This Slow Cooker Crockpot Collard Greens recipe is easy to whip together, simply dump the ingredients in the pot and go. This Southern-style soul food dish is made with smoked turkey or ham hocks for delicious flavor.
How to Season the Collard Greens
My favorite method is to use a smoked turkey leg or turkey wing. I grab these from a local grocer. You can also check with a local butcher in your area.
You can also use ham hocks, salt pork, country ham, or even bacon to season the greens.
How to Clean the Greens
You can purchase the prepackaged pre-washed bagged greens or leafy unwashed bundles from the grocery store.
Pre-washed collards are sometimes harder to find 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. Here’s how to clean these:
- Start with picking your greens and removing the stem. Fold the leaf in half (lengthwise) and rip off the stem.
- Fill a large bowl or your sink with water.
- 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.
- From there load them into your bowl or sink.
- Use your hands and swish them around. Rub your hands over the actual leaves to scrub away any dirt.
- Drain the water and refill. Repeat this process until your water runs clear and you see no dirt in the water.
How to Remove the Stems
It’s a common southern practice to remove the stems from the greens. This is optional, and would only need to be done if you don’t purchase pre-washed, pre-bagged greens.
Removing the stems from every item AND washing them over and over to remove dirt is very time-consuming. If you plan to buy bundled greens, be sure to block off half a day.
You remove the stem by folding the collard leaf in half and slicing or tearing it off.
How to Make Slow Cooker Crockpot Collard Greens
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Add the washed collard greens, smoked turkey, garlic, Creole seasoning, onions and broth to the slow cooker.
- Slow Cook.
- Open the pot. Remove the smoked turkey and shred the meat using 2 forks. Return the meat back to the pot with the greens.
How to Double the Recipe
Greens will wilt down a lot as they cook. When you first add them to the pot it will feel like a lot, but they will shrink a lot. So you can double the recipe (I would opt for the same size smoked turkey, or no more than a half-pound larger), but keep the cook time the same.
Collard Green Nutrients
Greens are leafy green vegetables 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. If you use fatty meat like ham hocks, you can expect higher calories and fat in the dish. Turkey is a much healthier option.
Spices and Flavor
I like to keep the spices simple. I like to use fresh onions and garlic, and Creole Seasoning but you can use other spices 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.
Cook Time/How Long to Cook
Cook time will vary based on the texture you like your greens. Tender greens will need to cook longer. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or on Low for 7-8 hours.
What Size Crockpot or Slow Cooker
I use a 7-8 quart pot for 3-4 pounds of collards.
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.
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.
Vegetarian or Vegan Collard Greens
Omit the smoked turkey and use vegetable broth. Add in 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes for flavor.
Pair With These Cornbread Recipes
Homemade Cornbread Muffins
Homemade Southern Style Cornbread
Air Fryer Cornbread
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Keto Low Carb Cornbread
Southern Cornbread Dressing
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Homemade Blueberry Cornbread
Sweet Potato Cornbread
More Greens and Vegetable Recipes
You will love our Slow Cooker Crockpot Cheesy Potatoes recipe with these!
Slow Cooker Crockpot Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey
- Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker.
- Cook on High for 3-4 hours or on Low for 7-8 hours.
- Open the pot. Remove the smoked turkey and shred the meat using 2 forks. Return the meat back to the pot with the greens (if you like to eat your greens with the meat).
- Cool before serving.
- Cook time will vary based on how tender you like your greens. Add additional cook time if necessary.
- Every slow cooker cooks at varying speeds. Be sure to check the greens to ensure they reach your desired texture.
- Start with 1/2 tablespoon of Creole seasoning and adjust to taste.
- Feel free to season the greens with whatever you like and substitute Creole seasoning for your favorite spices.
- It’s also common to serve collard greens with vinegar. Feel free to add it if you wish.
- You can substitute smoked turkey for ham hocks, bacon, salt pork, or whatever you wish.
- My turkey wing weighed about 1 1/2 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.