Quick Southern Style Collard Greens (Paleo, Whole30, Keto)

4 minute read

This quick and easy smoky southern style collard greens recipe takes less than an hour and tastes like you spent all day cooking! The key is using a good, no-sugar-added, uncured, thick cut of bacon that deliciously enhances the earthiness of the collard greens.

There are a few things I love to serve collard greens with: anything smoked, like my smoked chicken poppers, or with black eyed peas and a baked honey-rosemary ham as we celebrate the new year. Collard greens are said to symbolize money, and it is thought that enjoying them on New Year’s Day brings forth financial prosperity. No matter what you choose to serve these smoky collard greens with, this easy and quick recipe will have you spending more time making memories and less time in the kitchen.

Why Collard Greens are So Good For You!

Collard greens are part of the cruciferous family which also includes, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Collards originate from the Mediterranean, near Greece, but have a deep rooted history in America as well. Collard greens are in season from early spring to late fall and are awesome as a side dish or as a wrap for sandwiches and more!.


  • Vitamin A (beta-carotene): Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and reduces oxidative stress and is also converted to vitamin A in the body.  Vitamin A  is essential in the health of your eyes, skin, bones, kidneys, and lungs.
  • Choline: An essential nutrient that many people are actually deficient in!  Choline is necessary in the production of phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin: phospholipids necessary for cell membrane health.  It is also essential in the production of acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter in brain and nervous system health [1].
  • Vitamin B9 (folate): This vitamin is essential in the production of your genetic material (DNA and RNA), supports metabolism, and works with other B vitamins in regulating homocysteine [2].
  • Vitamin C:  A powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress, improves the absorption of non-heme iron, supports the immune system, and healthy bones [3].
  • Vitamin K: Vitamin K1 is essential in your body’s clotting ability and is converted to vitamin K2 in your gut.  Vitamin K2 is essential in maintaining healthy bones and skin.


  • Calcium: The most abundant mineral in the body and is essential in maintaining health teeth and bones as well as heart, muscle and nerve function [4].
  • Iron: The iron in pasta, like all plant sources of iron is non-heme iron. Iron is necessary in the production of hemoglobin, supports the endocrine system, and is necessary in growth and development [5].
  • Magnesium: Essential in your heart health, supports your nervous system, and is necessary in detoxification.
  • Phosphorous: Supports healthy teeth and bones, muscle recovery after working out, and detoxification.
  • Potassium:  An essential electrolyte necessary in nervous system function, metabolism,  hydration, and in regulating your heartbeat.

Fatty Acids

  • Alpha linoleic acid (ALA: also known as Omega-3): An essential fatty acid due to our body’s inability to create it.  It plays a vital role in our body’s anti-inflammatory pathways and is an excellent whole food source of EPA and DHA.


Sulforaphane is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables like collards, Brussels sprouts, and arugula that has been shown to have many health benefits.  Studies have shown that this powerful compound is stored in cruciferous vegetables in an inactive form known as glucoraphanin.  Glucoraphanin is then activated by chopping, cutting, or chewing the food releasing an enzyme, myrosinase, to produce sulforaphane.  Sulforaphane is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to support health and wellness.


There are more benefits to including collards greens to a whole food diet as the fiber they contain supports a healthy and optimized digestive tract! They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber:

  • Insoluble fiber: Works to keep things moving along and helps with toxin and waste elimination.
  • Soluble fiber [6]:  Soluble fiber works to support a healthy microbiome and supports healthy blood sugar regulation.

So grab some fresh collard greens and let’s get cooking!

Quick Southern Style Collard Greens Ingredients

Serves 4-8

2 large Bunches of Collard Greens

8oz No Sugar Added Bacon

½ Onion, diced

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

2 cups Chicken Bone Broth

2 tsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tsp Smoked Paprika

1 tsp Fine Real Salt

½ tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (opt)

*To make this vegan/vegetarian: use avocado oil and substitute veggie broth

How to Make Quick Southern Style Collard Greens

1. Dice and sauté the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven, remove, drain, and reserve 1 Tbsp of bacon fat.

2. Clean and de-stem the collards. Take a few leaves and layer them on top of each other and roll them up to cut into ½” strips.

3. Sauté the onion for 5-7 mins until softened then add the garlic and cook for 1-minute more.

4. Add broth, ACV, spices, and 3/4 of the bacon, stirring to combine.

5.  Stir in the chopped collard greens, cover and simmer on low-med heat for 30-45 minutes until the collards are tender. Stir every 10-15 minutes.

6. Season to taste and top with remaining bacon and serve.

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Q: How long do collard green keep?

A: Once cooked, store collard greens in the refrigerator in a airtight container up to 3-4 days.

Q: What could I use in place of the bacon to get that smoky flavor?

A: You could try and use a ham hock (will require a longer cooking time), smoked turkey or chicken. If you have your broth homemade, try using smoked bones to get a smoky flavor.

Q: How do I make collard greens vegan while still getting that smoky flavor?

A: Smoked paprika does a lot to help in this department as well as using a nice smoked salt. You can try adding smoke flavoring, but keep in mind those are not the “cleanest” ingredients to add to your food.

Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to the products and kitchen gear I love. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting Almond Milk and Cookies!


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Welcome to Almond Milk and Cookies where good food, health and lots of flavor go hand-in-hand!

I am a holistic nutritionist with an auto-immune disorder, a love of cooking, and a passion for holistic health.

Sharing what I make and eat with all of you…in hopes that you find inspiration here to fuel your body and feel your best with nutrient dense whole foods and clean eating.

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