A Simple Recipe for Southern Mustard Greens

A bunch of fresh mustard greens
Brian Yarvin / Getty Images
  • 90 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ratings (5)

Everyone's heard about cooking and eating greens, and the connection to what's called soul food is familiar to anyone who knows much about food. The connection of collard and mustard greens to Southern cooking is iconic. But what exactly are these greens?

Collard greens are part of the cabbage family, with long leaves growing outward from a center axis. Kale, a current trendy vegetable with the foodies, is similar to collards but its leaves are curly and it has a much stronger flavor. Mustard greens, also a member of the cabbage family, look more fragile than kale, but they pack an even stronger punch. Mustard seeds come from this plant, but if you see seeds, don't buy that bunch. Mustard greens taste best without seeds, which are part of the plant's maturation process.

This recipe was inspired by TasteofSouthern.com.

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds mustard greens, about 2 bunches
  • 2 1/2 cups water or as needed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. Wash the mustard greens thoroughly and trim off the stems. 
  2. Put the mustard greens in a large pot or Dutch oven with about 2 1/2 cups of water, or as needed; be sure the greens are covered by about 2 inches of water.
  3. Simmer the greens on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Drain the cooked mustard greens in a colander.
  5. After all the water has drained off, coarsely chop the mustard greens and set aside.
  1. Fry the bacon until it is crisp, remove from the pan and save the bacon grease.
  2. Add the diced onion to the bacon grease and cook and stir until they start to get soft and brown around the edges. 
  3. Add the bacon back into the frying pan with the onions and stir to combine well. 
  4. Add the chopped greens to the skillet and stir in 1 1/2 cups of water, or as needed.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well so that the greens, bacon, onions and seasonings are thoroughly combined.
  6. Cover the skillet, turn the heat to medium-low and simmer the greens, bacon, and onions for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until they are as tender as you like them. Add a little more water if they start to boil dry.

Variations and Serving Suggestions

A classic Southern addition to mustard greens is hog jowl. An easier and possibly more appealing way to get this flavor is to use leftover ham or buy smoked ham from the deli. Spice your mustard greens up with thyme, Old Bay seasoning or garlic for a twist on the classic. Serve with, what else, cornbread, for a real taste of the South.