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Southern Style Vegan Collard Greens

Collard greens are the epitome of slow food. The longer you cook them the better they are because the flavors have time to build and you get that eye closing pot likker to dip into. Try this veganized recipe and make sure to read the blog post to learn more about the rich history of collard greens.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword plantbased, vegan
Prep Time - 15 mins
Cook Time - 2 hrs
Total Time - 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings - 8


  • Heavy bottom pot or cast iron dutch oven


The "Ham"

  • 8 ounces tempeh
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (could use apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup cold water

The Greens

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 small yellow onion (finely diced)
  • 2 pounds chopped collard greens (or half mustard greens)
  • 2-3 cups water (enough to slightly cover the greens)


The "Ham"

  • Chop the tempeh into small pieces that are roughly the size of Chicklet gum. Heat the pot over medium high heat. Place the tempeh into the preheated pot.
  • Pour in the white balsamic, soy sauce, and salt while moving the tempeh around using a spatula. You don't want it to stick and burn. Drizzle the olive oil over the tempeh and quickly flip to coat each piece. Add in the onion powder and liquid smoke. Cook while moving the tempeh and flipping it for about 5 minutes. The goal is to brown it and build a base of cooked on seasoning in your pot.
  • Turn off the heat. Remove the cooked tempeh from the pot and place on a plate or in a bowl. Set aside. Pour in the 1/4 cup water and stir to deglaze the pot.

The Greens

  • Measure out the ingredients for The Greens portion of the recipe. It is important to not let the seasoning from the cooked tempeh to scorch or to burn the seasonings as you add them in for this portion.
  • Pour in the maple syrup and olive oil. Return the heat to medium-high. Once it starts to bubble add in the paprika, seasoned salt, Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and chopped onion. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 5 minutes while stirring. If it starts to look dry add in water 1 tablespoon at a time. This step is important to build the base of flavors.
  • Add the chopped collard greens, stir to coat the greens in the seasoning, and cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Pour in the water. You want the water to just cover the greens and it's okay if you add a little too much because it will evaporate out. Top with the cooked tempeh.
  • Bring the pot of greens and liquid to a boil then reduce to low. The lowest your range goes. Cook, uncovered, for 1-2 hours. Gently stir, scraping the bottom when you do, every 30 minutes. The goal is to have very little liquid remaining, only about 1/4 cup at the bottom.
  • The longer you cook your greens the better they will be. If you can cook for 3-4 hours they will be even better. Add 1/2 cup water at a time if needed.
  • The highly flavored liquid at the bottom of the pan is the best part. It's the "pot likker" and is perfect to dip some bread in, spoon over rice, or save and add to grits.


Do not try to speed up the cooking process. There is no "Quick Collards" because they need to cook as long as possible. Trying to rush it will lead to bland greens, and they will be crunchy in all the wrong places. This dish is all about slow cooking.