Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips Recipe

| February 17, 2014 | 12 Comments

Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips Recipe as seen on Taste of Southern.
Follow step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to make our special Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips Recipe.  Fresh turnip greens and turnips are a cold weather delight.  We’ll visit our North Carolina State Farmer’s Market to pick up some fresh greens, then cook them up with some pork seasoning for a hearty dish that goes great as a side, or as a meal on its own.  Printable recipe included.


Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips recipe, slider.
Turnip Greens Recipe:

In all honesty, I must start this particular post by saying right up front that I’m not a fan of Turnip Greens.  I’m not really a fan of any kind of leafy green that I’ve tried thus far.  It’s just me, please don’t hold it against my Southernality.  (Is that even a word?)

Mama cooked lots of Turnip Greens, both with diced Turnips and without.  She enjoyed them, and my dad, my brother, and my sister enjoyed them.  I’ve just never been able to develop a taste for them. And, before you tell me that I’ve just never had any that were cooked right, I’ll have to jump right in and say, “if Mama couldn’t cook them, nobody can.”  Enough said on that point.

So, you will probably ask, and rightfully so, HOW can I share a recipe for something that I don’t eat and don’t like?  You would be well within your right to question me on that.  I’d just have to reply that even though I don’t like them, I’ve “tasted” a fair share of them over the years. I’ve tasted the one’s Mama cooked, and the one’s we prepared and sold at the restaurants I’ve been involved with.  Does that count?

It’s my hope, that I can show you how the process of preparing Turnip Greens, including diced Turnips, goes about taking place.  I’ll give you the basics and I think that if you like greens, you’ll like these.  Or, at least it will get you off on the right track to learning how to cook them to your own personal taste. These are lightly seasoned, with just a hint of sugar.  Mama always added a little sugar to about ALL of the vegetables she prepared.  Some folks add a lot more sugar than this recipe calls for, but that’s not what I experienced growing up.  It’s all personal taste, so do it the way you’ll enjoy it the most.

I’ve also included a few pictures of the North Carolina State Farmers Market that I enjoy shopping at. I have a great love of Farmer’s Markets. I think it’s because growing up, my dad had a produce stand out by the road in front of our house.  For years, I watched the “Fruitstand” as we called it, while he went off and worked the garden to keep our stand stocked.  Thank You Daddy, for giving me the easy part.  You might have spoiled me a bit, but I’ll be eternally grateful.

We had seen an inch or two of snow just a few days before my visit to the Market and more snow was in the forecast for the days ahead.  Even during the dead cold of winter, our State Farmer’s Market is open, with vendors from across the state, selling their locally grown goods. They’re there on the hottest days of the year, and on the coldest days of the year.  They’re under shelter, but the shelter is open on all sides, so they bundle up good to keep providing us with locally grown produce.  Thank You to our farmers for all you do.

If you have the opportunity where you live, I strongly encourage you to support your local farmers.  They have a tough job, even though they usually love it.  It’s great to see this movement with folks going back to purchasing fresh, locally grown produce.  We have a small Farmer’s Market in my hometown that is open on Saturdays throughout the summer.  Maybe one day, we’ll have one that is open all year around, if we can find enough folks to support it.

So, if you’re ready to stroll the Farmer’s Market with me, and pick up a “mess of greens,” we’ll get in the kitchen real soon.  Ready for some Turnip Greens?  Alright then… Let’s Get Cooking!


Turnip Greens, NC State Farmers Market.
This is the main Farmers Building at the North Carolina State Farmers Market in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Normally, it’s buzzing with lots of people, but it’s pretty cold during this first part of February and just a few days before we get more snow.  Still, there are some brave vendors weathering the cold and making the handful of shoppers on this day, pretty happy they’re here.


Turnip Greens, collard greens and more.
The most obvious vegetable this time of year is “greens.”  You’ll find lots of fresh Collards, these Cabbage Collards, Kale, Mustard Greens and Turnip Greens.  If you’ve read the very first recipe I ever posted here on Taste of Southern, you probably know that I’m NOT here for Collards.  Let’s keep looking.


