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Easy Southern Mustard Greens Recipe

This Easy Southern Mustard Greens Recipe is the best side dish for your soul food holidays and Sunday dinners. This dish is made with smoked turkey and loaded with flavor.

cooked southern mustard green with a smoked turkey leg in a Dutch oven

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I learned how to cook “black folks” greens at a very young age, so I have been cooking them all of my life. We commonly eat these for soul food holidays or traditional Sunday dinners.

Mustard greens are actually my mom’s favorite. I grew up eating a lot more mustard greens than collards.

In general, greens are bitter. The best way to remove that bitterness is to cook them with a few flavorful ingredients.

Creole seasoning, garlic, chopped onions, chicken broth, and smoked turkey on a flat surface

What Are Mustard Greens

Mustard greens come from a variety of plants that are known as brassica juncea. They come in different colors, but are usually dark green. The mustard plant has several uses for food, including green leaves, seeds, and mustard oil.

How Do They Taste?

Mustard greens are bitter and peppery. They are kind of spicy, like a spicy mustard. They are a lot more bitter when eaten raw. They are lighter greens and aren’t heavy.

fresh raw mustard greens on a flat surface

How Are They Different From Collard Greens?

They come from different plants and collards are a member of the cabbage family. Mustard greens are a much lighter green. They are thinner and will shrink down a lot more. They are also more tender because they are thin. Mustards have a peppery flavor. The seeds from mustard greens are used to make mustard.

Collards are more bitter. They have solid, broad leaves with tough stems.

Does Cooking Greens Take Away the Nutrients

I see this discussed often and it’s actually a debate, usually from outsiders of the community.

Greens are a leafy green vegetable packed with nutrients and they are labeled as a superfood. They are rich in Vitamin K, fiber, iron and antioxidants. According to The Huffington Post, greens can help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

All of these nutrients will mostly stay intact no matter how the greens are cooked. Boiling the greens can break down the nutrients, but then the nutrients are passed to the broth and liquid in the pot of greens. Which is a great reason to enjoy that broth or use it in gravies!

You can read more about How to Cook Healthier Greens here.

Cooking greens in fatty meats, however, will add additional sodium, calories, and fat to the dish. This is where greens have gotten a bad reputation (again, usually from outsiders). Growing up ham hocks, salt pork, etc were used to cook greens. Now there are much healthier options, like turkey.

How to Wash Greens

Over the years, I have often stopped washing greens and would purchase the prepackaged pre-washed bagged Glory greens from the grocery store. Sometimes they are harder to find, especially for mustard greens, and they often have a lot more of the stems from the greens than the actual thick leaves.

You can buy these if you wish. It will cut down on your washing process and save a lot of time!

If you are buying from the normal produce area, greens are sold in bundles. Look for bundles with really thick, leafy greens. If you wait and shop at the last minute this may be difficult to find and you get stuck with smaller bundles. You may just have to buy more.

Greens have thick stems and veins on the back of the leaves. These areas capture dirt and sand. You will need to clean them thoroughly.

raw and fresh mustard greens in a red bowl with a bottle of produce cleaner
  1. Start with picking your greens and removing the stem. Fold the leaf in half (lengthwise) and rip off the stem.
  2. Fill a large bowl or your sink with water.
  3. I like to use this produce vegetable cleaner to spritz the greens. You can also use vinegar. Or you can just use water it’s your choice.
  4. From there load them into your bowl or sink.
  5. Use your hands and swish them around. Rub your hands over the actual leaves to scrub away any dirt.
  6. Drain the water and refill. Repeat this process until your water runs clear and you see no dirt in the water.
2 bowls of fresh and washed mustard greens

Seasoning and Flavor

You can really keep it simple with the seasoning. I like to use fresh onions and garlic, but you can use powders if you wish.

I use a smoked turkey leg. You can also use smoked turkey wings. I find these in the standard meat section of my grocery store. You may have to ask your local butcher if they carry them.

You can also use ham hocks, bacon, or salt pork if you wish.

How to Cook Southern Mustard Greens

  1. Saute onions and garlic in a large pot. I like to use a Dutch oven.
  2. Deglaze the pot with broth. Add the greens in stages so that they wilt down and fit in the pot.
  3. Sprinkle Creole Seasoning throughout and add the smoked turkey leg.
  4. Bring the greens to a boil and then lower the heat to medium.
a collage photo showing how to cook mustard greens in a Dutch oven, onions and garlic sauteed with mustard greens

How Long to Cook

I like to let these cook for two hours. If you are really strapped for time you can use my Instant Pot Collard Greens recipe method.

The majority of the cook time is dedicated to softening up the turkey leg so it can provide the immense flavor the dish needs. You can also cook your turkey leg in broth for 45 minutes to an hour while you clean and prep your greens.

Once washed, you can prep the remaining ingredients and toss in the turkey leg and cook the greens for an hour or until tender.

I like to cook everything together all at once, just my personal preference.

shredded smoked turkey on a bamboo cutting board

How to Make them Vegetarian

You can substitute chicken broth for vegetable broth. You can also use a teaspoon of smoked salt or 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke to add flavor.

Can You Make Them Ahead/How Long Will They Last in the Fridge

For holiday cooking you typically make these a day in advance. The greens will last in the fridge covered for 3-4 days.

cooked southern mustard green with a smoked turkey leg in a Dutch oven

Freezer Tips

I freeze greens pretty much every time I make them. I use these freezer molds from Amazon and they work perfectly. You can freeze greens in 1 cup portions, which is great for when you want to pull a portion out for dinner.

