Mustard Greens

| January 19, 2015 | 23 Comments

Mustard Greens Recipe, as seen on Taste of Southern.
Follow our step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe for making our southern style Mustard Greens. Greens dominate the fresh produce available here in the South during the winter, and we’ll show you how to cook some up for a great side dish, or even the main meal of the day. They’ll go great with a hunk of cornbread. Printable recipe included.


I’ve sometimes wondered about God’s thinking regarding produce during the winter. Here it is, middle of January, it’s cold, the trees are bare and kinda drab looking, and the pickings are pretty slim at my favorite Farmer’s Market.

Greens seem to dominate everywhere. You’ll find Collards, Kale, Spinach, Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens, Winter Cabbage, and a few others.

Next, you’ll find a good number of Sweet Potatoes. At least they come in a couple of various colors, what with the purple ones, red ones, and the white one’s.

Apples, Bok Choy, Pecans, Red Potatoes, Onions and just a few other items seem to be about all you’ll find this time of year. YES, it’s a graciously good plenty of things, but it’s just not the bounty of summer. Maybe we aren’t suppose to have too much of a good thing.

Maybe, just maybe, God intends for us to enjoy the green colors of summer grass, shrubs and trees, through all the green vegetables He provides during the winter. Green is the hope of Spring and better things to come.

As you may already know, I’m not a fan of green vegetables. I know I should be, and I know they’re suppose to be good for me. I’ve just never acquired a taste for them. I totally dislike collards, even though Mama probably cooked them as good as anyone possibly could. She liked them, Daddy liked them, my sister liked them, and my older brother seems to think there isn’t much of anything any better. That even includes desserts.

You may also be wondering how I can prepare and present a recipe for greens, even if I don’t like them.

How can I even cook any that are any good? If I don’t eat them, how do I know I can cook them right?

It would be a valid question for sure.

I’d just have to say that you probably haven’t a clue as to how many chef’s, cooks, home cooks included, prepare items each and every day that they don’t personally like. Am I right?

If you invited me to your house, and you prepared some type of greens, I’d certainly take out a teaspoon of them just to taste them. Somewhere deep down inside, I think I’m still holding out that someone-somewhere, may be be able to cook some that I like. So far, it hasn’t actually happened.

Besides relying on my memories of Mamas cooking, I have a couple of friends that I often consult for advice on some of the recipes. I trust their words of wisdom as they are accomplished Southern cooks in my opinion. I listen carefully whenever I can engage them into talking about cooking at home. They’re wise in so many ways and it saddens me to think of all the wisdom that leaves us way too soon and way too often.

Saving those recipes is the point and purpose behind Taste of Southern. I’m trying to keep the old favorites, and a few that I might not even consider a favorite… alive and cooking. I hope I succeed.

So, armed with what I’ve just shared, are you ready to try some Mustard Greens? Don’t let me totally discourage you from trying them yourself. I understand that there are actually people on this earth that DO like greens. I’ve admitted that I keep trying.

You’ll find numerous and various ways to cook greens, this is just the way I prefer. If you’re ready to cook up a “mess of greens” of your own, let’s fill the sink with some water, grab a bunch or two of greens, and… Let’s Get Cooking.


Mustard Greens Recipe, slider.
Southern Mustard Greens Recipe:


Mustard Greens Recipe, ingredients you'll need for this recipe.
Mustard Greens: You’ll need these ingredients.


Mustard Greens Recipe, add salt to your wash water.
Wash, wash, and wash again.

Your Mustard Greens will need to be washed if you buy them fresh or pick them from your garden. Dirt, sand, and even small bugs have a tendency to be attracted to greens. It’s pretty simple to get them clean though, so not to worry. Just wash them enough to remove any grit so you’re not feeling that between your teeth after they’re cooked.

I have two bunches of greens today, and I’ve tossed them into the sink. While filling the sink with cold water, sprinkle a couple of Tablespoons of salt in the water. The salt will kill any bugs that might be hiding on the leaves and they’ll fall to the bottom of the sink as you wash the greens.

