Delicious & Nutritious Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipe

It’s difficult not to love a good Southern-style collard greens recipe, especially when it’s vegan-friendly! This recipe is perfect for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, providing a smoky flavor and robust texture to your taste buds that will undoubtedly leave you wanting more. The savory mix of garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes finds its counterpart in the wholesome greenness of the collard greens, producing a dish that’s as flavorful as it is nutritious.

You don’t have to be from the South to appreciate the soulful taste of collard greens. Though often served as a side dish on special occasions, this vegan Southern-style collard greens recipe can easily become the main course for any meal or potluck event. And don’t worry, just because it’s vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s lacking in any way. This recipe packs all the punch of classic southern-style collard greens without any added animal products.

If you’re looking for a new way to appreciate this classic comfort food favorite or are simply trying to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet, then look no further than this flavorful vegan version of Southern-style collard greens.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vegetarian Southern-Style Collard Greens
Vegetarian Southern-Style Collard Greens

If you’re looking for a recipe that’s both delicious and healthy, look no further than this vegetarian Southern-style collard greens recipe. It’s packed with flavor and nutrition that will leave your taste buds wanting more.

Not only is this recipe vegan, but it’s also gluten-free, and can be easily adapted to fit your dietary preferences. It’s made with simple ingredients such as collard greens, onion, garlic, tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes. And the best part? This dish is perfect for those who want to enjoy soul food without any meat.

One of the highlights of this dish is its smoky and savory flavors. The smoked paprika adds a depth of flavor that brings out the natural taste of the collard greens. Plus, the apple cider vinegar gives it a tangy kick that perfectly balances out the other flavors.

Additionally, this recipe is extremely versatile. You can customize it by adding in other vegetables like mustard or turnip greens, or even mixed greens if you prefer. So don’t be afraid to experiment and find the combination that works best for you.

Overall, this vegetarian Southern-style collard greens recipe is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal that’s easy to make and will satisfy all your cravings. So give it a try – you won’t regret it!

Ingredient List

 Garden-fresh collard greens make the perfect base for a delicious dish.
Garden-fresh collard greens make the perfect base for a delicious dish.

Get ready to head to your local grocery store, because these vegetarian Southern-style collard greens call for some key ingredients that will bring the authentic taste of the South straight into your kitchen.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of collard greens (stem removed and chopped)

  • 1 onion (diced)

  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons of butter

  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (people like to use their preferred vinegar)

  • 1 cup of vegetable broth

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

  • salt (1-2 teaspoons or to taste)

Take note that all ingredients are vegan-friendly, making this recipe not only Southern-inspired, but also suitable for a plant-based diet.

The Recipe How-To

 The combination of smoked paprika and red pepper flakes creates a flavor explosion.
The combination of smoked paprika and red pepper flakes creates a flavor explosion.

Now that we have all the ingredients ready, let’s jump into cooking those vegan Southern-style Collard Greens. I guarantee that this dish is so rich and flavorful, it will make you forget about any meaty equivalent.

Step 1: Sautéing the Onion and Garlic

Start by getting your large pot heated up over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter to the pot, then sauté one diced yellow onion until slightly softened, for about 2 minutes. Next, add in 4 cloves of minced garlic and a 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes along with some salt and pepper to taste for additional flavor.

Step 2: Adding the Greens

Once the onion and garlic are properly cooked, it’s now time to add the greens. Start by washing one pound of collard greens and cutting off their stems (you can discard or save them for another recipe!) Chop them into bite-sized pieces and add them into the pot with the onion mixture. Stir everything together until the collard greens wilt a bit.

Step 3: Simmering with Broth

Pour in four cups of vegetable broth- ideally low sodium – to cover the greens partially (if more liquid is needed, just add water). Then add in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for tartness and brightness, a teaspoon each of smoked paprika and kosher salt to enhance things more, diced tomatoes (optional) and another sprinkle of red pepper flakes (also as per personal preference).

Step 4: Cover and Cook

Put a lid on semi-tightly on top of your pot and let everything simmer away over medium heat for anywhere from 30 minutes-45 minute depending on how tender you want your leaves to be. Reminder to give occasional stirring for even cooking.

via Food Network

That’s all there is to it! A simple yet flavorful vegan version of southern-style collard greens that you can pair with cornbread, rice maybe mashed potatoes or even BBQ!