Turnip Greens, new potatoes.
There was an ample supply of New Potatoes to be found, along with some Onions and a variety of Winter Squash.  I liked this display using the old baskets.


Turnip Greens, sweet potatoes.
You could find several varieties of Sweet Potatoes, by the pound, or by the box.  Just about all the vendors had Sweet Potatoes and Collards available.  You could find Greenhouse Tomatoes, Shelled Pecans, Honey, Salsa, Cakes, Breads, and there’s still a pretty good selection of North Carolina Mountain Apples available.


Turnip Greens, with roots.
THIS is was what we were looking for.  Fresh Turnips and Turnip roots.  I’ve been reading a lot about how these are so good for your health, like most leafy greens.  But, as you may or may not know, I have just never had any desire for greens of any kind.  I can eat a little Spinach, but that’s about it for any type of leafy green you’ll see on my plate.

I picked up a couple of the roots and a two pound bunch of greens for myself, and picked up a pound of Turnip Greens and a pound of Mustard Greens for a friend.  That’s not a lot for either one of us, as they will cook down a good deal once they hit the sauce pot.  I was just picking up enough to use for this recipe, and since my friends wife doesn’t like them, he didn’t need many either.


Turnip Greens, ingredients.
Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips Recipe:  You’ll need these ingredients.

Like Collards, most folks refer to this as a “mess of greens.”  I’m using pork side meat for seasoning purposes.


Turnip Greens, cube the seasoning pork.
There are several choices for meat to season the greens while they cook.  Folks around here will often use Ham Hocks, Bacon, Bacon Grease, Hog Jowl, Salt Pork, Streak-o-Lean, or this “Side Meat” as it’s called.  As the name implies, this is cut from the side of the pig.  If it were smoked and cured, we’d call it Bacon.  It usually contains a bit more meat than pork belly does.

I purchase this from a store just a few miles from where I live.  They keep a large piece of this side meat, hanging in a wooden box with a screened door, no refrigeration.  You tell them about how much you want, and they take a butcher knife and slice you off a hunk.  They can normally cut off what you requested within an ounce or two.

There are some folks that actually prefer side meat over bacon.  I’m afraid I don’t understand why. Some will fry it up with salt and pepper, and make a sandwich out of it.  I’ll stick with good old bacon myself.  Side meat normally has a good coating of Black Pepper on it.  Without the salting and curing process, it doesn’t add seasoning flavor to the greens like Bacon or Ham Hock would so we’ll add a bit more salt.


Turnip Greens, add water and cook.
Cut the pieces of pork into cubes and place in a large sauce pot.  Cover it with about 6 inches of water and place it on the stove top.  Set the heat to Medium-High and let the water come to a rolling boil. Reduce the temperature down to Medium and just let the meat simmer while we prepare the greens.

We’re giving it a head start on the cooking process as it will take longer to cook the pork than the greens.  I’d let them cook at least 30 minutes before adding the greens.  It’s going to take a little time to prepare the greens anyway, so let the meat be cooking while you wash the greens.


Turnip Greens, wash the turnips.
Scrub the turnips under cold running water.  I always wash my vegetables, even if I’m planning on peeling them.  It’s just me.


Turnip Greens, peel the turnips.
Peel the turnips.  They can be a bit tough, so be careful.


Turnip Greens, dice the turnips.
You could drag out the cutting board and dice them up properly.  Mama always just held them in her hands and cut them up like she did her potatoes.  Cut them into thick slices, then into the dices.  I always drop them into a bowl of water as I cut them.  Set them aside while you wash and prepare the greens.


Turnip Greens, the stems.
We might stir up a little controversy with the next step.  As you can see, the leafy green has a pretty large stem that runs down the middle.  Some folks, think you’re just being wasteful if you remove it.  I reckon I’m just being wasteful.  It’s a matter of taste, as the stem is often a bit bitter, and changes the taste of the cooked greens.  If you’ve never cooked them before, I suggest you remove most of the stems first time around, leaving just a few, so you can decide if you like the taste of them or not.


