Vegan collard greens are a healthier option to the classic Southern side dish. Learn how to cook the greens on the stovetop with a special ingredient that still gives you the traditional smokey taste but without the smoked meat. It’s a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
Collard Greens Recipe (Vegetarian)
Bursting with flavor, vegan collard greens have all of the ingredients and taste you expect with a classic southern dish, yet we are adapting this culinary gem to fit with a meat-free lifestyle!
My step-dad is from the south and we grew up eating LOTS of greens. You name it, collards, mustard, kale, turnip, and mixed greens. While my family now lives in the Pacific Northwest and we don’t eat greens as often as when we lived in Atlanta, this was our first year of growing collard greens in our garden and we ate them all summer long!
While we do have a collard greens instant pot recipe that includes smoked meat, you can easily adapt this recipe and just follow the instant pot instructions. And while the traditional recipe is good, the vegan version is my favorite go-to since I’ve been trying to eat more plant-based recipes.
Can vegans eat collard greens?
Traditional collard green recipes include meats such as bacon, smoked turkey, and ham so vegans and vegetarians generally have to steer clear. However, for our vegan collard greens recipes we are ditching the smoked meats and, instead, adding additional veggies and a smokey salt so you can enjoy this southern staple.
Why You’ll Love this recipe
- No meat means this dish can be served to vegans, vegetarians, and those who don’t enjoy traditional collard green recipes.
- Smoked salt is key to getting that smokey flavor collard greens are known for.
- Just 15-minutes of prep-work (or less if you buy precut green) and then your stove does all of the hard work cooking down the greens and infusing them with the robust, smokey flavor you want in vegan collard greens.
- Keto, low carb, gluten-free, paleo, dairy-free, and Whole30!
- Minced garlic
- Diced onion
- Collard greens
- Avocado oil
- Maple syrup
- Red pepper flakes
- Apple cider vinegar
- Smoked salt
- Vegetable broth
Don’t have smoked salt? Add in a small amount of liquid smoke instead.
Use your favorite sweetener in place of maple syrup. Low-carb options such as monk fruit or Swerve will keep the dish carb low and keto-friendly.
Feel free to add additional vegetables such as canned vegan black-eyed peas, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, or tomatoes.
Step by Step Instructions
Vegan collard greens are super easy to cook up, but we are going to go step-by-step to make sure you are all set.
Prep the Greens
Prep the greens by first washing and patting them dry with a paper towel.
Stack the greens on top of each other and cut out the stem. The easiest way to remove the stem is to cut an upside-down V into the bottom of the greens.
Roll the greens tightly then into narrow slices.
QUICK TIP: Buy a bag of pre-washed sliced greens to skip the cleaning step.
Saute & Simmer
Over medium heat add the oil to a large pot with a lid. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes or until soft, but not browned. Add the garlic cloves and cook for 1 more minute until fragrant.
Add the vegetable broth and the vinegar to the pot. Deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom.
Mix in the sweetener, red pepper flakes, and smoked salt.
Over medium heat, bring the broth mixture to a simmer and then turn down to low.
Add in the collard greens being sure to push them down into the liquid.
Put the lid on and simmer for 1 hour until greens are wilted and soft.
***Note: We checked the greens every 20 minutes to make sure the liquid wasn’t evaporating too fast since our stove cooks a little hot at times. Leave the lid off for a few minutes to slightly cool the liquid if your greens are boiling and not simmering. Add more vegetable broth if needed or if you prefer your vegan Southern greens with lots of liquid.
- Vegetarian collard greens are easy to double as long as you have a large enough pot.
- Mix in a can of drained vegan black-eyed peas for a Southern-style meal.
- Mustard greens can be substituted for the collards.
- Purchase pre-washed and shredded greens to reduce your prep-time!
- We used maple syrup to keep this recipe vegan. However, if you are making vegetarian collard greens you can substitute honey.
- For low-carb or keto meal plans, use monk fruit or erythritol to taste instead of maple syrup or honey.
Classic southern sides like black-eyed peas, cornbread, baked beans, or vegan mac and cheese all pair well with vegan collard greens.
Fresh mustard greens are a great alternative to the vegan collard greens recipe. Simply use them in equal portion as you would in place of the vegetarian collards.
More Vegan Recipes
Looking for more Vegan recipes?
- Thai Vegan Zucchini Curry
- Air fryer green beans and mushrooms
- German mustard potato salad
- Vegan ratatouille
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 bunch collard greens
- 2 tsp avocado oil
- 1 tsp maple syrup or other sweetener
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp smoked salt
- 1-1.5 cups Vegetable broth
Cleaning Collard Greens
EASY TIP: Buy a bag of pre-washed sliced greens to skip the cleaning step. If you buy whole collard green leaves you'll still need to wash them, but probably not as crazy thorough as needed if you're using garden-grown collards.
If you also have homegrown greens or collard leaves, be sure to Google How to Clean Collard Greens before proceeding to the recipe.
Prepping the Greens
- Dry the clean collards with a paper towel.
- Stack the greens on top of the other.
- Remove the tough large stem, the easiest way to do this is to cut a large, thin V in the stack of greens at the same time.
- Roll the greens in a tight narrow roll (like a fruit roll-up or cigar shape). Cut the collards into thin slices.
- Over medium heat add the oil to a large pot with a lid. Sauté the onion for 5 mins or until soft, but not browned. Add the garlic cloves and cook for 1 more minute until fragrant.
- Add the vegetable broth and the vinegar to the pot. Deglaze the pan.
- Mix in the sweetener, red pepper flakes, and smoked salt.
- Over medium heat bring the broth mixture to a simmer and then turn down to low, add the collard greens and be sure to push them down into the liquid.
- Put the lid on and simmer for 1 hour until the greens are wilted and soft.
- We checked the greens every 20 minutes to make sure the liquid wasn't evaporating too fast since our stove cooks a little hot at times. Leave the lid off for a few mins to slightly cool the liquid if your greens are boiling and not simmering. Add more vegetable broth if needed or if you prefer your vegan Southern greens with lots of liquid.
Vegetarian collard greens are easy to double as long as you have a large pot.
Mix in a can of drained vegan black-eyed peas for a Southern-style meal.
Mustard greens can be substituted for the collards.
Buy pre-washed and shredded greens to make this dish even faster.
We used maple syrup to keep the recipe vegan, if you're making vegetarian collards you can substitute honey.
If you're following a low carb or keto program, use monk fruit or erythritol to taste instead of maple syrup or honey.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 77Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 717mgCarbohydrates 9gNet Carbohydrates 6gFiber 3gSugar 2gProtein 2g