Substitutions and Variations

 These collard greens are both vegan and gluten-free, making them perfect for any dietary restriction.
These collard greens are both vegan and gluten-free, making them perfect for any dietary restriction.

Delving into the many substitutions and variations that can be made in this recipe is like wandering through a verdant garden, overflowing with endless possibilities.

For those who don’t care for collard greens, you can easily substitute them for other dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, chard, or mustard greens. Don’t be afraid to mix and match your favorite greens to create complex, multilayered flavors.

In place of butter, use vegan butter or coconut oil to give your dish a rich and creamy texture. Garlic lovers may want to double the amount of garlic, or roast it first to impart a mellower flavor. Adding tomatoes to the recipe will give it a lovely tangy flavor that balances out the bitterness of the greens.

If you crave a bit of smokiness in your collard greens, try adding smoked paprika or liquid smoke. For heat seekers, increase the amount of red pepper flakes or add some hot sauce for extra kick. Apple cider vinegar can be substituted for white vinegar and lemon juice adds brightness and complexity.

Switching up the broth for vegetable or mushroom broth gives the greens food depth and richness without relying on animal products, making it an ideal dish for vegans and vegetarians. You can also add beans or lentils for extra protein or skip them entirely if you prefer.

Let your creativity run wild when experimenting with different substitutions and variations in this Southern-style vegan collard greens recipe. There’s no limit to what you can concoct with these simple yet flavorful ingredients.

Serving and Pairing

 The recipe calls for vegetable broth, adding an extra layer of savory taste to the greens.
The recipe calls for vegetable broth, adding an extra layer of savory taste to the greens.

When it comes to serving and pairing my vegetarian Southern-style collard greens recipe, there are many delicious options that will complement this dish.

Firstly, I recommend serving the collard greens with a warm, hearty grain such as brown rice, quinoa or even creamy grits. The combination of the tender collard greens and the substantial grain makes for a satisfying meal that will keep you full for hours.

If you’re looking for a touch of freshness to balance out the smoky flavor of the collard greens, consider pairing them with a chopped tomato salad with crumbled feta cheese or a tangy apple cider vinegar coleslaw.

For those who enjoy spicy heat, I recommend serving the collard greens alongside some hot sauce or red pepper flakes. These condiments will enhance the flavor of the dish and add an extra punch of flavor to every bite.

Finally, soul food lovers may want to consider pairing these collard greens with other classic dishes from the genre such as mustard greens with ham hocks, turnip greens or mixed greens without meat.

No matter how you choose to serve and pair this dish, it’s important to remember that these Southern-style collard greens are best enjoyed in good company. I encourage you to share this comforting and flavorful vegetarian twist on a classic comfort food dish with your loved ones and embrace the warmth and community spirit of soul food cuisine.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A unique blend of sweet onion and garlic enhances the flavor of the greens, providing a more robust taste.
A unique blend of sweet onion and garlic enhances the flavor of the greens, providing a more robust taste.

As much as I love fresh collard greens, I must admit that they taste even better the next day. So, if you want to make them ahead of time, it’s a great idea! You can prepare southern-style collard greens up to two days before you plan to serve them.

Once the greens have cooled down, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. When it’s time to reheat, transfer them into a pot with a lid and add a little bit of water or vegetable broth. Reheat on low heat until they’re hot enough to serve. Alternatively, you can reheat them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

If you want to freeze your collard greens, let them cool down completely and transfer them into an airtight container or ziplock bag. Label and date the container or bag, and freeze for up to three months. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat using one of the above methods.

Some people like to add additional apple cider vinegar or hot sauce when reheating their collard greens. If you prefer your greens with some extra kick, this is a great option! Others prefer to keep things simple and enjoy them as-is.

No matter how you decide to store and reheat your vegetarian Southern-style collard greens, make sure to enjoy them within three days if refrigerated or within three months if frozen. That way, you’ll always have a delicious meal ready when you need it!

Tips for Perfect Results

 These collard greens are perfect as a side dish, but they can easily stand on their own as a main course.
These collard greens are perfect as a side dish, but they can easily stand on their own as a main course.

Southern-Style Collard Greens are a fantastic side dish that can be served with many types of dishes. Here are some useful tips to help you get the perfect results when preparing this vegan collard greens recipe.

