19 Sides to Serve with Collard Greens: Delicious Pairing Ideas

Collard greens are a staple in Southern cooking, and for good reason and are usually cooked with smoked meat, such as ham hock or bacon.

These leafy green vegetables are packed with nutrients, and they have a delicious, slightly bitter flavor that serves well with a variety of foods. 

If you’re wondering what to serve with collard greens, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll explore some delicious and creative dishes that pair perfectly with collard greens. 

Whether you’re searching for a side dish for your dinner party or just want to mix up your weeknight meals, these collard green pairings are sure to impress.

We’re here to share some creative pairing ideas that will leave your taste buds singing.

What are collard greens?

Collard greens are a cruciferous vegetable of the Brassica oleracea species, related to broccoli and kale. 

They are dark green in color, with a slightly bitter flavor, and are traditionally used in Southern cooking. It’s also known as “tree cabbage” or “non-heading cabbage.” 

collard greens

Collard greens are rich in vitamins A, C, and K. Additionally, they have high levels of dietary fiber, folate, calcium and iron. They can be cooked in a variety of ways such as steamed, boiled, sautéed or stewed. 

Collard greens are commonly served alongside dishes like cornbread and black-eyed peas for Sunday dinners. 

Another popular way to eat collard greens is to prepare them with smoked meats like ham hocks or bacon for added flavor.

What do collard greens taste like?

Collard greens have a pungent, earthy flavor with a slight hint of bitterness. They are a member of the cabbage family and share many similarities in taste and texture. 

When cooked, their leaves become tender and wilted while retaining their green color. The more they are cooked, the darker their color becomes. 

Collard greens are full of iron, calcium, and other essential vitamins and minerals that make them an incredibly healthy food choice. Their unique flavor makes them versatile for use in soups, salads, sandwiches, and as a side dish to accompany any main course.

Best Sides to serve with collard greens

1. Fried Chicken

It’s no secret that fried chicken and collard greens go together like peas and carrots. 

Fried Chicken

The crispy texture and savory flavor of the chicken complement the hearty collard greens perfectly. 

For a healthier spin on this classic combo, try oven-baked chicken instead of fried, and sauté your collard greens with garlic and olive oil for a healthier yet equally delicious dish.

2. Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese are a comfort food favorite that pairs well with collard greens. 

The creamy, cheesy flavor of the mac and cheese balances out the bitterness of the greens. Top your mac and cheese with breadcrumbs for added crunch.

3. Grilled Fish

Grilled fish is a healthy and flavorful option to pair with collard greens. The lightness of the fish contrasts with the heartiness of the greens, creating a well-rounded meal. 

Serve your fish with a side of brown rice or quinoa for added nutrients.

Discover More: Creative Side Dishes to Serve with Grilled Fish Tacos

4. Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is a traditional side dish that is easy to prepare and pairs well with collard greens. 

Corn on the cob

The sweetness of the corn complements the bitterness of the greens, creating a well-balanced flavor profile. Serve your corn on the cob with a side of buttered bread for added texture.

5. Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a delicious meat option that pairs well with collard greens. The smoky flavor of the pork complements the savory taste of the greens, making for a delectable meal. 

Serve your pulled pork with a side of coleslaw for added crunch.

6. Cornbread

Cornbread is a traditional Southern side dish that pairs perfectly with collard greens. 

Corn bread

The slightly sweet and dense texture of cornbread complements the bitterness of collard greens. Plus, it’s a perfect vehicle for sopping up the juices from the collard greens!

7. Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes are an ideal side dish for collard greens. The sweetness of the potatoes serves well with the bitterness of the greens, creating a perfect balance of flavors. 

Add a little bit of cinnamon or nutmeg to your mashed sweet potatoes for some extra flavor.

8. Grilled Pork Chops

Grilled pork chops are a perfect accompaniment to collard greens. The smoky flavor of the pork plays off the slightly bitter flavor of the greens, creating a perfect balance of flavors. 

Grilled Pork Chops

Plus, grilled pork chops are a healthier alternative to fried chicken, making this a great option for your weeknight dinners.

9. Shrimp & Collards Jambalaya

Make use of your favorite jambalaya ingredients (shrimp, sausage, tomatoes) to create a delicious dinner-time meal with collard greens as the star of the show.

10. Collard Greens Soup

Add a new twist to an old favorite by using collard greens as the key ingredient in your soup. This creamy, savory dish is sure to warm you up on cold winter nights.

11. Bean & Collard Wraps

Give your wraps a healthy makeover with this vegetarian-friendly option that features black beans, collards, tomatoes, and feta cheese wrapped up inside of a whole wheat tortilla.

