supper.

Hey y’all! Today, we’re sharing one of my and my daughter’s all-time favorites, a Southern style collard greens recipe with smoked turkey legs. If you’re anything like me, you know there’s just something special about a big pot of greens simmering away on the stove, filling your kitchen with the most incredible smell.

Now, I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve tried my fair share of greens over the years, but this is the best Southern collard greens recipe. It’s been passed down through generations, and let me tell you, it’s got all the soul and flavor you could ever want. And speaking of the best greens, we have another soul food collard greens recipe made with ham hocks so be sure to check that out too.

Whether you’re whipping up a batch of greens during the holiday season or just craving a taste of home on a cozy Sunday afternoon, these collard greens are guaranteed to hit the spot.

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • TENDER GREENS – Simmering the collard greens in flavorful broth allows them to become tender and absorb all the delicious flavors. The greens are cooked just right, neither too tough nor too mushy.
  • FLAVOR – The seasoned, smoky broth infuses these greens with rich, mouthwatering flavor. The combination of ingredients like smoked turkey legs, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, and different spices creates a tasty, soulful dish.
  • CLASSIC SOUL FOOD – For many people, collard greens evoke memories of family gatherings, holiday meals, and cherished traditions. This recipe captures the essence of soul food cooking and brings a sense of nostalgia to the table.

Recipe Variations

Here are some ingredient variations and substitutions you can try for this collard greens recipe:

  • Ham Hock vs Smoked Turkey Leg: You can use ham hocks, smoked turkey legs, smoked neck bones, turkey necks, or turkey tails to add flavor to the broth. Feel free to use what you prefer or have on hand.
  • Mustard Greens or Other Greens: While collards are traditional, you can use other greens such as mustard greens, turnip greens, or even kale in this recipe. Mix and match different greens for a variety of flavors and textures as we do with this cabbage and collard greens recipe.
  • Additional Seasonings: Feel free to customize the seasoning blend to suit your taste preferences. You can add spices like smoked paprika or cayenne pepper for a hint of heat.

Ingredients

  • 2 smoked turkey legs (or smoked turkey wings or turkey necks)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt, or as needed
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (start with less and adjust to taste if using any other type of salt)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bunches of fresh collard greens, trimmed, chopped, and washed

​How to Make Southern-Style Collard Greens

  1. Place smoked meat in a large pot over medium heat. Pour water over them, ensuring it’s about 2 inches above the turkey legs.
  2. Dissolve 2 chicken bouillon cubes in the water to make chicken broth. Alternatively, you can use chicken stock.
  3. Add the collard green seasoning: seasoned salt, ground black pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion, kosher salt, and crushed red peppers. Pour in Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar.
  4. Turn up the stove to medium-high heat, bring the pot to a boil, then let it simmer for about 45 minutes or until the turkey legs are tender.
  5. While the broth is simmering, cut and wash fresh collard greens, ensuring they’re clean and free from any grit or dirt.
  6. Optional: After the turkey legs are tender, carefully remove them from the broth. Shred the meat from the turkey legs and return the meat to the pot. Discard the bones.
  7. Carefully add the leafy greens to the pot, ensuring they’re fully submerged in the seasoned broth. Cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low.
  8. Allow the pot of collard greens to simmer in the flavorful broth until they reach the desired tenderness, about an hour. They’ll be ready when they’re tender and full of flavor. 
  9. Feel free to add a splash of your favorite hot sauce to turn up the heat. Don’t forget to save the flavorful potlikker! 

