This Turnip Greens recipe is a traditional soul food staple. You can prepare this dish with smoked turkey, ham hocks, or whatever you wish. We include all of the tips and tricks you need to prevent bitter greens.
For Sunday dinners, Thanksgiving, and holidays you can’t forget the greens! Turnip greens have been a go-to side dish for Black families for generations. This recipe is easy to make and everyone will enjoy it.
What Are Turnip Greens
Turnip greens grow from turnips. The greens taste somewhat peppery and are often bitter. We include all of the spices and tips you will need for flavorful greens.
How to Wash Greens
Greens are sold in large bundles. While shopping, be sure to purchase bundles with really thick, leafy greens. Greens have thick stems and veins on the back of the leaves. These areas capture dirt and sand. You will need to clean them thoroughly.
- Remove the stem by folding the leaf in half (lengthwise) and rip off the stem.
- Fill a large bowl or your sink with water.
- You can use a veggie wash, vinegar, or just water alone to wash your greens.
- From there load them into your bowl or sink.
- Rub your hands over the actual leaves to scrub away any dirt.
- Drain the water and refill. Repeat this process until your water runs clear and you see no dirt in the water.
Removing the Stem
Most people remove the stems from the greens. This is optional. This is a time consuming process. I recommend you budget half a day depending on the amount of greens you are preparing.
Doubling the Recipe
Fresh greens will shrink when cooked. You can easily double the recipe (I would opt for the same size smoked turkey, or no more than a half-pound larger), but keep the cooking time the same.
How to Season and Prevent Bitterness
The recipe uses fresh onions, garlic, Creole Seasoning, and liquid smoke. Sugar or sweetener will help eliminate the bite and bitterness of the greens.
A smoked turkey leg or wing is used for additional flavor and can be found in the standard meat section of the grocery store. You may have to ask your local butcher if they carry them.
You can also use ham hocks, bacon, or salt pork if you wish.
How to Make Turnip Greens
- Heat a large pot on medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pot along with onions and garlic.
- Saute onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant.
- Add in the chicken broth.
- Layer in the greens and add them in batches.
- Add in Creole Seasoning, liquid smoke, sugar, and turkey. Bring the pot to a boil.
- Place the lid on the pot and adjust the heat to medium-low.
How Long to Cook
The greens will take around 2 hours. Ultimately, your total cook time will vary based on how you like your greens.
If you like them super tender you may cook them for 3 hours or more. If you like more of a bite, lessen the cooking time. Check and watch your greens to be sure you reach your desired result.
These greens are high in nutrients and low in calories. The greens are a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
How to Make Them Ahead
The greens will last in the fridge covered for 3-4 days.
How to Freeze
You can freeze greens for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
Pair With These Cornbread Recipes
Jiffy Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Jiffy Cornbread Recipe
Pair With these Side Dishes
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Collard Greens with Ham Hocks
Southern Green Beans and Potatoes
Fried Cabbage with Bacon
Turnip Greens Recipe
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped white onions
- 3 garlic cloves Minced
- 3 pounds fresh turnip greens Weigh for accuracy. Weight includes stems.
- 1 smoked turkey leg or wing See notes
- 1 1/2-2 cups chicken broth Water can be substituted.
- 1/2-1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning Adjust to taste.
- 1-2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke Adjust to taste.
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar Adjust to taste.
- Place the smoked turkey in a pot large enough to fit along with water. Add enough water to cover the turkey. Bring the water to a boil. Cook the turkey for 45 minutes to an hour until it becomes tender. Keep a close watch and add additional water as the water evaporates.
- While the smoked turkey softens, wash your greens. Fill a large bowl or your sink with water. Use your hands and scrub the veins of the leaves to remove any dirt or sand. Wash the greens thoroughly until the water runs clear.
- Remove the stems from the greens and slice the greens into smaller pieces.
- Heat a large pot on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the pot along with the onions and garlic.
- Saute the onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant.
- Deglaze the pan by adding the chicken broth.
- Layer in the greens and add them in batches. Greens will need to wilt down a lot in order to fit in the pot. Add in the greens and then stir and allow them to cook down.
- Add in the Creole Seasoning, liquid smoke, sugar, and smoked turkey. Bring the pot to a boil.
- Place the lid on the pot and adjust the heat to medium-low. Allow the greens to cook for 2 hours or until the greens are soft and the smoked turkey is fall of the bone tender.
- Open the pot and remove the turkey. Shred the meat from the turkey using forks and return it to the pot. Taste the greens repeatedly and add sugar, and spices if necessary.
Sunday 26th of February 2023
Omg so good!!
Davinah Cenou Montezuma
Monday 27th of February 2023
We're so happy that you enjoyed this dish, Beth!
Sunday 19th of February 2023
Thanks for the article and for using my piece “Zipped Trunks” to illustrate the exhibit. Cheers!
Sunday 1st of January 2023
I'm cooking these now, have been missing my southern roots and now back in the south making this beautiful dish!! Thank you for posting ❤️
Monday 9th of January 2023
You're welcome! We hope you enjoyed them.
Tuesday 29th of November 2022
This sounds delicious! I haven’t had good turnip greens in ages. I decided to fix a pot tonight and found your recipe. I can’t wait to taste them!
Friday 2nd of December 2022
Thank you! We hope you enjoyed them!