Thousands of readers agree that this recipe for old-fashioned green beans is the best! We use bacon and cook them low and slow until they are tender. Your family will think you bought green beans from the local diner!

They are known as “Dead Green Beans” at our house. First thing to go when they are part of our meal!! YUM!!

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A dish of cooked green beans topped with bacon pieces, served with chopsticks.

I learned how to cook green beans at a young age because it’s one of those recipes that’s not a recipe but more of a technique and a perfect way to start young kids in the kitchen.

You’re going to love these green beans, and here’s why:

TIME – The beans will cook in about 45 minutes!

TASTE – Bacon adds so much flavor to these green beans! Kids ask for seconds every time I serve these beans.

MAKE-AHEAD – This recipe is perfect for making ahead and either storing in the refrigerator or the freezer.

Southern-style green beans recipe ingredients

Ingredients for cooking arranged on a kitchen counter, including fresh green beans, bacon strips, seasonings, butter, and broth.

Green beans – You can use fresh or frozen green beans.

Bacon – Chopped into one-inch pieces. You can use ham hocks or traditional salt pork if you prefer.

Chicken broth – Enough to cover the beans.

Garlic powder – This adds perfect flavor.

Butter – The finishing touch!

Salt and pepper

How to cook old-fashioned green beans with bacon

Sauté the bacon in a large Dutch oven until it’s done but not crispy.

Remove bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and save it on a plate. Add the green beans to the pot and stir the beans until they are well coated with the bacon grease.

Sautéed green beans in a black pan on a kitchen countertop.

Add the bacon back into the pot with the green beans.

Sautéed green beans with crispy bacon in a black pot.

Add the stock and seasonings and bring to a boil. Once the beans are boiling, turn down to medium-low and keep to a low simmer.

How to season old-fashioned green beans

We keep the seasoning pretty simple in this recipe: just salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You can use fresh garlic if you want, but that’s not typical in Southern-style green beans.

Cooking pot with green beans, bacon, and spices ready for preparation.

After about 25 minutes, add half a stick of butter, then simmer another 10 minutes or until beans are tender. Taste and add more seasonings if needed.

A top-down view of a pot of green beans cooking in a broth on a stove.

Southern green beans with bacon recipe tips

  • If using fresh beans, snap off the ends of the beans and then snap the beans into about 2-inch pieces.
  • Wash fresh beans thoroughly.
  • If using frozen beans, there is no need to thaw before cooking. Just sauté the frozen beans right in the bacon grease as directed.
  • You can add small potatoes to the pot and cook along with the green beans.
A dish of cooked green beans sprinkled with seasoning and bits of bacon, served with a fork on the side.

What goes with Southern-style green beans?

If you’ve ever visited a meat-and-three in the South, you know that green beans are always on the menu. And really, they go with almost anything.

Some of my favorite things to serve with Southern Green Beans are Fried Chicken, Meatloaf, or Baked Pork Chops. Of course we always have green beans on our Thanksgiving Menu.

And your meal won’t be complete without some Southern Buttermilk Biscuits or Cornbread!

But what should you serve for dessert?

How about a traditional Southern dessert like Southern Banana Pudding or my famous Fudge Pie, Cream Cheese Pound Cake, or Peach Cobbler. Any of these will help you round out the best Southern meal!

How to store old-fashioned Southern green beans

Green beans should be kept in the refrigerator before and after cooking.

Cooked green beans will keep for several days in the refrigerator, so this is a great make-ahead dish.

How to freeze Southern-style green beans

  • To freeze green beans, allow them to cool and place them in a freezer-safe container along with all the liquid and the bacon.
  • Place the container in the freezer and keep for up to 6 months.
A fork holding green beans with pieces of bacon against a background of dishes with more green beans and other food.

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4.71 from 41 votes

Old-fashioned Southern Green Beans

Southern green beans are easy to make, tender beans that are flavored with bacon or ham hocks. These green beans are a must-have side dish on every Southern table.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Save This Recipe

Ingredients 

  • 2 lbs. green beans (use frozen or fresh)
  • 6-7 slices bacon, chopped into one inch pieces
  • 6 cups chicken stock (you may not need all of this–just cover the beans in the pot)
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter

Instructions 

  • If using fresh green beans, snap off the ends then snap the beans into 2-inch pieces. Wash thoroughly.
  • Cook bacon until crispy, then remove from pot.   
  • Add green beans to bacon grease and stir to coat well.
  • Add bacon back to pot. Add broth, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook until tender, 30-45 minutes. Taste periodically and add seasonings as necessary.
  • Add butter to pot when beans are almost done. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. 

Notes

Tips for Cooking Green Beans

  • If using fresh beans, snap off the ends of the beans and then snap the beans into about 2-inch pieces. 
  • Wash fresh beans thoroughly.
  • If using frozen beans, there is no need to thaw before cooking. Just sauté the frozen beans right in the bacon grease as directed. 
  • You can add small potatoes to the pot and cook along with the green beans.

Storing Southern Green Beans

  • Green beans should be kept in the refrigerator before and after cooking. 
  • Cooked green beans will keep for several days in the refrigerator so this is a great make-ahead dish.

How to Freeze Green Beans

  • To freeze green beans, allow the beans to cool and then place in a freezer-safe container along with all the liquid and the bacon. 
  • Place container in the freezer and keep for up to 6 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 8servings, Calories: 172kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 5g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 26mg, Sodium: 1199mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g
Course: Sides
Cuisine: American
Calories: 172
Keyword: cooking green beans, green beans, how to cook green beans, Southern green beans
Love this recipe?Mention @southernfoodandfun or tag #southernfoodandfun!

Update Notes: This post was originally published September 17, 2010, and on March 20, 2024, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

This post is part of my favorite Southern Foods at Home collection.

Lucy standing behind a counter with a cheese board and glass of wine.

About the author

Hi, I’m Lucy! I’m a home cook, writer, food and wine fanatic, and recipe developer. I’ve created and tested hundreds of recipes so that I can bring you the best tried and true favorites.

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4.71 from 41 votes (39 ratings without comment)

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