If you live in the south, collard greens are definitely a staple. Especially amongst black folks! You can’t go to any “soul food” or “southern” restaurant without them being on the menu.
And if by chance they’re not on the menu…RUN! These Easy Vegan Collard Greens are everything you’ve been wanting in a traditional batch of greens. Tender, smoky and flavorful!
The problem with most traditional collard green recipes is that they typically involve the addition of meat. It’s not uncommon for recipes to include a smoked turkey leg or ham hock for added flavor.
Well, obviously that’s not gonna fly around here! Lucky for us, there are other ways to make tasty greens without animal products.
These collard greens are made WITHOUT the addition of chicken broth and smoked meat, yet are still filled with southern flavorful and delicious.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- olive oil – you’ll use oil to cook down your onions and garlic until fragrant. You can also substitute with another neutral oil of your preference like grapeseed oil or vegetable oil. You could also get away with using water or additional vegetable broth if you’d like to make this dish oil-fre.
- white onion and minced garlic – these two ingredients are going to be your aromatics. You’ll cook them first to create a flavorful foundation for your greens.
- collard greens – the main event! I typically purchase my collard greens whole, but you could also save time by purchasing pre-washed and pre-cut greens so you can get right down to business! Be sure that the greens you choose are crisp and contain no brown spots.
- vegetable broth – vegetable broth is what we’ll use to create a savory broth to simmer the greens in which will also help add to their flavor. You could also substitute with a vegan chicken broth if you’d like.
- salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika – every good vegan collard green recipe needs some good seasonings to bring everything together. We’re keeping it simple by using a few basic ingredients, but don’t let them fool you… it’s everything you’ll need!
- organic cane sugar – to help cut through the bitterness of the collard greens, we’ll use a little sugar to balance things out.
- liquid smoke – this is one of my favorite ingredients in this recipe because it adds a smoky flavor that is often achieved by using smoked meat which is hard to replicate with other ingredients. If you’re in a pinch, try substituting with liquid aminos or soy sauce.
How to Make Easy Vegan Collard Greens
Making collard greens is actually pretty simple. Especially these days. You can choose to purchase your collard greens pre-washed and cut to save time, or you can purchase them whole and wash them yourself.
Washing Collard Greens:
Collards are one of those veggies you have to wash thoroughly, so you definitely don’t wanna cut corners when doing so. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is in my kitchen sink.
- First, I clean my sink out with soap and water, then follow up with rubbing alcohol to kill any germs and make sure that my sink is super clean.
- Next, I fill my sink with luke warm water and add a generous amount of apple cider vinegar (about ½ cup) and 2 teaspoons of baking powder to the sink with the water.
- Use a collard green to swish everything around in the sink, then add all of the greens in and allow them time to soak for about 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, scrub them gently with a vegetable brush, drain the water, and rinse all of the greens.
- Gently pat the greens dry with a clean dish towel and you’re ready to start chopping them!
Buying pre-washed and chopped greens really help speed up the process and cut down on your prep time.
The only other prep you’ll need to do for this Easy Vegan Collard Greens is dicing the onions and fresh garlic if you don’t use jarred, which shouldn’t take much time at all.
The minced garlic and onion will provide the greens with a nice base of flavor. The seasonings used in this recipe are really simple, but also help to add a bold flavor to these easy vegan collard greens.
You probably already have all of them!
In a large pot, add the chopped onion and minced garlic with a little bit of oil, salt and pepper.
Cook them on a medium heat until the garlic is fragrant and the onions have been cooked down.
Next, add in your chopped collard greens along with the remaining ingredients– your vegetable broth, more salt, pepper, sugar, red pepper flakes, ground paprika, and liquid smoke.
Grab a large spoon and stir all of the ingredients together until combined.
Increase the heat to a medium high temperature until you’ve reached a low boil (covering the pot with a lid helps speed this along).
