How to Cook Southern-Style Greens With Pepper Sauce

Mixed Greens
Mixed Greens. Iain Bagwell Photolibrary/Getty Images

Greens are a staple in the South, and they're usually served with cornbread and pepper sauce (see the instructions below) or plain vinegar. Even if the greens come "cleaned," give them a good rinse or two to make sure there's absolutely no grit clinging to the leaves.

Here are basic cooking instructions for turnip greens, collard greens, or mustard greens with popular variations and additions.


  • 2 pounds greens: mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, kale, etc.
  • water
  • ham hock or salt pork
  • kosher salt
  • pepper sauce (see below)


Thoroughly wash 2 pounds of greens. Two or more washings may be necessary. Put them in the sink or a big dishpan, fill it with cold water, and swish them around. Drain and feel the bottom of the sink or pan. If you feel any sand or grit, repeat the rinse. Keep rinsing until the bottom of the sink or pan is grit-free.

Trim tough stalks and tear or cut large greens in strips or pieces. Cut any thick veins out of collard greens. Roll large collard green leaves up (after removing tough stalks and large veins) and slice to make strips.

In a large stockpot over high heat, bring 6 to 7 quarts of water to a boil.

Add a large ham hock, two small ham hocks, or a 4-ounce piece of rinsed salt pork to the pot.

Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.

Continue boiling for 10 or 15 minutes.

Add the washed greens to the pot.

Cover the pot and simmer until the greens are tender. Depending on the type of greens used, this might take an hour.

Makes enough for 4 people.


  • Crushed red pepper, a few tablespoons of bacon grease, a chopped onion, or other seasonings can be added to the pot for more flavorful greens.
  • Serve greens with cornbread and pepper sauce or cider vinegar.
  • If desired, serve with chopped hard boiled eggs, bacon pieces, or sliced green onion for garnish.

How to Make Hot Pepper Sauce

Fill a clean, sterilized canning jar or bottle about three-quarters full with cleaned and stemmed small, hot peppers. Make slits in some of the peppers for more heat. Bring a pot of vinegar — cider or white — to a boil. Using a funnel, fill the jar of peppers. Refrigerate the pepper sauce stand for a week or two for best flavor. You may add a teaspoon of sugar and/or salt, if desired.

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