Southern Collard Greens Recipe w/ Smoked Turkey Legs (soul food style)

I have yet to meet a southerner who doesn’t love a bowl of good, well seasoned collard greens! I’m talking about greens so good that you will gulp down the leftover juices from the pot! True food for the soul.
Southern style collard greens are a must-have at our holiday table…it just doesn’t quiet feel the same without them.
If you are looking for an easy, flavorful and downright addictive southern soul food collard greens recipe then HERE SHE IS!!!
Growing up, my grandmother use to prepare collard greens almost every Sunday and for a while it was the only vegetable I’d ever eat. I can remember eating bowl after bowl of these things until I felt sick.
I still love collard greens to death but I’m real picky as to how they should be fixed (as most southern folks are : )  I hope that you will enjoy this recipe and go ahead and have two bowls…collards have more calcium than milk!
Ohhhhhh I CAN NOT do this post without sharing some quick facts about collard greens:

Collard greens have been cooked and used for centuries. The Southern style of cooking of greens came with the arrival of African slaves to the southern colonies and the need to satisfy their hunger and provide food for their families. Though greens did not originate in Africa, the habit of eating greens that have been cooked down into a low gravy, and drinking the juices from the greens (known as “pot likker”) is of African origin. The slaves of the plantations were given the leftover food from the plantation kitchen. Some of this food consisted of the tops of turnips and other greens. Ham hocks and pig’s feet were also given to the slaves. Forced to create meals from these leftovers, they created the famous southern greens. The slave diet began to evolve and spread when slaves entered the plantation houses as cooks. Their African dishes, using the foods available in the region they lived in, began to evolve into present-day Southern cooking

Watch me make these Southern Collard Greens from start to finish!

Serve the turkey leg pieces right along with the greens and savor a little piece of history!

4.9 from 14 reviews
Southern Collard Greens Recipe w/ Smoked Turkey Legs (soul food style)
Author: Divas Can Cook
  • 1 bunch of collard greens
  • 1 fully-cooked, smoked turkey leg (can also use smoked turkey wings)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1t. red pepper flakes
  • salt, pepper, vinegar, hot sauce (optional)
  1. Remove the collard green leaf from the steam.
  2. Wash the collards several times in cold water to remove any dirt and grit. You can also use salt to help remove the grit if needed. Rinse well & set aside
  3. In a large pot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped onions & garlic. Saute until tender.
  4. Add in the chicken broth, red pepper flakes, & the turkey leg. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for about 20-30 minutes. This helps the broth take on that delicious, smokey flavor!
  5. Add in the collard greens. Cook on med-low heat until tender for about 45-60 minutes. You can increase the heat if needed but do not boil the collard greens. you want to slowly steam cook. They will wilt down as they cook.
  6. When done, season to your preference. In my opinion these greens don’t need a thing but usually add in a few dashes of black pepper and few drops of hot sauce!


  1. Catherine says

    Hello Diva!
    I made your collards again this morning for breakfast–yes, breakfast! We are gravitating toward a Paleo eating style and I fix greens almost every day. I need to help our bodies process the meat and greens help with that. I changed things up a bit because I need to be able to fix a meal in a hurry and because I never cook or boil any vegetable for any time at all. I have these wonderful cooking pans that sorta seal closed and they are perfect for “pan roasting” vegetables (“steaming” them with almost no water). You wash the veg, chop into evenly sized pieces, then start cooking on medium heat (MUST use the pan lid). As the pan lid gets hot, you shake the pan to distribute the veg. Then you turn it down to low heat and in no time the veg is tender, brightly colored and delicious! I love it and I’ve used this method since my husband and I were married 40 years ago (of course I was a child bride…!). So I did the collards the same way. Triple washed, removed the big spine rib and sliced into 1/4 inch wide ribbons (roll collard leaves into long rolls to slice). I minced a couple cloves of garlic and a small shallot and just added them–no precooking. I watched it closely, shaking and even stirring a couple of times to keep things from sticking. I added a very little bit of water, which is often necessary with this method when cooking greens. In around 10 minutes or so, the shallots and garlic were lightly browned and the collards were a beautiful, bright green. I tooth tested for doneness and they were! I added a half cube of chicken bullion, a drop of liquid smoke (you said smokiness was good), a pinch of cayenne and mixed. Added a couple teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and an equal amount of good Irish butter. Added freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of a freshly cut lemon. Oh my heavens, were these delicious! Bright green and glossy, flavorful and tender. I served them with no-sugar kielbasa from our local food co-op (just enough to get 30 grams of protein) and a pile of “pan roasted” asparagus, lightly buttered with lemon. My husband and I both feel that since we took up the Paleo trail our quality of life and the quality of our food has increased exponentially. We have people like YOU to thank for that! Our coffee was from Ethiopia and brewed in French presses. The organic cream for it was from a local dairy. I also add cinnamon from Madagascar and raw organic cacao powder originally grown by the Mayans. Each person enriches the world around them whether they know it or not. I DEFINITELY feel enriched! Thank you so much for the great recipe. Oh, and for the person who lost your recipe and had to look and look on the internet to find it again, just Google “delicious collard greens”! Works for me!