Once you’ve reached a low boil, reduce the heat (keeping the lid on) to a low temperature and allow the greens to simmer for at least one hour. When they’re finished, they’ll be a deep green color.
How can I make meatless collard greens taste good?
The key to making these easy vegan collard greens without meat is my secret weapon… LIQUID SMOKE!
This stuff is amazing! It’s truly a game-changer when it comes to giving your collard greens that extra something if you’re not adding meat.
If you’re new to making meat-less collard greens, you might be surprised to find that the process to cook them is a lot similar to cooking them with meat (just without the meat of course).
In my opinion, it’s actually much easier because there’s not that added component, just simple veggies and seasonings cooked up together to make for an amazing side dish.
Can these Easy Vegan Collard Greens be made in a slow cooker?
Yes! Check out my Slow Cooker Collard Greens Recipe with Fire Roasted Tomatoes!
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Absolutely! These store really well and if you need to, you can even freeze them! Just place them in an air tight container and store them until needed. They should keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Can I use pre-cut collard greens?
Sure can! This will actually save you some time on the prep, so go for it!
What’s the sugar for in this recipe? Will they be sweet?
The sugar helps remove the bitterness from the greens and assists with balancing out the overall flavor. They won’t be sweet. Promise!
What does adding vinegar do to collard greens?
My recipe is made without, but if you prefer greens with vinegar you can most certainly add some! It’s not uncommon for recipes to include vinegar to add a tangy flavor that’s said to compliment the other flavors of the dish.
Ifyou’re going to experiment with this, I would start with 1 teaspoon at a time and adjust as needed so you don’t overdo it. I prefer my greens without vinegar, so I can’t offer much advice other than this!
What’s the best way to store this recipe?
You can store this recipe in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to five days. Just be sure it’s cooled completely before doing so.
Can this dish be frozen?
Yes! You can store these Easy Vegan Collard Greens in the freezer for up to 3 months by placing them in an airtight container once completely cooled. To reheat them, retrieve the container from the freeze the day before and transfer them to the fridge to thaw.
Once thawed, they can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove over medium-low heat until warmed through.
How should I serve this dish?
Whenever I make these easy vegan collard greens I pair them with a bunch of other holiday fixings, but if I want a quick plate, I love these collards, mashed potatoes and cornbread together. Here are a few other suggestions:
- Spicy Chicken Fried Cauliflower
- Easy Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
- Black-Eyed Pea Fritters
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Crispy Baked Breaded Tofu
- Easy Vegan Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins
- Southern Black-Eyed Peas
Tips for Making Easy Vegan Collard Greens
- Cut your greens to size. The more narrow you cut your greens, the faster they will cook, so be mindful of this when the greens are cooking. Don’t worry, there’s no right or wrong aize to cut them.
- Don’t overcook them. It’s easy to let these simmer for hours on end, but I’d like to encourage you not to! If the greens are overcooked, the texture of the finished dish will be impacted resulting in a much softer collard green. I find that cooking them for around one hour does the trick!
- Wash your greens with care. Imagine cooking the best smelling pot of greens only to open the lid and find little bugs or dirt floating in them. Yikes! Be sure to wash your greens carefully by soaking them in a water + apple cider vinegar bath or using a store bought vegetable wash and gently scrub each leaf.
Hungry yet? Go ahead and give these Easy Vegan Collard Greens a try. I know you’ll love them! Let me know what you think of them in the comments below!
Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO]
- In a large pot, saute minced garlic and diced onions in olive oil until fragrant over medium-low heat.½ heaping cup white onion, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp minced garlic
- Stir in the collard greens along with the vegetable broth and bring to a low boil.1 lb collard greens, 2-2¼ cups vegetable broth
- Stir in all seasonings and liquid smoke. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce to a low simmer, stirring occasionally. Let cook for at least 1 hour (or more according to your preference).1½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp red pepper flakes, ¼ tsp paprika, ½ tsp liquid smoke, 2 tsp organic cane sugar
- When finished, remove from the heat serve immediately. Enjoy!