Last updated on December 28th, 2020
Try this set it and forget it recipe for slow cooker collard greens. Collards are slowly simmered with bacon until tender for a truly tasty Southern side.
One Sunday afternoon after church, The Husband asked if I would teach him how to cook greens. He was having a hankering, but he knew cooking greens took some doin’. Instead of burdening me with the task, he wanted to learn to make them himself.
Of course I obliged. You teach a man to fish …
Prior to that Sunday afternoon, it had been awhile since I’d prepared greens. Once they had simmered on the stove for a couple hours, I took a bite to make sure they were seasoned properly … then I took another bite … and another bite.
Needless to say, over the next few days I enjoyed The Husband’s pot of greens just as much as he did. It got me thinking … instead of stirring a pot for two hours, what if I could dump everything in a slow cooker, set it and forget it, and have a perfectly cooked pot of greens by the end of the day?
This was a last minute decision on Monday morning. I had just bought four bunches of fresh collards from the store with the intention to cooking them over the weekend. And then I didn’t. Now a busy week had begun and I just didn’t have time to baby sit a simmering pot for two hours. Out comes the trusty old slow cooker.
Traditional Cooking Methods
Traditional cooking methods use a smoked ham hock to add flavor. That’s what I use in my Southern Turnip Greens recipe. However, on this particular day I didn’t have a ham hock. I had bacon. I had to work with what was on hand. And I may have added a few tablespoons of bacon grease to the crock.
I am a Southern girl. I keep a mason jar of bacon grease in the fridge. You never know when it might come in handy.
The Slow Cooker Method
After washing and chopping my greens, I stuffed them all in the crock of my slow cooker. Remember, they cook down to almost nothing, so stuff those suckers in tight. After adding a few quarts of water and some apple cider vinegar, I set the timer on my slow cooker for five hours and muttered a prayer under my breath.
Five hours later as I lifted the lid and peeked inside, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Tender greens as flavorful as if I had simmered them on the stove all afternoon. As far as I’m concerned, this is the way to cook greens, y’all.
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Slow Cooker Collard Greens
- 4 large bunches of collard greens
- 6 ounces bacon or 1 smoked ham hock
- 3 tablespoons bacon grease
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 quarts of water
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Thoroughly wash your greens to remove any dirt or grit.
- Remove the tough center stems from the leaves and discard. Coarsely chop the greens.
- Pack the greens into the crock of a slow cooker (I used a 6-quart slow cooker. Remember, the greens will cook down a lot, so don’t stress if your crock pot seems a little full).
- Coarsely chop the bacon and add it to the crock. Add the bacon grease, apple cider vinegar, water, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Give everything a stir.
- If you are using a ham hock instead of bacon, nestle the ham hock into the greens.
- Cook your greens on low for 5 hours until tender. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.