Southern Green Beans

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Simmered with onions and bacon, Southern green beans are a classic side dish. They’re equally at home on the holiday table, Sunday dinner, or a potluck spread.

We didn’t have a big garden when I was growing up, but green beans are one of the vegetables I remember eating a lot of as a kid.

We never had these Southern-style green beans though, and once I had them as an adult, I couldn’t believe what I was missing!

White bowl of Southern green beans on a green striped kitchen towel and a spoon beside.

This dish is a staple across the South and Texas and it’s not hard to see why.

Green beans are slow-cooked with sautéed onions and crispy bacon for maximum flavor and minimal preparation.

This is such a great way to get everyone at the table eating their veggies. Who can resist savory bacon and tender green beans?

Ingredients for Southern green beans

You’ll need:

Ingredients for southern green beans with labels.

Green beans (string beans) – I think this recipe is best using fresh green beans. However, if you are making this recipe for the holidays and fresh green beans are hard to find, you can also make this dish with frozen green beans. Thaw and drain the beans before adding to the recipe.

Bacon – For smoky, salty flavor, I use chopped bacon. You can use your favorite variety of bacon; mine is thick-cut bacon.

Onion – I use white onion here, but yellow onion works as well. You can also use a red (purple) onion for a sharper flavor. 

Garlic – Garlic cloves vary a lot in size and not everyone likes garlic, so use the amount you like. I recommend 2 cloves and going up or down from there.

Chicken broth or stock – You’ll need enough chicken broth to cover your beans, so this will depend slightly on how you cut your beans and the dimensions of the pan you use.

Whenever I make this recipe, I end up using a little more than 2 cups of broth.

Salt and pepper – Season to taste, keeping in mine both the bacon and chicken broth will add salt.

Southern green beans with bacon and onions in a white serving bowl.

How to make this recipe

First, wash and trim your green beans. Snap off the stem end and snap the other end if it has been cut and is dried out. You can leave the beans whole or cut them into 2-inch pieces.

Cut the bacon into pieces and cook in a 4-quart pot, Dutch oven, or deep skillet set over medium heat.

Once crisp, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain.

In the same pot, sauté the chopped onion in the bacon grease until softened, then add garlic. Cook another 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Add the green beans and crispy bacon.

Pour in enough chicken broth to just cover the green beans. Stir.

Bring the a boil, then reduce heat and cover.

Simmer on low for 1-2 hours, until beans are soft and tender but not mushy. I start checking the beans after 1 hour to see if they are ready.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

White bowl of southern green beans.

Recipe suggestions

These green beans are wonderful with potatoes as well. Add quartered or halved new potatoes along with the beans and simmer until tender. You will need more broth to cover, depending on the amount of potatoes you add.

Instead of bacon, you can use smoked sausage, a ham hock, or even leftover diced ham. I love to make this with leftover smoked turkey as well!

To make this recipe vegetarian, swap in veggie bacon and use olive oil instead of bacon fat. Swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth or stock.

You can other spices to this dish, like ground cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or a Cajun seasoning blend. I like to provide hot sauce at the table so guests can add what they like.

The leftover broth is called potlikker — sop it up with a slice of bread or biscuits. My friend’s family pours it over cornbread in a bowl! 

Dinner plate with southern green beans alongside a pork chop and biscuit with a glass of sangria in the background.


What kind of green beans should I use?

I recommend using fresh green beans (string beans), but frozen green beans also work.

Frozen green beans are available whole or cut, as well as French cut, which are sliced down the middle. If you use frozen, whole works best.

Make sure to completely thaw and drain frozen green beans to remove excess water before cooking.

You can use canned green beans in a pinch. Drain them well and be careful to not overcook them.

Can I make this recipe in the Instant Pot?

Yes! If you want to use the Instant Pot, use the Sauté function to cook the bacon and onion. Turn off and add the garlic.

Add the green beans and 1 to 1 1/2 cups of broth. 

Place on the lid, set the valve to seal, and cook on High pressure for 5 minutes. 

Release the pressure, season to taste, and serve.

Forkful of southern green beans being held up.

What to serve with Southern green beans

These southern-style green beans are perfect for serving with the turkey at Thanksgiving or ham at Easter. 

For a weeknight dinner, serve them with apple pork chops or steak roulade.

Round out the meal with one-pot macaroni and cheese, twice baked mashed potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts.

This is one of my favorite Southern comfort foods, and I know your family will love it too!

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below!
It means so much when you enjoy my recipes, so let me know how it goes and leave a comment if you have any questions.

White bowl of Southern green beans on a green striped kitchen towel and a spoon beside.

Southern Green Beans

Simmered with bacon, onion, and garlic, these Southern green beans are a perennial family favorite! Make them for the holidays, or any night of the week.
Author : Megan Myers
5 from 53 votes
Print Pin Recipe Review
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 117 kcal


  • 2 pounds green beans
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Wash green beans and trim off stem ends. Leave whole or cut into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.
  • Cut bacon into pieces, then cook until crisp in a heavy pot or deep skillet over medium. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  • In the same pot, sauté onion until softened. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add the green beans and bacon. Pour in enough chicken broth to just cover the green beans, and stir.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours, until tender but not mushy. After 1 hour, check the green beans for doneness.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.


Calories: 117 kcalCarbohydrates: 10 gProtein: 5 gFat: 7 gSaturated Fat: 2 gCholesterol: 12 mgSodium: 335 mgPotassium: 315 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 5 gIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate based on online calculators. Any nutritional information found on Stetted should be used as a general guideline only.

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About Megan

I focus on fresh ingredients and easy methods, with spins that keep meals interesting. Dinnertime shouldn’t be stressful or complicated, and I’m here to help you enjoy the time spent in the kitchen. Read more…

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  1. Adding bacon and onions to green beans takes a classic side dish to the next level. It’s so good, I’m putting on my Thanksgiving menu.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve been looking for a true Southern green bean recipe, like the ones we’d get at BBQ restaurants growing up, and I am so happy to have found this one. It’s the real deal, and we will for sure make it again!