Firstly, when it comes to seasoning your collard greens, bear in mind that southern-style food is generally rich in flavor. Therefore, it is advisable to use enough salt to enhance the taste of the dish. In this recipe, I use kosher salt, as it has a mild and pleasant taste.

Secondly, do not overcook the collard greens. Overcooking them will result in a mushy texture and cause them to lose their vibrant green color. This can be avoided by cooking them on medium heat and checking them frequently to achieve your desired level of tenderness.

Thirdly, I recommend using apple cider vinegar for added flavor. The acid helps balance out the flavors and creates a tangy taste that pairs well with the bitter notes of the greens.

Fourthly, if you have leftovers after preparing this vegetarian southern-style collard greens recipe, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. When reheating, you can also add some water or broth to prevent them from drying out and losing their moisture.

Finally, feel free to experiment with additional spices and seasonings like red pepper flakes or hot sauce for extra heat and flavor. You can also try mixing different types of greens such as mustard or turnip greens for a mixed green without meat experience.

By following these simple tips, you will achieve perfect results every time you prepare this delicious smoky vegan soul food collard greens recipe.


As someone who has prepared and served this vegetarian southern-style collard greens recipe countless times, I have come across many questions that people often ask regarding the preparation of this dish. Therefore, to clear any doubts and ensure that you serve the very best meal, here are some frequently asked questions about this recipe to guide you through.

What takes the bitterness out of collard greens?

To reduce the bitterness of your greens, blanching them is essential. This is because the water-soluble compounds called glucosinolates are removed when blanching, resulting in a less bitter taste.

How do you make Patti Labelle collard greens?

Let’s start bringing some flavor to our dish! We’re going to add collard greens, onions, chicken stock, and a pinch of kosher salt, pepper, and seasoned salt. And to add a punch of smoky goodness, we’ll mix in some smoked turkey. Next, we’ll turn down the heat and cook everything together for 35 minutes, making sure the collard greens are cooked to the appropriate level of tenderness. So, let’s get to it and start creating a tasty dish that everyone will love!

What can I use instead of pork in collard greens?

When it comes to adding flavor and seasoning to greens, smoked turkey offers a delightful and tasty option that can be a great alternative to pork. The flavor and seasoning provided by turkey can be just as satisfying as that of pork.

Why do you put vinegar in collard greens?

Incorporating vinegar into the collard greens recipe will not only enhance its taste but will also eradicate any unpleasant bitterness. To cater to individual preferences, I suggest serving the vinegar separately so that they could adjust the amount to their liking. While apple cider vinegar is the usual choice for collard greens, guests may prefer either white vinegar or hot sauce to complement their meal.

Bottom Line


As I conclude this article, I hope that you have enjoyed learning more about our delicious vegetarian Southern-style collard greens recipe. Not only is this dish vegan-friendly, but it’s also packed full of flavor and nutrition!

Whether you’re looking to impress your loved ones at a family gathering or simply want to enjoy a hearty and healthy meal, this recipe is perfect for you. With ingredients like garlic, onion, apple cider vinegar and red pepper flakes, every bite is sure to delight your senses.

So go ahead and try out our vegetarian Southern-style collard greens recipe – I assure you that it won’t disappoint! You can also customize the recipe as per your taste buds, switching some of the ingredients as per your personal preference.

In conclusion, cooking healthy and nutritious meals doesn’t have to be dull or boring. By incorporating vibrant colors and flavors with fresh ingredient choices, we can be adventurous in the kitchen while promoting good health. Stay safe and happy cooking!

Vegetarian Southern-Style Collard Greens

Vegetarian Southern-Style Collard Greens Recipe

Great greens without the meat! Adapted from Sunny Anderson from the show Cooking for Real,Episode: Carolina On My Mind!
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern American
Servings 4
Calories 94.8 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 lb collard greens, chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • smoked paprika (optional)
  • apple cider vinegar (optional)


  • In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and butter. Saute the onions until slightly softened, about 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and garlic, cook another minute. Add collard greens and cook another minute. Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until greens are tender, about 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a little smoked paprika and cider vinegar to taste if desired. Enjoy!

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 808gCalories: 94.8kcalCarbohydrates: 7.8gProtein: 2.7gFat: 6.8gSaturated Fat: 2.4gCholesterol: 7.6mgSodium: 44.6mgFiber: 3.6gSugar: 1.3g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Collards, Easy, Greens, Thanksgiving, Vegetable
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