These Instant Pot Vegan Collard Greens are made with homemade vegan bacon bits are made perfectly savory and tender after being pressure cooked for just 5 minutes. Enjoy them as an easy vegan side dish to your favorite vegan BBQ, mac and cheese and cornbread muffins. All you need is 20 minutes and 10 simple ingredients!
The well loved, dark, leafy collard greens have been a part of Southern soul food tradition for several centuries.
To read more about the detailed history of collard greens check out this article: [Hungry for History] Collard Greens. It dives deep into the meaning and tradition this dish holds.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Great way to get your greens in. If you’re someone that doesn’t love eating raw greens in the form of salads, making collard greens is a great alternative to enjoying the benefits of eating greens with a much more palatable, warm texture.
- Quick and easy. Cooking collard greens on the stovetop until the collard greens are softened can take over an hour, but using the pressure cooker speeds up the process tremendously. Have this vegan side dish ready in less than 30 minutes total (including clean up!).
- Customizable. There are many possible substitutions to make in these vegan collard greens. Easy to customize and make with what you have on hand in the pantry!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- collard greens – collard greens are large leafy green leaves with tough stems. They’re great for healthy veggie wraps, but also a necessity in the classic Southern dish. In this recipe, I used 6-7 cups of tightly packed collard greens, after the stems are removed. I recommend opting for using more, not less greens to keep them from being over seasoned.
- vegan bacon bits – A majority of the classic collard greens recipes are made with smoked ham hocks and bacon. I used my vegan bacon bits made from coconut in this recipe to emulate a similar, smoky flavor. I’ve also used my Smoky Tempeh Bacon Strips chopped up into bacon bits and they also worked wonderfully!
- white wine vinegar – Adds a tangy flavor that balances the salty and savory flavors with brightness. If you do not have white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or even red wine vinegar also works well.
- date paste – Similar to the use of the vinegar, collard greens need a little bit of sugar to balance the flavor. I love using date paste or date syrup for a non-refined, nutritional sweetener, but you can also use maple syrup, if desired.
Step by Step Instructions
- Wash and destem collard greens. Collard greens have a long tough stem down the middle of the leaves. You want to remove all stems for the most palatable dish. To do so, you can run the knife down the leaves along the stem or you can hold the collard greens at the bottom of the stem with your non-dominant hand, then pinch your dominant hand on the stem and run your dominant hand down the stem, removing the leafy greens as you slide your hand along the stem.
- Saute the minced garlic. Using the saute function on your Instant Pot, saute the minced garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
- Add vegan bacon bits, date paste, white wine vinegar, and spices. Continue sautéing for 3 minutes to soften the bacon.
- Add chopped collard greens and water. Stir to combine, then secure the lid and pressure cook collard greens for 5 minutes. After the Instant Pot comes to pressure and cooks through for 5 minutes, allow the Instant Pot to naturally de-pressurize for an additional 5 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure.
- Serve. You’ll notice after you remove the lid the collard greens have cooked down significantly and have turned a nice, darker green color. Toss to combine again to evenly distribute the flavor, then serve immediately while warm with BBQ tempeh and Almond Milk Mashed Potatoes.
Use a combination of both salt and something acidic. In this recipe, the salt comes from both the sea salt as well as the vegan bacon. The acidity comes from the white wine vinegar. Together, these help cut any bitterness in the collards and allow them to tenderize in the pressure cooker.
Because collard greens are quite tough, it is quite difficult to overcook them. I find cooking them in the pressure cooker allows them to be cooked through evenly each time. When you cook them on the stovetop, the results can differ.
Yes! Collard greens are a great source of vitamins and minerals and an excellent way to enjoy a serving of greens if you are otherwise impartial to them.
- Use more, not less collard greens. I always like to err on the side of using more greens, than less so they aren’t overly spiced. This recipe calls for 6-7 packed cups of collard greens or 8+ loosely packed cups of collards. This measurement is after the stem has been removed, so take that into consideration when measuring!
- Flavors will deepen after refrigeration. Similar to homemade chili, the flavors of these collard greens develop overtime and some may find them better the next day.
Instant Pot Vegan Collard Greens
- 6-7 tightly packed cups collard greens - measured after stems removed
- ½ cup water
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- ¼ cup vegan bacon bits
- 1 ½ tablespoons date paste - substitute date syrup or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil - substitute water if oil-free
- ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar - subsitute apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon paprika - substitute smoked paprika for smokier collards
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pinch red chili flakes - to taste, if desired
- Wash and remove the tough stems from your collard greens. Chop into bite size pieces.
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to your Instant Pot and push the sauté button.
- Once hot, add in minced garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
- Add in the vegan bacon, date paste, white wine vinegar, paprika, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes, if using. Sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes until bacon is soft and fragrant.
- After 5 minutes, turn off Instant Pot by hitting the off button.
- Add in the chopped collard greens and ½ cup of water and stir well to incorporate. This will prevent the vegan bacon from burning to the bottom.
- Add the lid to the Instant Pot. Make sure valve is switched to seal. Cook on manual high pressure for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, allow pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes. Then, manually release rest of steam to depressurize the pot by carefully switching valve from seal to vent.
- Serve immediately while warm.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.
- Be sure to use 6-7+ cups of tightly packed collards, stems removed. If you don’t use enough greens, they could be overly spiced.
- I’ve used my Vegan Coconut Bacon Bits as well as my Smoky Tempeh Bacon Strips diced into small pieces in these collard greens and both work really well.
- Other vegan store bought bacon options: Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon Strips or Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon.
- This recipe was made using a 6 QT instant pot. If you have a different size, you may need to alter the amount of water this recipe calls for and cooking times could differ. Larger pots take longer to come to pressure.
General note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
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Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.