This slow cooker collard greens recipe uses fresh greens, onions, and a blend of spices, delivering a rich and hearty Southern dish. Make this recipe in a slow cooker for a stred-free and delicious recipe.
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In the South, collard greens are a staple in any family or Holiday meal. But the time it takes to prepare and cook them on the stove can be daunting, especially when cooking a million other dishes. That’s when my slow Cooker comes in handy.
I’ve shared these delicious pressure cooker collards, but if you don’t have a pressure cooker or prefer the low and slow braise of collard greens in the slow Cooker, this recipe is for you. It’s flavorful, easy to make, and has a delicious pot liquor you’ll want to drink up.
I chose to make this dish meatless because I know not everyone wants meat in their greens. However, I still use a little bacon grease. I couldn’t help myself, it’s delicious. If you like this dish, you’ll also love this turnip greens recipe.
Ingredients for Slow Cooker Collard Greens:
- Fats – I use bacon grease and unsalted butter in this recipe but feel free to use all butter or replace it with oil. The added fats in collard greens help tame the bitterness of collards and provide excellent flavor and mouthfeel.
- Yellow onion – for flavor!
- Fresh collard greens – these must be properly rinsed, dried, and chopped. You can use bagged collard greens if you don’t feel like cutting your collard greens.
- Cajun seasoning – for a delicious flavor. It’s subtle yet delicious.
- Chicken Broth – your collards will need some liquid to cook properly. Feel free to sub with vegetable broth if need be.
- Apple cider vinegar – adding vinegar to collards is a game changer! I can’t make collards without it.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Slow Cooker – I use a 6 Quart slow cooker when making these greens.
How to prep Collard Greens
- Wash: Start by soaking your collard greens in a tub or sink full of water. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, rinse the leaves to remove any dirt or grit. Repeat these steps 1-2 times until all dirt and grit is removed.
- Remove stems: Lay the leaf flat, cut along the sides of the central stem to remove. The stems have a tougher texture and require more cooking time than the leaves, so it is best to remove them.
- Chop: Stack several leaves on top of each other, roll them up like a cigar, then slice the roll crosswise into strips. You can make these strips as wide or narrow as you like depending on your preference.
How to Make Slow Cooker Collard Greens:
Transfer the chopped greens to the slow Cooker.
Add the bacon grease, unsalted butter, onion, chicken broth, and cajun seasoning to the slow Cooker. Cover the slow Cooker and cook collard greens on low for about 6-7 hours until the greens are tender and full of flavor.
Stir once or twice during cooking to distribute the melting butter and bacon grease.
Once done, add apple cider vinegar and season the greens with salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.
How to Store Cooked Collard Greens
- Refrigerator Storage: Store the cooked collard greens in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh and flavorful for up to 4-5 days. You can use a microwave or reheat gently on the stovetop until warmed through.
- Freezer Storage: To freeze the cooked collard greens, let them cool completely before transferring them to freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Be sure to leave some space for expansion. They can be stored for about three months. When ready to eat, thaw the greens overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat.
- As part of a Southern Meal: Create a true Southern feast by pairing these collard greens with classic dishes like cornbread, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, and mashed potatoes.
- Pair with Grains: The hearty flavor of these collard greens pairs beautifully with simple grains. Try serving them with a side of cornbread, over brown rice, or even quinoa.
- Complement with Protein: These slow-cooked collard greens can greatly accompany various protein-based dishes. Consider serving alongside grilled chicken, roasted pork, or for a vegetarian option, grilled tofu or tempeh.
Why Make Collard Greens in the Slow Cooker?
Using a slow cooker saves time and lets ingredients simmer together for a tastier flavor. Plus, you can set and forget the slow Cooker, making it an easy side dish for any meal.
Make it your own
- Sub chicken broth for vegetable broth, and use olive oil or butter instead of bacon grease.
- Add smoked meats, like ham hock, turkey, or cooked bacon, for a smokey flavor. Add large smoked meats, like ham hocks or smoked turkeys, at the beginning of the slow cooking cycle.
- Use bagged collard greens for ease if you don’t feel like prepping the collard greens.
- Add red pepper flakes for a bit of spice.
Absolutely! This recipe works great with any hearty greens you have on hand. Use them alone or in combination with collard greens for a flavor-packed dish.
The collard greens should be tender and flavorful after about 6 hours of cooking on low. If they’re still tough, you may need to cook them longer.
To make this recipe vegan, replace the bacon grease and butter with plant-based oil, like olive or avocado oil. Sub the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
Frozen collard greens can be used if fresh ones aren’t available. Remember that the texture may be slightly different, and the cooking time may need to be adjusted.
Yes, a crockpot is a slow cooker.
Looking for more greens recipes? Try these out:
Slow Cooker Collard Greens
- Add the bacon grease, unsalted butter, onion, collard greens, cajun seasoning, and chicken broth to the slow Cooker.
- Cover the slow Cooker and cook on low for about 6-7 hours, stirring once or twice during cooking, until the greens are tender.
- Once done, add apple cider vinegar and season the greens with salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.
- If you don’t have bacon grease, you can substitute it with extra butter or a plant-based oil for a vegetarian alternative.
- Sometimes collard greens can be bitter. If your collards are too bitter, add about 1-2 Tablespoons of sugar to tame the bitterness.
- I usually add ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and ¼ black pepper to this dish before serving.