These old fashioned Southern green beans are melt in your mouth tender and seasoned to perfection! They’re just like the ones Grandma used to make and bring back all the best childhood memories for me.
Southern Green Beans
You know how some recipes just make all your childhood memories flood back? Well, this is one of those recipes for me. They remind me of holidays and Friday evenings around my grandma’s dining room table.
These green beans and chicken and dumplings are the two foods that always make me think of her. I might be biased, but I really think this may just be the best way to make green beans and be the best green bean recipe! I hope you love them as much as I do!
I’ve been told that these taste like Texas Roadhouse green beans. If you’re looking for a great Texas Roadhouse copycat recipe, give these a try!
Southern Style Green Beans with Bacon
I like to use thick-cut bacon in this easy recipe. You can also use regular bacon or ham hock. If you’re a pescatarian, I’d recommend using turkey bacon or even smoked turkey. Alternatively, if you’re vegetarian, you can make this recipe without bacon and just use a couple of Tablespoons of olive oil to saute the onion.
This recipe is very flexible and there are lots of ways that it can be adapted. Here are a few of the most common:
- You can substitute the water and chicken bouillon with chicken broth.
- If you prefer a more potent level of seasoning, you can turn the heat up and boil off the liquid once it’s finished cooking instead of draining the liquid. I personally prefer it drained, but it’s totally up to you!
- You can simmer the bacon with the green beans if you prefer more tender pieces of bacon. I love the crispy pieces, so I just add them back in at the end.
- You can add additional red pepper flakes or chili powder if you like a spicier kick.
- Try using brown sugar instead of granulated sugar if you like a bit of a caramel note.
- You can substitute the chopped onion and diced garlic with dried ground garlic and onion if that’s what you prefer or happen to have on hand.
- Add potato chunks or corn to the dish. I’m especially fond of potato in this dish, but both are great additions!
- Try adding two Tablespoons of vinegar to the cooking liquid. I’ve heard of recipes that use white vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and even balsamic vinegar. I prefer it without vinegar, but if you’re used to vinegar in your Southern style green beans feel free to include it!
- Use canned green beans or frozen green beans in place of the fresh green beans. I think the fresh green beans taste the best, but if you’re in a pinch, use what you have on hand! If I was given the choice between frozen green beans and canned green beans for this recipe, I’d use a bag of frozen extra fine whole green beans (the thin kind).
How Long to Cook Fresh Green Beans
Southern style green beans shouldn’t have any crunch to them, so they take a long time to cook (this recipe isn’t quick, but it is definitely worth it!). They need all of that time to really absorb the flavor and get melt in your mouth tender. It’s best to simmer them for 1 to 2 hours. If you boil them to try and cook them faster, they’ll get mushy. If you prefer a crunchy green bean, just lower the cooking time until you get the texture you prefer.
String Beans vs Green Beans
String beans and green beans are actually one and the same! The “string” in the title refers to the string that used to have to be removed from every bean before cooking (similar to snap peas). Due to selective breeding, the string only only exists with heirloom varieties these days.
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- 3 pieces thick cut bacon (cut into ¼” pieces)
- 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
- 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 cups water (plus more if needed)
- 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon ground paprika
- ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 ½ pounds fresh green beans (washed, and ends trimmed)
- 1 Tablespoon butter (optional)
- Heat a Dutch oven (or other large heavy-bottomed lidded skillet or pot) on medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and saute until golden. Remove the bacon from the pot, leaving the grease behind, and drain the pieces on a paper towel lined plate.
- Add the onion and saute until softening and turning translucent (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add the garlic and saute until aromatic (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Turn the heat off.
- Remove the onions and garlic from the pot, and drain the excess grease from the pot.
- Return the pot to the stove and turn the heat to medium-low. Add the water and deglaze the pot, using the end of a spatula to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. Add the bouillon, salt, pepper, sugar, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir to combine. Add the sauteed onion and garlic back to the pot and stir.
- Add the green beans to the pot, making sure they’re all lined up in the same direction and tightly packed. This helps ensure that they cook evenly. Add more water if needed - the beans don't need to be submerged, but they should be about 90% covered by water.
- Put the lid on the pot and turn the temperature down. It should be just high enough that it simmers with the lid on. Move the green beans around occasionally with tongs to ensure that the green beans on the top make their way to the bottom to season and cook. Cook for 1 to 2 hours, or until the green beans have reached your desired level of doneness.
- Drain the green beans. Toss with the bacon and butter (if using). Taste and add additional salt and pepper to your preference. Serve hot.
This recipe can be made with ham hock instead of bacon.
This recipe can be made with chicken broth instead of a combination of water and bouillon.
I prefer the bacon crispy, so I like to cook it first, then leave it to the side and add it back in at the end. If you prefer to cook the green beans with the bacon, you can add the bacon back in at the same time as the onion (just know that the bacon won’t be crispy and will be more tender).
Southern green beans aren’t meant to have a crunch when you bite into them, which is why the cooking time is so long. If you’re accustomed to green beans with a crunch, you can stop the cooking process when they’re at your preferred level of doneness.
It’s important to simmer the water and not let it come to a full boil, otherwise the green beans will be too mushy.
Some people prefer not to drain the green beans and to turn the heat up to evaporate the liquid instead. I think that this makes it easy to accidentally burn the green beans when the liquid completely evaporates, but it is an option that creates a more concentrated flavor.
These can be made ahead of time. To make them ahead, keep the bacon separate and store the green beans in the cooking liquid. Then reheat the green beans in the liquid before draining and proceeding with the rest of the instructions as written.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 262Total Fat: 16.9gSaturated Fat: 6.2gTrans Fat: 0.1gCarbohydrates: 11.4gNet Carbohydrates: 8.2gFiber: 3.2gSugar: 5gProtein: 16.8g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate. This was calculated assuming that the optional ingredients were included.
Try making this classic Southern side dish! Everyone loves these old fashioned Southern green beans.