  2. ANNA says

    GIRRRL….OMG YOUR SON WAS HILARIOUS! This brings me back to my stay at home mom days…the kids never want to “mommy, mommy mommy” you until you’re in the kitchen or on the phone! lol! Oh and excellent recipe by the way! :)

  3. Cynthia says

    This is my FAVORITE recipe, I add a can of diced tomatoes to mine and it makes it ten times more delicious!

  4. says

    This recipe is absolutely amazing, I’ve never made collard greens before, and these are the best I’ve ever tasted, ty so much for ur video, and btw ur son is adorable:)

  5. Amy says

    I prepared these Collard Greens for the first time ever, and just told my husband when they were done, that he could have a bowl whenever he was ready. (I had eaten a late lunch at the mall and wasn’t hungry and the kids weren’t home so we were kind of just “fending”). Well he is the lightest eater ever, very skinny, and food is a nuisance to him basically, he’d skip eating altogether if it wasn’t necessary to sustain his life. So when he came in where I was practicing my Violin and said “what did you put in that dish” I thought boy now I’ve done it. I told him what went in it and he said it was FANTASTIC. Now that is a compliment of magnificent proportion coming from him. Needless to say, I will be fixing Diva Collard Greens again. I only ever tried them once before, and just stir fried them briefly in a little butter, and they were tough as all get out that time. The only change I made was to put in chunks of one of those big ham slices you can buy, since I didn’t have a turkey leg. My iPad isn’t accepting the stars otherwise I would rate it five stars.

  6. LAF says

    WOW! I have never had better greens. A huge thank you for sharing the recipe. I always thought the restaurant I went to had good greens, but these are WAY better.

  7. Christine says

    I have used your recipe for greens two years in a row and it is a HUGE hit with my family!!!! Thank you so much for the recipe and even more for the video! Thank God for people like you teaching me to cook!!!

  8. says

    I do like the recipiie bit the provider has her history of collards wrong. Collards the introduction and preparation of collards was introduced by Scottish Immigrats coming to America . Scots as well as Irish immigrants who have been known to eat many leafy vegetables . Even this particular recepies in particular is a kick off of a Scottish recipie.
    Also note the frying of chicken is yet again a Scottish original.

    • DENISE says

      Bill thanks for your history as well. Honestly I think the African history accents the dishes and not whom had it first.

  9. tlm says

    This bis an awesome piece on cooking divas and healthy way to eat greens I Will never change the recipe. It will be,a,staple in my house
    happy new year

  10. Isabel says

    Hi, I wanted to know, besides fried chicken (YUM) what else would you serve this with as far as protein goes?
    Thank you!!!!

  11. Tiffanie Osley says

    I’ve used this recipe a few times. I had never made homemade greens until then. Each time they tasted delicious! I’m bringing this dish for my family’s tThanksgiving dinner. Can’t wait until they taste it

  12. City Girl with a Coutry heart says

    I LOOOVE this recipe! I made it last year and it was a complete hit. Everyone loved it, I made it with ham hocks instead. I lost the recipe so I googled and googled until I found you again. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  13. Lise says

    Thank you so much for this recipe I never knew how to make collard greens and I tried your recipe for my first time and it is so darn delicious

  14. charlene says

    Hi i love your recipes..just wondering if you have one on how to cook the turkey leg.Also made your candied yams and they were a hit

  15. tawanna says

    OMGGGGG Monique I love your greens my husband says these are now his favorite!!! Thank you soooo much ive made these idk how many times this week. Im in walmart now and they are completely out so Im making your cabbage thanks you are THE BEST!!

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