Vegan Collard Greens in white bowl with gold fork

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO]

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.
Easy Vegan Collard Greens

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. After 20 minutes, scrub them gently with a vegetable brush, drain the water, and rinse all of the greens.
  5. 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.

Easy Vegan Collard Greens

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.

Easy Vegan Collard Greens

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.

Easy Vegan Collard Greens


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.

Easy Vegan Collard Greens

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!

Easy Vegan Collard Greens

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:

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!

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Vegan Collard Greens in white bowl with gold fork
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5 from 25 votes

Easy Vegan Collard Greens (Classic Southern Recipe) [+VIDEO]

Smoky, flavorful and tender Easy Vegan Collard Greens made completely meat free!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword Collard Greens, Collards, Greens
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4



  • 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!


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Vegan Collard Greens


  1. Tracy Briscoe

    5 stars
    I absolutely love collard greens and was a little Leary about vegan greens. BUT to my surprise this recipe may be my ALL TIME FAVORITE. I was so surprised at how flavorful they were and I even let my friend (who is a chef) try them and she could not believe how good they are. I cannot wait to make these for my family. Thank you so much for your creations. They are top notch.

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  3. 5 stars
    This is the first time I’ve made collard greens. This recipe is so simple and the end result was absolutely delicious. I plan on making these again and again, my family loves them. Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    OMG, THESE GREENS WERE SOOOOOO GOOD! I doubled this recipe with the intention of eating half and freezing the rest. I ended up eating the whole batch throughout the week! This was my third attempt at vegan greens but this was the first success and my new go-to recipe. Thank you so much, Desiree!

  5. Is it okay to use prepackaged greens

  6. Charlotte

    5 stars
    This is the first time that I’ve made perfect greens! I always used to struggle but this recipe made it so easy. They came out awesome! That liquid smoke is a game changer for sure!

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  10. 5 stars
    I just made these collards with dinner tonight and they were FAB! So easy to make and insanely flavorful. I already know I’ll be making this recipe again and again!

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  12. O.M.G. So I made these greens (along with your macaroni and cheese) last night for Sunday and GIRL!! My fiancé and I loved every single bite. I always make vegan collard greens, but you put me on with the liquid smoke. A total game changer! I can’t wait to try your other recipes. Please tell me you have a cookbook coming soon!

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  14. nancy a davis

    5 stars
    I loved your recipe!

  15. Sintia Stewart

    My husband is going to love these!! Never used liquid smoke should I use hickory or mesquite? Help!

  16. If I were to want to simmer it for a few more hours, do you think the vegetable broth volume listed here would still be enough? Or would I probably want to add a bit more?

    Thank you!

    • Hey Brent, if I had to guess I’d say you’d probably need to add a little more broth. I’d just keep an eye on it and adjust as needed.

  17. 5 stars
    Sooooo good! You were right, that liquid smoke is it. Added extra pepper flakes and garlic because were all in for those (and a bit of smoked paprika too). Easy to follow, absolutely delicious recipe!

  18. 5 stars
    Delicious and easy! Approved by my non vegan family!

  19. 5 stars
    Okay, this was DE LI CIOUS!! I have never cooked collards myself, so I was worried I wouldn’t do it correctly, but it’s honestly so easy and flavorful! I used a mixture of Korean mustard greens and collard greens that I had at home.
    My only note is to check the amount of sodium in your broth and maybe adjust salt accordingly depending on your taste.
    I plan on making these again next week!

  20. 5 stars
    This is by far the best collard green recipe I have ever tried!!! My meat eating fam members loved it too!!!! So freakin good!

  21. 5 stars
    Hi Desiree! I’m thoroughly impressed with your recipe! Delicious 😋 I added smoked paprika and didn’t add the sugar but it makes sense. I will definitely check out your other recipes.

  22. 5 stars
    This recipe is the bee’s knee’s! The flavor was bold and vibrant! The juices demanded to be soaked up with cornbread to ensure that no drop was wasted. My Matriarchal linage is from the south and collard greens on any festive occasion is a must. Now that I am having my mom transition to a plant based diet, this recipe did not disappoint! Thank you for proving that you do not need to use meat to stew your greens and have them taste delicious!

  23. 5 stars
    This is now the only vegan collard green recipe I will make! I’ve tried a few different ones since I’ve become vegan, but they all fell short until this one. I did change two things – I had a large leek in the house, so I used it instead of the onion, but sure onion would have been great, too, and the second is I only used 1/2 teaspoon of sugar since I don’t like my greens to be too sweet. Really excellent! Thank you!

    • 5 stars
      Thank you for the recipe, I’ve gotta use canned greens and will omit the veggie stock, will cut up vegan hot dogs and eat these with a side of Diced, roasted sweet potatoes 😋

  24. These greens are sooo good!!! These flavors remind me of down south cooking. Thank you for this delicious recipe.

  25. Hi I am actually making these in about an hour for thanksgiving how do you recommend I substitute the liquid smoke? Can I do smoked paprika instead? And how much of it?

  26. 5 stars
    Paired with the black eyed peas recipe and they were amazing!!

  27. Krystal Taylor

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe. It was easy to make and my mother who is a meat eater was floored by the taste. I will be saving this recipe.

  28. 5 stars
    Great recipe full of flavor

  29. 5 stars
    Made these for Thanksgiving dinner. I added a splash of vinegar and a little extra sugar, and my non vegan family members taste tested and they loved them. They will be a hit at dinnertime.

  30. 5 stars
    Delicious and so very easy to make 🥰

  31. 5 stars
    These greens were super easy! They were so good, the kids and the adults loved them! This recipe will be in my favs and will be made more often! Thank you!!!

  32. 5 stars
    OUTSTANDING! OH MY GOODNESS!!! I made these collard greens for me (non-vegan) and my daughter (vegan). This recipe is the best! I followed the recipe to the T! They were flavorful and sooooo delicious! This is my new way of making greens forever! I made them yesterday and we are still talking about how delicious the were. Note “were” because they are all gone! I am so excited to try another one of your recipes. Thank you for sharing with us! Keep going……. All the best to you!

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