Turnip Greens, remove the stems.
As for me, anything that might help improve the taste of these greens is surely worth doing.  I’m going to remove the stems.

Fold the leaf over and just pull the leaf away from the stem.  You could cut it out, but I think it’s just as easy to strip it away.


Turnip Greens, remove all stems.
Remove all the stems.  As you can see, it IS a large amount that we’re going to discard.


Turnip Greens, add water and salt.
Fill the sink with water so you can wash the greens.  These have already been washed several times before I bought them at the Farmers Market.  The vendor I purchased these from stated they had been hand washed three times already.  Like Collards, the greens can have a lot of dirt on them when picked from the garden.  You will need to make sure you’ve washed all the dirt off, or you’ll feel some gritty particles when you start eating them.

I’m adding a couple of Tablespoons of Salt to the water as well.  I’m not really afraid these have bugs, but if you were to purchase greens from someone that hadn’t washed them already, you might find some bugs on the underside of the leaves.  The salt will kill the bugs and allow them to be washed away.


Turnip Greens, wash well.
Jump in with both hands and wash the greens really well.  Look the leaves over to be sure there aren’t any bugs hiding anywhere on the leaves.  You’ll will probably see the water starting to get a little dirty looking.  I also tear the leaves into small pieces while I’m washing them.  You can chop them easier after they cook, but since I’m cooking them WITH the roots, I’ll break them down now.


Turnip Greens, drain and repeat.
Next, you’ll want to drain off the dirty water.  Fill the sink back up with more water and wash them some more.  You’ll need to keep repeating this process until the water runs clear and is no longer dirty looking.

It’s a bit of a process, especially if you were to buy them from a roadside stand where they had never been washed at all.  It IS however, very important, that you get all that dirt off of them before you start placing them in the pot.


Turnip Greens, add greens to pot.
After the meat has boiled for 30-40 minutes, we can add the washed greens.  Start by placing a handful or two in the pot and letting them cook down for a minute or two.  Stir them around a bit and they’ll just settle right down in the pot.

Keep adding the greens, a little at a time, until you’ve got them all in the pot.  This is usually when you realize you may not have bought enough to feed the family.  Smile.


Turnip Greens, add sugar, salt and pepper.
Add the Sugar, Salt, and the Black Pepper.  We’re starting out easy on the salt for now.


Turnip Greens, stir it down.
Once you stir it a bit, you’ll see how much these wilt down once they go into the pot.


Turnip Greens, cover and simmer.
Cover the pot and let the greens simmer for about 15 minutes.


Turnip Greens, add the diced turnips.
Next, add the diced turnips.  You can use the water that was in the bowl if it looks like you need a bit more for the greens.  You could also just add more water from the faucet as needed.  Make sure the greens are just slightly covered.


Turnip Greens, stir well.
Stir everything together.


Turnip Greens, cover and simmer.
Let the pot come back up to a slight boil.  Then, cover the pot and reduce the heat down a notch or two. You want them to cook at a low simmer until the greens and diced turnips are tender.  Cooking time will vary depending on the size and age of the greens.  Keep tasting them after about 20-30 minutes to see if they are tender enough to your liking, or if they need any more Salt or Pepper.


Turnip Greens,
When the greens and turnips are done, use a slotted spoon and scoop them out into a serving bowl.  If you want, you can chop them so you’re not finding large pieces of leaves when you start eating them.  I really didn’t have to chop these since I had torn them into small pieces while I was washing them.

The liquid left in the pot is referred to as “pot likker.”  You can add as much, or as little as you want, to the bowl before you serve them.  Many folks will cook up some cornbread and dunk it into the pot likker once the turnips are gone.


Turnip Greens,
You can cut up the pieces of meat, or just remove the fat and leave the lean meat pieces to go into the bowl.  It’s your choice of course.  Turnip Greens will go well with some homemade Cornbread or Hoe Cakes.  Lots of folks, especially my brother, like to add lots of vinegar on top before eating them.  I think that’s just to help kill some of the bitterness, but hey, that’s my personal opinion.  Others like to cut up some fresh Onion and add to the bowl.

Serve them up while they’re warm and Enjoy!


