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"To Be Real" Delicious and Easy Southern Green Beans {Recipe}

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If you're looking for a soulful Southern green beans recipe that will make your taste buds sing, this is it! Smoked bacon and salt pork give these beans their delicious flavor, while the vinegar and sugar provide the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

Where I’m from Southern Green Beans means fresh string beans cooked low and slow with lots of pork to full-flavored tenderness.

Bacon is usually the pork of choice, as you get that smoky meatiness that enriches the beans with that added level of flavor.

These green beans are simple to make, but the results are amazing. The key is patience and seasoning.

The seasoning comes from the fresh green beans themselves, plus the salty, smoked pork plus the spice seasoning.

green beans and bacon in white oval bowl

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I’ve seen plenty of green bean recipes using canned green beans. This ain’t that kind of recipe. Keep it real and fresh, fresh only!

Southern Green Bean Ingredients

How To Make Green Beans Southern Style

Make Your Spice Mix

Mix allspice, paprika, salt and pepper together in small bowl.

Render the Pork Fat

Pre-heat skillet to medium heat. Add bacon and salt pork. Saute to release their flavor and create bacon drippings. Cook until bacon is fully cooked. Remove and set aside the bacon and salt pork on a paper towel lined plate.

Build Base Flavor

Add chopped onion to the rendered bacon grease and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add chopped garlic cloves and cook another minute. Season the onion and garlic with ? of the spice mix.

Add the smoked pulled pork if using and cook for a minute or two just long enough to release the flavor.

Cook the Green Beans

Add green beans and mix well to coat most of the beans in the infused bacon grease. Add the bacon and pork back to the pot. Add chicken broth/stock, water plus half the remaining seasoning. Mix well and bring to a boil then reduce to simmer on medium low heat stirring occasionally.

Cook covered for at least an hour but cooking time will likely be 1 ½ - 2 hours. Halfway through cooking add remaining spices.

Remove from heat and serve. Adjust seasoning as needed

Southern-style Green Beans Cooking Tips and Considerations

Traditional Southern Green Beans are cooked with either bacon or salt pork or both. The added pulled pork was just me being a nerd about flavor and elevating an already great green beans recipe. If you’ve followed me then you’re probably familiar with my cabbage cooked in smoked brisket fat cap. This is a similar technique.

Use fresh green beans. They will hold up to the long slow simmer. 

To speed up prep time use kitchen shears to snip the ends off the green beans.

Do not rush things. The key to the best green beans is to let them simmer for a good while.

Save the flavorful broth or pot likker and use in other dishes. I use it to cook rice or grits.

Add a little brininess at the end of cooking. A small taste of cider or red wine vinegar helps to cut through the fat and brighten the dish up some. I do not recommend balsamic vinegar however as it has a much stronger and distinct flavor.

I'm not much of a slow cooker person, but you can definitely use one to make this recipe. Just be sure to sear/brown the bacon and pork before adding to the slow cooker.

Some recipes call for potatoes. I will on occasion add them, particular red potatoes.

Serve these green beans with jerk fried chicken and pair with another side like Fried Cabbage, Mac and cheese, butter beans, or mashed potatoes. Also feel free to check this guide of popular soul food meat dishes for pairing options.

green beans and bacon in white oval bowl

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Cooking Southern Green Beans

Can You Make Things With Frozen Green Beans?

You can but I recommend thawing them out first. Fair warning - the best Southern style green beans use fresh beans, but you can still achieve greatness with frozen ones. Cooking time may vary a bit, but nothing major.

Are Southern Green Beans made with those Flat Green Beans?

They can be, but Southern style typically uses long string beans with the skinny tips on the end that you have to trim off. I spent a lot of time as my grandma's sous chef picking green beans lol. Not a fun job but somebody's got to do it.

How Would You Make These With Canned Green Beans?

I prefer to start by rinsing them first. My manin goal is to get rid of as much of that metallic taste as I can before I start cooking. These will be a much shorter cooking time. You essentially follow the same steps but will likely need at most 30 minutes before the texture starts to drastically change.

Can I Make Southern Green Beans Without Pork?

Down South we love to live high on the hog! But in today's times for health reasons many folk are definitely moving to lower cholesterol and leaner substitutes. Smoked turkey like wings, necks, or tails are popular and effective. I don't recommend turkey bacon if you're looking for a bacon substitute.

For More Delicious Recipes Try These:

Smothered Green Beans w/ Potatoes

Instant Pot Cuban Black Beans

Smoky Butter Beans

Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Sheet Pan Greens and New Potatoes

Instant Pot Creole Tomatoes and Green Beans

Southern Potato Salad

Smoked Rib Tips

make this recipe

The next time you’re looking for a green bean recipe, consider giving this soul food version a try. With just a handful of ingredients and minimal effort, you can have a delicious side dish that will complement any meal.

If you make this comforting Southern Green Beans recipe, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

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green beans and bacon in white oval bowl

Southern Green Beans

Fresh string beans cooked low and slow with lots of pork to full flavored tenderness.
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: southern
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 252kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh green beans tips removed
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion slice
  • 4-6 slices Bacon chopped
  • 4 oz Salt Pork sliced
  • ½ lb Smoked Pulled Pork optional
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Mix spices together in small bowl.
  • Pre-heat skillet to medium heat. Add bacon and salt pork. Saute to release their flavor. Cook until bacon is fully cooked. Remove and set aside the bacon and salt pork.
  • Add sliced onions and saute 3-4 minutes. Add chopped garlic cloves and cook another minute. Season the vegetables with a ⅓ of the spice mix.
  • Add the smoked pulled pork if using and cook for a minute or two just long enough to release the flavor.
  • Add green beans and mix well to coat most of the beans in the infused bacon fat. Add chicken stock, water plus half the remaining seasoning. Mix well and bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Cook covered 1 ½ - 2 hours. Halfway through cooking add remaining spices. Remove from heat and serve.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Traditional Southern Green Beans are cooked with either bacon or salt pork or both. The added pulled pork was just me being a nerd about flavor. If you’ve followed me then you’re probably familiar with my cabbage cooked in smoked brisket fat cap. This is a similar technique.
Use fresh green beans. They will hold up to the long slow simmer. 
To speed up prep time use kitchen shears to snip the ends off the green beans.
Do not rush things. The key to the best green beans is to let them simmer for a good while.
Serve these green beans with jerk fried chicken and pair with another side like Mac and cheese or mashed potatoes.

Nutrition

Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 859mg | Potassium: 247mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 565IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




Liz

Sunday 29th of August 2021

I made this recipe the other night, and it was delicious! Adding the pulled pork made quite the difference!

Nart

Saturday 28th of August 2021

I love this recipe. It's really good and big enough to serve 8 people! If you're hesitant to make it because of the time it takes to make it, stop because it's completely worth it!

Lauren Michael Harris

Saturday 28th of August 2021

Whoa these are some seriously flavorful green beans! My husband is sure to devour this recipe with all of that pork in it - yum!

Julia

Saturday 28th of August 2021

I used to live in Nashville and there was a great restaurant that served these green beans, really brings back memories.

Leslie

Saturday 28th of August 2021

Gah...so good! I legitimately cannot eat green beans unless they are cooked like this! This is the ultimate recipe!