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What To Serve With Collard Greens [18 BEST Side Dishes]

Collard greens are a leafy vegetable commonly cooked with garlic, onion, and smoked meats like ham hocks or turkey necks. They’re often simmer for hours, absorbing all the rich, savory flavors.

Here are 18 delicious and easy to make side dishes that complement collard greens perfectly.

The best dishes to serve with collard greens are instant pot black-eyed peas, buttermilk skillet cornbread, Southern fried chicken, and creamy grits. You can also serve baked jerk BBQ beef ribs, meatloaf, jambalaya, or smothered pork chops. For a seafood option, try Cajun blackened catfish.

Great flavor pairings for collard greens 

Collard greens are leafy greens closely related to kale and mustard greens. 

They have a stark bitter flavor and a chewy texture that makes them excellent for long and slow cooks. 

They pair well with:

  • Salty, smoky flavors – ingredients like bacon and ham hocks are often cooked with mustard greens because the prominent salty flavor perfectly complements the bitter flavor of collard greens. 
  • Acidic flavors – collard greens’ naturally bitter flavor mellows out when cooked, but adding a dash of fresh lemon juice or tangy apple cider vinegar further offsets the bitterness. Spicy flavors will also work.
  • Sweet, creamy flavors – combining ingredients like sauteed onions and cream brings a delicate sweet flavor that helps balances collard greens’ intense flavor. 

Southern classics

Stick to collard greens’ Southern roots and pair them with these classic dishes. 

I love piling up the silky greens over a bed of creamy grits, but you can also bake a skillet of moist cornbread.

Or you can try dirty rice if you want something more substantial. 

Instant pot black-eyed peas

Serving collard greens with black-eyed peas may be a New Year’s day tradition, but it’s an enjoyable combo any time of year. 

Especially when you can effortlessly make a fresh pot of creamy black-eyed peas in under an hour with the help of an Instant pot! 

Why we love this recipe: these beans will taste even better the next day.

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Buttermilk skillet cornbread

The best thing about collard greens is the concentrated broth, called pot likker.

And the best thing to soak it all up? A slice of skillet cornbread, of course! 

This version boasts a rich, moist crumb with sweet flavors and delightfully golden crispy edges. 

Psst… use a cast iron skillet for best results.

Why we love this recipe: it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

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Creamiest grits

Looking for a starchy side to serve with your collard greens? You can’t go wrong with cheesy grits. 

This porridge-like dish is super creamy, thanks to the addition of heavy cream, half-and-half, and butter.

The richness makes it the perfect contrast to some slightly bitter collard greens. 

Why we love this recipe: these are not your regular grits – they’re much more decadent.

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Jambalaya is one of my favorite rice dishes. 

After all, who can say no to boldly spiced rice loaded with chunky chicken, juicy shrimp, and spicy andouille sausages? 

Jambalaya is a meal on its own, but I love pairing it with a side of braised collard greens for some greenery!

Why we love this recipe: it’s ideal for serving a crowd.

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Southern potato salad

Looking for a summer side dish to pair with your collard greens? 

Go for a classic Southern potato salad

It features a traditional mayo-based dressing, and gets better the longer it sits, so try to make it a few hours in advance.

Pro-tip: use waxy potatoes (like Yukons), so they won’t disintegrate and become mushy. 

Why we love this recipe: it gets better the longer it sits.

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Fluffy buttermilk biscuits

Fluffy buttermilk biscuits serve as the perfect side for collard greens, especially when the greens are cooked with a generous amount of potlikker. The biscuits can sop up this delicious liquid, making sure that none of the savory flavors go to waste.

Their buttery, soft texture also adds a comforting element to the meal. And they’re not too crumbly, so you don’t get loads of annoying crumbs all over the floor.

Why we love this recipe: You can enjoy them with jam and butter the next morning.

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Crispy fried okra

Crispy fried okra, with its golden crust and tender inside, is a Southern favorite that complements collard greens by adding a different texture to the mix.

The okra is cut into bite-size pieces, coated in a seasoned cornmeal mixture, and fried until golden brown. You can add any spices you like to the coating, including chili powder if you want a kick.

This recipe is a great way to win over okra-doubters.

Why we love this recipe: It’s really easy to customize.

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Tangy vinegar coleslaw

Change up your coleslaw game with this tangy vinegar version. Far from the often too-sweet or overly creamy slaws, this recipe brings a lively burst of flavor to your plate, making it the perfect complement to rich dishes like collard greens.

The acidity of the dressing also helps cut through the bitterness of the greens. I also like the vibrant colors it brings to the plate (especially if you use purple cabbage and a decent amount of carrots).

Why we love this recipe: It’s not too heavy.

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Main dishes

Collard greens are the perfect healthy addition to your main dishes. 

I love serving them with crispy fried chicken, but you can also go with brisket for a tasty BBQ-inspired meal. 

Crispy cornmeal-crusted catfish also sounds superb with these silky greens. 

Southern fried chicken

This recipe ensures maximum flavor by seasoning everything, from the meat to the egg wash and flour.

