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Turnip Greens don’t have to be cooked to death to be delicious. These spicy skillet turnip greens are perfect for a quick weeknight meal.

Spicy Skillet Turnip Greens
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One of Bart’s favorite things to eat is turnip greens. Add roast beef, skillet cornbread, and maybe even some mashed potatoes and his rating of supper would most certainly be a 10.

The other night, I decided I would make his favorite meal to welcome him home for a long week of meetings, meetings and more meetings. I remember what those are like from my corporate days and immediately knew he needed some comfort food.

I remembered to start the roast cooking earlier during the day, but totally forgot the turnip greens while Sam and I were outside working spreading pine straw around the flower beds in the back yard.

Not realizing what time it was, it finally hit me as I heard the diesel engine of my husband’s truck lumbering down our long driveway.

Determined not to let my plans for a welcoming, comforting meal fall by the wayside, my mind quickly kicked into gear and I decided I’d make these spicy skillet turnip greens for him instead. It was my only shot at pulling the meal together with a little pizzazz.

I knew they had to be done fairly quickly.

I heated up my skillet, drizzled a bit of olive oil in the bottom and got busy peeling my onion. In the onion went and I started cutting up my turnip greens. I knew I needed a lot, because as they cook, turnip greens will cook down a lot. Not quite as bad as spinach, but they will cook down a good bit.

I added half of my pound of turnip greens to the skillet as the onions became tender and cooked them down before I added the remainder of my greens. Then, I added a little bit of water and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes for the heat.

In the same amount of time it took my cornbread to bake in the oven, my turnip greens were ready and my husband loved them.

I think you need to give them a try the next time you need a comforting meal. A plate full of turnip greens, cornbread, and roast beef definitely feels like home to me.

4.93 from 13 votes

Spicy Skillet Turnip Greens Recipe

Side Dish 25 mins

Spicy Skillet Turnip Greens Recipe
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings 6
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Author Robyn Stone
A quick recipe for spicy skillet turnip greens for a comforting, home-cooked meal.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion cut into wedges
  • 1 pound turnip greens cleaned and chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • pinch brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes adjust to preference


  • Drizzle olive oil into skillet over medium heat.
  • Add onion and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Then add ½ of turnip greens. Allow to cook down and add the remainder of the greens.
  • Add water, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Adjust the amount of red pepper to your personal taste.

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Skillet Recipes

Robyn Stone

Robyn Stone is a wife, mom, blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. Welcome to Add a Pinch where I share thousands of delicious, tested and perfected easy recipes that the whole family will love.

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Recipe Review


    1. He liked it! If you love greens, this is a perfect, quick way to prepare them. I hope you enjoy them.

  1. Never in a million years would I think to cook turnip greens this way! What a great way to have them a different way – what a mind you have to kick start this idea!!!! I love your husband’s rated 10 meal menu. Thanks for once again coming up with a fantastic recipe with a great picture!!!

    1. Thanks so much, Mary. They are delicious cooked this way, they still have a little bit of the bite and texture while having all that delicious, spicy flavor. It is a new favorite way to prepare them for me. Let me know if you try it. I think you’ll enjoy them, too.

  2. I’m going to have to try these. My husband loves any kind of greens, but I have never eaten the before. Can you believe that? I’m adding turnip greens to my grocery list. Thanks!

    1. I can’t wait to hear how you like these! Of course, I never really liked greens until I was older but my Grandmother always made the best greens that she would cook all afternoon on the stove. YUM! These still have a bit of a bite to them and tons of flavor! Can’t wait to hear how your husband likes them!

  3. I LOVE turnip greens! The leaves already have a slightly spicy flavor, I pair them with mung beans, garlic, onions and tomatoes!

    1. Thanks, Kiran! Yes! You need at least one piece of cast iron. Then, I promise, you’ll be addicted to using it. 🙂

  4. Girrrrrl, I love me some greens! And the crushed red pepper is the perfect touch. 🙂

  5. i’m looking for new ways to eat greens. i know I have to eat them, not a big fan tho. Going to try your way, love the spicy touch

    1. Oh Roxana, I can’t wait to hear how you like them. The spicy touch just does them up right! 🙂

  6. I make pan-fried greens, but I’ve never seen turnip greens for sale here in the Northwest, either in a grocery store or at the farmer’s market. I’m sure they are very nutritious. I’ve just seen turnips sold with the greens off. Are your turnip greens from the garden, or were you able to buy them?

    1. I wish I could say that they were from my own garden, but they were not. I bought them at my local grocery store. Hope you find some soon! If not, I think kale would do nicely.

  7. Thanks for the recipe. I added a bit of spaghetti squash and jerk marinade. It came out magnificent and very filling.

  8. Made this last night – picked the turnip greens fresh out of my garden. I love greens, but turnip greens always have a bitter taste that I don’t care for, BUT the pinch of brown sugar cut that bitter taste and they were DELICIOUS! The dish looks EXACTLY like the pic too! Wonderful! Thank you for a great recipe!!!!

  9. This recipe is delicious. I used leeks rather than onions (because I had them) and stock rather than water (because I was making it at the time) and they were delicious. I used the turnip greens that were attached to four turnips and that seemed to be the right amount. Yielded about a quart of cooked greens. Loved the texture. I think I am going to try this with collards next time.

  10. 5 stars
    I had never made greens before, but love them at the employee cafeteria at the local hospital. This was super easy and tasty–and so healthy!! Thanks for a great recipe!

