Smoked Turnip Greens on a Pellet Grill

I grew up in rural Mississippi, and much of our diet was what we grew or could raise.  I grew up eating turnip greens, boiled and sauteed cabbage, pinto beans, cornbread, etc.  Really, all the “soul food” items.  But they’re more than soul food, they’re country food.  We could grow turnip greens easily enough, so, therefore, turnip greens were a staple at the house.  I still love some slow-simmered greens on the stove, but I also love this recipe which cooks them entirely on a pellet grill for just a hint of smoke.  To really capitalize on the smoke flavor, I have my Smoked Turnip Greens on a Pellet Grill recipe as a long cook item.  This is an awesome side dish to put on the smoker when you’re cooking a pork butt or brisket or even ribs.  For my pellet grill, I fired up the Traeger Ironwood 885 at my new BBQ Allstars store.

What are turnip greens and why do you like them?

Turnip Greens are easy to grow, and they have the benefit that they are a late-in-the-year crop.  So, when you’re harvesting most of your produce, you can plant greens.  Generally, greens can be harvested in late October through November.  They can withstand a frost, so there are no worries there.  Now, in the ground under every bunch of turnip greens, there is a turnip.  I don’t like ’em.  If you like turnips, please enjoy yourself.  But my recipe will not have any chopped-up turnips in it.

Some people prefer collard greens or mustard greens.  I love young mustard greens, flash cooked with some bacon, and lightly salted.  Sooo good.  But, when you are getting into “greens,” I’m on team turnip green.  For those who prefer collard greens, bless your soul.

What is Potlikker?

Potlikker is the flavorful cooking liquid that surrounds the greens when they are finished.  Potlikker is flavorful and nutritious.  Many greens aficionados enjoy making a  “potlikker soup” or dipping their cornbread in it.  Me, I’m not as big a fan.  I like to serve greens (or pinto beans, etc.) with some of my Sweet Pepper Sauce, just like my Grandmother made.

Are Turnip Greens Lucky?

You’re darn tootin’ they are.  Along with some form of pork, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and cabbage, they make one of the cornerstones of the Southerner’s New Years Day Lucky dinner.   Ok, let’s break this down quickly.  After the Civil War, the South was ravaged.  Crops destroyed, massive widespread poverty, etc.  One of the crops the Union soldiers left standing was black-eyed peas, as they were thought of at the time as only good for the livestock.  Well, hungry people make do with whatever they can.  While eating peas, they also discovered they were pretty dang tasty.  So, a new tradition sprang up for a New Years DayLucky Supper.  The black-eyed peas were round, so they represented coins in the new year.  Pork was about the only meat to be had, so it just represented being lucky that you had some!  Cabbage, being green, represented money.  Turnip greens, again green, again represented money.  Everybody was poor and hungry, it’s ok if 3 of 4 dishes represented money.  Cornbread was just there because it was a staple at every meal.

How to Prep Smoked Turnip Greens

Greens are kind of like spinach.  You may think you have a massive amount, but you really don’t.  As they cook they’ll wilt down.  Greens are sold in bunches.  If you love them, 4 or 5 bunches will feed 4-6 people.  If it’s a new thing, try 1/2 bunch per person.  Now, don’t buy the chopped, bagged greens in the grocery.  Those are old greens that you’ll never be able to remove the stems from.  Get them fresh, by the bunch.  If the leaves and stems are big, cut out the stems.  If small, you can include the stems.  Other than that, it’s really a matter of slow cooking and seasoning.  For my main seasoning, I use one of my favorites, my Garlic Blend.  It’s perfect for this type of cooking.

As always, I hope you enjoy!

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Smoked Turnip Greens on a Pellet Grill


I grew up on turnip greens, cornbread and the like.  However, when I want to add some delicious nuance to this dish, I bust out a pellet smoker and set these greens to going for a long cook time.  The end result?  Delicious, smoky, tender turnip greens!



A large stockpot or Dutch oven

45 bunches fresh greens

1 medium onion, chopped

45 pieces chopped up bacon

1 TBS good quality chicken stock concentrate

1 quart water

1 TBS Melissa’s Garlic Blend Seasoning

1/4 tsp cayenne

Salt, to taste


Preheat smoker to 225 degrees

Place Bacon slices on smoker and allow to cook for around 20 minutes, or until half-cooked or so.  Remove and chop up.

Prepare greens by removing any large stems and chopping leaves into very large pieces.

Add water, chicken concentrate, onions, bacon, cayenne, and greens to stockpot, aluminum pan,  or dutch oven and put in smoker, uncovered.  Cook for 2 hours.  Raise temp on grill to 300, cover stockpot, and continue to cook until greens are very tender.  Time will vary according to the age of the greens, but 1-2 hours is generally good.  I like mine very tender, so I cook 2-3 hours.  Adjust for salt and pepper.  Serve.


If greens are very bitter, add 1 tsp sugar.  you can also add 1 tsp baking soda for the last 30 minutes to help remove some bitterness.


Keywords: smoked turnip greens