Collard Greens with Hot Pepper Sauce! (The dish that might make you rich!)


I have always loved greens. Turnip, collard, or mixed, I just adore them. Among the greens I like, my Grandmama’s ranks the absolute highest. No one can make them like her. However, I did learn that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing…

When I was working on my degree, I lived with my grandparents for a while. Grandadddy passed away while I was living there and it was just me and Grandmama. You can imagine how very different life was for the both of us with Grandaddy gone. Being a southern lady, Grandmama needed someone to take care of – because thats just what southern women do. I had mentioned before how much I enjoyed Grandmama’s greens and she was off to the races with a cause!

Every day for lunch, we had turnip greens. Every day for supper, we had turnip greens. There might have been a day or two in there in which we only had them once, but they always made a show before the sun went down, carried to the table by a very pleased looking Grandmama as she bragged on how much I loved to eat them. I DID love them and hers WERE the best but…y’all can just imagine. I ate every bite, every day, at every meal she served them at. After a month or two, I half expected to look in the mirror and find my skin had turned green. At one point I went to get blood work and the doctor was impressed with my iron levels, her exact words were “You must eat a lot of greens and such”. If she only knew.

I laugh now, just as I did then, about Grandmama making me greens so much. I did get a little weary after a while, but the thought that was behind them still made them delicious and to this day I still count them among some of my favorite dishes.

Greens are a critical part of our New Year’s Day meal in the south. According to our tradition, the amount of greens you eat is directly proportionate to how much money you will have in the coming year. Even my brother, who has picky eating habits to rival the most obstinate toddler, has been known to manage a bite or two on New Years day!

You’re going to need some greens. You can use Collards or Turnip greens, or a mixture of both. I am using Collards because that was what was available to me. This is what a bunch looks like. The bundle I bought had three of these and that is the amount I’ll be making today.

I start by chopping the end off like this.

Then I put them in my pot and run cold water over them to start washing them. Washing your greens is extremely important as they do have dirt on them and you want to remove that.

I also pick up each individual leaf and run that under the water, too. Then I place washed leaves in a clean bowl or dishpan.

These little ones that have clearly been feasted on by little critters just get thrown away. I don’t mind them though, I don’t fault a little buggy who has a taste for some fresh greens!

Now we need to get that big old tough spine out of them. If you fold the leaf in two and hold it, it will easily tear right off the spine. If you can’t manage this, just tear it off or cut it off, whatever works for you is just fine!

You just want to end up with a nice bowl of collard leaves like this one.

Now take a bunch at at time and just coarsely chop them up a bit. Don’t worry about making them too small, they will shrink a lot when cooked anyway. We’re just going for big pieces rather than huge leaves here.

Once that is done, put them in a large pot. In your pot, pour about two quarts of water, 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 cup of salt. You may put more or less salt to taste but I would wait and let them cook a bit before you decide. If it is too salty, drain some of the water and add fresh, unsalted water. If it isn’t salty enough, just add a bit more. This isn’t rocket science so don’t fret over whether or not  you are doing it right. If it tastes right to you, its perfect :). Cook these on medium heat for about two hours, or until tender.

Notice how they aren’t covered  with water? There is already two quarts of water in that pot, they are just kind of piled in there but see what happens after about half an hour…

Now they are all sunk down in the water and cooking nicely. These still have over an hour to go. If your water starts getting too low, add some more while these are cooking. If you REALLY want some good greens, add you in a ham hock or some country ham slices while these cook and then shred it up and put it back in after the collards are done. I don’t have any ham hocks today so we’re doing these this way…

Now lets make some pepper sauce..I LOVE the pepper sauce!!

You’ll need: Vinegar, minced garlic, sugar, hot peppers, and salt.

In a pot, place all of your ingredients (recipe at the bottom). Give it a stir and bring it just to a boil. Then, reduce heat and simmer until it is cooked down by about half. By that I mean, look at the level it is at now and when it is half that amount (thanks to evaporation), your sauce is done!

Drain greens and place in a serving bowl after cooking them for about two hours. Drizzle individual servings with the pepper sauce… This sauce is great for so many vegetables!

Decide how rich you want to be in the new year and eat greens accordingly!


Collard Greens
  • 3 bunches collard greens
  • ¾ C cider Vinegar
  • 2 quarts water
  • ¼ C salt
  • Ham Hock, Ham bone, or pieces of country ham, optional
  1. Rinse greens well. Remove spines and chop coarsely, place in pot. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until collards are tender, about two hours, adding more water if needed. Serve warm with hot pepper sauce.
Hot Pepper Sauce
3 C water
1 C white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
4 hot peppers from jar, whole
1 tsp minced garlic
Combine all in pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until amount is reduced by half. Drizzle over greens or other vegetables. Refrigerate remainder.


Thank you all and Happy New Year!






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  1. Wanda says

    Hi Christy. I’be been making greens for years and have never heard of the cider vinegar addtion, so coming from you I am gonna give it a try. Thanks for all your daily posts and encouragement. I have one tip that I would like to share though if you will allow. I always cook my greens in an enamel or cast iron pot. I find that aluminum or metal pots seem to make them bitter. Thanks again for the great stories and great recipes. Many blessingss to you and yours for the new year!!!

  2. says

    I must try this recipe…the apple cider vinegar addition sounds like a great idea to boil the greens in….YUM! Gotta try your hot pepper sauce as well!

    I usually make my pepper sauce with nothing more than pack the container with washed cayenne peppers (green & red)-some sliced lengthwise to open to the seeds..add some red pepper flakes..pour hot white vinegar till the lid on..set till cool, then keep refrigerated.