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Choose Fresh Collard Greens: Opt for fresh collard greens that are vibrant green with crisp leaves. 
  • Properly Clean Collard Greens: Collard greens can be gritty, so make sure to wash them thoroughly under cold running water. You can also soak them in a large bowl of water to help loosen any dirt or debris, then rinse them again before cooking for a thorough wash.
  • Remove Tough Stems: Collard greens have tough, thick stems that can be unpleasant to eat. Remove the stems by folding each leaf in half lengthwise and cutting along the center rib to separate the leaves from the stems.
  • Cut Greens into Uniform Pieces: For even cooking, cut the collard greens into bite-size pieces. Aim for chopped greens that are about 1 to 2 inches in size.
  • Adjust Seasonings to Taste: Taste the broth before adding the collard greens and adjust the seasonings as needed. You can add more salt, pepper, or other seasonings to suit your preference.
  • Simmer Slow and Low: For the best flavor and texture, simmer the collard greens slowly over low heat. This allows the flavors to meld together and the greens to become tender without turning mushy.
  • Make Ahead: Leftover collard greens often taste even better the next day as the flavors have had time to develop. Consider making them ahead of time and reheating them when you’re ready to serve.
  • Add a Hint of Sweetness: Some folks like to add a touch of sweetness to their collard greens to balance out the flavors. You can achieve this by adding a small amount of brown sugar to the broth.

What to Serve with Southern STyle Collard Greens

If you are wondering what to serve with this soul food collard greens recipe with smoked turkey, the options are endless. Many soul food dishes and BBQ recipes go with collards. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Fried Chicken: Our crispy Southern fried chicken recipe is the epitome of Southern cooking a cherished family tradition that brings crispy, golden goodness to our table.
  • Smothered Chicken: Smothered chicken, featuring tender, juicy chicken smothered in a rich, flavorful gravy, is a Southern classic. 
  • Smothered Oxtails: These oxtails, are smothered in rich, velvety brown gravy with bell pepper and onion and served over rice.
  • Candied Yams: Sweet, tender yams cooked with butter, sugar, and sometimes marshmallows provide a sweet contrast to the greens’ savory flavors.
  • Red Beans and Rice: Red kidney beans, smoked ham hock, andouille sausage, bay leaves, bell pepper, celery, and onion are cooked with Creole spices and served with white rice.
  • Cornbread: Our soul food cornbread recipe is easy to follow and yields a moist, tender crumb.
  • Baked Macaroni and Cheese: A Southern baked macaroni and cheese recipe featuring cheddar, Monterey jack, and mozzarella. 
  • Fried Catfish: This Southern Fried Catfish has a crispy golden brown cornmeal crust and is seasoned to perfection with fish fry seasoning

FAQ

How do I know when the collard greens are done cooking?

Collard greens are done when they are tender but still have a slight bite to them. Taste test them periodically to check for doneness.

Can I freeze leftover collard greens?

Yes, you can freeze leftover collard greens for future use. Allow them to cool completely, then transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Print
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Southern Collard Greens Recipe with Smoked Turkey

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x

Description

The best collard greens recipe featuring smoked turkey legs and a blend of savory spices.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 smoked turkey legs (or smoked turkey wings or turkey necks)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt, or as needed
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (start with less and adjust to taste if using any other type of salt)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bunches of fresh collard greens, trimmed, chopped, and washed

Instructions

  1. Place smoked turkey legs in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Pour water over them, ensuring it’s 2 inches above the turkey legs.
  3. Dissolve chicken bouillon cubes in the water.
  4. Add seasoned salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes.
  5. Pour in Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar.
  6. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes until turkey legs are tender.
  7. While the broth simmers, cut and wash collard greens, ensuring they’re clean.
  8. After turkey legs are tender, remove them from the broth.
  9. Optional: Shred turkey meat and return to the pot. Discard bones.
  10. Carefully add collard greens to the pot, ensuring they’re submerged.
  11. Cover the pot and lower heat to medium-low.
  12. Simmer collard greens in the broth for about an hour until tender.
  13. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  14. Serve hot and enjoy!

Keywords: southern collard greens recipe with smoked turkey, southern-style collard greens, turkey legs

6 Comments

  1. I simply wanted to say this is the first bowl of greens cooked properly since I don’t know when of ever, really in a very long time! The reason why is that everyone who thought they were cooking greens didn’t clear the greens if stems, this bowl of greens had no stems! Exactly right way to cook greens excellent bowl of greens! Thank You

  2. What type of seasoning salt? I’ve always wanted to make collards but never knew how, so thanks for sharing this

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