Greens purchased fresh from the grocery store, roadside stand, or even the Farmer’s Market, have likely been washed at least once or twice already. Still, you’ll need to wash them at least once more before cooking them, just to be on the safe side.


Mustard Greens Recipe, remove any big old stems.
As you swish them around in the water, look for any large and tough stems that might be included. I like to remove those and discard them. They will be stringy and tough unless you just like to cook your greens down to mush.

Some folks strip all the stems away to begin with. It’s your choice if you’d prefer to do that. They do contain a lot of flavor so I just remove the larger ones and leave the smaller ones.


Mustard Greens Recipe, wash them well.
Jump in with both hands and toss them around in the water. Swirl them around really good each time you wash them.


Mustard Greens Recipe, inspect the leaves.
Inspect the leaves. On my last wash, I will generally pick up and inspect most of the larger leaves, looking for anything that might be hidden. Don’t worry about any holes you might find. Bugs do get on the leaves and will eat small holes through some of them. It’s not anything to be concerned about, so just rinse the leaf well and place it in a large bowl.


Mustard Greens Recipe, rinse water.
This is my water after washing them the first time. Not bad, but it’s stuff that will not be in the finished greens after they’re cooked.

I knew these greens had already been washed pretty good to begin with, but as you can see, they still had some grit and grime on them. I saw a few small bug holes in some of the leaves, but didn’t see any bugs. Smile.


Mustard Greens Recipe, washed greens.
On the last wash, I inspect most of the larger leaves pretty carefully. Then, swishing them around in the water one more time, I lift them out of the water and gently shake off the excess water. It took a few minutes, but I figured it was worth the extra effort to insure they don’t have any secret things lurking around on the leaves.

It’s hard to tell, but I placed them in a large stainless steel mixing bowl that just does fit into my sink. Keep this photo in mind as you read on down. You might be surprised at how much this big bowl of greens will wilt down once cooked.


Mustard Greens Recipe, discarded pieces.
I didn’t find a lot of large stems, but I did remove a few. I also found a couple of brown stems that I pulled out. These pieces will be discarded.


Mustard Greens Recipe, add the greens to a large cooking pot.
This is about one third of the washed greens in this pot. I could have used a larger pot, but I know they’re going to cook down, so I’ll just add more as they wilt down a bit.

Place the greens in a fairly large stock pot and set that on your stove top. Turn the heat on Medium.

You can add about a cup of water at this point, but the greens will produce water as they cook. Either way, we’re going to be throwing this water away once they cook down.


Mustard Greens Recipe, cook the greens down, then add more.
As the greens begin to wilt down, stir them around a bit to bring the one’s from the bottom of the pot up to the top.

Add more greens as you have space in the pot until all of the greens have been added.


Mustard Greens Recipe, add a little sugar.
You can already see that the greens have cooked down quite a bit. Once they’re all in the pot and wilted down, I like to add a teaspoon of sugar. Mama always did, and I always feel like I need to as well. Don’t fault me for that… okay?

The sugar helps cut back on some of the bitterness of the greens.

I leave the pot uncovered and just let the greens simmer a bit. Just make sure you have a little water in the bottom so they don’t dry up and burn.

Let the greens continue to cook while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. It will not hurt to let them simmer for about 15-20 minutes from this point, or even longer.


Mustard Greens Recipe, prepare your seasoning meat of choice.
Prepare your seasoning meat of choice.

I had a chunk of Hog Jowl leftover from my New Years Day Meal, and decided to use it in the Mustard Greens. You could use side meat, ham, bacon, ham hocks or even smoked turkey meat if desired. Just use what you have on hand or what is the cheapest at the grocery store.

I sliced off three pieces of the hog jowl and will fry those up for later. I cubed the remaining piece of the hog jowl to add to the greens. I’ll be using a little more than 1/4 lb. of seasoning meat, but you could use more if you like. Make it your own.


