Country-Style Green Beans


I hesitate to venture into the hot bed of controversy over what is the best way to cook up a mess of green beans in the country (what? you didn’t realize this was an issue? where have you been?), but it’s that time of year. Time for fresh green beans picked from the garden and hauled straight to the stove. I’ve got green beans on my mind. We all know the one and only way to cook green beans is how your mama made ’em, but here I go where angels fear to tread!

You can start with either a quart of home-canned green beans, fresh green beans, or green beans from the store (if you are desperate). The burning questions then are as follows:

Do you add bacon grease? Or actually add bacon? If you add bacon, do you slice it up first or not? Do you pre-cook the bacon or put it in raw? How long do you cook the green beans–till they are just crisp-tender or until they are well and thoroughly dead? What about the seasonings, just salt or something more? Do you include sliced onion? Some people are real renegades and even add quartered potatoes, sliced carrots, or mushrooms. (Of course, we all know that’s not real country-style green beans, now don’t we? The potatoes are supposed to be on the side.)

Trust me, you can get a heated debate going with just a few of these questions. People are pretty adamant about their green beans. When I first started living at the old farmhouse, I found that out when my cousin gifted me with some fresh green beans and I cooked ’em wrong. Wrong to him, at least. I grew up with my mother cooking green beans lightly, as in not cooked till dead. And forget the bacon. My mother was opposed to fat (and salt). I thought my cousin might never let me have any green beans again after I cooked that batch, but since then I’ve learned to cook them his way, and eventually to cook them my way.

Unless my cousin’s coming over, then I cook them his way because I’m generous like that.

Okay, let’s cook up a mess of green beans! Here’s how I cook ’em, and you tell me how you cook yours.

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How to make Country-Style Green Beans:

1/4 pound sliced peppered bacon, chopped in pieces*
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
1 quart green beans, fresh or home-canned
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

*If you aren’t using peppered bacon, you’ll want to add some pepper.

Wash green beans (if using fresh); drain.

This is more than a quart of fresh green beans, but we don’t care. This isn’t an exact science. Green beans are forgiving.

Chop the bacon in pieces.

I leave them pretty chunky. You can make them smaller or larger. Start the bacon frying on medium in a large pot. Slice onion and add to pot to cook with bacon. I love the caramelized taste to the onions that comes from frying them along with the bacon.

You can add more or less onion, and slice it any way you like. I slice it in pretty big pieces so that Morgan can pick it out.

When the bacon is about half-cooked (just starting to brown a little bit) add green beans. (DO NOT drain bacon grease! Well, you can drain a little bit, if you must, but don’t go out of control here.)

Add sugar, salt, seasoned salt, and just enough water to cover. (If using canned green beans, the liquid from the jar or can may be enough.) Bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down, cover pot, and simmer for at least 45 minutes.

I like to stop right here, but if you really want to cook them down hard, after the 45 minutes you can take the lid off and turn up the heat. If my cousin is coming over, keep going until almost every bit of liquid is cooked down.

When it’s cooked to your liking, adjust seasonings to taste. This is a fantastic down-home side dish, or a meal all by itself.

You’ll need some cornbread with that!

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  1. Blessings says:

    I Love this Post! The photo’s of green beans, bacon and onions made my stomach growl! However, we add small freshly dug red potatoes to our fresh beans! Either Way~~ it’s all about the fresh BEANS!

  2. FarmYard Gal says:

    Suzanne….love this post! Did one just like it on my blog and I cook them just about like you do. Learned from my country grandma!!

  3. bonita says:

    Yes, bacon and tender crisp beans that’s the right recipe!…However, for a special treat substitute rendered duck fat[!!] for the bacon. (There’s a jar of bacon grease AND a jar of duck fat in the fridge. Anything that tastes good with bacon fat tastes even better with duck fat!))

  4. Courtney says:

    I can’t say that I’m a fan of green beans, but they just might be edible cooked with a pile of bacon like that 🙂

  5. princessvanessa says:

    I fry the cut up bacon until crisp, sautee onions and minced garlic to soften and throw it all in a slow cooker with fresh green beans, water and a few tablespoons of bacon grease. Then add some Cavender’s Greek Seasoning (which has salt and pepper)and a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce. I’ve never added any sugar but I will next time to see the difference.
    Cook from morning until late afternoon/dinner time. Beans are done but not mushy. I have always known them as South Carolina Green Beans. So good.