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Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips printable recipe as seen on Taste of

Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 Servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dishes
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


Follow step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to make our special Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips Recipe. Fresh turnip greens and turnips are a cold weather delight. We’ll visit our North Carolina State Farmer’s Market to pick up some fresh greens, then cook them up with some pork seasoning for a hearty dish that goes great as a side, or as a meal on its own.



  • 2 lbs of fresh young Turnip Greens
  • 4 Turnips, small to medium size.
  • 2 ozs. Pork Seasoning meat
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Black Pepper


Greens must be washed thoroughly to remove any dirt and bugs.

  1. Place about 6 cups water in a large sauce pot, over Medium-High heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add the pork meat. Reduce heat to Medium.
  3. Let pork boil for about 30 minutes while you wash and prepare the greens and turnips.
  4. Place greens in a large pan, or your sink, fill with cold water and add a Tablespoon of Salt. Salt helps to kill any bugs that might be hiding in the leaves.
  5. Rinse the greens by hand. Drain off the dirty water. Repeat washing until water runs clean.
  6. Wash, peel and dice the turnips into small cubes, about ½ inch thick.
  7. Place diced turnips in a bowl of water to keep them from turning color.
  8. Place washed greens in the sauce pot, adding a little at a time, until all have been added.
  9. Let water come back up to a low boil.
  10. Cover the pot, and let greens simmer for 15 minutes.
  11. Keep a close watch that all the liquid doesn’t boil away. You can add more water if needed.
  12. After 15-20 minutes, remove the lid and…
  13. Add Sugar.
  14. Add Salt.
  15. Add Black Pepper.
  16. Place the diced turnips in the pot. Stir well and cover again.
  17. Let greens, and the turnips, simmer over medium-low heat until both are tender. About 15-20 minutes.
  18. Remove from heat.
  19. Using a slotted spoon, place the cooked greens in a bowl and chop as desired.
  20. Add any leftover “pot likker” as desired.
  21. Serve warm and Enjoy!


Some folks add a little vinegar to cut down on the aroma of the turnips while cooking.

Place about half a cup of vinegar in a small bowl on the stove, this will also absorb most of the odors.

Serve with vinegar or hot peppers in vinegar. Or, maybe some chopped onions.

Keywords: Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips Recipe, made from scratch, fresh turnip greens, side meat, southern recipes


Your Comments:  What are your thoughts on Turnip Greens?  Do you like them?  Do you cook them at home?  I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts and comments on our recipes.  Maybe we’ve brought back some memories of your Mom, or Grandmother, cooking Turnip Greens.  I’d love to hear from you in the Comments Section below.   It will only take a minute or two of your time, and if you try our recipe, your comments might encourage someone else to try it as well.  Please know that all comments are moderated.  That just means that I personally read each and every one before they are approved for our family friendly home here on the Internet.  I also try to respond to as many comments as possible, so be sure to check back for a reply.  Your comment will not automatically appear, but I’ll get it posted just as soon as possible. Thank You for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. And, if you like our recipes, tell your family and friends about us.  I’d greatly appreciate you doing it.  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 (12)

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  1. Lewis Groome, Pleasant Garden, NC says:

    I love to cook and mix all my green leafy greens with turnips, fat back, sugar, a little salt and a mixture of pecans and walnuts to to deal with the smell. I trim all stems from the greens and wash them many times. I also eat them with a combination of extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar. I cook them low and slow all day. A little salt and pepper to taste. I put them on a lot of things, cornbread sandwiches, scrambled eggs, mash potatoes, even Ribeye steaks and by themselves. I just love them. Steve, your taste buds change every 7 years so one day you will love them too.

  2. Cathleen McCoy Lovette says:

    My turnip greens, this Thanksgiving, were delicious, reminiscent of the dish my grandmother made. Really will enjoy them.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Cathleen, Thank you for trying our Turnip Greens recipe, I’m glad you liked them. I do hope you’ll try some of our other recipes as well. Thank you for your visit today, Happy Thanksgiving, and be sure to visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  3. B. White says:

    I don’t see a good evaluation of the recipe after trying it, so let me give you one.

