Turnip Greens Vs Collard Greens: Key Differences

Posted on

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens



Prep time

Cooking time

Total time


This article may contain affiliate links and if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

There is a massive debate going on about turnip greens vs collard greens when adding leafy greens to your healthy diet. It is not a matter of telling them apart. It is a thing of “which is better”–taste, flavor, and nutrition-wise.

And from what we have gathered, between the two, turnip tends to be the more nutrient-dense vegetable. It contains more vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, and B6, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium. Collard greens, on the other hand, still hold their ground.

And flavor-wise, turnip greens capture the upper hand with a sweeter flavor note, swamping the slightly bitter taste of the collard greens. However, that’s just the intro of this debate.

And as we know, starting well doesn’t declare the winner. Let’s learn more about the differences between turnip greens and collard greens.

What are Turnip Greens?

Turnip greens are the dark or (sometimes) bluish-green leafy tops of turnips. This green is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, like broccoli and kale. It has a mild taste, slightly sweet to peppery, with a hint of bitterness.

High nutritious with almost infinite possible use, Turnip greens is everyone’s favorite vegetable for homemade coleslaw, sautéed or steamed as a side dish or as an addition to pasta, stews, or soups.

What are Collard Greens?

Collard greens are one of the most recognized veggies on the top list of nutritious hierarchy. It is also a member of the cabbage family and an everyday staple side dish in southern cooking. Collard greens has large green leaves and thorny stems usually removed before eating.

The leafy parts are what we eat. And since the leaves are thick and sturdy, it holds up well when cooked for long. This is why it is perfect in soups and braises.

Aside from that, you can shred them into the casserole, puree them into pesto, in salads, slaws, or use them as sandwich wraps and more. 

Turnip Greens Vs Collard Greens: Key Differences

Things start getting interesting because you will be going home with just one at the end of this debate.

Although, there is much difference between turnip greens vs collard greens. Both greens are from the same plant family, so they share a lot in common.

But since they are not the same, the difference is clear.

1. Flavor

While both greens can be cooked the same way and used interchangeably in almost all recipes, there is a change of taste.

Turnip greens are slightly sweeter with a robust flavor, unlike collard greens, which are bitter with a few flavor deviations. But it depends solely on the harvest time.

The young turnip green is milder in flavor. However, the aged or matured type has a pleasantly peppery taste like extra-mild arugula.

On the other hand, collard greens are not as bitter as you think –at least not as painful as kale.

The bitter flavor is strong when eaten raw. But when cooked, the heat mellows the taste giving it a subtle earthiness.

2. Appearance

The ONLY time these greens look identical is in the initial stages of their growth. You can mistake one for the other. But that barely happens unless you choose to harvest them from your garden that young.

Most time, they are cultivated when fully mature, where their differences are brought to the spotlight. Collard greens have a dark to light green color, thick leaves and light green veins.

On the other hand, Turnip greens have slender green leaves but are slightly lighter. They are attached to turnips, making them easy to identify from Collard.

Even if you find the leaves of these vegetables in the supermarket, they will likely be labeled, and you can keep them in separate, labeled containers.

Furthermore, Collard has a coarser texture, and they grow in upright habit-bearing leaves at the apex of their lengthy stems. The size, width, and color are where the significant difference lies.

3. Uses

Collard and turnip are versatile veggies that can be used in a wide variety of dishes. But each green is famously used for a particular kind of meal.

For instance, turnip greens are preferable for any salad dish due to their sweeter notes and fleeky leaves.

However, collard greens are best suited for cooked recipes. If anything, it was added to salads. It must have been cooked before being used.

You are free to swap one for another. You won’t notice the difference, especially when paired with the same spices and herbs.

  • Mixed into a Meaty Braise
  • Stirred into soup
  • slice into many sauces
  • Make salads and slaws
  • Cooked into a Stir-Fry
  • Puréed into Pesto
  • Shredded into a Casserole
  • Added to Chili
  • Mashed Potatoes with Greens
  • White Bean, Sausage, with either collard or turnip greens Stew
  • Rolled up in a Wrap

Although you can’t use turnip greens for rolled up in a wrap, you can start with Collard because the leaves are much bigger and solid.

4. Growth Season and Timing

These greens are cool-season vegetables. This means they are early vegetables that can’t withstand cold temperatures. However, Collard is colder- and frost-tolerant compared to turnip greens.

Although collard and turnip are planted in spring and summer. But both need time to germinate, grow, set fruit, mature, and turnip greens faster.

It takes about 60 to 70 days to harvest collard greens. Meanwhile, it only takes 40 days to harvest turnip greens.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Get The Bitterness Out Of Turnip Greens?

The trick to getting rid of the bitterness in turnip greens is to cook them with a sweet ingredient. Boil turnip greens for 10 minutes or until tender, then drain and rinse in cold water.

Put the leaves back into the pan, along with one chopped onion and 1/2 cup of brown sugar — cook over medium heat. Look occasionally until the turnips are tender and the onion has caramelized.

Are Turnip Leaves Poisonous?

Are turnip leaves poisonous? No. They are not poisonous. Turnip leaves are a vegetable and can be eaten.

Which Greens Are The Most Bitter?

While it’s easy to gravitate toward the sweet and savory flavors that are naturally more appealing, there is plenty of room to appreciate and enjoy the bitter side of the flavor spectrum.

Some of the most bitter greens are collard, dandelion, endive, kale, mustard, radicchio, spinach, and watercress.

What Kind Of Greens Are Not Bitter?

Do you love salads but find that most of your greens have a bitter taste? That’s not a deal-breaker, but it is annoying. You can’t just toss any old green in your salad and expect to enjoy it.

Some non-bitter greens that will enable you to enjoy your salad more are spinach, chard, collards, and kale.


So, in conclusion, which do you think is better, between turnip greens vs collard greens? Is it the turnip greens because they have a delightful taste and are loaded with tons of nutrients. Or do you prefer the collard for your wrap recipes?

Well, I feel both greens have unique characters, and since they can be used interchangeably, I don’t see any cost for alarm.

However, if you want something more healthy, turnip is the right pick. collard can be a stand-in if you’re running out of turnip greens.


You might also like these recipes