This Green Bean reboot switches out the canned beans for fresh but keeps the smoky bacon and brown sugar. Cook the bacon and blanch the beans ahead of time, and this dish comes together in minutes.

Green beans with bacon on a white platter.

I updated this recipe to take advantage of the gorgeous fresh string beans at the store, especially around the holidays. It’s better than you remember it: bursting with flavor, perfectly sweet, and not a mushy green bean in sight.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled ingredients for green beans with bacon in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Green beans: To substitute frozen beans, cook 2 pounds of frozen green beans according to the package directions, plunging in to the ice bath to stop the cooking (or just rinse under cold water).
  • Bacon: Chop up the bacon while it’s frozen (firm but not rock-hard). It’s so much easier and less greasy that way.
  • Brown sugar: Some recipes call for extra brown sugar. If you like your beans a little on the sweet side, go ahead and add another ¼ cup to the recipe.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, trim the stems off the beans by hand or using a pair of kitchen shears.
    Green beans on a wood cutting board with their ends cut off.
  2. To blanch the green beans, heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and boil until just tender-crisp (but still vibrant green), about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how you like your beans.
    Green beans being boiled in water in a silver pot.
  3. Remove the beans from the boiling water and immediately plunge in the ice water bath to halt the cooking.
    Green beans in ice water in a silver bowl.
  4. Next, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy.
    Bacon cooking in a skillet.
  5. When finished, add the brown sugar, a little water, and the blanched beans.
    Green beans with bacon ingredients in a skillet.
  6. Bring everything to a simmer and cook until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve hot.
    Cooked green beans with bacon in a skillet.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Make ahead: The beans can also be blanched a couple days ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, and brought out on the day you’re eating. You can also pre-cook the bacon (hold on to the bacon and the bacon fat). Reheat the bacon in a skillet so it gets crispy again, then proceed with the recipe.
  • Bacon and almonds: Toasted slivered almonds sprinkled in with the beans is a classic Southern variation.
  • Onions or shallots: Sauté some chopped red or yellow onions or shallots in with the bacon, taking advantage of the bacon grease to get them nice and toasty, then add the beans. Or top with canned fried onions!
  • Vinegar: If you like a little tartness, add a little cider vinegar, white vinegar, or even Balsamic vinegar in with the water. The vinegar will reduce down and flavor everything. If you think you’ve gone too far, add a little extra brown sugar to balance it out.

Green beans with bacon on a white platter with a serving spoon and fork.

More vegetable recipes you’ll love:

Green beans with bacon on a white platter.

Green Beans with Bacon

This Green Bean reboot switches out the canned beans for fresh but keeps the smoky bacon and brown sugar. Cook the bacon and blanche the beans ahead of time, and this dish comes together in minutes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 99

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds green beans stems trimmed (see note 1)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 slices bacon cut into 1/2" pieces (see note 2)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (see note 3)
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions 

  • If using a smaller pot, you may have to blanch the green beans in batches. Set out a large bowl of ice water before blanching the beans.
  • In a large saucepan or stock pot, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add the green beans and boil until tender-crisp, but still bright green, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well and immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the blanched beans, brown sugar, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season to taste. Remove to a serving dish with a slotted spoon.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Green beans: To substitute frozen beans, cook 2 pounds of frozen green beans according to the package directions, plunging in to the ice bath to stop the cooking (or just rinse under cold water). 
  2. Bacon: Chop up the bacon while it's frozen (firm but not rock-hard). It's so much easier and less greasy that way.
  3. Brown sugar: Some recipes call for extra brown sugar. If you like your beans a little on the sweet side, go ahead and add another ¼ cup to the recipe.
  4. Make ahead: The beans can also be blanched a couple days ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, and brought out on the day you're eating. You can also pre-cook the bacon (hold on to the bacon and the bacon fat). Reheat the bacon in a skillet so it gets crispy again, then proceed with the recipe.
  5. Bacon and almonds: Toasted slivered almonds sprinkled in with the beans is a classic Southern variation.
  6. Onions or shallots: Sauté some chopped red or yellow onions or shallots in with the bacon, taking advantage of the bacon grease to get them nice and toasty, then add the beans. Or top with canned fried onions!
  7. Vinegar: If you like a little tartness, add a little cider vinegar, white vinegar, or even Balsamic vinegar in with the water. The vinegar will reduce down and flavor everything. If you think you've gone too far, add a little extra brown sugar to balance it out.

Nutrition

Calories: 99kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 5gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 146mgPotassium: 289mgFiber: 3gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 782IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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