    I’ve grown my own, picked my own, and cooked them several different ways, but I always like to try different recipes. This was as fine a base for greens as any I have used. I seasoned mine with cured jowl. As with any recipe, you alter it to suit your needs, if you like to cook, just like some of us add more or less seasoning when making sausage. I prefer to let mine cook with a lid on for a while, probably since they have the texture that I grew up with.

  4. Jo Williams says:

    Mr. Gordon… I am a native South Carolinian. I come from a long line of Southern country cooks. While I agree with your prep of your turnips and turnips greens, I am a bit puzzled by your stated cooking time in the recipe.

    I know there are dozens of ways to prepare any food item, but because you are from NC, and I live in upstate, SC, I am curious as to why my turnip greens recipe varies so much from yours.

    Mama seasoned her meat with either salt pork or side meat. Sick slices of the meat were placed in an iron skillet and cooked low and slow to render the fat. When the fat was fried from the meat, the fried slices of “fat back” were set aside. IF Mama could keep people from eating it, she would use it later in her cornbread in the place of cracklings.

    Chicken stock was added to a cast iron Dutch oven. A cup or so of the chicken stock was used to deglaze the seasoning meat pan and the grease and stock were added to the big pot. The greens were next. A healthy shot of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes went in with the mix. The pot was covered, the flame low, and the greens cooked for an hour before she even checked the pot again. At this time the chopped turnips were added. More chicken stock added if needed. The tight fitting lid was placed on the pot. Flame as low as possible. Another whole hour passed before Mama checked her greens and turnips.

    She left the lid off, cooked the greens until the pot likker reduced. Then she added sugar, salt, pepper, and vinegar from a jar of pickled peppers.

    Have you heard of this method before, or was my mama’s “way” not very Southern?

    Thank you so much for your wonderful site. It is well written and simply appealing!


    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Jo, Thank you for sharing your memories of Turnip Greens with us. There is certainly nothing wrong with the way your mother cooked them. Most of the older folks would cook all of their greens and vegetables for a long time, but I don’t think it’s always needed. Most folks will cook greens down until they are mushy, and if that’s what you like, go with it. As you may know I’m not a big fan of any type of green, even the one’s that get cooked to death so to speak.

      Once the greens get tender, they’re done. Not really a “need” to keep cooking them, but again, we all have our favorite way of doing things. Sounds like your mother was a great cook, and I think it’s more of what we get use to growing up that directs the way we continue to do things.

      Older brother loves to smother his greens with the vinegar from a jar of pickled peppers. I made some back in the fall and gave them to him for Christmas.

      Thank you again for your visits, and I do hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

    • Kimberly says:

      Your mama made them the right way!

  5. Karen Lane says:

    Love your pics and receipe thank you so much. I just hope mine tastes as good, I will find out soon.

  6. Linda Hayes says:

    I have always liked collards, turnip greens and turnips but, after having collards way back in 1974 and then having a bad gall bladder attack that sent me to the hospital I have never eaten them again. I do love turnip greens and have them often. I will be glad to see warmer weather so I can go to the farmers market. Good to hear from you again.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Linda, Thank you for another reason NOT to eat collards. (Smile) I’m sorry to hear they bothered you so back in ’74, and can’t blame you for not eating them anymore. Thank You for your comments and I’m with you on looking forward to warmer weather. I appreciate your visit and do hope you’ll stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  7. Miz Karen says:

    I like greens but my husband doesn’t. I have gotten him to eat Kale recently which surprised me. Turnip greens with turnip…Yum. Maybe I can convince him to try them.

    We have the Georgia State Farmers Market close by and I love shopping there.

    Thanks for the recipes. Southern Cooking is the best!!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Miz Karen, I’m going to have to try that Kale next. I understand Kale Chips might be interesting. I’m not holding my breath on them actually being something I’ll like though. (Smile)

      Farmer’s Markets are the best. I’m glad you’re supporting them and shopping with them. I hope you can get a big old mess of turnip greens on your next visit. Thank you for your comments and I hope you’ll stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

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