12. Fried Catfish & Collards

For those looking for a heartier meal, try pairing fried catfish with collards cooked in bacon fat. This complete dinner will be sure to satisfy even the hungriest of eaters.

13. Collard Green Slaw

If you looking for something light and fresh, this slaw can serve as a great side dish or topping to burgers and sandwiches. 

Mix together shredded collards, almond slices, and your favorite dressing for an easy side dish that is full of flavor.

14. Grilled Cheese & Collard Greens Sandwich

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Give the classic grilled cheese sandwich a makeover by adding some chopped-up collards for extra crunch and nutrition!

Explore More: Best Side Dishes to Elevate Your Egg Salad Sandwich

15. Collard Greens Gratin

Top your greens off with creamy cheese, bacon pieces, and a crispy breadcrumb topping for an indulgent side dish that is sure to impress.

16. Black-eyed Peas

Both black-eyed peas and collard greens are staples in Southern cooking. Together, they create a hearty and flavorful meal.

17. Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet potato pie’s buttery, flaky crust and rich filling make this dessert the perfect complement to collard greens.

18. Barbecue Ribs

Barbecue Ribs

The smoky, tangy flavor of barbecue ribs is a great match for the bold and earthy taste of collard greens.

19. Biscuits

Freshly baked biscuits provide a buttery, flaky texture to soak up the flavorful juices of collard greens.

chicken and collard greens 

Chicken and collard greens are a classic pairing that is both incredibly delicious and incredibly nutritious. 

The earthy, leafy flavor of the collards pairs perfectly with the savory taste of chicken, making this a winning combination.

Collard greens are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C and K, as well as calcium and iron. They also contain anti-inflammatory compounds called glucosinolates. 

Eating a combination of collards and lean protein like chicken can help reduce inflammation throughout your body.

chicken and collard greens 

This dish is also super easy to make! All you need to do is sauté some garlic and onion in olive oil before adding diced chicken and letting it cook for a few minutes. Then add some stock or broth along with salt, pepper, paprika and any other seasonings you’d like. 

Finally, add the collard greens until they’ve softened slightly, then let everything simmer until the chicken is cooked through—that’s it!

So next time you’re looking for a quick meal that packs a nutritional punch, try combining chicken and collard greens. You won’t regret it!

collard greens and rice

Collard greens are a traditional Southern food, often served with rice. Collard greens are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. The combination of collard greens and rice is especially popular in the winter months when fresh vegetables may be scarce. 

To make this classic dish, first, wash a large bunch of collard greens thoroughly under running water. Blanch the greens in boiling water for about five minutes until they turn bright green. 

Drain the liquid from the pot and set aside the blanched greens to cool slightly. In a separate pot, combine 1 cup of uncooked long-grain white rice with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. 

When it reaches a full boil, reduce heat to low and simmer covered until all of the liquid has been absorbed, typically 10-15 minutes. 

Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and mix in the blanched collards along with salt, pepper, garlic powder or any other desired spices for flavor. Serve warm for best results!

pork chops and collard greens

Pairing pork chops and collard greens is a classic combination that has been enjoyed for centuries. 

Pork chops are moist and juicy, and their robust flavor pairs well with the slightly bitter taste of collard greens. 

The savory richness of the pork combines with the earthy taste of the greens to create an unforgettable dish.

Collard greens are a nutrient-rich vegetable, containing high levels of vitamins A, C, K, magnesium, manganese and calcium. They are also a good source of dietary fiber. 

When cooked properly with just a bit of olive oil or butter, they can be incredibly flavorful and tender.

Pork chops are just as healthy as collard greens. Not only are they full of protein, but they also contain B vitamins, phosphorus and zinc

Grilling or pan-searing pork chops is the ideal way to get them perfectly cooked while preserving their juicy flavor and texture.

This classic combination makes for a delicious meal that is both nutritious and satisfying. With its distinct flavors, delightful textures, and impressive nutritional profile – it’s no wonder pork chops and collard greens have been popular for so long!

collard greens

What to eat with collard greens vegan? 

1. Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Perfectly grilled portobello mushrooms are a delicious and healthy vegan option when served with collard greens. (Recipe)

Cook the mushrooms on the grill, adding a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper to season them. 

Serve alongside warm wilted collard greens cooked with garlic, onion, and olive oil for a tasty meal.

2. Veggie Curry Bowl

Make a flavorful vegan curry bowl with tofu, chickpeas, or any other plant-based proteins of your choice. 

Use plenty of spices such as cumin, turmeric, paprika, garam masala, and coriander to create an aromatic dish that pairs perfectly with braised collard greens cooked in vegetable stock for extra flavor.

3. Chickpea Stew

A hearty stew made with chickpeas is an easy vegan dinner option that goes well with collard greens. Simmer carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in vegetable broth before adding some diced potatoes and chickpeas to the pot. 

