Southern green beans are packed with the savory flavors of bacon, garlic, and onions. They are an incredible vegetable side dish that may taste better than the main meal!
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I think I make Southern-style green beans at least twice a week. It is one of my go to side dishes and everyone in my family loves it, so I make it quite often!
Old fashioned Southern-style green beans are so much tastier than plain green beans thanks to the addition of bacon, onions, and lots of garlic. Once you try my Southern green beans recipe, you will never eat regular green beans again!
Country-Style Southern Green Beans Recipe
The classic way to make Southern green beans is to start by simmering fresh green beans in chicken broth to give them a savory flavor. The green beans are then mixed with butter and sautéed bacon, onions, and garlic.
The result is tender, juicy green beans that are incredibly decadent for a vegetable. Adding bacon to veggies is one of my favorite ways to make them taste better. Bacon makes everything better!
While bacon is a traditional ingredient in country-style Southern green beans, I will also show you how to make Southern green beans without bacon. It may sound crazy, but you definitely can make delicious Southern green beans vegetarian!
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Bacon – I like to use hickory smoked bacon, but any kind will work. Cut the bacon into small pieces—about one inch in size—before cooking. They don’t have to be exactly the same, just a rough chop!
- Onion – I use white onion, but Vidalia onions would add a nice, sweet taste.
- Garlic – Three cloves of garlic is about one tablespoon of minced garlic.
- Fresh green beans – Fresh green beans work best for this recipe. If you need to use frozen green beans, reduce the cooking time by about half. Frozen green beans are already soft and tender so they will cook faster.
- Chicken broth – You can replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth or water in a pinch.
- Butter – Unsalted butter is best since the bacon in the recipe is quite salty.
How to Make Southern Style Green Beans
- Cook the bacon: Add the chopped bacon to a pot and cook over medium-high heat until the bacon is crispy and browned.
- Add the onions: Add the onions and garlic to the skillet with the bacon and sauté until the onions brown. Remove the bacon and onions from the pan and set them aside.
- Cook the green beans: Add the green beans and chicken broth to the same pot you used to cook the bacon and onions. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer over low heat for about one hour.
- Strain and mix: Strain the green beans and return them to the pot. Add the onion and bacon, along with the butter. Stir well, then serve warm.
I like to make the bacon pretty crispy. The crunchy bacon is really good with the soft green beans. Let the bacon get a deep golden brown before removing it from the pan.
Substitutions and Variations
There are a few ways you can switch up this recipe while still making amazing Southern green beans. Here are some variations to try:
- Use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth and skip the bacon to make vegetarian Southern-style green beans.
- After straining the green beans, use the extra chicken broth to make a quick gravy that you can use as a sauce for the green beans.
- Toss the cooked green beans with some crispy fried onions for an extra Southern touch.
- Add ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper to make spicy Southern green beans.
- Use maple bacon to make the Southern green beans a little bit sweet.
How to Store Southern Green Beans
Southern green beans will keep in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days. You can reheat them and enjoy this tasty side dish as leftovers for days. You may want to make extra so you can serve them for dinner more than once. I definitely double this recipe every time I make it as a way to meal prep for the whole week.
Most green beans in the South are string, snap, or pole beans. There are lots of different varieties of green beans, but any will work for this recipe. Yellow beans are fine too!
Green beans and string beans are essentially the same thing. The term “string beans” refers to the string that runs down the center of the bean. The two terms are used interchangeably for almost any variety of green beans.
Snapping the ends off of the green beans helps the beans cook more evenly and become more tender. The end of the bean where the beans were attached to the plant can be tough. Snipping the ends off enables you to eat the entire bean without worry of getting a stem.
Southern Green Beans
- ½ pound bacon
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Chop the bacon into pieces, about 1 inch in size (roughly).
- Add the chopped bacon to a large saucepan and cook over medium heat.
- Cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. The bacon should be golden brown and crispy.
- Add the onions to the pan with the bacon and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the pan and cook for another minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat and put the bacon, onion, garlic mix in a bowl and set aside. Return the pan to the stovetop- do not wash it! You want all that tasty bacon flavor in the pan.
- Add the green beans to the pan along with the chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.
- Let the green beans simmer for one hour.
- Strain the chicken broth from the green beans, keeping the beans in the pan and discarding the broth.
- Add the onions and bacon back to the pan along with the butter.
- Stir to melt the butter and mix the green beans with the onions and bacon.
- Serve warm.