Collard Greens With Smoked Turkey

How to make the best Southern Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey! This recipe will show you how easy it is to make collards bursting with flavor.

collard greens with smoked turkey

Collard greens with smoked turkey is a classic Southern dish that’s as comforting as a warm hug.

This soul food classic takes us back to South Carolina summers. We would gather around the kitchen table eating spoonfuls of delicious, vinegary collards alongside fried okra, squash, cube steak, and rice.

This recipe brings together the earthy tone of collard greens with the smoky goodness of turkey, creating a meal that’s both hearty and delicious.


Why You’ll Love This

There’s something special about the way collard greens and smoked turkey come together in this dish. It’s like an explosion in every bite! Plus, it’s a great way to get your greens in without sacrificing on taste. Whether you’re serving it up for a weeknight dinner or a holiday feast, collard greens with smoked turkey are always a hit.

collard greens with smoked turkey

What Kitchen Tools Are Needed For This Recipe

To make collard greens with smoked turkey, you’ll need just a few basic kitchen tools:

  • A large pot or Dutch oven
  • A sharp knife
  • A cutting board
  • A strainer
  • Measuring cups and spoons
collard greens and corn bread

What Ingredients Are Needed

Gather up these simple ingredients to get started:

  • ½ white vinegar (for wash)
  • 2 bunches of fresh collard greens
  • 1 12 oz smoked turkey leg
  • 1 white onion and 6 minced cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar

How To Make It

  1. Prep the Collard Greens: Clean out your sink, then fill it with water and a little white vinegar. Wash the collard greens. Remove any thick stems. Stack the leaves and slice them into thin strips. Learn the step by step process how to wash your collard greens.
cleaning collard greens in water and vinegar

2. Cook the aromatics: Heat a bit of oil in your pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the white onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add your minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with black pepper and red pepper flakes. (Hold off on salt until the end because the smoked turkey is salty).

3. Add the Collard Greens: Add about half of the collards and cook for several minutes, stirring often, until cooked down. Add the remaining greens.

4. Season and Simmer: Pour in the chicken broth and add the turkey leg. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let it cook for an 1 hour, or until the collard greens are nice and tender.

Remove turkey bone: Using a wooden spoon, push the meat off of the bone (it should be pretty tender). Be careful to remove any tendons. Use the spoon to break the turkey into small pieces.

collard greens

Serve and Enjoy: Give your collard greens with smoked turkey a taste test and add salt if needed. Then, dish them up hot with corn bread and hot sauce.

Helpful Tips

  • If you’ve got the time, homemade chicken broth will give your collard greens an extra boost of flavor.
  • Want to kick up the heat? Add more red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne pepper to spice things up.
  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for longer storage.

History Behind This Recipe

Collard greens have deep roots in Southern cuisine, with influences from African and Native American cooking. Enslaved Africans brought their knowledge of cooking greens to the American South, where collards became a staple crop. Pairing collard greens with smoked or cured meats was a common practice, adding depth to a simple dish.

Substitutions And Variations

  • Vegetarian Twist: Skip the smoked turkey and use veggie broth instead of chicken broth for a meat-free option.
  • Get Creative: Add in extras like garlic, onions, or a splash of vinegar to customize your collard greens to your taste.
  • Instead of a smoked turkey leg you can use a ham hock or pork jowl. Since both are very salty, don’t add salt and taste at the end to see if you need to add anymore.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to Freeze Collard Greens?

To freeze collard greens, start by blanching them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain them well, pat them dry, and pack them into freezer-safe bags or containers. They’ll keep well in the freezer for up to 6 months.

What Do Collard Greens Taste Like?

Collard greens have a hearty, slightly bitter with a hint of sweetness. When cooked, they become tender and take on the profile of whatever they’re cooked with, like smoked turkey in this recipe.

How to Harvest Collard Greens?

To harvest collard greens, simply cut the outer leaves from the plant, leaving the inner leaves to continue growing. Be sure to wash them thoroughly before using.

How to Cut Collard Greens?

To cut collard greens, stack several leaves on top of each other, roll them up tightly, and slice them into thin strips. Discard any tough stems.

cut the thick stem from your collards

How to Blanch Collard Greens?

Blanching collard greens involves briefly cooking them in boiling water, then immediately transferring them to ice water to stop the cooking process. This helps preserve their color and texture before using them in recipes.

What Should You Eat with Collard Greens?

Collard greens pair well with a variety of Southern dishes, such as cornbread, fried chicken, mac and cheese, or black-eyed peas. They also make a great side dish for barbecue or grilled meats.

collard greens with smoked turkey

Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey

Author: Maddy & JD – Them Bites
How to make the best Southern Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey! This recipe will show you how easy it is to make collards bursting with flavor.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 8 people
Calories 24 kcal


  • 2 large bunches collard greens
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 12 oz smoked turkey leg
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes adjust to your preference
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar

Recipe Instructions

Clean Your Greens

  • Cut or tear the leaves away from the thick steams and discard the stems. Leave the small or thin stems. (We prefer it without the thick stems, but you can keep them if that's how you like it. You do you).
  • Roll the leaves up and slice into smaller strips, or tear with your hands.
  • Clean out your kitchen sink (or a large bowl) and fill with cold water. Add the ½ cup of vinegar. Place collards in the sink and swish around. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse collards. Repeat the process if necessary. Set the collards aside on paper towels or a clean dish towel until ready to use.

Make Them Greens

  • Heat a tall cooking pot over medium heat. Add oil. Once hot, add onion. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Season with black pepper and red pepper flakes. (Do not salt. The smoked turkey is already salty and you can add salt, if necessary, at the end).
  • Add in enough collards so it fills your pot, about half. Stir frequently and cook until they've cooked down some to allow you to add the rest of the greens.
  • With all the greens in the pot and cooked down some, add you broth and the smoked turkey leg. Bring the broth to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Use a wooden spoon to break off the turkey away from the bone and break into smaller pieces, or remove from the pot and shred. Add 2 tbsp white vinegar. Stir and simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.


Calories: 24kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 225mgPotassium: 52mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 88IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 0.2mg
Keyword collard greens with smoked turkey
Tried this recipe?Mention @thembitesrecipes or tag #thembites

Similar Posts

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating