Soul food turnip greens! Cooked in a savory chicken broth with onions, garlic, smoked turkey, red pepper flakes, and a splash of hot sauce! So addictive and delicious with no bitterness!


Visual learner? Watch me make these soul food turnip greens from start to finish!

Turnip greens, spinach, and kale have been in heavy rotation in my house these days! Not because they are in abundance everywhere this time of year but because I am trying to treat my anemia with food.

A few weeks ago, I learned that I had low-iron anemia. And honey, let me tell you first hand, iron affects EVERYTHING.

I’ll get into all that in a minute but, first, let’s talk about these soul food turnip greens! I decided to use a variety of iron-rich foods to bring my iron to a healthy level before trying supplements, and boy is it working!

The first thing I made were these soul food turnip greens and nearly ate the whole pot!! Greens are on sale, so I’ve been racking up. I’m usually a collard greens kind of girl. However, turnip greens have so many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C! Vitamin C  helps your body absorb more iron from the foods you eat. Yep give me all the greens!

soul food turnip greens

How To Cook Turnip Greens (Soul Food Style)

I’m sure cooking turnip greens in plain water is the healthiest way. Boooo, hiss. Not happening. The ONLY way I can tolerate any kind of cooked greens is when it’s done soul food style! These soul food turnip greens are first washed and scrubbed several times (a must) and then cut into pieces. I like to purchase the precut and washed bags if they are on sale. Although you’ll still need to wash them.  Finally, they are simmered in savory chicken broth with onions, garlic, red pepper, smoked turkey, red pepper flakes, liquid smoke, and a splash of hot sauce. See where I’m going here? Just flavor on flavor on flavor! Nothing but soul!

Once you taste these soul food turnip greens, you’ll see how it was possible for me to nearly finish the whole thing! They are so good!

how to cook turnip greens

How do you get the bitterness out of turnip greens?

Turnip greens have a  bitter bite that is just the nature of the plant. Once it’s toned down a bit it’s quite delicious! I use to think I didn’t like turnip greens but it was only because steps weren’t made to lessen the bitter taste.  There are several ways to lessen the bitterness of turnip greens *Note* Turnips greens that are picked when they are young and small will have a much better flavor and are very tender.

1. Cook the turnips greens in plain water first, pour off the water, and then proceed with the recipe.

2. Add sugar (not my favorite method)

3. Cook the turnip in a savory salty broth.

4. Add baking soda.

Method #3 and #4 are my go-to’s! Cooking turnip greens in salty, smokey, spicy chicken broth is the bee’s knees and really flavors those turnip greens to pure perfection. Salt is one of my favorite ways to cut the bitterness in turnip greens. I then add about 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the broth and simmer for the last 20 minutes. Works like a charm!

If you’re vegan, use a good vegetable broth like Better Than Bouillon and a bit of smoked salt for fantastic flavor.  Also, try this recipe for vegan collard greens!

Sometimes turnips greens will have a strong bite if they aren’t cooked long enough. I like to REALLY cook (overcook) my greens. I guess it’s a southern thing but I’m not into my greens having a firm texture at all.

southern turnip greens recipe

Besides eating these soul food turnip greens to help boost my iron absorption, I also added other healing, iron-rich foods to my diet. My cousin, “Dr. Mechelle,” as I call her, recommended several iron fluorine teas like Elderberry, blue vervain, dandelion root, and sarsaparilla tea. I also added key lime water and grass-fed beef.  I’ll create a different post about the foods that I used once I get my iron rechecked in a few months.

It’s definitely working, though! My goodness, can I tell a night and day difference! ALL of the low-iron symptoms that I’ve had for over 6 years (heart palpitations, ice cravings, extremely brittle nails, fatigue, dry hair, occasional dizziness, brain fog) have gone away completely. Not lessened but gone, gone.

I’m feeling like a new person these days and it’s crazy how I didn’t even realize how worn down I was.

Thank God for Dr. Google and people sharing their personal stories because even a hospital stay for heart palpitations with lots of tests missed this. Apparently, an iron test isn’t standard in bloodwork, which is crazy to me. I ended up having to go through my holistic doctor to get one.

Hopefully, this post will help someone else out there! If not, you just stumbled on probably the best recipe for soul food turnip greens!

southern turnip greens recipe

Get the Recipe: Soul Food Turnip Greens

4.16 from 53 ratings
Soul food turnip greens! Cooked in a savory chicken broth with onions, garlic, smoked turkey, red pepper flakes and splash of hot sauce! So addictive and delicous with no bitterness!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 6 people


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 fully-cook smoked turkey leg, removed from bone and diced
  • sea salt & cracked black pepper, add as needed
  • 2.5 pounds turnips greens, washed & cut
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • liquid smoke, 4-8 splashes


  • Melt butter in a large stock pot.
  • Add onions and red peppers.
  • Cook until tender and then add garlic.
  • Cook garlic until fragrant and golden.
  • Stir in chicken broth, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, and diced smoked turkey.
  • Taste broth and season with salt & black pepper. Broth should taste very well seasoned and delicious.
  • Let broth simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add turnips greens to pot and allow them to cook down slightly.
  • Stir, cover and simmer for 1 hour (stirring occasionally)
  • Remove lid and taste to adjust seasonings again. (I usually add a bit more salt, black pepper and hot sauce)
  • Stir in baking soda and liquid smoke. (this will help further lessen the bitterness)
  • Cover and simmer for an additional 10- 20 minutes or until greens are tender to your liking.
  • Serve hot.



Cooking times: Cooking times will vary greatly. Turnip greens that are picked when they are young are more tender and require less cooking.
Cuisine: American, southern
Course: greens, Side Dish
Tried this recipe?Mention @divascancook on Instagram or tag #divascancook.