Instant Pot Collard Greens are a shortcut to the most delicious Southern side dish. What normally takes hours on the stove is ready in less than an hour. Made with bacon, onions, ham, and garlic – these Southern greens couldn’t be more delicious.
My stovetop recipe for collard greens is, hands down, our family’s favorite collard greens recipe. I use my Instant Pot for nearly everything, so I knew we could use it to make an awesome greens recipe in a fraction of the time.
When I tested this recipe, we ate every last bite. Pressure cooker collard greens have just as much flavor, if not more flavor, than greens that cook on the stove all day. It’s the perfect southern side dish.
Collard greens are an acquired taste – you either love them or hate them – or you have just never had good greens. At our house, we love our greens. Collard greens, turnip greens, or mustard greens – we love them all. Greens can be bitter if not cooked right, but this recipe has the perfect amount of heat, sugar, and acid to cut through the bitterness. They are seriously so delicious.
Table of Contents
🥘 Ingredients Needed
- Olive Oil
- Bacon – I try to use thick smoked bacon when making greens to really flavor them. (And it gives the pot liquor such great flavor.)
- Diced Onion
- Brown Sugar – The addition of sugar is pretty important for cutting through the bitterness of the greens. (You can make this Paleo by using coconut sugar.)
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning – If you don’t have Tony’s, you can use another Creole or Cajun Seasoning.
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Chicken Broth – You can use chicken broth, chicken stock, bone broth, or vegetable broth to make vegetarian collard greens.
- Fresh Collard Greens or Frozen Collard Greens – This recipe works really well for either option. You can also use this recipe to make mustard greens, turnip greens, or broccoli greens.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar is really important to help cut the bitterness in the greens. (If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can use white vinegar or rice vinegar.)
- Optional – A ham hock, smoked turkey necks, diced salt pork, a turkey carcass, or leftover ham.
🍽 Equipment Needed
- An Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker
- Measuring Cups/Spoons
- A Cutting Board & Sharp Knife
- A Spoon or Rubber Spatula for Stirring
- A Salad Spinner
🥣 How to Make It
Making Southern Collard Greens in an Instant Pot is so easy.
Press the “Sauté” button on your Instant Pot and let it heat up. While the Instant Pot is heating up, dice up the bacon, garlic, onion, and ham if you are adding it.
Once the Instant Pot is hot, add one tablespoon of olive oil. (Picture 1)
When the olive oil is hot, add the diced bacon. (Picture 2) Sauté the bacon until it is a little crispy on the edges but is not totally cooked, then add diced onions. (Picture 3)
Continue to sauté the onions and bacon until the onions are translucent. Then, add garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant – about 2 minutes.
If you’re adding ham, add it once you can smell the garlic cooking & cook it for a minute or two – it doesn’t need to cook for long. (Picture 4)
After adding the ham, add the brown sugar and all of the dry spices (but not apple cider vinegar yet) and mix well to combine. (Picture 5) Cook for another minute or two.
Pour in all of the stock and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Scrape all of the bacon bits and flavor from the bottom of the Instant Pot and let it come to a boil. (Picture 6) This will allow all the flavors from the spices, garlic, ham, and bacon to infuse into the broth to make that delicious cooking liquid. Simmer the broth for 2 – 3 minutes. (Picture 7)
Add fresh or frozen collard greens to the simmering stock. Whether the greens are fresh or frozen, they just need to be well incorporated into the stock mixture. (Picture 8) If the greens are frozen, you can just break up the chunk of frozen greens into the broth. If they are fresh, just wilt the greens as you stir them into the broth.
Next, mix the apple cider vinegar into the greens and cancel the sauté function. (Picture 9) If you are adding a smoked turkey neck, a ham hock, or a ham bone, add it now.
Put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the knob to Sealing. (Picture 10)
Set the Instant Pot to Manual Mode or Pressure Cook and adjust the time to 25 minutes using the – / + buttons (or the dial if your Instant Pot has one.) Be sure that it is set to HIGH pressure. (Picture 11)
When the cooking cycle is complete, let the Instant Pot do a natural release (NR) for 10 minutes. (Leave the Instant Pot alone and let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.) Just leave it alone and let it do its thing. The pin will still be raised, but the knob should remain in the “Sealing” position. (Picture 12) The Instant Pot will start counting up from L 0:00. When it says L0:10, it is done.
Finally, Quick Release (QR) any remaining pressure. Carefully turn the knob to the “venting” position and let the remaining pressure out. (Stand back to avoid a painful steam facial.) (Picture 13) When the pin drops, the lid is safe to open – again, stand back to avoid steam in the face.
Let the greens cool a little (Picture 14), then serve immediately. (Picture 15) Greens are best served with a little pepper vinegar and a side of homemade cornbread.
🍳 How to Serve Them
We like to finish our Instant Pot greens with a little pepper vinegar and a touch of extra salt and pepper. The pepper vinegar mellows out any leftover bitterness in the greens. Collard greens are an amazing side dish for any kind of dinner, but we enjoy them as an acidic side dish to otherwise heavy or greasy meals, like fried catfish or fried chicken.
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🙋♀️ Frequently Asked Questions
Collard greens have bitter oils that are produced from a naturally occurring chemical called glucosinolate. It is released when greens are cut, chewed, or cooked. Did you know that some people can find greens to be up to 60% more bitter than other people? If you find greens to be REALLY bitter and you just can’t stand them, you might just have taste buds that are sensitive to glucosinolate. (Just like how some people hate cilantro and others LOVE it.)
