Slow Cooked Vegetarian Collard Greens

Having only ever made vegetarian collard greens recipes, I remember being shocked when I learned that collard greens, cooked in their “traditional” form, aren’t even remotely vegetarian. Who knew? Well, apparently most of the United States knew, because everyone I talked to about got a pretty good chuckle at the fact that I was so baffled. Anyways.

Traditionally, non vegetarian collard greens recipes are made with pork to get a nice, meaty, smoky flavor. If you’re really hoping to get the cured bacon flavor while keeping the recipe vegan, I’d recommend using a smoked sea salt, which, if you experiment with a few different varieties, you’ll find often taste a lot like bacon. Don’t add the salt until the very end, since salt will leech all of the water out of your greens, leaving them a gray, soggy mess. Adding salt to greens too early essentially does the same thing as overcooking them. And speaking of overcooking………

DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR GREENS. I repeat, DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR GREENS. No one likes mushy collard greens (or kale, spinach, or chard for that matter) and no one wants a kitchen full of wanna-be mustard gas, which is essentially what you get if you overcook your greens until they stink. This vegan collard greens recipe – and any other, in case you’re wondering – should be cooked just until the leaves are a brilliant shade of green and are tender enough to bite through without any fibrous resistance. Once they’re done, immediately remove them from the heat, salt to taste, and serve.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Slow Cooked Vegetarian Collard Greens
Recipe type: Sides
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This slow cooked vegan and vegetarian collard greens recipe is the perfect side dish for any entree.
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped to smaller bits
  • 1 chipotle pepper, roasted and chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 8 cups chopped collard greens
  • Smoked sea salt, to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, cooking until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  2. Add carrots and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down to low and add vegetable stock and collard greens. Cover pot and allow to cook just until the greens are tender, about 30-40 minutes. Salt to taste at the very end to keep your greens from getting soggy. Serve hot.


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Comments from other ninjas:

  1. George Cochrane says

    Looks good! I am craving greens hardcore. My usual method is: Wash and chop a bunch of kale/collards/whatever, fry a few chopped cloves of garlic and a shallot bulb in a dollop of sesame oil, throw in greens, toss, spray in Bragg’s and rice vinegar to taste, stir fry until greens are tender… Done.

    Argh, need lunch like whoa! Thanks for linking to me, by the way. Loving your blog!

  2. Lisa Brenneisen says

    yummy!…i needed new recipe, but can i add kale, mustard and chard as well? like to get all me greens in at once!

  3. Susan says

    Confession: I didn’t know that collard green are typically prepared with pork either. But I like your tip about using smoked salt to get that smoky taste. Wonder if the bf would notice if I swapped his real bacon with fakin’ bacon topped with smoked salt?

  4. Alisa Bowman says

    I love collards. I’m the only one in my family who does. Sometimes I eat the whole pot of them on my own. I will definitely try this because I’ve been cutting back on meat.

  5. Casey@Good. Food. Stories. says

    Aw, I find it completely endearing that you didn’t know collard greens are traditionally big Southern pork sponges – but don’t worry, I think your way is much tastier! (Hey, I’m a Northerner. So sue me.)

    Kerry, yes – you can do it with spinach, but you may not need to add as much veg stock since spinach leaves are more tender than collards or kale, and won’t need to “braise” as much.

  6. MarthaAndMe says

    I didn’t know traditional collard greens are not vegetarian! But then, I’ve only tasted them once in my life (and didn’t care for them!)

  7. sarah henry says

    Huge greens fan, as you know, but somehow collards not in my repertoire. I like the look of this recipe so will give it a go.

  8. MyKidsEatSquid says

    Hum, I haven’t had collard greens either. I’ll have to give this a try–I love any excuse to use smoked salt. I have to keep mine separate from all my other spices–it’s so strong its flavor seeps right through the little glass bottle.

  9. Sheryl says

    I love any and all greens, but somehow collards have escaped my attention. And I was just as naive as you, not realizing they’re cooked with pork. Thanks for this recipe, gotta give it a go!

  10. Merr says

    I’m looking forward to trying these. I just made another one of your recipes (twice!) and shared it with several friends because it was so good (zucchini and cauliflower, roasted). Love trying to vegetarian and vegan dishes. Thanks.

  11. Lisa says

    Thanks! I’m always on the lookout for collard recipes. I tend to saute with garlic and sundried tomatos and pine nuts, which we like, but get bored of.

  12. Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi says

    Southern girl here. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten vegetarian collards. The whole idea strikes me as a bit funny at first glance. Second glance makes me say yum.

  13. Alexandra says

    I grew some chard in the garden this year, after reading a recipe here. I did not water enough, but we will have a few leaves this fall. I had no idea about cooking collard greens. It’s something I would like to try, too, so thanks. Think I will get them at the veggie store. It’s quicker!

  14. Jane Boursaw says

    I have southern blood in me (my mom grew up there), so love greens of any type, be it collards, kale, or elsewise. Whenever I eat them, it’s like my body feels this burst of vitaminic energy.

  15. Ally says

    I haven’t made greens in eons since my honey will NOT eat them slathered in the bacon grease that I grew up cooking them in. I will have to put these on the “must try” list :)

  16. Gluten Free Diva says

    Hmmm, I’ve been using liquid smoke which works, but I am a total fiend for smoked salt, so I think I’ll try that instead! Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Chris says

    This recipe is fine, however, there is is a mistake. Cook the greens for 45 minutes, not 4 minutes. I used a couple a dashes of liquid smoke not smoked salt which I did not have. THe carrot add a nice sweetness to counter balance the bitterness of the greens.

  18. jacqueline kim says

    Great recipe and tips. I’ve made greens many times before (with meat) and always thought they had to be cooked forever. These were so delicious — picked up the flavor of all the savories, yet the greens stayed in a nutritious state. Nice note, too, about adding salt at the end. I added some ginger with the garlic to give it a tiny kick. Many thanks.

  19. Diana says

    Thank you for this recipe! I had never had collard greens before and so I was searching online to find recipes. Every one of them had bacon and I was not interested in frying up a bunch of bacon. Then I came across your recipe. It was DELICIOUS! I left the salt off so people could season their own. I tried mine with the smoked salt, as well as with some Dijon mustard–both tasted really great!

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says

      Forty minutes! Much more and you’d have gray baby food. You can probably get away with 25, if you like your greens more in-tact.

  20. Tricia says

    Thank you for this recipe. I made this tonight. I used a half of jalapeño instead of the chipotle pepper. My daughter stood over the pot eating this tonight. It was a huge hit. This was my first time making collard greens, you made it so easy.


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