You can freeze greens for up to 6 months. I throw them in the slow cooker for an hour or two to reheat.

a spoonful of mustard greens held over a Dutch oven
a bowl of southern mustard greens with smoked turkey and a slice of cornbread

Pair With These Southern Side Dishes

Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes
Southern Soul Food Baked Mac and Cheese
Southern Homemade Cornbread
Instant Pot Green Beans
Instant Pot Cabbage
Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas
Fried Cabbage
Okra and Tomatoes

Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
Southern Coleslaw Recipe
Southern Potato Salad
Southern Baked Beans
Easy Spaghetti Salad
Southern Macaroni Salad
Southern Green Beans

Popular Main Dishes

Instant Pot Turkey
Air Fry Turkey
Air Fryer Ham
Air Fryer Whole Chicken
Smothered Chicken
Keto Smothered Pork Chops

Get a full listing of Soul Food Thanksgiving Recipes here.

cooked southern mustard green with a smoked turkey leg in a Dutch oven
Print Pin
5 from 6 votes

Easy Southern Mustard Greens Recipe

This Easy Southern Mustard Greens Recipe is the best side dish for your soul food holidays and Sunday dinners. This dish is made with smoked turkey and loaded with flavor.
Save this recipe here.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, southern
Keyword how to wash greens, mustard greens, Southern mustard greens
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 140kcal


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 pounds fresh mustard greens This is usually 3-4 bundles. Weigh for accuracy. Weight includes the stems.
  • 1 smoked turkey leg or wing
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth You can also use water.
  • 1/2 tablespoon Creole Seasoning Adjust to taste.


  • Fill a large bowl or your sink with water. Use your hands and scrub the veins of the leaves to remove any dirty or sand. Wash the greens thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the pot along with the onions and garlic. I like to use a Dutch oven because you can saute the vegetables and cook the greens all in one pot.
  • Saute the onions until they are translucent and fragrant.
  • Deglaze the pan by adding half of the chicken broth.
  • Begin to layer in the greens and add them in batches. Greens will need to wilt down a lot in order to fit in the pot. Add in the greens and then stir and allow them to cook down.
  • Add in the Creole Seasoning and turkey. Bring the pot to a boil.
  • Place the lid on the pot and adjust the heat to medium. Allow the greens to cook for 2 hours until the greens are soft and the turkey is tender.
  • Open the pot and remove the turkey leg. Shred the meat from the leg using forks and return it to the pot.
  • Serve.



  • It’s also common to serve mustard greens with crushed red pepper or vinegar. Feel free to add these if you wish.
  • You can substitute smoked turkey for ham hocks, bacon, salt pork, or whatever you wish.
  • My turkey leg weighed about 2 pounds.
  • If doubling the recipe or making more for a crowd you can double, triple the ingredients. If doubling, you can likely still use one turkey leg. For anything larger, you may consider using an additional smaller smoked turkey wing.
  • The majority of the cooking time is dedicated to softening up the turkey leg so is can provide the immense flavor the dish needs. You can also cook your turkey leg in broth for 45 minutes to an hour while you clean and prep your greens. Once washed, you can prep the remaining ingredients and toss in the turkey leg and cook the greens for an hour or until tender.
Recipe Tools Used in this RecipeAs an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition (displayed with net carbs)

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 140kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 4g
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Recipe Rating


Saturday 27th of March 2021

Girl you went and did it again. I have tried before to make southern collard greens but never have I been so successful that I wanted to take them to a party or someone’s house to eat. However I made these today and I am telling you I was so super excited when I tasted them! They are just too yummy. All the details and explanations really help and this recipe is fantastic. The seasoning was on point. Loved it!


Saturday 27th of March 2021

Wonderful. Glad you enjoyed them.


Thursday 25th of February 2021

I’m that person, who had the instant pot chilling the basement and only used it once. So last week, I brought mine to so kitchen and the rest was history. I made this, after the gumbo was a hit. I cooked mine for 45 minutes, because I wanted a certain texture. I also added the vinegar at the end. Thanks for making it easy to prepare this, because having a pot of greens boiling all day is too time consuming. I started cooking it in the crockpot last year, but this will be my go to process. As I type this, I’m in the process of making more in the instant pot. Also, happy to see I’m not the only one that buy the bagged greens.


Monday 1st of March 2021

I'm glad you enjoyed these!


Friday 1st of January 2021

I didn't grow up eating greens, and only tried making them once as an adult (it was a fail!). I was so excited to try this recipe tonight and it is SO good! My husband and kids kept saying how much they liked them and asked me to make them again! I literally turned to my husband and said, "I can make greens now!" These are going in the regular rotation! Thanks so much!


Saturday 2nd of January 2021

You're welcome! I love this story!

dawn powell

Wednesday 16th of December 2020

Ok. I tried this at thanksgiving and it was so good and another super easy recipe from Stay Snatched. All they had at my grocery store was smoked pork neck and they worked just fine!!!


Wednesday 16th of December 2020

I'm glad it worked out!


Tuesday 15th of December 2020

This recipe saved my Thanksgiving! This was the first holiday meal I cooked myself and had my future father in-law over for. I had never cooked greens before (I substituted collards, but still used the Dutch oven). The smoked turkey leg is the secret!! Both my fiancé and future FIL said they’ve never had greens this good before!! All of the recipe notes were life savers (especially the how to on cleaning the greens 🙏🏼) and the video was easy to follow along with. These will now be a staple at every holiday, and weeknight dinners- he’s already asked when I’m making them again! Thank you Brandi!!


Tuesday 15th of December 2020

You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed the tips in the recipe.