Vegetarian Southern Collard Greens

“What!  You didn’t use any meat in these greens? Yeah right!”  is usually what I hear when I serve these vegetarian collard greens. They can stand right up to my soulful, southern style collard greens recipe with it’s head held high. They are bursting with flavor and yes, even the pot liquor is bangin! : )

This is my favorite family recipe for collard greens made WITHOUT chicken broth and smoked meat. It’s healthier but don’t expect to have to sacrifice taste! You won’t even miss the meat.

vegetarian southern collard greens recipe healthy vegan
Pass the hot sauce! It’s on and poppin!!!

This vegetarian southern collard greens recipe is family approved which isn’t easy to do in my deep south, tell it like it is, family. Try bringing a pot of collard greens to dinner that doesn’t have a slab of smoked meat in the pot and there are bound to be some issues and major side eyeing. Not with this recipe though!

Vegetarian Southern Collard Greens Recipes
Smokey, slightly salty, slightly vinegary goodness!

These collard greens are full of southern flavor! The key to a pot of guuuud, yes guuuuud, vegetarian southern collard greens, or any kind of collard greens for that matter, is to create a savory broth to slowly simmer the collards in. This recipe starts with a broth made with rich vegetable broth for maximum flavor, fresh garlic and onions, smoked applewood salt for that smokey, bacon taste and red pepper flakes for kick. The collard greens just soaks up all that yumminess.

Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipes broth
Yum!! Here is the flavorful, smokey broth we’ll be simmering our collard greens in!

I love this recipe because it’s so easy and sometimes I just want a meat-free version of soulful dishes like collard greens.

Watch me make these vegetarian southern collard greens from start to finish!

5.0 from 22 reviews
Vegan Southern Collard Greens
Cook time
Total time
  • ½ small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth ( I only used 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon applewood smoked salt (or any kind of smoked salt)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 lbs collard greens
  • black pepper
  • hot sauce
  1. Coat a large deep skillet or pot with vegetable oil.
  2. Saute onions until almost tender over medium heat and then add in garlic.
  3. Cook until onion and garlic are fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in vegetable broth.
  5. Season broth with smoked salt and red pepper flakes.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Make sure it's to your liking because this is how your greens will taste.
  7. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat.
  8. Add in the greens. Green will wilt down as they cook.
  9. Simmer for 1 hr to 1 hr 30 mins. Do not boil. Add more vegetable broth if needed. May need more or less time so be sure to check them after 30-45 minutes. When done, greens will be dark green, tender and will not have a raw taste.
  10. Add in more smoked salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and hot sauce, if desired. ( I always do!)
  11. Enjoy!
  12. Add hot sauce or vinegar if desired.
~TIPS~ Any type of smoked salt can be used. Cooking time may vary. Add fresh tomatoes and red peppers if desired.



  1. Mirandamom says

    Wow, this was good. And it got better and better as the days went by. I was so sad to take the last portion for lunch. I’ll have to make them again soon!

  2. allison says

    this was awesome! I am so grateful. I used the applewood salt OMG!!!! what else can I use this salt for? can I use it with tofu? it smells so good and when I sampled my greens that salt made the dish. thanks! thanks! thanks!

  3. Ozz says

    I’ve made this recipe a couple times and it’s AMAZING. I used smoked paprika instead of smoked salt, and added half a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes.

  4. christine says

    Oh wow these were great!! I have a tip for you too!! My husband has high blood pressure so adding smokey salt was not an option….I added 1/8 of a teaspoon of liquid smoke!! I used only a bunch of greens so I didnt have to add much smoke…in fact the less you add the better….for the amount of green you made I would say start with 1/4 teaspoon and go up from there you could ruin your food if you use too much. My husband loved them so much he said that they tasted like his moms Mississippi greens!! Thank you!

  5. Lakesha says

    Awesome! This recipe was a lifesaver. I went to the grocery store to purchase some smoked turkey necks. When I got home I noticed that instead up picking up the smoked turkey necks, I picked up the raw turkey necks. So I searched the web to find out if it were possible to cook collards without smoked meat and these came up. The collards are absolutely delicious! I didn’t even use smoked salt, just regular coarse sea salt, chipotle pepper and garlic….awesome!!!!!

  6. R Hays says

    Had no smoked salt, but had smoked paprika and smoked chipotle powder. Also used onion powder and garlic powder and the results were delicious.

  7. Shellie says

    On the stove right now. Just about done. The smell is incredible…just filling the kitchen. Thanks so much for posting this. I am one happy vegan. :)

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