Southern Collard Greens With Smoked Turkey

These southern-style collard greens with smoked turkey necks are just like Mamas! Braised in a rich, perfectly seasoned, meaty potlikker, these greens are seasoned to the Gods!

Collard greens and smoked turkey necks are plated on a white plate with two utensils.

Southern collard greens recipe

If you love down home southern cooking, check out these raspberry filled beignets, fried green tomato BLT, or my favorite- low country boil.

These soul food collard greens are truly made with love. They are simmered for a couple of hours in the pot likker, making them tender and packed with flavor.

When I tell you this is the best southern collard greens recipe to hit the internet… I’m not playin’! A dear friend brought these collard greens to game night at my house, and I was instantly hooked! She can throw it down! Her recipe is tried and true, being passed down from generations in her family, and now I’m passing it on to you!

This Southern collard greens recipe is truly a staple here in the south. They go great with just about any kind of southern dish! They are slowly braised in a rich pot likker (complete with smoked turkey necks) that will make you wanna SLAP YA MAMA.

Pot likker

Pot likker (also known as pot liquor) is a southern term for the braising liquid in the greens. It’s perfectly seasoned with all the right spices with a smoked ham hock or turkey necks tossed in.

To make pot likker, I like to start off by simmering turkey necks in chicken broth for 45 minutes. Next, I add my cleaned collard greens, hot sauce, onion, seasoning salt, Tony Chachere’s, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. As the collard simmer and reduce, the remaining liquid is your pot likker. Taste a spoonful (or a full glass), it’s insanely delicious.

The result is a scrumptious liquid that the collard greens absorb, getting their perfect flavor and tender texture. Pot likker can be used as a base for soups or to flavor other southern dishes. Trust me, you don’t want it to go to waste! These soul food collard greens take time, but they are worth every minute!

Southern collard greens are made with turkey necks, onion, garlic, and some seasonings.

Collard green recipe ingredients

  • Collards– Since I live in the south, every grocery store sells the HUGE bundles of collars. If you can only find the smaller bundles, grab about 6 or 7 of them, they reduce much like spinach.
  • Smoked ham hock or turkey necks– This choice is all about preference. I have used both, and I can’t decide which one I like better. The smoked ham hock brings a smokey undertone to the dish, but the turkey necks add a hearty base to the pot likker. If you can’t find either, you can opt for chicken necks!
  • Seasoning– Seasoning salt and Tony’s Chachere’s are a must for this recipe! If you cannot find Tony’s, you can opt for your favorite Cajun seasoning blend. Onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper are also used to perfectly season the greens!
  • Hot sauce– A few tablespoons of hot sauce adds the perfect amount of acidity to the collard greens since the hot sauce is vinegar-based. My favorite is Red’s Hot Sauce!

Chef’s tips

How to pick and clean your collard greens

Look for collard greens that do not have any yellowing leaves in the bundle. Make sure the leaves are not too tough because you will be pulling the leaves from the stem by hand.

To clean the collards, fill your sink with cool water. Submerge the greens in the water and use your hands to massage the leaves to make sure any grit or sand comes off. Drain the sink, rinse the greens, and repeat the process. Once you are sure they are cleaned, run them under the faucet to ensure they are totally clean. Lay them out on a kitchen towel on your counter to begin removing the stems.

A hand is ripping the collard leaf from the stem

Removing the stems

Removing the collard green stems is a personal preference. I like to use my hand and work my closed fist up the stem until the leaves just break off. From there, I use my hands to tear up the leaves into smaller pieces.

You can absolutely cook your collard greens with the stem ( the stems hold a ton of nutrients), just make sure to cut them into smaller pieces.

Make it vegan

Who says you can’t enjoy this soul food collard greens recipe without the meat?! These collard greens are so flavorful, you can opt out of the ham hock or turkey necks and still pack a whole lot of flava!

Instead of using chicken stock, you can use vegetable broth as the base of the pot likker. Proceed with the recipe as normal, and of course, you can top the collard greens with vegan bacon bits, hot sauce, or nutritional yeast for a little extra something-something.

How to make southern collard greens with smoked turkey necks

  1. Clean the collards. Submerge the collards in cool water and massage the leaves to loosen any grit. Drain the water, rinse the collards, then repeat the process until there is no sand or grit present in the water. Place the collards on a kitchen towel. Remove the collard leaves from the stem, then use your hands to rip the leaves into smaller pieces.
  2. Build the base. Begin by simmering the chicken stock and your choice of meat in a large pot for 45 minutes until the meat is tender.
  3. Add the collards and spices. Place the collards and onion in the water, then add the seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder, Tony Chachere’s, and hot sauce. Lower the heat to a simmer and allow the collard greens to simmer for 2 hours.
  4. Serve. Serve these soul food collard greens with your favorite cornbread or some lemon pepper chicken wings!
Collard greens are plated and topped with shredded smoked turkey and red pepper flakes.

How to store and reheat

You can store the southern collard greens in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.

You can also freeze these greens! Simply place the greens and pot likker in an airtight container and place them in the freezer. They will stay good in the freezer for 3-5 months.

To reheat frozen collard greens, allow them to thaw for a couple of hours prior to cooking. Place them in a pot over medium low heat, and allow them to simmer until they are warmed through.

Sherry and Kyla are holding a plate of collard greens and smiling.
Special thank you to my dear friend Kyla for her family recipe!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay in touch! I love to see your creations! Tag me at #SeaSaltSavorings to show me what you’ve made!

Collard greens and smoked turkey necks are plated on a white plate with two utensils.

Southern Collard Greens

Sea Salt Savorings
These southern-style collard greens with smoked turkey necks are just like Mamas! Braised in a rich, perfectly seasoned, meaty potlikker, these greens are seasoned to the Gods!
5 from 32 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, soul food, Southern
Servings 6
Calories 219 kcal


  • Large pot


  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 1.5-2 lb smoked turkey necks (or ham hocks)
  • 2-3 lbs collard greens
  • 3 tsp seasoning salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce


  • Submerge the collard greens in cool water and massage the leaves to remove any debris. Drain the water, rise the collards, then submerge them in cool water again. Repeat the process until the collard greens are free from any dirt. Place them on a kitchen towel to dry them off.
  • Remove the collard greens from the stem by working your hand up the base of the stalk until the leaf separates from the stem. Discard the stems. Use your hands to rip the leaves into smaller pieces.
  • Combine the chicken broth and smoked turkey necks in a large pot and place it over high heat on the stovetop. Bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and place a lid on it. Simmer the mixture for 1 hour.
  • Add the collard greens, seasoning salt, garlic powder, onion powder, Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning, and hot sauce to the pot, then simmer for 2 hours (covered with lid).


Pick out the best collard greens at the grocery store by buying a bunch that has healthy, green leaves that are not too tough.  You want to be able to pull the leaves away from the stem with some ease.
If the pot likker (the soupy base) evaporates before the collards are done cooking, simply add a bit more water to the pot.
Add more (or less) hot sauce to tailor the flavor to your palate.


Calories: 219kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 26gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 3231mgPotassium: 871mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 7650IUVitamin C: 88mgCalcium: 410mgIron: 3mg

Nutrition values are estimates, for exact values consult a nutritionist.

Tried this recipe?Mention @seasaltsavorings or tag us #seasaltsavorings!

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5 from 32 votes (32 ratings without comment)

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