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.
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
- Fresh green beans
- Garlic cloves
- Yellow onion
- Smoked Thick Cut Bacon
- Salt Pork - substitute ham hocks or any other smoked meats you have on hand
- Smoked Pulled Pork (optional) for extra flavor
- Chicken Broth or Stock
- Black pepper
- Crushed Red pepper flakes (optional)
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.
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:
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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- 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
- 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.