Creamed Collard Greens: Southern Summer Soul Food

Collard greens are one of those foods I kind of pity sometimes. Like a lot of other green, leafy vegetables (Kale! Swiss chard! Dandelion greens! Beet greens!), it’s not a staple in American meals.

An image showing chopped collard greens on a wooden chopping board.

I mean, I can’t speak for you or your household, but we didn’t eat it growing up — ever. When we had vegetables, they were more classic choices like green beans or broccoli or carrots, and while those were all good things, eating only them meant overlooking an entire wall of the grocery’s produce section — one which remained unknown to me for years.

Then I grew up. And, in the same way that adulthood exposes us to all kinds of things we missed out on as children, from bills to alcohol to taxes — I went to an office Christmas party or baby shower or some other event where we all made something, and the downstairs receptionist saw my homemade cornbread and asked what she thought was a totally appropriate question: Well, where are the collard greens?

An image showing wooden stirring butter, onions, and chopped collard greens.

This introduced me to two new concepts:

1) Collard greens go with cornbread?
2) People think collard greens can taste good?

Then, just a few months ago, I saw a recipe for creamed collard greens described as comfort food, the kind of thing to “soothe a worn soul.” The post also got my attention with some of the health benefits of these greens: anti-cancer agents, decreased risk of heart disease, high in beta carotene, anti-inflammatory.

A close up image of a bowl filled with collard greens and two pieces of bread on the side.

So right here in my new Nashville, we bought a bunch of collard greens, and after spending about 20 minutes in the kitchen, ate big bowls of this, alongside garlic toast and with gingersnaps in the oven. Turns out this wasn’t only fitting because it was days after my move and I was in need of some comfort, but also — it was the perfect way to introduce myself to collard greens, and in the perfect place, since it seems here in the South, people don’t find them so strange after all.

Creamed Collard Greens
Taken from one of my favorite blogs, Nourished Kitchen

2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
2 bunches collard greens, stems removed, trimmed and chopped
1 cup heavy cream — not ultrapasteurized & organic is better
ground nutmeg, to taste
unrefined sea salt, to taste

Melt butter in a skillet over moderate heat until it gets frothy. Add sliced onions until they’re caramelized around the edges.

Add chopped collard greens, stirring until slightly wilted, about two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the one cup of heavy cream.

Simmer for about five to six minutes, until the cream is largely reduced. Season with freshly grated nutmeg and unrefined sea salt as you like!

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

25 thoughts on “Creamed Collard Greens: Southern Summer Soul Food”

  1. I love collard greens, most especially slow cooked for a couple of hours! They are definitely a perfect match for cornbread. I’ve never tried a creamed version, though!

  2. Psssst. Just a quick tip from a born-and-bred Southerner: The correct spelling is “collard greens”.

    What an interesting recipe! I usually just cook down my greens and flavor them with a bit of grease/oil. This is a new idea for sure!

  3. Dorothy, Mmmm that sounds great!

    Stephanie, Oh, wow! Thank you so much for telling me! I’ve updated it in the post. How did I think it was collared? HA!

  4. I grew up in a broccoli-and-carrot household, too, so introducing greens to my diet has been interesting, to say the least. I’m now okay with greens in soup, and greens with pasta and crumbled Italian sausage—but greens with cream sound doable, too. Thanks for sharing, Southerner!

  5. So, now my little southern belle is making collard greens!!! Ok, I can see
    that I guess. I just made some creamed cabbage and it was so delicious, even
    though you were not raised up on that either! It’s really good to get more
    veggies in our meals. I’m all for it. Have fun in your 68 degree weather!!!
    I’m eating my heart out! Love and Hugs, Mom (:

  6. You know, I’ve never made collard greens! I eat them in restaurants (mostly places that serve Southern-style BBQ or chicken and waffles, it seems) but I’ve never ever cooked them (I didn’t grow up on them either)! This recipe looks super easy and delicious!

  7. OK, so sauteed greens are not my favorite. You have made a liar out of me because now you have sauteed them in HEAVY CREAM, which I am sure to love!! Can’t wait to try this!