Mustard Greens Recipe, chop the onions.
Chop the onions.

Don’t cut them up too small because they’ll cook and burn too quickly in the step down below.


Mustard Greens Recipe, drain the greens.
The greens simmered for about 20 minutes. Take them off the heat and pour them into a colander. Drain all the liquid and just let it go down the drain. I don’t consider this to be the “pot-liker” so many folks refer to. Just discard it.


Mustard Greens Recipe, blanched greens.
Remember all those fresh greens we started out with? This is what they look like cooked down. Not a lot, but plenty for a good meal for several people.

At this point, the greens could be allowed to cool and then frozen for cooking later. It’s a bit more cooking than just being blanched, but greens need to cook a good bit anyway, so freezing them at this point would work well.


Mustard Greens Recipe, chop the greens.
I opted to chop the greens after cooking them.

Looking back, I think it would have been better to have cut them up with a knife once they were washed and drain. Many people prefer to do it that way and it probably works a bit better. The greens were still a bit tough at this point and it made for some hard chopping to get through the thicker stems. It also left a few longer stems, which in turn had strings and weren’t as pleasing to the mouth as they might have been had they been sliced into smaller pieces before being cooked.

Do it either way you like. Maybe my chopper is just getting dull. Set the greens aside for the moment.


Mustard Greens Recipe, brown the seasoning meat.
Place your favorite cast iron skillet over Medium heat on your stove top.

Add your choice of seasoning meat to the pan once it’s heated. We’re going to let this brown a bit. I’m also cooking my slices of hog jowl at the same time. I’ll remove it later. Stir the meat around as it cooks and don’t let it burn.


Mustard Greens Recipe, add onions.
Once the meat is lightly browned, toss the chopped onions into the skillet right on top of them.

The meat just needs to be slightly brown when you add the onions. We’ll let it all cook together for awhile.


Mustard Greens Recipe, remove any excess oil.
The hog jowl produced a good amount of grease as it cooked. This is good, as the onions don’t burn so easily with a bit more grease in the pan.

Onions need to cook until tender and slightly translucent. This could take about 10 minutes, so if the meat had overcooked, it would be hard little pieces after all this time in the skillet. The onions are fairly tender at this point and the meat is still tender as well.

I took a spoon and scooped out just about all of the excess oil at this point. I don’t need it, so it went in the grease container that stays near the stove.


Mustard Greens Recipe, saute the onions until tender.
Give everything a good stir and just let it cook a little bit longer.


Mustard Greens Recipe, add the mustard greens.
Place the mustard greens in the skillet, right on top of the browned meat and the tender onions.

I had just enough to fill the skillet.


Mustard Greens Recipe, add water.
Next, add about 1-1/2 cups of water. I used water straight out of the tap and poured it in the skillet with the greens.

Chicken broth could be added instead of water. You might like to try that some time.


Mustard Greens Recipe, cover, reduce heat and simmer.
Let the water heat up to a slight simmer.

Cover the skillet.

REDUCE the heat down a notch or two, and let the greens simmer for 10 minutes.


Mustard Greens Recipe, add salt as needed.
After about 10 minutes, remove the lid and stir everything around a bit.

Taste the greens at this point to see if they need some salt. You may decide you don’t need any at all, depending on the flavor from the type of seasoning meat that you used. Salt lightly at this point, you can add more later if need be.


Mustard Greens Recipe, add black pepper.
I also add about 1/4 teaspoon of Black Pepper to the skillet. Add it if you like it.


Mustard Greens Recipe, stir, cover, and simmer until greens are tender.
Give everything a good stir to mix in the salt and pepper.

Cover the skillet again, and let the greens simmer for another 20-30 minutes, or until the greens are as tender as you’d like them. We all have different tastes, so you can cook them much longer if that’s the way you like them. The stems will take the longest to cook down until tender.

