How To Cook Mustard, Collard & Beet Greens

Like most vegetables, leafy greens are loaded with vitamins and can make a welcome addition to any meal, but how to prepare them so they are flavorful and not bitter? Here are a few tips along with recipes for how to cook three different varieties: Collard, Mustard and Beet greens. Enjoy!

Add a Smoked Ham Hock To The Pot To Add Flavor
Add a Smoked Ham Hock To The Pot To Add Flavor

Preparation Tips:

  • Remove the center stems of the greens by holding the stem at the base of the leaf then quickly pulling the stem back and the leaf up, ripping the stem out of the leaf. For younger leaves with tender stems, just cut them off.
  • Wash leaves well in a sinkful of cold water 2 or 3 times until water is clear and all grit has been rinsed away.
  • Chop into 1″ strips or tear into bite-sized pieces before cooking.

Cooking Tip: If you realize the pot isn’t large enough to hold all the leaves, add as many as you can, cover and wait a couple minutes then add more leaves as the first batch wilts down.

Collard Greens

4 slices bacon (for approx. 2 TBS of drippings)
1/2 pound smoked ham hock
1/2 onion (diced)
2 to 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
3 quarts water
1 large bunch collard greens


  • Cut bacon into 1″ slices and fry in a large pot, remove bacon bits when cooked leaving rendered fat in pot.
  • Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until onions are translucent.
  • Add the ham hocks and cook briefly with the onions & bacon fat.
  • Add water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about one hour and then add greens to the pot (if they don’t all fit, add a handful every few minutes as the leaves wilt down).
  • Cook covered for another 45 to 60 minutes on low to medium heat (stir well occasionally).
  • Once the greens are tender and a dark green, remove meat, shred it off the bone, add it back to the greens and season as you like (salt, pepper, etc.), then serve.

Optional: You can cook with a smoked turkey leg or smoked turkey wing instead of the ham hock. You can also add about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the water during the first boil.

Mustard Greens

1 bunch mustard greens (stems removed, chopped)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


  • Wash greens well in cold water to remove all grit then toss wet leaves into pot and add water, salt and red pepper flakes.
  • Cover pot and set heat to medium. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes (stirring once or twice) and remove from heat when leaves are tender.
  • Drain, season as you wish and serve.

Beet Greens

4 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion (diced)
2 cloves of garlic (sliced)
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bunch beet greens


  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat then add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes until onions are translucent then add greens. Cover and cook until tender (about 5 minutes or so), stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat then season with salt and pepper before serving.

Quick & Basic Recipe: Wash leaves well then cover in a pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until done (stirring occasionally). Drain excess liquid, add a bit of butter and serve.

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    • Michelle

    For the collard greens above, I use a similar recipe but use a can of beer instead of water, a 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar and a tablespoon or two of molasses. The best! This is from Emeril.

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