    • judy taylor says

      Love the collards! I have cooked collards for years, but never added vinegar
      to them My youngest daughter would only eat a leaf or two just in case she might be properous. After using your recipe on New Years Day, she ate two helpings!!! All of the family loved them. Got your cookbooks for Chistmas from my daughters, too.
      Happy New Year and God bless you and your family.

  3. Sue says

    My daddy says you need to finely chop up some of the collard “ribs” and add t the pot while cooking. Chopping them finely keeps then from being fibrous and he “swears” (which he seldom does) that it adds a delicious sweetness to the collards. He’s 87 years old so I listen to what he says!

    • Martha says

      Your daddy is absolutely correct!! Don’t throw those stems away. They are delicious ! I remove them before i wash the greens, chopthem into abojt 1″ pieces and let them cook while get the leaves ready. I’ve eaten and cooked a passel of collards in my 78 years and have done them eight ways from Sunday. Each batch seems to demand its own way of cooking. One ingredient has always been the same, though. Apple cider vinegar. Not white, but apple cider. It not only adds woderful flavoor, but helps tenderize the greens. Don’t eat this woderful vegetable only on New Years but every chance you get. Grow them if you can and you can harvest almost year round. Folk wisdom when I was a kid is: plant collards on Valentines day and they won’t bolt in hot weather. Start fro the bottom lea es, break off what you need andthe plant will just continue to grow and make more leaves at the top. Happy. New Year, happy gardening and delicious eating to each of you.

  4. Mary Jo says

    My Daddy always kept a jar of vinegar with hot peppers in it and as he used the vinegar he would add more to the jar. He would put this on greens and in a bowl of vegetable soup. Really perks up the taste.

  5. says

    I have cooked collards for a long time but never heard of adding vinegar. Must try. I add peanut oil and ham or bacon or whatever I have. My Mother told me to add about 1/8 t. of baking soda. That would make the seasoning cook into the collards and help make them tender. I also cook in pressure cooker for about 30 minutes. Much faster that way. May try your way tomorrow. Thanks.

  6. Elaine Till says

    Christy, I was wondering what does the vinegar do ? My mama and grandma didnt cook their greens that way so, i had never heard of that before But..i am cooking my first batch of greens tonite using your recipe!I usually just use canned or frozen..wish me luck!

    • Brad Busby says

      Hi Christy, I still have Georgia collards in the garden that I planted last year and have harvested all year long. Love my collards. I added some smoked beef sausage and potatoes to a batch of collards and that was a meal by itself. Delicious. I also freeze batches of cooked collards in gallon bags for future use. I will try the cider vinegar . Thanks.

  7. Chris Albritton says

    Speaking of washing greens – I remember the year my sweet hubby was going to get my greens washed and in the pot boiling before I got home from work. Well, he did; however, when I took them out of the pot along with the big hunk of pork roast out came a bunch of grasshoppers and other little pests that like greens also! Needless to say, the whole pot had to go into the trash! Gotta love him for trying though..

  8. Carrie F says

    My collards are already cooked for New Years day . I’v’e never cooked them with vinegar but I do eat them with vinegar. I also like to eat them with pickled peaches. I add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic to the greens during the last half hour of cooking. I’ve been eating collards for over 75 years and I am still waiting for the money.
    Happy New Year!


  9. Shelby says

    Happy New Year to you and your family. My greens are cooked but not finished.I cook them in plain water-when done chop and season with salt and a little sugar.
    When ready to eat our dinner, they are saute’d in olive oil and coarse chopped onion and more seasoning if needed. My family doesn’t care for vinegar! We prefer them slightly sweet. Try it! I always use fresh collards.

  10. Kevan says

    When cooking collard/turnip/mustard greens, I often buy one of those cheap six-packs of chicken legs at the store at the same time I get the greens. Cook the chicken legs in enough water to cover, with a bit of celery, chopped onion, and creole seasoning. When the leg meat is falling of the bone, pull the legs out. Let them cool for about ten minutes, then remove the skins. Pull the meat off the bones and put it back in the broth. Discard the bones and skins. Then use the broth to cook the greens in. It’s a different flavor than ham or hocks, but still mighty tasty!

  11. Serena says

    I use the chicken broth too. My MawMaw taught it to me and I was born and raised in Alabama. It pulls ht ebitter out and “savors” them up. Even my Indiana born husband will eat some and that’s saying something! Love your site!!

  12. Nancy says

    Christy…I am a “Jersey Girl” transplanted to NC in 1997. This is the first year I have had to try my hand at making my own health, wealth and happiness…I made your collards and I was so pleased they came out better (amazing to tell the truth) from what I expected. Typically my southern brother in law makes them and we gather at his house but they have moved to SC so I was on my own. I admit I had Plan B (canned) but yours came out incredible. I hesitated over the VINEGAR but went with your recipe and they were YUM. The only thing I changed was used my homemade ham stock (from Christmas ham) rather than water and threw in the scraps and reduced the salt. The pepper vinegar was also incredible. Thanks for helping me earn my Southern Cook Badge. Nancy

  13. Jo says

    If you have a really big mess of greens you can try washing them in the washing machine on the gentle rinse cycle. This is especially helpful if they were grown on sandy soil. Nothing worse than grit in your greens.

  14. Nicole says

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I am new to the site and fell in love with the way you tell stories as you introduce the day’s recipes. It is almost like standing in the kitchen with a cousin or a friend as they prepare a meal. Sometimes a good conversation is the perfect seasoning.

  15. Sheri Johnson says

    Christy!! Oh my goodness! I made these New Year’s Day, they were my first attempt at collards, and they were amazing! The hot pepper sauce is going to be a new staple in my refrigerator. I can’t keep my face out of the collard bowl!! I made a pork shoulder with winter spices, black-eyed peas over tumeric rice, and these delicious collards. This is my new go-to recipe for collards.. I’m on my way to becoming a collard-making fool! Thank you for sharing!


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