Most of the older Southern cooks let greens cook for hours. Just keep a watch on them to make sure they have liquid left in the skillet. You could add more liquid if you’d like. This liquid from the final cooking is a prized part of most cooked greens dishes. We call it pot-liker and it’s good poured over a big piece of cornbread.

Some folks just pour the liquid into a coffee cup, crumble up some corn bread in the cup, and drink it. There really wasn’t much liquid in the skillet once my greens had cooked down. Other cooking methods might produce more of the liquid if that’s what you’re after.

Continue to simmer the greens, covered, until they are to your liking.


Mustard Greens Recipe, enjoy.


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Southern style Mustard Greens recipe, as seen on Taste of Southern.

Mustard Greens Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 - 6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dishes
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


Follow our step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe for making our southern style Mustard Greens. Greens dominate the fresh produce available here in the South during the winter, and we’ll show you how to cook some up for a great side dish or even the main meal of the day. They’ll go great with some cornbread.



  • 23 bunches Mustard Greens, about 2 lbs.
  • ¼ lb Bacon, Ham, Hog Jowl, or seasoning meat of choice
  • 1 Onion, small
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 2 ½ cups Water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Wash greens in cold water, 2 to 3 times, as needed, to remove any dirt, sand or bugs.
  2. Adding salt to your water will kill any bugs that might be attached to the greens.
  3. Remove any large tough stems from the greens and discard.
  4. Remove greens from sink. Place in colander or large pot to drain.
  5. Place greens in a large pot over Medium heat on your stove top.
  6. Add one cup water.
  7. Continue to add greens as they cook down, until all greens are in the pot.
  8. Add sugar.
  9. Cook greens, stirring often, for about 20-30 minutes.
  10. Drain greens in a colander to remove water.
  11. Dice the seasoning meat into about ½ inch cubes.
  12. Chop the onion into small pieces.
  13. Place a large skillet over Medium heat on your stove top. Add the seasoning meat.
  14. Fry meat until lightly browned.
  15. Add the chopped onion to the skillet. Saute until soft and tender.
  16. Add drained greens to skillet.
  17. Add 1½ cups water.
  18. Cover skillet. Reduce heat slightly and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  19. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine.
  20. Cover skillet. Simmer greens for about 20 more minutes on Medium-Low heat until greens are tender.
  21. Serve warm and Enjoy.

Keywords: Mustard Greens Recipe, made from scratch, southern style, southern recipes, hog jowl


Your Comments:  Do you eat your greens? Which ones are your favorite?  I’d love to hear your comments on our recipe. It will only take a couple of minutes to share your thoughts while you’re here. And, if you try our recipe, be sure to share your results. It might just encourage some of our other readers to try it as well. Just know that all Comments are moderated. That just means that I personally read each and every one of them before they are approved for our family friendly home here on the Internet. It may take a little time for your comment to appear, but I’ll get it posted just as soon as possible. Thank you in advance.

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Be Blessed!!!


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Category: Side Dishes

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (23)

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  1. Sim. says:

    Love the Southern Style

  2. christine Morton says:

    Lots of good vegetables and the sausage added flavor. When I make it again, I will add the butternut after the second hour of cooking unless it was intended to be stirred into the liquid and because some do not like kale, I used mustard greens. It was very good.

  3. I love to mix my collards, mustard & turnip greens cooked with fresh ham hocks bacon & onions all day.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Charlene, I’ve never mixed all three greens together. Of course, anything might help the taste of Collards. Smile. As you may know, I just don’t care for Collards myself. Don’t hold that against me, okay? I appreciate your comments and I’m happy you stopped by today. Please visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

    • mary says:

      I miss my collards and turnips greens the other day fried bacon and onion together and little sugar to taste a punch of brown sugar one tabs apple cider vinegar garlic salt plain salt pepper and some all seasonings put in nijjia food 30 mins on pressure high fast release you can let them stay on warm for a while great

  4. Yvonne Singleton says:

    When you cook your mustard greens and drain the water from them you have thrown away your nutrients and most of the taste. I do realize that you drain them and then put them back in a Dutch oven and cook them with your favorite meat, onions, and season.

