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+ servings

Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens

What better way to use any saved turkey pieces from Thanksgiving than in this Leftover Turkey Southern Collard Greens. 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.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword christmas, classic, collard greens, dairy-free, dinner, easy, fall recipe, food, gluten-free, healthy, holidays, homemade, indulge, leftovers, lunch, natural, recipe, savory, southern, spicy, thanksgiving, traditional, turkey, vegan, weeknight meals
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea


  • 3-4 large bunches of organic collard greens (That's about 12-14 cups when chopped!)
  • handful Leftover Turkey pieces (See Notes!)
  • 2 Tbsps organic brown sugar (Can also use Pure Cane Sugar!)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped (You can also use white or yellow onions!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt + black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsps worcheshire sauce
  • 2 tsps apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups organic chicken broth (I use Pacific Foods; See Notes for Vegan Option!)
  • 1 cup fresh water


  • Begin by prepping your greens after soaking + washing. Simply roll each leaf tightly (with stem) and cut into small to medium pieces or tear your greens away from the stems.
  • In a large dutch pot over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and let it heat up. Once heated, add minced garlic and chopped onions, sautéing until translucent and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add seasonings to garlic and onions, stirring everything together until well combined.
  • Add in all the remaining ingredients (starting with the collard greens), stirring it all together until fully combined and the greens begin to shrink and wilt. Cover and cook on medium-high until everything begins to boil, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to the lowest setting and let everything simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Greens will be done once they are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and add additional salt to taste if needed.
  • Serve while warm and enjoy!
  • Bon Appetit!


  • STORAGE: Store any leftover greens in a tightly covered container or glass dish and refrigerated for 4-5 days. Of course, for a longer salvage, you can store them in the freezer using a freezer safe storage bag. 
  • MAKE AHEAD: 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 refrigerated for up to 5 days.
  • VEGAN OPTION: To make these greens vegan, simply omit the turkey meat and substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Everything else works!
  • TURKEY PIECES: When it came to my leftover turkey, 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 chose to.