What better way to use turkey from Thanksgiving than learning how to cook this Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens recipe? A beautiful twist on a Southern classic, these collard greens are just as bold in flavor, semi-spicy and sweet, tender, silky in texture, and the ultimate side dish (or main) for the entire family. Slow-cooked and made in 2-3 hours, these greens are the epitome of 'the good ole' days type of cooking is the best type of cooking'. Leftover turkey never tasted so good! Vegan option.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can't help but anticipate all the delicious turkey leftovers that will soon grace my kitchen--And this Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens recipe is literally one of my faves, ya'll. If I'm honest, I've been a fan of collard greens for as long as I remember. I mean, this dish is such a staple down South and I would probably get my Southern Card revoked if I hated this. Haha. By the way, as we gear up for Thanksgiving, I've got a few hosting tips and tricks up my sleeve to make the day as seamless as possible!
Speaking of Southern classics, it reminds me of all the other beloved Southern recipes that have graced my kitchen over the years. From cornbread to fried chicken, the South has an array of mouthwatering dishes that warm the soul. And let's not forget the desserts – Pecan Pie, Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding, and of course Sweet Potato Pie – they're all part of the Southern roots and I love putting my own spin on them.
But today, we're diving into the goodness of these collard greens, infused with the spirit of the South, and the rich, savory essence of Thanksgiving leftovers. Seriously, these collard greens are SO good! They are tender, silky in texture, spicy + sweet at the same time, and just DELICIOUS.
First things first, there are a few things that I should mention to ensure that your experience making Collard Greens is seamless. When it comes to introducing recipes, I always love to break things down so that you are completely comfortable in the kitchen and able to cook/bake with confidence.
Whelp, in my simple terms, collard greens are the epitome of Southern cooking. Haha. They are just as important as Mac + Cheese, Fried Chicken, Stuffing, and Cornbread, in my opinion. But to be more technical, collard greens are a type of plant that have large, dark-green leaves which are available all year round, but peak during the winter and early spring months. They are related to other leafy greens such as bok choy, kale, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, etc.
Not at all! They aren't hard to make at all and simply just take a bit of prepping to get things done right. Oh, and when learning how to cook collard greens you will learn they are slowly cooked, so it's similar to the slow cooker's set-it-and-forget-it way of cooking!
To be honest, the first time I tackled this collard greens recipe, I had my reservations too. It seemed like a daunting process because of how long it took...Even though I absolutely adore collard greens (and my Mother-in-Law makes them a Thanksgiving tradition for me), I'd never tried making them myself. It may sound a bit crazy, right?
As I mentioned earlier, the prep work for this collard greens recipe is a breeze—just wash and cut the greens. After that, it's all about letting it simmer and work its magic. So, here's what you'll need for this delicious collard greens dish:
When it comes to nutritional value, collard greens are often considered one of the most healthiest greens. Collard Greens are an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and calcium. In addition, they are rich in Vitamin K and are a good source of iron, Vitamin B-6, and Magnesium.
Believe it or not, they are super helpful in the following areas:
When shopping for collard greens, it's best to go to your local organic grocer or farmer's market. Personally, I always chose organic collard greens and much like lettuce and kale, I pay special attention to their leaves. You definitely want to ensure that they are bright, smooth, and not too hard or soft.
OK, so here's the thing. Whenever I purchase my veggies (especially leafy greens or veggies), I soak them before washing. If you're familiar with this method, then you know to simply add 3-4 Tbsps ACV or White Vinegar to water and let your greens sit soaked in a large bowl for 15-20 minutes. Once done, drain the water and wash your greens in lukewarm water while scrubbing them with your hands or vegetable brush and WALLAH! They're nice and clean.
When learning how to cook collard greens over the years I came away with some tips and tricks to make things easier!
Tip #1: Cook your greens in half water and half chicken broth. Yes, I said it. Chicken stock. Don't worry about the fact that this has turkey in it. Trust me, you'll thank me later!
Tip #2: When cutting your greens, tightly roll each leaf (as shown above) and chop them into pieces. This way keeps your greens nice and long yet thin, which makes for a great "pick up" when serving and eating.
Tip #3: Less isn't more. More is MORE! Haha. Yes, you read this right. I'm all about being over the top sometimes and when it comes to adding meat or flavor to these greens, I stand firm on this. It wont hurt at all, believe me.
Tip #4: These greens turn out best in a dutch pot. That's how I grew up seeing them made (a lot less fancier than the modern version of course) and I'm a big believer that dutch pots do an awesome job in cooking everything evenly and keeping the flavor inside. YUM.
Tip #5: Just let them sit and do their thing! Unlike other dishes, these greens just need to sit, simmer, and cook slowly on their own. Again, you can stir every 3--45 minutes if needed, but otherwise, they will BE FINE and will be perfect if you let them be.
Now onto the topic of the turkey. When it came to my leftover turkey recipe, I chose to use the thigh area and breast meat. In addition, I found more of the 'boney' parts of the turkey for added flavor. I'm a huge believer in flavor. But of course, you can use whichever part you choose too. The only difference that it makes is in terms of the amount of meat that you want to be included in your collard greens.
Absolutely! When it comes to food, I can be pretty over the top on most occasions, so adding extra flavor is ALWAYS WELCOMED! With these collard greens, it's no different. For more deliciousness, you can candied bacon (pork bacon being the best for flavor), smoked turkey neck, ham-hock, or even jalapeños!
This dish is a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving table or any meal, really. It's a versatile side that pairs beautifully with a variety of dishes, like...
Like many dishes, you can store any leftover greens in a tightly covered container or glass dish and refrigerate for 4-5 days. Of course, for a longer salvage, you can store them in the freezer using a freezer-safe storage bag.
Yup! For sure. These collard greens are perfect as a make-ahead recipe since you're able to soak, wash, + prep your collard greens 5 days in advance. Personally, I just ensure that I let them dry for a few hours (on a baking sheet or cutting board lined with paper towel + spread out) before adding them to a storage bag and refrigerating for up to 5 days.
Of course, if you're planning on cooking this for a family gathering or on just a normal day, then you can prep them a day before for great ease on the day of.
Of course! To make these collard greens vegan, simply omit the turkey and substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth. Everything else works just fine! For awesome Vegan options, be sure to search our site for 'Vegan Recipes'.
Honestly, removing the stems is a personal preference. I personally grew up eating Collard Greens which had the stems in them, so I learned how to cook collard greens the same way.
If you prefer to have no stems, you can simply remove them from your leaves by pulling the leafy parts apart.
When learning how to cook collard greens I loved using a good ole' Dutch pot for them (which cooks them perfectly by the way) and they literally simmer for a good 2-3 hours before they're done. But feel free to use whatever pot you have on hand!
If you tried this Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you.