How to Cook Collard Greens | Zesty, Garlicky Stir-Fry

Skillet filled with stir-fried zesty garlicky collard greens, topped with lemon wedges

Collard greens are a delicious side dish that’s also packed with nutrition! Our recipe matches them up with some of their best friends – sweet sauteed onion, aromatic garlic, and beautifully bright lemon juice. Once you get cooking with this easy recipe, collard greens will earn a permanent spot on your table!

Why You Should Eat Collard Greens

Collard greens are delicious leafy veggies that are closely related kale, and also in the same species cabbage and broccoli. Like its relatives, collard is a cruciferous vegetable. Thanks to a nutrient called sulforaphane, these plants can potentially fight cancer, protect you against infection and pollutants, and boost your liver’s detox function.

In addition, collard greens are packed with nutrition. They’re an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C. In terms of minerals, collards are high in calcium and manganese. And that’s just the super high nutrients – there’s a whole pile of other good things in these babies.

How this Recipe Works

Collards are nutritious and delicious, but they can be bitter. But never fear! It doesn’t take much to balance them out. First of all, we cook them with sautéed yellow or sweet onions, which add sweetness. Then, we sprinkle them with lemon juice. This step adds acid, which brightens up the collard’s earthy flavors and adds another counterpoint to any bitterness.

Optional Extra: the other thing that a plate of collard greens loves is smoky flavors. How do you work these into the dish without nasty processed meats? The answer is simple – just swap out the crushed red pepper for spicy, smoky chipotle powder!

Working with Collards

Ingredients to make and cut collard greens

To begin with, you need to buy your greens. Here’s what you need to look for:

  • Look for dark, glossy green leaves.
  • Make sure the collard is firm and crisp.
  • Avoid it if it’s brown or yellow.

Now it’s time to prep. Collard greens have tough, woody stems. Therefore, the first step is to get rid of them. Take a sharp knife and cut along each side of the stem. Now, wash the leaves very well. Collards tend to be sandy, so you want to make sure you get rid of all that grit.

With the leaves clean, you need to cut them into 1/4 inch (6mm) strips. It needs to be thin because we’re cooking our collard greens very quickly and we don’t want it to be tough. The easiest way to do this is to roll up the leaves (lengthwise) and slice them into ribbons.

How to Cook Collard Greens

Skillet filled with softened onions, garlic and raw collard greens

Alright, let’s get down to business. Firstly, heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Next, add the chopped onions and garlic and saute until the garlic is fragrant and the onion is soft and translucent.

Now it’s time to add the crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, and collard greens. Start by piling as many as you can into the pan. Don’t worry if they don’t fit – the first handful will wilt quickly, and then you can add the rest. Stir fry the greens until they’re just tender – but don’t overdo it! The key to cooking with collard greens is to stop while they’re still vibrant and green and before they go mushy.

To finish up, take the greens off the heat and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Finally, season with salt and pepper and toss everything through. You’re now ready to plate up your greens and enjoy!

We hope this recipe helped your cook some great collard greens. If you tried it, please let us know what you think with a comment and rating. Every bit of feedback helps make The Plant Riot even better.

Skillet filled with stir-fried zesty garlicky collard greens, topped with lemon wedges

And if you’re looking for something to serve your Collard Greens with, check out our Holiday and Thanksgiving recipes. Alternatively, they’re the perfect accompaniment for breakfast, like our Smoky Baked Beans and Tofu Scramble.


How to Cook Collard Greens | Zesty, Garlicky Stir-Fry

Skillet filled with stir-fried zesty garlicky collard greens, topped with lemon wedges

Let’s get cooking with these healthy and delicious collard greens – they’re nutrition-packed and taste amazing paired with onions, garlic, and lemon juice.

  • Author: Rachel Steenland | The Plant Riot
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings, as a side dish 1x


  • 2lbs / 900g (1 large bunch) collard greens, washed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 large (12oz/340g) yellow or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper + more for serving
  • 1 medium lemon, cut into wedges
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare the collard greens by removing the woody stems, then roll up the leaves and cut them into 1/4 inch / 6mm strips. Set aside. 
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant and the onion has softened.
  3. Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper, a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, stir to combine. Then pile in as many collard greens strips as you can. Don’t worry if they don’t fit – the first handful will wilt quickly, and then you can add the rest. 
  4. Stir-fry the greens until they’re just tender, and are still vibrant and green, around 3-5 minutes.
  5. Take the stir-fried collard greens off the heat and add a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle with a little extra crushed red pepper, salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately! Enjoy!


  • The other thing that a plate of collard greens loves is smoky flavors. If you’d like to try this, just swap out the crushed red pepper for spicy, smoky chipotle powder!

Keywords: how to cook collard greens, collard greens nutrition, cooking with collard greens, collard green easy recipe, recipes with collard greens, vegan recipes, The Plant Riot

This post contains affiliate links, which means that The Plant Riot (SteenPow Collective LLC) will make a small commission if you purchase using these links. The price you pay as a consumer does not change. The Plant Riot only recommends products that we know, trust and love!


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

related posts
Bowl of baked sweet potato fries with ketchup and sriracha mayonnaise dipping sauces.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries | Crispy Comfort Food

Jump to Recipe·Print Recipe Have you tried homemade sweet potato fries? They make a tasty change to regular potatoes. Their flavor is sweetly distinct, and they also develop rich caramelized flavors. However, we prefer to avoid deep frying since it’s not exactly healthy, and can also be messy. Instead, we figured out this recipe for perfectly crispy

Bowl of kale salad topped with apple slices, blood orange slices and pomegranate arils

Kale Salad Recipe with Apple, Orange + Pomegranate

Jump to Recipe·Print Recipe Kale is the perfect recipe ingredient for a crunchy winter salad. Wait, did we say crunchy? Yup, this dish is full of texture! Our salad mixes leafy kale with crisp apple, popping pomegranate, and ruby-red blood orange. It’s fresh, tart, and sweet – the perfect side for a hearty winter meal.

Dish filled with roasted parsnips and carrots with maple glaze, parsley and pomegranate

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots with Maple Glaze

Jump to Recipe·Print Recipe Carrots and parsnips are culinary “cousins” that transform into sweet, caramelized delights when roasted. What’s more, they’re almost effortless to cook! Our recipe will have you munching delicious oven-roasted, maple-glazed carrots and parsnips in no time. Make your Carrots and Parsnips more Interoasting There are many ways to cook carrots and parsnips,

Rustic onion tart cut into eight square pieces

Rustic Onion Tart | A Crunchy + Savory Flavor Bomb

Jump to Recipe·Print Recipe This rustic onion tart brings a ton of mouthwatering flavor with minimal effort. Every bite is a seriously satisfying combination of crunchy pastry, creamy vegan cheese, and mustard filling, plus the almost meaty, savory-sweet flavor of caramelized onions. Its also very versatile – serve it with a salad for lunch (or

Scroll to Top