Smoked Turkey Braised Collard Greens Recipe

Flavorful poultry and butter replace bacon in this Southern classic.

Smoked turkey and collard greens ready to eat in a bowl.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why This Recipe Works

  • Smoked turkey provides a similar meaty, savory quality as the bacon commonly included in braised collards.
  • The addition of butter adds the rich, mouth-coating quality that pork belly typically provides.

Smoked turkey may not be as fatty or rich as bacon, but it does share that trademark campfire flavor, which is why we thought it would be the perfect partner for an otherwise traditional bowl of braised collard greens. 

If you're feeling especially ambitious, you can braise the greens in a homemade smoked turkey stock; otherwise, store-bought chicken stock (or even water) will do just fine. It's a low-maintenance dish that's almost impossible to mess up. This rendition also happens to be nice and garlicky, spiced up with red chile flakes, and finished with a bite of acidity from cider vinegar and lemon juice. And, since the turkey's pretty lean, we opted to finish it off with some butter to give the pleasantly bitter, tender greens the rich, mouth-coating quality that pork belly typically provides.

Have more smoked turkey leftovers? Try these barbecue smoked turkey sandwiches or red beans and rice with smoked turkey

November 2014

Recipe Details

Smoked Turkey Braised Collard Greens Recipe

Active 10 mins
Total 40 mins
Serves 2 to 4 servings

Flavorful poultry and butter replace bacon in this Southern classic.


  • 1 large bunch collard greens (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup smoked turkey stock (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 ounces smoked turkey, preferably dark meat, shredded or chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Remove the ribs from collards and rinse leaves thoroughly. Line up leaves and roll them lengthwise like a cigar. Slice them into 1-inch ribbons.

  2. In a deep pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add collards in large handfuls, stirring until each addition is wilted before adding the next. Add stock, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, cover pot, and reduce heat to low. Simmer collards until tender, about 30 minutes.

  3. Remove lid and raise heat to medium-high. Add smoked turkey and butter, stirring until the butter is fully melted and the turkey is heated through. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper, toss well, and serve.


To make smoked turkey stock, add one pound of bones from a smoked turkey carcass to a large pot. Add a roughly chopped onion, carrot, and celery stalk, along with two bay leaves. Cover with water and simmer for two hours. Strain and discard solids. Homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock can be used in place of the smoked turkey stock.

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