4 Recipes That Make Us Crave Collard Greens for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Would you believe me if I told you there was a magical food out there that has been scientifically shown to help with everything from bone health to digestion, and reduce your risk of diabetes and cancer?

What if I told you this miraculous food costs as little as $2 per pound?

I’m talking about collard greens. Probably not the mysterious superfood you were thinking of, right?

The Astonishing Health Benefits of Collard Greens

Before they became popular in Southern culture, collard greens were a favorite of ancient Greeks and turned up on plates across the world from China to Portugal to Mexico.

They’re in the same species as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Like their kin, collard greens are some of the healthiest leafy greens out there.

At less than 50 calories, one cooked cup of this cruciferous queen boasts:

  • More than triple your recommended daily value of Vitamin A and Vitamin K.
  • 5 grams of fiber.
  • 4 grams of protein.
  • More than 20% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin C, calcium, folate and manganese.

Collard greens are also rich in glucosinolates, which aid in reducing inflammation and fighting cancer cells. They contain antibacterial and antiviral properties, as well.

How to Cook Collard Greens: 4 Recipes to Try

Ready to start bringing these leafy beauties home with you but unsure of how to cook collard greens? Try one of these nutritious recipes.

Collard Green Chips Recipe

collard green chips being prepared
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Move over kale chips — there’s a new leaf in town. I was totally surprised by how delicious these were. New party snack, coming right up! Double or triple the recipe if you have guests. They will ask for the recipe!

  • 5 collard green leaves: $2.50 for 1-pound bag, or 83 cents
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil: $6.49 for 32 ounces, or 7 cents
  • Salt and pepper to taste: $1.84 for shaker set, or 8 cents
  • 1 teaspoon powdered garlic: $1.98 for 2.75 ounces, or 8 cents
  • Optional pinches of curry, cumin, chili, garlic or red pepper flakes

Total cost: $1.06

Servings: 30 chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

Wash and dry the collard leaves, and then break them apart from the stem into 3-inch pieces. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them out on the baking sheets, leaving a small space between each leaf.

Sprinkle with garlic (and any additional spices you choose), and then bake the leaves for 6 minutes. Then, pull the pan out of the oven and flip the leaves. I used my hands to flip them but tongs or a spatula will work.

Bake them for another 6 minutes or until crispy. They cook quickly and then start to shrivel up and turn brown, so do not overcook. The more oil on them, the faster they brown.

Store extras in a plastic or paper bag for up to 3 days.

Pineapple, Banana and Collard Green Smoothie

a collard green smoothie
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Blending your greens into smoothies gets them in your belly raw and virtually undetected due to the sweet masking flavors of fruit. Plus, you’ll amplify your intake of nutrients by combining earth’s finest.

You’ll rethink the $6 green drink after making this adaptation of a smoothie recipe from SparkRecipes.

  • ½ cup chopped collards: $2.50 for 1-pound bag, or 47 cents
  • 1 large banana: 19 cents
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple: $1.79 for 1 pound, or 48 cents
  • ½ cup almond milk: $2.69 for ½ gallon, or 17 cents

Total cost: $1.31

Servings: About 6 ounces, or 1 glass

Wash the collards and pull the leaves off the stem. Chop them into smaller pieces, or use pre-chopped collards. Avoid using pieces with thick stems.

Put the greens and the rest of the ingredients in a blender, and mix until creamy and the collards have been pulverized. Serve while it’s fresh.

Substitution ideas: Use pineapple or apple juice instead of almond milk; use mangos instead of pineapples; add in blueberries, avocado (this will thicken it quite a bit) or almond butter.

Weed Soup, aka Spanish Collard Green Soup

I fell in love with this dish and had to have the recipe after a co-worker made it for a potluck. I altered it to suit my tastes, and you can, too.