Chickpea Stew

Finish the stew off by seasoning it with fresh herbs such as thyme or parsley, and serve it over sautéed collard greens seasoned with lemon juice and smoked paprika for a delicious dinner.

4. Quinoa Cakes

Make vegan quinoa cakes for a light yet satisfying meal to pair with collard greens. 

Mix cooked quinoa with red onion, garlic powder, smoked paprika powder and parsley before shaping into small patties that you can lightly fry in olive oil until golden brown on both sides. 

Serve the quinoa cakes together with warm steamed or braised collards for a nourishing dinner option.

5. Roasted Butternut Squash

Roast cubes of butternut squash in the oven until tender and caramelized, then mix them together in a bowl with black beans and cooked quinoa, along with fresh herbs like basil or parsley for added flavor. 

Serve this vegan grain bowl topped with wilted collards that were briefly sautéed in garlic-infused olive oil for a delicious meal packed full of nutritional goodness!

What are the best flavors to go with collard greens?

Collard greens are a highly versatile dish, making them a great addition to any meal. One of the best flavors to go with collard greens is bacon. Bacon adds a smokiness and saltiness that really complements the earthy flavor of the collards. 

Another popular combination is smoked turkey, which adds a savory meatiness that pairs well with the bitterness of collard greens. 

You can also pair your collards with other flavors, such as garlic, onion, or even crushed red pepper flakes, for some heat. 

For something sweet, try adding dried fruit like raisins or cranberries for an unexpected flavor boost. 

How do you jazz up collard greens?

Collard greens are a tasty, healthy vegetable that can be jazzed up in many ways. To start, sautéing collard greens in garlic and oil is a great way to bring out their flavor and tenderize them. 

Adding some bacon or pancetta will add a salty, smoky flavor to the mix. 

For an extra kick of spice, try adding some diced jalapenos to the mix. Alternatively, for an earthy flavor infusion, add mushrooms to the sautéeing process.

collard greens

Other ways you can jazz up collard greens include roasting them with other root vegetables like sweet potato or carrots—or adding spices like turmeric or smoked paprika for added depth of flavor. 

You can also cook collards with tomatoes for a heartier side dish or use them as a wrap by rolling them around your favorite fillings like ricotta cheese and spinach. 

They are also delicious when braised with chicken stock—or cooked with onions and garlic until they become soft and almost creamy in texture.

How do you display collard greens on a platter?

Collard greens can be displayed on a platter in a number of ways. One option is to arrange them in a fan-like pattern, with the leaves overlapping each other and the stems facing outward. 

Another option is to create a tightly packed ring of collards, with each leaf fitting snugly against its neighbor for an attractive presentation. 

To add color and flavor, top the arrangement with fresh red tomatoes, orange carrots or yellow peppers. A serving of tangy dressing, such as vinaigrette or ranch, can also be drizzled over the collards for additional flavor. 

To make sure that all of these flavors come together perfectly, it’s best to serve the collards at room temperature.

10 best collard greens recipes you must try with those side dishes

Collard greens are an incredibly nutritious, leafy green vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. 

From braising to sautéing, the possibilities for how to enjoy this nutrient-packed food are almost endless. Here are some of the best collard greens recipes you must try with delicious side dishes:

1. Southern-Style Collard Greens with Bacon 

This classic Southern recipe is sure to please. Start by cooking bacon in a large skillet until crisp, and then add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. 

Then stir in prepared collards and simmer until tender. Serve alongside cornbread for a complete meal.

2. Cheesy Baked Collard Greens 

This simple baked dish is perfect for busy weeknights. Start by blanching collards in boiling salted water until tender, then drain and pat dry. 

Then mix together mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, egg, onion powder and garlic powder before adding the blanched greens to the mixture and baking until golden brown and bubbly.

3. Collard Greens & Ham Soup

This comforting soup is ideal for chilly nights or as a hearty lunch option. 

Collard Greens & Ham Soup

Begin by simmering smoked ham hocks in chicken broth before adding collards that have been chopped into bite-sized pieces. 

Add onion, celery, carrots and seasonings before bringing it all together with great northern beans or navy beans to create a thick soup base loaded with flavor!

Find Out More: Delicious Side Dishes to Complement Ham and Bean Soup

4. Skillet Cornbread & Collards

This traditional Southern favorite combines two classic dishes into an irresistible combination

Begin by preparing your favorite cast iron skillet cornbread recipe before topping it with cooked collards that have been seasoned with garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes for added flavor and texture!

5. Braised Collard Greens & Sausage

If you’re looking for a savory meal in one pot, then this is definitely it! Start by browning sausage in olive oil over medium heat before adding onions, celery and garlic to the pan to cook until softened. 