  6. Woodwife says:

    You forgot the vinegar!

    We do it like your recipe but add a splash of cider vinegar to make them slightly sweet and sour.

  7. Barbee' says:

    I’ve never really learned how to determine which fresh beans in the lot should be shelled. If I see the “jelly” inside the pod along with the seed there is no doubt that it will be tender. Then there are those pods that are turning a little yellow and are dry inside: I know they need to be shelled. Then there are many degrees of condition in between those two… some that are just a little dryer inside, but not definitely one to be shelled. I never know where to draw the fine line and in-veritably there will be some in my mouth that are shucky. I hate that! Can anyone give me some guidance? And, another discussion might be: what is your favorite green bean? We really like the White Half-runner. Suzanne, what kind did you plant. I know some of yours turned out to be red shelled.

  8. judydee says:

    We like them cooked very much this same way. We also like them seasoned with the broth left from cooking a ham. I de-fat it and freeze; it’s very easy to scoop out the amount needed to season a pot of beans. And oh yeah, we pretty much cook them to death–just my Alabama raisin’.

  9. Senta Sandberg says:

    I do it just as you did. What a treat!

  10. CindyP says:

    Mmmmm…your version is looking very good :hungry:

    Add some small red potatoes, sliced mushrooms, splash of ACV or flavored vinegar and there’s my favorite way!

  11. glenda says:

    Mom rarely used onions and I know she didn’t add sugar, but she did season them with bacon or bacon grease and cooked them a long time….until almost dry and dark colored. They were the most delicious things ever. When new potatoes were available, she sometimes added them.

    BTW, Mom never owned a bottle of olive oil!

  12. Lori Skoog says:

    I have been making a version of this for as long as I can remember. Wash the beans…saute cut up bacon and onion…when bacon is brown add ketchup and brown sugar…let thicken…pour on beans and bake in oven for 40 minutes. Try it that way, delish.

  13. SandyCWV says:

    Cook something more than a piece of fat back in WITH the green beans. Revolutionary! Country cooking as my in-laws would have it is plain, plain, plain. They are the kind of country people who want baked beans and corn bread on the Thanksgiving table instead of green bean casserole and dinner rolls, ok? They just like food the way mom made it back in the day. I am thinking about spicing things up with this recipe for the next family dinner at my house. I can probably get them to try it quicker than some other things. 8) Or I won’t have to worry about being asked to host the dinner again.

  14. wvhomecanner says:

    I grew up on half runner beans but now we prefer tenderettes. I have changed to using lean ham instead of bacon but definitely have to have onions! And the sugar – has to be brown sugar as per my grandmother! I could never figure out why my beans tasted different than my grandmother’s until one day my mother said “it’s no secret recipe – just bacon grease, onions, salt and pepper and brown sugar”. WHAT? Yep that was the missing link. And yep cooked to death. Really good too with a pile of freshly diced ripe tomatoes and sweet onion piled on the top of a mess of beans.
    Oh and I also love beans steamed, stir-fried, oven-blistered…..all good!


  15. Victoria says:

    MMMmmmmm just the way I like them. Makes me want to pull up a chair and butter a piece of cornbread.

  16. Judy says:

    I like my greens beans steamed. I cooked them until they still have a little bit of crunch left to them. I usually add a little olive oil and some red pepper flakes to them. I never thought about bacon and onions. Hmm.. I’m going to try that the next time I make them. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Darla78NY says:

    I just starting making these in the past year and they are AWESOME !!

  18. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    Green beans are not beans without bacon or at least bacon grease for seasoning. One mom at my sons school would kill me if she knew I season my green beans with bacon grease! When we have a potluck and I take the beans, I just smile as I watch her eat them and make faces like she’s dying in bliss LOL. Who am I to ruin her green bean eating experience?? She didn’t ask if it had bacon in it!

  19. Susan at Charm of the Carolines says:

    Blue Lake is the best if you have to resort to purchase green beans from a can. Drain the nasty can water and start with fresh, then proceed with your directions.

    It is imperative to cook those beans down till they sizzle and nearly fry.

    Now I’m hungry!


  20. monica says:

    Wow Have i missed this website! Our house got hit by lightning a few weeks ago and we finally have a new computer! I have so much catching up to do! :fairy:

  21. rhubarbrose says:

    Love this post. Your sense of humor is so welcome! I don’t always have bacon on hand so then I just use butter to soften the onions before adding the beans. I just add a little water to “steam” the beans. We like them garnished with browned butter and toasted sliced almonds. Mmmmmm!

  22. Marianne G says:

    Oh my, those look delicious! I like to make whole cooked new potatoes to go along with the beans…then I smash the taters and put some of the green bean juice on top!

  23. Raeann says:

    I did a post on “A Mess Of Beans” last year! You can find it here:
    This is the way my Grandma cooked em! Almost like yours!

  24. BrendaE says:

    This is basically the way I cook mine except like your cousin likes em. I like them both ways but I usually add new red potatoes to the pot. Sometimes I cook them with pancetta – love that salty taste of the pancetta. A little more expensive but worth it. I could eat the picture.

  25. Linda in San Diego says:

    Ahh yes, the green bean debate. My family eats them like your cousin likes them – DEAD! As a girl I would get the job to snap the bean – ends, snap, snap – then into bite sized pieces – snap, snap. Of course I munched on those nice, fresh, crispy beans as we worked in the kitchen. Then, horror of horrors, the beans were then boiled down into things that could be mashed with a fork! THEN I was forced to take a no thank you helping and eat it at the dinner table.
    Finally I convinced mom and grandmom that I would set some aside before the cooking and eat lots of the UNCOOKED beans with my meal. After the cousins found out I got my own beans, and that I didn’t have to eat the cooked ones – well there were more and more served that way. Eventually the cooked beans were outnumbered by the fresh – and I had the same effect on carrots – I even forgot until recently that one in their right mind would cook carrots! LOL

  26. joykenn says:

    You MUST have spent some time in Texas. That is exactly how to cook them. The big debate is whether to use ham (with the ham bone) or bacon. It was really whichever one you had around. And fresh blackeyed peas…um,um, good cooked about this same way with a few snapped beans thrown in. Get that cornbread ready, I’m stopping by.

  27. Pete says:

    Have tried them all the ways described above, and must admit that my preferred way is raw, with second choice being: take very young/tender beans, saute them lightly in butter and finely minced garlic just until very warm.

  28. Patchkat says:

    I could go for a bowl of those beans…and pass the cornbread, please! We like them a little on the crispy side and without the extra grease, so I drain the fat off the bacon.

  29. Merlin says:

    Cook them just like you do except I never added sugar! My grandmother and grandmothers-in-law never put sugar in their green beans too, so naturally I was surprised to find out from this blog that some people do use sugar. Must be a Texas thing to not add sugar, cuz I’m from Texas! LOL… My favorite type of green beans are Italian green beans. :sun:

  30. Fern says:

    Cooking green beans? You make them the way YOU like them. Forget everyone else…

  31. Suzanne says:

    I might would actually eat fresh green beans cooked that way. I’m one of the few people in this world that really doesn’t like fresh green beans, but really likes them from the grocery store can.

  32. Grammie Earth says:

    …and all these years I have been eating them raw or barely cooked! With butter of course! I think I have to try them with bacon and onion, but still a bit crunchy. Kentucky Wonder pole beans have always been my favorite :hungry:


  33. lilredhen says:

    Nobody has mentioned adding fresh corn. Mama always cooks her green beans with a nice slice of fatback, salt, pepper and sweet corn fresh picked and cut from the cob. She cooks those beans down tender too. Sometimes I feel adventurous and do it differently, maybe add potatoes instead of corn, bacon instead of fatback. Onions. But Mama’s beans are always the best. (secret ingredient…LOVE)

  34. Yvonne says:

    I usually buy store canned grean beans and add a little oil and onion to them, then cook the daylights out of them. Hubby loves them that way! I have had fresh beans cooked with bacon grease and red potatoes relatives made over the years….some were delicious and some were VERY bad!

  35. chickensohmyagain says:

    The best way to do the beans is to receive quarts of pressure cooked green beans from your neighbor!! Dump one in the crockpot.