  • 3 cans of Great Northern beans: 91 cents each, or $2.73
  • 2 bags of collards: $2.50 for 1-pound bag, or $5
  • 1 onion: 79 cents
  • 3 garlic cloves: $1.49 for 2 bulbs, or 15 cents
  • 1 Yukon Gold or waxy potato, peeled and cubed: 59 cents
  • 3 chorizo sausages (soft in casing): $6.49 for 3-pack
  • 1 ham bone or ham center with cut slices: $3.59 for 1 pound of ham center
  • 3 tablespoons cumin powder: $1.69 for 2 ounce bottle, or 53 cents
  • Pepper to taste: 4 cents

Total cost: $19.91

Servings: 6 to 8

Price per serving: $2.49

Whip out your trusty slow cooker for this recipe.

First, add the undrained cans of beans to the slow cooker. Then add the greens. They may need steaming in order to fit all of them in there. Or just cram them in; they’ll cook down.

Saute the diced onion and garlic cloves in olive oil in a saucepan on the stove, and then add to the slow cooker, followed by the potatoes.

Crumble and saute the uncased chorizo, and then add it to the slow cooker. Cube the ham and add it or the ham bone to the slow cooker.

Sprinkle cumin and pepper over the mixture, and set it to cook for 4 hours.

Get high off the savory aroma, and then settle in to enjoy a bowl of this nutritious weed soup.

Brazilian Couve a Mineira, aka Garlicky Collard Greens

collard green being rinsed
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

No need to boil collards down to limpless versions of their former selves. Saute and dress up their bright green leaves and serve them as this scrumptious side dish from Food52.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil: $6.49 for 32 ounces, or 30 cents
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced: $1.49 for two bulbs, or 10 cents
  • 1 bunch of collards, shredded: $2.50 for 1 pound bag
  • 3 tablespoons of beer (optional): 49 cents per can, or 6 cents
  • ½ teaspoon paprika: $1.89 for 2-ounce bottle, or 4 cents
  • ½ lime: 29 cents per lime, or 15 cents
  • Kosher salt to taste: 4 cents

Total cost: $3.19

Servings: 2

Price per serving: $1.60

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the olive oil, garlic and a pinch of salt. Saute until golden.

Add the greens to the pan, and toss and coat them evenly in the olive oil. Next, mix in the beer, followed by the paprika and a dash of salt. Continue to toss everything together, letting the alcohol cook off. The greens should still be tender once the alcohol cooks off.

Remove from the pan and serve accordingly. Squeeze on lime juice prior to serving.

Other Ways to Cook With Collard Greens

You’ve most likely eaten collards before, and they were most likely stewed down to withered smithereens along with their trusty Southern sidekick, bacon.

Truth is, collard greens are so much better than that.

Lacing them with pork not only counteracts their nutritional value, but it also steals their righteous flavor. I mean, you should totally do it sometimes, but consider all the other versatile options they have. It’s like limiting Kim Kardashian to one hairstyle. A total disservice to the product.

You can make chips and smoothies, as discussed above, or thinly slice and ferment collards into a sauerkraut cooked with flat dumplings. Or use collard leaves in lieu of lettuce for wraps or as a taco topping.

Save leftover stalks for stews and soups or added flavor in other veggie and meat dishes. Too much work? Compost them or, if you have extra leaves, try canning.

You can sub in collards for any recipe that calls for kale.

Some traditions are worth keeping, though, such as black-eyed peas and collard greens, aka Hoppin’ John, on New Year’s Day, eaten for good luck in the coming year.

Whatever you do with your collards, don’t forget about the “pot liquor.”

When you boil down collards, the water leeches most of the nutrients out of them, leaving the remaining cooking liquid chock-full of minerals and vitamins, hence the name “pot liquor.” Do not pour it down the sink; you can use it for soup and other flavoring.

If you want to play the long game, packets of collard seeds cost less than $3 and can yield a season’s worth of supply.

So what are you waiting for? Skip the kale hype — and cost — and turn over a new leaf.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She ate so much Vitamin K during the writing of this post that she can now see the future.