  11. I like the sound of these. I’m more of a collard greens fan because turnip greens are more bitter. The brown sugar should help and a little red pepper…why…yes! Pinned it!

  12. 5 stars
    I made this recipe. I altered it a bit. I used a purple/red onion and added yellow, orange,& red mini peppers and more than a dash of brown sugar since my greens were bitter. My greens cooked longer until they were tender to my liking and I added a little salt. VERY YUMMY!!!!! I’ll by a larger batch of greens next time. Today I was experimenting.

  13. 5 stars
    Such a simple and DELICIOUS recipe! I added some radishes to bulk mine up, and they complemented this dish very well. The brown sugar and red pepper combination was LOVELY and I will be doing this with all my greens going forward! Thank you so much!

    1. 5 stars
      Spot on! This is a winner! I just collected fresh turnips with greens attached at a local farmers market (curb-side pick up only at this time). Came home, cleaned and prepped, and cooked as instructed. It barely made in my bowl before I devoured it!

    2. Lucky you! I would love to have some fresh turnips and greens right now. I’m so happy you liked this, Nalini.

  14. I love finding ways to utilize the entire vegetable and this recipe was delicious! I’m doing a whole 30 so I omitted the brown sugar (which didn’t seem to change the taste) Will definitely add this to my turnip routine.

  15. 5 stars
    Hi! Tonight my husband came home from the farmers’ market with a bunch of red radishes and their greens and a bunch of baby white (Hakurei) turnips with greens and some pattypan squashes. I will often sauté the pattypans with some onions, thinly sliced beets, and radishes, but these radishes were just too small. Even though I frequently cook greens, I did a search for “How to cook turnip greens” and your recipe popped up. It looked great!

    I did something that I never do: I switched it up before trying it in its original form. Sorry. But, your recipe provided the basis for another great recipe! I added in the radish greens, chopped, and a small bunch of Swiss chard, including the stem, to help sweeten things up a bit. I added more than a pinch of brown sugar and salt and pepper. It turned out soooo good!

    Then, I roasted the baby turnips and radishes with quartered onions. These had all been drizzled with EVOO and seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper while roasting in a 425-degree oven for about 10 minutes and then, reducing the oven to 350 degrees and baking for another 20-30 minutes. Stirring every 10 minutes.

    My dear husband grilled some 1-inch bone-in pork chops. Our meal was a match made in heaven! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    1. This sounds delicious, Bonnie! So glad you found my site. Hope you find many more recipes you like! xo

  16. 4 stars
    This was a quick and easy recipe, that can be customized to your liking. I used veggie broth instead of water and added some smoked paprika and garlic powder. We will definitely be making this again.

  17. 5 stars
    This was excellent! I planted some turnips from seed this spring and they are overtaking the garden…was looking for a simple recipe to trim down the garden (they are overtaking the beets!). The only change I made was adding some chopped bacon instead of the olive oil. My goodness does this wilt fast (I had to run out to the garden to snip some fresh leaves). Using a cast iron skillet was the way to go. I’ve never eaten turnip greens before, but will plant them again just to make this recipe. There was not one drop left! THANKS so much for such a wonderful recipe.

    1. Karen, the turnip greens sound so good with the bacon. Turnip greens are so much better when they are fresh picked out of the garden. Lucky you!

    1. I cut the stems off at the base of the greens and if the stem on the inside is very thick, I cut it out, too.

  18. I prepare all of my cooked greens in the skillet like this, but I slice the thick stems and saute them with the onion before adding the chopped leaves, along with the actual turnip if that’s what I’m using. I like using Italian herbs, preferably fresh from the garden, although dried do the job, to season them. I frequently add some turkey sausage or chopped bacon with the onion combo. I’ll be trying your red pepper addition today! That sounds yummy. Thanks for the idea!

  19. These greens are delicious, I added a little bacon grease along with the olive oil, and a little (1 tsp) of maple syrup instead of the brown sugar. It was delicious, it’s nice to try a turnip greens recipe that is quick and easy. I’ll never eat low and slow (and cooked to death) greens again. Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Thanks, Theresa. I love this as a different option for turnip greens. My family loves these.

  20. 5 stars
    thank you, just what I was looking for! Never cooked turnip greens before but got them in my CSA box. Excited to try them out!

  21. 5 stars
    The quickest and the best I’ve tasted and I e added some other ingredients to this recipe since then I’m Hispanic so I added some diced tomatoes and some garlic powder along with a pich or 2 of ground cumin powder and a pinch of salt. Awesome eating thank u for the inspiration.

  22. 5 stars
    This is fantastic!
    I cooked some spicy sausage first and then added everything else except the sugar which I don’t eat. When I tasted it, I found it really bitter. I realized the pinch of brown sugar must have a magical effect. Adding about a teaspoon of molasses changed it completely. So much healthy yummmmm.
    Thank you for your recipe.

    1. Emily, I do add that little bit of sugar to prevent the bitter taste. So glad the molasses worked for you. Thanks!

  23. Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve cooked turnip greens and these are
    fabulous. I have some fall turnips in my garden and the greens looked too perfect not to try to cook them. Loved how easy this was and will definitely make again.

    1. Thanks for the tip, Linda. I’ll have to try that sometime. So glad you liked this recipe.

    1. Sarah, I’m thrilled that you tried this recipe as your first turnip greens recipe and loved it. Thanks!