Dinner for Two: Perfect Collard Greens


A whole mess ‘a greens.  Well, technically not a whole mess, because I cook for two.  You probably already knew this much.

I’ve never seen a collard green recipe that didn’t serve an army.  In fact, my old-timey Southern cookbooks recommend that you wash the whole heap of greens in the washing machine.  As in, the metal box you put your dirty clothes in?  First: yuck.  Second: I’d have to invite the whole neighborhood to my house to help me eat that much collard greens.  And then what would we do about side dishes? This scenario is stressing me out.  A small batch of collard greens for two, here I come.


Today, I’m covering the basic recipe for classic collard greens.  Notice I say the basic recipe, and not a basic recipe.  This recipe is the true-blue, authentic way to cook your collards.  They’re spicy, smoky, tangy, and silky all at once.  I think well-cooked greens are ethereal.

If you want to taste collard greens for the first time, this recipe is for you.  If you’re craving collards greens like your Mama makes, but your washer is full of actual laundry, this recipe is also for you.

Tomorrow, we’re going to stir this perfect pot of collard greens into something delicious.  It might be cheesy.  It might have ‘mac’ in the title.  Loosen your belts.

4.8 from 4 reviews
Perfect Collard Greens
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Servings: 2
Serves: 2
  • 6 collard green leaves (each leaf the size of a dinner plate)
  • 4 slices of thick-cut bacon (peppered bacon is great here)
  • 1 medium jalapeño
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup water
  1. First, wash the collards and remove the stem all the way up through the top of the leaf. Slice the leaves in half length-wise (where the stem used to be), then stack the leaves. Starting at the shorter end, roll the leaves into a cigar shape. Once rolled, slice into ½" ribbons. Set aside.
  2. Next, dice the bacon and add it to a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Let it cook until crisp, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Leave the bacon grease in the pan.
  3. Meanwhile, dice the jalapeño. If you don't like spicy food, remove the seeds and ribs of the jalapeño.
  4. Add the collards and jalapeño to the saucepan with the bacon grease. Cook for 5 minutes, until slightly wilted. Stir in the reserved bacon, cider vinegar, salt, pepper and water. Cover and let cook over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes. Taste the greens for tenderness. They should feel silky in your mouth.
  5. Serve hot.




  1. says

    Yum. Just yum. Maybe they meant those old wringer type things that actually were more like a huge sink. Beats me. Yuck is right. I’ll stick to the kitchen sink. Cornbread, anyone, because these would make some awesome pot likker!!

  2. says

    Ha.. the washing machine? That’s a bit much.. My grandma washed hers in the bath tub (I’ve seen that I few times) but she also grew them in her backyard so there were like tubs of greens all the time.. :)
    I like that you scaled this down to 2.. which really means one serving just for me. LOL

    • says

      I bleach the bath tub way more frequently than the washing machine, so I think I’m okay with collard greens in a bath tub. But who am I kidding? I’d eat them out of a bird bath, too. I love them so much. So silky. mmm!

  3. says

    I’ve never had collard greens before and that washing machine is not making me feel like trying them. Haha! If you promise to make these for me, sans washing machine, I’m all over it! :)

  4. says

    Christina, I’ve been meaning to try collard greens, for as others have stated, I too need to get on it. Your description of the finished dish intrigues, and I’m thinking the recipe will be a great jumping off point. Great photos and writing style to match. Pinning…

  5. angelitakarmalita says

    omg… so per my previous post “I wish my middle name was collard greens”, i love greens. yes I do. and yes, my cousin told me to wash them in the washing machine to get the grit out… WHAT A MISTAKE THAT WAS. First, you’d want to use the gentle, short cycle, like a quick rinse. my machine spun them so hard that all that was left was shred’s of collards in my machine. there were greens in my clothes for weeks! I was so mad, and then laughed so hard at myself like “okay, not the smartest thing you’ve ever done” small batch’s for two, that’s where it’s at. love this!

    • says

      Oh my gosh, Angelita! This is the funniest and worst story I’ve ever heard at the same time. She didn’t tell you to just fill the washing machine with water and swish the greens BY HAND? Shame on your cousin, haha!

  6. says

    Ooo I’m so excited about this! I have never made them myself but love to eat them. I’ve never made them because I didn’t want to be eating them for weeks and weeks and weeks. Seriously, a washing machine? lol Can’t wait to try this..and the next recipe with them.

  7. Sandra says

    Looks delicious! One quick question, what do I substitute as we do not have collard greens this side of the world (cabbage leaves maybe?) Thank you. :-)

  8. Allegra says

    Tried it with Kale since that’s what I had on hand and added a clove of garlic. My kale was a little tougher than other greens but the flavor was great! Looking forward to trying it with collard greens and getting that silky mouthfeel.

  9. dawne says

    I’ve not had them with jalapenos before I always put in red pepper flakes and I use chicken stock instead of water, it gives them even more flavor I need some now :)

  10. Aerin says

    Holy delicious! The name is not hubris, these truly are the perfect collard greens. I used chili pepper paste instead of jalapeno, because that’s what i had, and i doubled the recipe so i can make the spicy collard Mac and cheese with the leftovers tomorrow. Can’t wait!

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