Collard greens are one of our favorite veggies — and yet we tend to only cook them on special occasions since they can take so long to prepare. But here’s some good news: The process just got a lot quicker! Rather than simmering the greens for hours, just use an Instant Pot for an easy shortcut that delivers on big flavor. This appliance is a pressure cooker that creates and traps steam, speeding up the cooking process. For collard greens, this means they’ll soften and become tender in about an hour. Even better, this short cooking time is enough for the greens to soak up the flavors of your favorite seasonings and taste like the real deal. If this speedier version of Southern-style collards has your taste buds watering, we’ve got everything you need to try it yourself! Here’s how to make collard greens in an Instant Pot so you can savor those comforting flavors in less time.
What are collard greens?
Collard greens belong to the cabbage family along with other vegetables like kale, broccoli and Brussel sprouts. In their raw state, 1 cup of collards contains about 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of vitamin C and 77 grams of potassium. Together, these nutrients help aid digestion, improve your skin’s health and regulate healthy fluid levels within cells. Raw collard greens also boast a bitter, earthy taste and have tough leaves. Because of this, the greens are often slowly cooked in a seasoned broth until they’re tender and flavorful.
How long it usually takes for collard greens to get tender
Traditionally, collard greens are simmered in chicken broth alongside smoked meat like bacon or ham hocks and spices for at least 2 hours. This allows greens to gradually soften and absorb the flavors from the seasonings. While this gentle cooking method always produces delicious results, it’s time-consuming. So, that’s where the Instant Pot comes in for cooking collard greens in a fraction of the time!
Why an Instant Pot works to quickly cook collards
An Instant Pot’s (Buy from Amazon, from $99.95) ability to cook food quickly stems from the lid: It traps in steam during cooking process, which released afterwards. This is ideal for collard greens since the leaves are sturdy and can handle this high-heat method without wilting too much. To ensure the steam moves freely, place 1 to 2 pounds of sliced collards at a time in the machine. This not only quickens the cooking time, but the flavors and aromas are able to penetrate each green.
The collard green slicing trick that speeds up cooking
Buying whole greens, rather than pre-sliced varieties, allows you to cut them as thick or thin as you’d like. For tender collards that cook fast, Jennifer Schlette, founder of KitchenSubstitute, suggests slicing them ½-inch pieces using a “roll-and-cut” method. “Rolling and slicing the leaves simplifies the process, yielding evenly cut pieces that cook uniformly in the Instant Pot,” she says. This trick also allows you to slice multiple leaves at a time for speedier prep.
To do: Simply stack 2 to 4 collards (with stems removed) on top of each other, roll them into a log and then slice into shredded pieces. Repeat this process with the remaining leaves before rinsing or soaking the leaves to remove dirt on the surface. Afterwards, the greens are ready to cook.
How to make Instant pot collard greens
To whip up Instant Pot collard greens with ease, Jeffrey Eisner, founder of Pressure Luck Cooking, shares this recipe from his cookbook The Lighter Step-By-Step Instant Pot Cookbook (Buy from Amazon, $9.92). While he notes that the ham hock is key for rich and smoky flavors, you can put a lighter spin on the greens by leaving it out — which reduces the calories per serving from 167 to just 43. On top of this, the greens are tasty to enjoy with fried chicken, roasted turkey or a slice of crumbly cornbread! (Click through to our recipe for “broasted” fried chicken.)
Instant Pot Collard Greens
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 lb. collard greens, ideally bottom stalks removed, veins intact and leaves cut into small pieces
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. seasoned salt
- Hot sauce, for topping (optional)
- Active: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hr., 10 mins
- Yield: 4 servings
- Put the ham hock, onion and garlic in Instant Pot and pour in broth.
- Top with collard greens. Press greens down a bit, but don’t worry if they’re too close to lid — they cook down significantly. Don’t stir up with broth.
- Secure lid, move valve to sealing position, hit Keep Warm/Cancel, and then hit Manual or Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 60 minutes. Perform quick release when done. (Note: They may smell pungent when quick releasing. That means you’ve done ’em right!)
- Use tongs to remove ham hock and feel free to pick off meat for garnish. Add kosher salt and seasoned salt and stir. Let cool 10 minutes, then serve with few dashes of hot sauce and reserved ham, if desired.
Storing and reheating cooked collard greens
Any leftover collards can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the fridge for 3 days and up to 1 month in the freezer. When you’re ready to savory those smoky and savory collards again, allow your desired portion to come to room temperature. Then, place them in a pot over medium heat with a splash of water or chicken broth, stirring occasionally for about 5 to 10 minutes. Once the greens are heated through, enjoy them immediately.
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