You’ll have to plan ahead, because the chicken needs to soak overnight in a buttermilk mixture… but it’ll be well worth the wait!

Enjoy these with a healthy helping of collard greens for a complete, nourishing dinner.  

Why we love this recipe: it’s better than fast food fried chicken.

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Oven-baked jerk BBQ beef ribs 

Collard greens are a staple at BBQ parties, and so are ribs!

Instead of the typical method of using BBQ sauce, these ribs are seasoned with a dry jerk seasoning rub.

The seasoning caramelizes as you roast these ribs, making them oh-so-delicious with charred, crispy spots. 

Why we love this recipe: the oven does most of the cooking for you.

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Lentil loaf

A meat-free main that will pair superbly with collard greens is this vegetable lentil loaf. 

You need to be careful with moisture when you’re making it, because too much moisture could result in a soggy meatloaf.

But when it’s done right, the loaf has a delightfully chewy bite.

Psst… brown lentils will give you the best results.

Why we love this recipe: it’s filled with good-for-you stuff.

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Cajun blackened catfish 

Carry on the Southern theme by whipping up blackened catfish to serve with your collard greens. 

The Cajun seasoning infuses the fish with a fiery kick and a hint of earthiness that will have you craving more.

Pro-tip: if you want to bring a hint of indulgence to this healthy protein, brush it with melted butter before sprinkling your seasoning. 

Why we love this recipe: a serving only adds 61 calories to your meal.

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Smothered pork chops

If you’re on the hunt for a tasty pork main dish, this recipe is for you. 

Imagine crispy pork chops smothered in a rich onion gravy – is your mouth watering yet? 

And it’s really easy to make. Most of the ingredients are basic pantry staples.

Why we love this recipe: it’s ideal even for busy weeknight dinners.

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Grilled sea bass with lemon butter sauce

There’s something undeniably special about grilled sea bass, especially when topped with a homemade lemon butter sauce.

The dish strikes the perfect balance between the delicate flavor of the sea and the bright, tangy notes of the lemon. Ideal for a light yet satisfying dinner and bold enough not to be drowned out by the collard greens.

Psst… This recipe pairs wonderfully with a glass of crisp white wine.

Why we love this recipe: it’s a showcase of simplicity and elegance in seafood cuisine.

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Comfort food

Collard greens may be a veggie dish, but it’s delicious comfort food too. 

Pair it with your favorite mac and cheese or chicken pot pie for a truly heartwarming meal that’s perfect for chilly nights. 

You can also try a spaghetti squash casserole for a slightly healthier option.

Baked macaroni and cheese

Everyone has their own version of mac and cheese, but this recipe has become my go-to.

It’s simple, but the cheddar and mozzarella cheese sauce make it super indulgent. 

Plus, baking gives you that golden, cheesy crust everyone loves. 

Pair this pasta dish with spicy collard greens – the heat will work well with the pasta’s creaminess.

Why we love this recipe: kids and adults will love it equally.

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Homemade chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie is the epitome of comfort food. Creamy, savory filling encased in a buttery, flaky crust – what more could you ask for? 

Just remember to place the pie in the bottom rack of your oven when baking. 

Having it close to the heat source ensures the bottom gets perfectly cooked and not soggy. 

Pssst… in a rush? You can use pre-made pie crust. 

Why we love this recipe: it’ll fill your kitchen with a mouthwatering aroma.

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Twice-baked potato casserole

This potato casserole is everything you love about twice-baked spuds but in casserole form.

It’s packed with everyones favorite foods (cheese and bacon), and it’s effortless to make.

Pro tip: the Kitchn recommends using russet or Yukon gold spuds because they have thin delicate skins that you can mash.

Why we love this recipe: it’s foolproof. 

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Cheesy stuffed tomatoes

Cheesy stuffed tomatoes will bring a bright, juicy element to the plate, contrasting nicely with the earthy tones of collard greens. The melted cheese and herb filling adds a layer of richness and depth, while the tomato itself offers a slight acidity.

You can stuff the tomatoes with whatever you like, but this recipe goes for rice and sausage. I’m a big fan of using tuna personally.

Why we love this recipe: it’s healthy and comforting at the same time.

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What To Serve With Collard Greens [18 Ideas]

In this short recipe, I show you exactly what to serve with your collard greens.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: collard greens side dishes, what to serve with collard greens
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 32kcal


  • 1 portion buttermilk skillet cornbread
  • 1 portion cajun blackened catfish
  • 1 portion mac and cheese
  • 1 portion creamy grits
  • 1 portion smothered pork chops
  • 1 portion chicken pot pie … and more


  • Prepare your collard greens according to your favorite recipe.
  • In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
  • Side dishes include: instant pot black-eyed peas, buttermilk skillet cornbread, creamiest grits, jambalaya, southern potato salad, southern fried chicken, oven-baked jerk bbq beef ribs, lentil loaf, cajun blackened catfish, smothered pork chops, baked macaroni and cheese, homemade chicken pot pie, and twice-baked potato casserole.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!


Serving: 100g | Calories: 32kcal

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