To reduce the bitterness in greens, you need to add the right balance of sweetness, acid, and heat. For this recipe, I add the right amount of apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, coconut sugar, and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. When serving greens, we add a little bit of pepper vinegar and a little salt to finish rounding out the flavor.
You don’t have to soak your greens before cooking them, but if they are fresh, you do need to wash them. (Even bagged collard greens need to be washed.) If the greens are frozen, the greens should already be clean. I like to put greens in a salad spinner and fill it with cold water, swish the greens around gently with my hands, then lift out the basket. Pour out the water and repeat. Rinse the greens again with cold water, then use the spinner to dry the greens.
Yes! Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamins, like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Calcium, as well as a pretty good source of Vitamin K, Iron, Vitamin B-6, and Magnesium. Collard Greens (and most other leafy greens) also contain thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and choline. More on the health benefits of collard greens can be found here.
✏️ Helpful Tips
- Add leftover ham, seasoning ham, country ham, smoked turkey necks, or a ham hock to give a more meaty and smoky flavor to collard greens. (If I smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving, I will use the turkey carcass to impart a smoky flavor onto my collard green pot liquor. Yum!)
- Make sure to scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of your Instant Pot when you deglaze it with broth. This will prevent the dreaded burn notice.
- Serve collard greens with a little pepper vinegar.
- To make Vegan Collard Greens: Use vegetable broth and smoked salt to replace the smoked flavor that you get from the addition of bacon.
What to Serve on the Side
We love to serve collard greens with fried chicken tenders and Copycat Raising Cane’s Sauce. On special occasions, like New Year’s Day, we like to make collard greens for good luck – and we serve them with Hoppin John (Black-Eyed Peas) and Southern Cornbread.
Have You Tried This Recipe?
Please rate it and leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think!
Instant Pot Collard Greens
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ pound bacon diced
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ – ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
- 2 pounds collard greens Fresh or Frozen. Frozen collard greens generally come in 16 oz bags so I use two.
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup leftover ham or seasoning ham diced
- 1 ham hock
- Press the Sauté button on your Instant Pot and let it get nice and hot. While the Instant Pot is heating up, dice up an onion, bacon, garlic, and ham (optional).
- Once the Instant Pot is hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.1 tbsp olive oil
- When the olive oil is hot, add diced bacon.½ pound bacon
- Once the bacon is a little crispy on the edges (but not totally cooked) – add diced onions.1 large onion
- Continue to saute the onions and bacon until the onions are translucent. Then, add garlic and saute until the garlic is fragrant – about 2 minutes.3 – 4 garlic cloves
- If adding ham, add it once you can smell the garlic cooking – cook for a minute or two – it doesn't need to cook for long.½ cup leftover ham or seasoning ham
- After adding ham, add brown sugar and all of the dry spices (not apple cider vinegar).1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, ¼ – ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
- Mix well to combine. Cook for another minute or two.
- Pour in all of the stock and let it come to a boil. This will allow all the flavors from the spices, garlic, ham, and bacon to infuse into the broth.1 ½ cups chicken broth
- Simmer this for 2 – 3 minutes.
- Add fresh or frozen collard greens to the stock mixture. Whether the greens are fresh or frozen, they just need to be well incorporated into the stock mixture.2 pounds collard greens
- Mix the apple cider vinegar into the greens and a ham hock if you are using it, then cancel the Sauté function.1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 ham hock
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the knob to Sealing.
- Now, press the Manual or Pressure Cook button and adjust the time to 25 minutes using the – / + buttons (or the dial if your Instant Pot has one.) Be sure that it is set to HIGH pressure.
- When the cooking cycle is complete, leave the Instant Pot alone and let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. This means, do not touch anything – just leave it alone and let it do it's thing. The Instant Pot will start counting up from L 0:00. When it says, L 0:10, it is done.
- Finally, Quick Release (QR) any remaining pressure. When the Instant Pot reads L 0:10 (give or take a few minutes), carefully turn the knob to venting and let the remaining pressure out. (Stand back to avoid a painful steam facial. )
- When the pin drops, the lid is safe to open – again, stand back to avoid steam in the face.
- Finish your greens with a little pepper vinegar and salt and pepper.
How to Serve Collard GreensWe like to finish our greens with a little pepper vinegar and a touch of extra salt and pepper. The pepper vinegar mellows out any leftover bitterness in the greens. Collard greens are an amazing side dish for any kind of dinner, but we enjoy them as an acidic side dish to otherwise heavy or greasy meals, like fried catfish or fried chicken.
- Add leftover ham, seasoning ham, or a ham hock to give a more meaty and smoky flavor to collard greens.
- Serve collard greens with a little pepper vinegar.
- We love to enjoy collard greens with “fried” chicken meatballs and Copycat Raising Cane’s Sauce.
Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.
This recipe sounds excellent! We are a household of 3 and 1 of us does not eat collards so buying fresh is out of the question. This is an easy way for the other 2 of us to use frozen collards! I do have one question; I would like to add smoked turkey to the recipe, too. At what point should I add it to the instant pot?
It depends if you want the turkey to absorb all the broth flavor or not – you can either add it right before cooking or add it after and set the Instant Pot to saute for a little bit to heat it!