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Braised Kale with Bacon and Onions

Damon Lee Fowler | September 2, 2016

Greens slow-cooked with bacon are about as Southern as it gets, but when the greens are young and fresh, they don’t always need that traditional long, slow simmer to make them tender. When that is the case, historian and cookbook author Damon Lee Fowler likes to braise them instead. The method cuts the cooking time considerably while still infusing the greens with that rich traditional flavor.

Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Cook it With Our
close up of kale in pan


  • 2 bunches fresh young kale (about 2 pounds)
  • 3 or 4 slices extra thick-cut bacon, cut across into ¼-inch-wide julienne
  • 1 medium yellow onion, split lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Wash the greens in several changes of water, until no gritty soil remains on the leaves. Strip away any large, tough stems. Leave small leaves whole or tear them in half; stack, roll, and cut larger leaves across into 1-inch-wide strips. Set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Cook the bacon in a 10-inch cast iron skillet with a lid or a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned and its fat is rendered, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Raise the heat to medium-high, add a handful of kale, and toss until it is wilted. Continue adding the kale by handfuls, stirring constantly, and allowing each addition to wilt before adding more. When all the kale is in the pan, season it with salt and pepper to taste, add a splash of water, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the greens are nearly tender, 3 to 8 minutes, depending on the youth and freshness of the kale. It should be tender but still retain its lovely green color.
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Contributed By: Damon Lee Fowler

Damon Lee Fowler is a cookbook author, food writer, lecturer, cooking instructor, and culinary historian living in Savannah, Georgia.


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