  5. Hi,my husband and I picked a good many mustard greens yesterday . I was busy with some other things and left them in water overnight . When we cooked them they were very tough. Could leaving them in soak overnight cause this ?

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Joann, I doubt soaking them overnight would make them tough. After all, they certainly have days and nights when they get rained on all day. Smile. Did you cut off the larger stems? Stems are the tough parts and removing them before cooking should help. I’m sorry you had a bad experience with them. I do hope the next batch turns out better. Thank you for your visit today, I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      • Gail says:

        When they get older they will be tough. I like the broadleaf mustards the best. Never liked curly leaf. I love mustards turnips and collards. If you parboil them a few minutes and drain the water off they won’t be as strong. Just had more water after draining

    • badbrain says:

      I don’t wash my mustard greens much since I’m careful they don’t get dirt on them. In Summer I had a problem with possible snails on them so one needs to definitely careful. There could be bugs too. I’m going to try other varieties; the usual ones are unfortunately stringy and chewy. I could eat mustard greens everyday with potatoes. A little turmeric in them makes them better IMO. I had some seeds with another type mixed in which grew a lot faster. They were tender, but have a ucky taste so I’d pull them out.

  6. Randy Neville says:

    The best mustard greens I ever had, this recipe was delicious Thanks so Much for the Step by Step

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Randy, Thank you for the compliment and for trying our Mustard Greens recipe. I’m really glad they turned out well for you. Thank you for taking the time to come back and share your results. I appreciate your visits and hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  7. Norma Evans says:

    Thank you for teaching me to cook mustard greens. I am 73 years old and have never cooked them. My grandmothers and my mom always cooked them. Every time I tried, they were horrible until I came across this recipe. Now, I am a mustard green cooking fool. Again, thank you!!!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Norma, I’m thankful you found Taste of Southern and our Mustard Greens recipe. I’m really glad you tried it and that you liked it, that’s always good news to hear. Thank you for sharing your results. Maybe it will encourage someone else to try the recipe. I do appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment, and I hope you’ll stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  8. lois loughrey says:

    My favorite greens are any greens. My mother used to harvest wild greens in the spring. She called it wild lettuce and would wilt it with bacon grease. Nothing tasted better because one could not buy fresh produce that is available now-a-days.

  9. Nykki says:

    My favorite greens are mustard -turnip mix. The perfect greens!

  10. debi barbour says:

    love your recipes. Do you have one for pineapple coconut cake?

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Debi, I haven’t posted a recipe for the Pineapple-Coconut Cake as of yet. Maybe I can get one up soon. Thank you for suggesting it. I appreciate your question, and thank you for your visits. Be sure to stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  11. Kathleen Mc says:

    Lovely. Thank you so much!
    My favorite greens are collards.
    We did have to finish everything on our plates growing up,but thankfully I liked most everything except liver.
    I cook my greens pretty much with the same ingredients, but start with the seasoning meat and onions, then add the greens and liquid into the same pot and simmer. For collards, I add a little sugar or even Coke if they’re a bit bitter. I serve with pepper sauce that I make with vinegar and hot peppers from the garden.
    Theres a family owned meat processing place right down the road from where i live and they make the best ham hocks. It’s hard to find any these days that actually have any meat on them.
    I really enjoy your recipes. God bless!

  12. Scott Baist says:

    Love your site very informative, I actually had a co worker that had a designated washing machine (clothes washer ) just for greens. Love country cooking & The Carolina’s keep up this awesome site . God Bless .

  13. Joyce B says:

    Dear Steve: l always hit or miss when l cook greens. I have done your collards a couple of times and was very pleased each time. Thanks for the mustard greens recipe. Mama called those in your picture “curly” leaf mustards. The others were called “slick” leaf mustards. I will try this recipe soon. Can’t wait!

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