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Chef Gina Makes Southern Collard Greens

I’ve recently gotten a few requests for a collard greens recipe and believe it or not, I haven’t made them much in the past. In fact, I’ve made them exactly twice. Collards are the Southern staple “green” and if I’m being honest, I had always been a little intimidated by them. They have a reputation of being tough or bitter if not prepared correctly and people who love collards seem to love them THEIR way; each Southern family having a slightly different recipe. Some include sugar, some vinegar, some even include hot sauce.  So typically, when my in-laws, who are from North Carolina have come for holiday dinners and have graciously offered to bring a dish, I always let them handle the collard greens. They’ve been doing these for years so why fix what’s not broken? 

Jump to recipe

This Easter I wanted to surprise them. And after a quick call to my brother-in-law and a practice run with their family recipe (along with a few tricks of my own), I decided I could handle it. Turns out, they aren’t nearly as hard as I had worked them up to be, and with the use of an Instant Pot, they don’t take that long to cook either. Admittedly their recipe calls for ham hock (vs. bacon that I used) and a low, slow cook time (vs. my pressure cooker) so in actuality, I didn’t really use their recipe at all, but when the big moment came for my mother-in-law to taste them, I believe she approved…her only feedback was that I should cut the pieces of collards smaller (do with that what you will when making your own).  All in all, I take that as a big win – especially since this specific recipe is so easy and so delicious that I will certainly make them again. Enjoy! 

Southern Collard Greens

Prep Time: 25 min

Makes: 4 servings (As a side dish)


Uncooked ingredients. Image provided by Gina Veneziano.


  1. Place Instant Pot on sauté function and add cut bacon. Sauté until almost crisp, 6-8 mins
  2. Add diced onion to bacon, continue to sauté until slightly tender, an additional 2-3 mins
  3. While sautéing, remove tough, middle stems from collard greens and roughly chop
  4. Turn off the sauté function of Instant Pot. Add chopped greens and mix well with onions, bacon, and rendered fat. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set Instant Pot to 12 minutes on manual cook
  5. Release pressure, open the top and add the balsamic vinegar. Mix well and serve warm


  • Once the pressure-cooking function begins, the bacon will not crisp up any further so sauté until the point of crispiness that you prefer, otherwise bacon will remain mostly fatty within the finished product
  • The bacon renders enough fat to sauté the onions in and coat the greens with so there is no need to add any additional oil when sautéing nor any liquid when pressure-cooking as the greens cook down quite a bit, creating their own liquid 
  • I used one bag of already cut and washed collards. If buying in a bunch you may need to use 2-3 bunches based on how big they are. These cook down quite a bit!
  • Because the bacon is salty, you don’t need to add as much salt as you might think. You can always add more once cooked and taste-tested 
  • In place of or in addition to vinegar, you could also add hot sauce for a spicier dish
  • This can be made ahead of time and either kept warm in the Instant Pot or easily rewarmed in the microwave because there is so much liquid from the greens, they will not dry out

About Chef Gina Veneziano

Chef Gina has spent a lifetime in food – from the butcher shop to food trucks and catering kitchens to innovation kitchens. She prides herself in being the only person to successfully recreate her grandmother’s famous meatballs. You can usually catch her, apron on, and a glass of prosecco in hand – cheers!

The Collard Greens are ready to be served! Image provided by Gina Veneziano.

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