Then add chicken broth along with collards that have been chopped into large pieces before reducing the heat to low so everything can simmer together until the treater! 

Serve alongside mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes for an amazing meal!

6. Creamed Corn & Collard Greens Stew

This unique stew provides a hearty option that’s sure to please any palate! 

First, sauté strips of bacon over medium heat until crisp before adding cubed potatoes, diced tomatoes and creamed corn along with prepared collards plus seasonings such as sage leaves and bay leaves as desired to create a flavorful stew base!

7. Greek Style Collard Greens

If you’re looking for something different, then this Mediterranean-style recipe will certainly do the trick! 

Begin by sautéing aromatics such as garlic and onions over medium heat before adding diced tomatoes along with prepared collard greens plus oregano and lemon juice for zesty flavor enhancement! 

Serve this up, either hot or cold, depending on your preference!

8. Southwestern Quinoa Bowls

For those looking for something lighter yet still satisfying, these quinoa bowls fit the bill perfectly. 

Prepare quinoa according to package instructions, then assemble individual servings topped off with cooked black beans, cooked bell peppers, cooked sweet corn, cooked onion, cooked jalapeno peppers (if desired), crumbled feta cheese, salsa, avocado slices, freshly grated lime juice plus chopped prepared collards. 

sprinkle of chili powder offers just enough kick! 

9. Caribbean Coconut Curry Collards

Looking for an exotic twist? In this flavorful Caribbean-inspired curry, start by sautéing curry paste over medium heat before adding shredded coconut milk, followed by chopped onions, bell peppers, garlic cloves, and diced tomatoes, introducing tomato paste, too, if desired. 

Caribbean Coconut Curry Collards

Allow everything to simmer together while stirring occasionally, then add cooked garbanzo beans followed by chopped prepared collard greens allowing it all just enough time together to combine flavors nicely! Finally, serve your creation over hot steamed jasmine rice! 

10. Sweet & Sour Collard Slaw

For those who enjoy salads, give this one tries! Combine equal parts shredded carrots & cabbage along with very finely sliced ​​collards, then douse them all lightly yet evenly with olive oil seasoning generously throughout. 

Now make your own sweet’ n sour dressing using fresh orange juice combined with white wine vinegar plus Dijon mustard, some honey & freshly grated ginger root. Finally, season with salt n pepper too! Enjoy chilled!

Wrap Up on What to Serve with Collard Greens

Collard greens are a versatile dish that can be paired with a variety of sides to create a well-rounded meal. 

From fried chicken to grilled fish, the possibilities are endless. We hope these pairing ideas have inspired you to get creative in the kitchen and try something new with your collard greens. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own perfect pairing. Happy cooking!


How many collard greens per person?

It is recommended to serve approximately one cup of cooked collard greens per person. 

One cup of cooked collard greens contains approximately 35 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and 0.3 grams of fat. 

Additionally, collard greens are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. They are also packed with antioxidants which help protect cells against free radical damage and inflammation.

What meat is good with collard greens?

Smoked pork is often considered the best meat to pair with collard greens. The smokiness of the pork adds a delicious flavor that complements the bitterness of the greens. 

This classic Southern combination was traditionally made with a smoked pork product known as “salt pork” or “fatback,” which is salted and cured pork fat. 

However, today many people choose to use bacon or smoked ham hocks instead, as these options bring a unique flavor to the dish. Collard greens cooked with bacon are especially popular in restaurants and southern homes alike. 

While adding some kind of smoked meat will definitely bring out the flavor of your collards, it’s important to remember that a little bit goes a long way. 

Too much fat can quickly overpower the taste of your greens, so season your meat lightly and carefully when cooking with collards.

What do you do with collard greens?

Collard greens can be cooked in a variety of ways, boiling, braising, sautéing steaming. They can also eat raw in salads or sandwiches. 

Collard greens are often added to soups and stews for extra flavor, texture and nutrition. 

Popular dishes that include collard greens are Southern-style collards with ham hock or bacon and slow cooker collards with smoked sausage. 

Additionally, they make a great addition to stir-fries, casseroles and frittatas.

What to serve with black-eyed peas and collard greens?

Black-eyed peas and collard greens are a classic Southern dish that is both savory and nutritious. 

To create the perfect accompaniment, you may consider serving them with a variety of side dishes, such as fried cornbread, skillet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or sweet potato fries. 

Additionally, there are several traditional Southern sides that pair perfectly with this classic combination – such as buttery mashed potatoes or creamy grits – to bring out the earthy flavors of the black-eyed peas and collard greens. 

For a light but flavorful finish, serve your guests freshly baked cornbread muffins, topped with honey butter, for an added sweetness.

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