Savory Collard Greens Recipe

For Edible Sacramento contributing chef Dennis Sydnor, collard greens evoke nostalgia. “Collard greens go back to early, early childhood. They’re one of my core culinary memories,” he explains. “My mom and her friends would go into fields in Elk Grove in the ’80s when it was just farms, and they’d pick collards and mustard greens.” 

He says his mother brought the greens home and he’d help cut off the stems using a butter knife. The greens would be placed in a pot with ham hocks or smoked turkey necks, along with a stock from onions, peppers, and celery. “The flavor, there’s just nothing like it,” he says. “The greens impart a slight sweet, bitter flavor and they hold up well. They had this amazing texture, buttery and rich with the meat.” 

On his father’s side, collard greens were paired with pickled tomato and onion. Both styles of greens were always enjoyed as a family. “It was a communal thing within my home; we’d sit around the table and eat together. It was a labor of love,” he says.

Discover the soulful flavors of Sydnor’s delectable Collard Greens recipe. Packed with rich, smoky undertones and a medley of aromatic spices, this dish is a true classic that’s perfect for gatherings or cozy family dinners.

Collard Greens

Recipe by Dennis Sydnor
Course Side Dish
Servings 8


  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds smoked turkey tails or necks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic granules
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds collard greens, cleaned and trimmed


  • Rinse and dry all produce. Grab greens by the leaves and stack on top of each other, about 5 leaves at a time. Trim stems and discard. Roll bunch and, for smaller finished pieces, cut lengthwise down the middle, then into 1-inch strips. Repeat until all greens are cut.
  • Add vegetable oil and smoked turkey to large, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. Brown turkey on both sides, then add onions, pepper, celery, garlic, spices, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Stir vigorously to combine, then reduce heat to medium and cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Add chicken stock and cut collards to pot, cover, and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce to a low simmer, stir in vinegar, then simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  • Leaving greens on simmer, remove turkey from pot, allow to cool, then remove and discard bones. Add turkey meat back into the simmering greens. Stir to combine. Greens are ready to eat but can cook for as long as 2 hours more for melt in the mouth texture. Adjust seasoning before serving.


Note: It’s okay to substitute smoked turkey leg or wing, or ham hock, for the tails or necks, if desired.

Dive into a bowl of Dennis Sydnor’s Collard Greens, a Southern delicacy that brings together tradition and taste. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a kitchen novice, this recipe is a surefire way to create a memorable Southern feast. Serve it up at your next gathering and let the compliments roll in!