  8. Maddie, The term broccoli-and-carrot household makes me smile–as does adults becoming OK with greens. I love that we’re learning to embrace them together! So far I like almost any vegetable when it’s roasted and collard greens, covered in cream.

    Mom, Well, look at you, commenting on my blog! And you’ve made creamed cabbage! Keep it up–I want you all to stay hearty and healthy. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

    Kim, Well, eating them in restaurants is still a step ahead of most people. This recipe IS super easy and delicious–try it!

    Food Hound, Ha! I so understand. Heavy cream is a beautiful thing.

  9. I grew up in a green bean-peas-carrots household. I don’t think I even tried broccoli until I was in junior high! Recently I’ve been trying new things – different squashes & kale. I made chips from the kale & man oh man! They were yummy but they made me SICK. Now I don’t even like the smell of them & I’m working up my nerve to try more greens. I’ll keep this recipe in the back of my mind for when I have my new vegetable trying fortitude back 🙂

  10. You have me so intrigued! We don’t see collard greens in our part of the country much, but your preparation has me hankerin’ for some!

  11. I’ve always just braised collard greens, but creaming them sounds absolutely delicious too! Can’t wait to try this out!

  12. I have actually always been very fond of all those leafy vegetables. This recipes sounds delicious (love the nutmeg), and your photos always makes me hungry.

  13. MaryAnn, I’d love to hear how you made the chips since they made you sick! I wonder if it has something to do with the oil used maybe? That, or maybe you have an allergy? So sorry to hear that though. It is such a bummer to get sick. : (

    Anna, Nice use of hankerin’! : ) Very fitting.

    Peggy, Braised doesn’t sound bad either!

    David, Of course you have, my Green Kitchen friend! I totally get a fondness for them–but I didn’t always for sure. Thank you for those kind words!

  14. Mmm…cream and collard greens. I’ve never though to put those two together, but I think I’m going to have to give that a go this week.

  15. Om nom nom nom! Cream + Collard greens? Yes please! Although I haven’t grown up eating collard greens, they’ve been an obsession of mine ever since my father first made them a few years ago.

  16. Hi Shannalee
    I usualy come here to read what you ‘re eating and specially what you write and I find you an inspiration for me, I love your blog.
    For the picture I can see that Collard greens are what we call in Portugal ‘Couve Galega’. It’s not a ‘soft’ kind of green so we have to boil it in water for a while before melt in butter/garlic, or whatever…
    We have a typical plate with it: Caldo verde (Green soup) Only with a lot of potatos (puré) and Collard Greens sliced and Olive Oil normaly served at barbecues ..

  17. Hey there! I grew up eating collard greens (my folks are BIG gardeners), but I’m always open to a new way to cook em! I look forward to trying this with the opening of the

  18. Hey there! I grew up eating collard greens (my folks are BIG gardeners), but I’m always open to a new way to cook em! I look forward to trying this.

  19. oh this is taking me back ‘home’ myself! my family eats tons of mustard greens and collards, but i’ve never ever liked them. since i’ve started liking kale, chard, etc, i’m thinking i might give them a shot again. definitely perfect to eat in nashville though!

  20. That part of the produce section is still a mystery to me. I’ve yet to discover most greens and stick to the traditional veggies still. This recipe seems like a great introduction and I can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks!

  21. Molly, Let me know how it goes (or went)!

    Kamran, An obsession with collard greens sounds like a good one. : )

    Cristina, Thank you for that sweet comment and window into Portugal’s cuisine!

    TJ, Hope this does your childhoood memories proud!

    Heather, That’s awesome. I still like kale more, but collard greens are worth another go, for real!

    Amaranthian, Oh, I hope it goes well for you!

  22. I love collards and I think they don’t get as much fame as they deserve because they get cooked to death in the South (still delicious) – I’ve never had them creamed, but am putting that on my to do list.

  23. Sautéd collard greens are common in Brazil where I grew up, but I’ve never had them with cream. I’ll have to try it. I sauté them with onion, garlic, and bacon or olive oil. Then, I add a little water and salt to cook it with until the water evaporates.

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