Easy Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipe (Slow Cooker)

This easy vegetarian slow cooker collard greens recipe is a fantastic side dish with great depth of flavor and a lovely southern-style kick of heat.

Simply dump the ingredients and let it cook long and slow for tender collard greens, sweet onions and tasty pot liquor (that’s the tasty leftover juice in the bottom). It’s the perfect barbecue side or holiday favorite.

Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipe Slow Cooker

Slow-cooker collard greens are a classic southern side, often cooked with ham hocks, bacon or smoked turkey wings and served at barbecues alongside chicken, cornbread or black-eyed peas.

They are deliciously tender and juicy and have a dash of acidity and heat from apple cider vinegar and red pepper flakes.

We’ve gone for a vegetarian version, letting all the veg do the talking.

Are Collard Greens the Same as Spring Greens?

Yes. Collard greens are known as spring greens in the UK and are dark leafy greens from the Brassica family. Other Brassicas include broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts and they are all known for their health benefits (and also their deliciousness! Did I mention that?). 

Packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they’re super good for you and the perfect addition to your dinner plate.

Sadly, in the UK spring greens are a rather looked-down-on vegetable, unlike in the United States. This recipe is good enough to convert even the most reluctant Brit though (especially when they realise it’s one of the most budget-friendly green veggies you can buy!).

In the UK, a bag of spring greens costs less than a bag of green beans, sprouts, spinach, savoy cabbage or kale. Winner!

Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipe

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s versatile: it’s a great side dish for the holidays or for a summer barbecue
  • It only takes 5 minutes to prep
  • It’s super healthy and super cheap
  • Easy to double up quantities if you’re feeding a lot of people

Ingredients and Substitutes

Collard Greens Ingredients

Fresh collard greens: This dark green leafy veg is really healthy and is the star of this show.

Red onion: I prefer the added sweetness of red onions, but white onion would also work well.

Fresh garlic: I haven’t tested dried garlic powder in this recipe, but if you’re out of fresh garlic then ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder could be used.

Sugar: Give the naturally bitter greens a nice bit of sweetness! I use white granulated sugar, but you could also use brown.

Salt and black pepper

Red pepper flakes: This brings the heat! If you like it really hot, add a dash of hot sauce as well.

Apple cider vinegar: use white vinegar as a substitute if you’re out of apple cider.

Vegetable broth or stock: Keep it veggie if you feel strongly about the dish staying vegetarian, however if you don’t, chicken broth is a great alternative flavor.


  • Slow cooker
  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Measuring jug
  • Measuring spoons

How to Make Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipe in the Slow Cooker

Prep your Greens:

How to chop collard greens

To start, rinse your greens under cold water to wash off any dirt. As the stems of collard greens are tough, we need to remove them. Using a sharp knife and a chopping board, slice down the length of the leaf on either side of the stem. Discard the stems, roughly chop the leaves and place in the slow cooker.

Prep the Garlic and Onion:

Chop garlic and onion

Using a sharp knife, cut off the top and root of the onion, then slice it in half from top to bottom. Chop each onion half into thin slices.

For the garlic, press down on the clove with the side of your knife to slightly crush it. This makes removing the skin easier. Once the skin is removed, finely cut it.

Add the onion and garlic to the slow cooker.

Add the Other Ingredients and Cook:

Add ingredients to slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours

Measure out and add the sugar, red pepper flakes, apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to the slow cooker.

In a measuring jug, make up the stock using a cube and boiling water (or use ready-made broth if you prefer). Add this to the rest of the ingredients.

Mix everything in the slow cooker and cook on low for at least 3 hours, but ideally 8-10 hours.

How to Make Stovetop Vegetarian Collard Greens

Want your greens now and can’t wait 8 hours for them to slow cook? No problem! We can cut some corners on this southern staple and make them in 15 minutes!

  1. Destem and roughly chop the collard greens.
  2. Thinly slice the red onion and finely chop the garlic.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large pot or skillet (I LOVE my Circulon skillet!) on medium heat. When hot, add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the greens and sauté for a further 5-6 minutes, stirring regularly so they are evenly cooked.
  5. Finally, add a pinch of red pepper flakes, the garlic and some seasoning. Sauté for 30 seconds to a minute, still regularly stirring. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.


  • A great way to add a smoky flavor is to add a teaspoon of smoked paprika. The traditional collard greens recipe uses smoked pork, so this works as a way to bring the smokiness without the meat.
  • For some superheat, add a dash of hot sauce. You might want to warn your guests though!
  • Add some meat: If you’re happy to skip the vegetarian label, add some chopped cooked bacon, along with its drippings to the slow cooker. Used smoked or regular.

What to Serve with Vegetarian Collard Greens

My favorite way to eat these collard greens is with grilled chicken, but you could also serve it with:

  • Cornbread
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Pork Chops

What Diet is This Suitable For?

  • Dairy Free / Lactose Free
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free: as long as the stock used is gluten free
  • Nut Free

Disclaimer: Always thoroughly check labels and do your own research before cooking and consuming food made with our recipes. We take no responsibility for the contents of food or ingredients that you purchase, or the effect that consuming them may have.

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Easy Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipe (Slow Cooker)

Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipe Slow Cooker
Collard greens, southern-style heat and low and slow cooking create and delicious side recipe for your barbecues or holiday celebrations.
Rebecca Tufnell
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 5 minutes
Serving Size 10 people


  • Slow cooker
  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring jug


  • 2 bunches collard greens (spring greens)
  • 800 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes (Use less for a milder dish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • Prepare the greens by first removing the stalks and then chopping them roughly.
  • Thinly slice the onion and finely chop the garlic.
  • Add all ingredients to the slow cooker, mix and cook on low for at least 3 hours, but ideally 8-10 hours.


  • Reduce the red pepper flakes for a more mild dish.
  • Serve with cornbread, grilled chicken, pork chops or sweet potatoes.
  • Suitable for dairy free and vegan diets.
  • Make it gluten free by using a gluten free stock.
Vegetarian Collard Greens Recipe Slow Cooker

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