Sweet and Spicy Collard Greens

Southern Kitchen

Serves: 8

Hands On Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 jalapeño pepper, minced

2 smoked ham hocks

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

2 heads collard greens, stripped from stems and chopped

6 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons hot sauce

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 1 minute. 

Add the ham hocks, vinegar and brown sugar, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the collard greens and toss to thoroughly coat the greens with the vinegar mixture. Add the chicken stock and hot sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the collards have softened and turned very dark green, about 2 hours. Remove the ham hocks. Separate the meat from the bones and skin, and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Discard the bones and skin and stir the meat back into the collards. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

About the recipe

This is a good, all-purpose recipe for collard greens that has those sweet, acidic, smoky and spicy notes that make collard greens magical. You can use any smoked pork product you like — such as bacon or country ham — but we like the fact that the natural smokiness of the ham hocks permeate the dish without becoming soggy. If all you can find is pre-cut bagged collards, use two bags. We like to use Texas Pete hot sauce in this recipe.