    Being a rebel, small red potatoes cut in quarters go in the skillet first. When they are almost tender, add the chopped up onions, raise the heat to caramelize them a little, add to the pot. Take a few slices of Kentucky style ham, dice up finely, add to pot. Salt lightly. No sugar, no vinegar, at least, not so far.

    Put the crockpot on low, and leave it alone until supper time. Make some corn pone!! Crumble the crispy corn pone in a bowl, add a ladle of the beans/potato/han/onions, yum yum. Makes 3 meals for 2 people.

    Have I said I just love my neighbor. She likes to can so much, she built a canning house to get all the equipment out of the kitchen! It has a little porch and looks like a dollhouse. We give her eggs, she gives us canned things… muscadine jam, wild plum jelly, green beans, pickled okra, crispy hot pickles.

  36. LisaAJB says:

    I only put about an inch of water in the bottom of my pot. If I had a steamer I’d use that, but I don’t. I agree with your mom’s lighter style of cooking. I boil them for no more than 3 minutes. Then, I throw in a pat of salted butter and shake the pan until they’re covered. Done. I should add that I usually only cook a handful at a time. I think I only did 4 or 5 bean plants this year, but I was able to harvest enough for a side dish every other day in July and the beginning of August. My husband LOVES green beans. I’ll have to try them your way, I’m sure he’ll really like it.

  37. KELLY says:

    In my family it’s bacon,onion, and real maple syrup . I have used real bacon bits instead of bacon .

  38. lisa b says:

    they look super yummy ! I love bacon and onions in mine .

  39. Cindy in Kansas says:

    I cook them till they’re dead, of course. I also started adding a can of diced fire roasted tomatoes. I put those tomatoes in just about EVERYTHING! I might use a bit of butter to start the bacon along, but don’t tell anybody.

  40. jude says:

    When I cook fresh green beans I don’t put nearly that much water in them, just until I can barely see it in the pot of beans; use fat back, bacon or bacon grease, no sugar but salt.I usually add the salt near the end of the cook time. I cook on very low heat just until tender, about an hour or so. If I’m using storebought or home canned green beans I drain the liquid and add fresh water, add the same seasoning as above but don’t cook them as long. Sometimes I add new potatoes on top. Most often in the summer I make a relish out of chopped tomatoes, onions and fresh hot peppers. Sometimes I add chopped cucumbers to the mix.

  41. DarleneS says:

    I cook them like my MIL did. To death and they are great. I also add a hunk of ham, a chunk of onion and don’t salt until they are half finished. A lot of black pepper and red pepper flakes too. I also add quartered potatoes sometimes. :shimmy:

  42. Melody says:

    Can you help me..I cannot log into the farm bell recipes. I tryed to reset password many times.The link it sends dont work.Says its a broken link..Sorry to post here but didnt know were to go…Thank you

  43. lavenderblue says:

    Just starting to get green beans now. Got them in late. We cook them like LisaAJB but without butter usually. When I was a kid they were always fresh from the garden, boiled and with hot milk on them and salt and peppered. I can’t remember if they were boiled in the milk or milk poured over but I remember I didn’t care much for them that way. Must be a Yankee thing or maybe German. My Grandma was German.

  44. Audrey says:

    Well, being a Canadian, it is so wonderful to see all the great recipes from you Americans. We like our beans cooked to “al dente” – with just a little bit of crunch left. This recipe sounds wonderful! Mmmmmm! Will have to try it – thanks so much for sharing! :chicken: :snuggle: I’ll be trying this one soon. Just found your blog recently – am really enjoying it – you are a very talented writer! Thanks from a Canadian “fan”! :pawprint:

  45. melissashea68 says:

    That is how I make green beans too, but I add a little butter. I also use Soul Seasoning in place of Seasoning Salt, when I can find it. If you can find it, it is wonderful. It has more flavor and less salt (still plenty, but some Seasoning salts can be overpowering).

  46. Alicia says:

    I don’t have fresh or canned, but I do have a huge bag of whole frozen green beans. Could I use those with this recipe? Thanks!

  47. Sheila says:

    I’m making these right now and I’m gonna serve them tomorrow with dinner , but instead of onions I used green onions. I’ll let you know how they come out :).

  48. Sheila says:

    My family didn’t even try the green beans , but I absolutely LOVED them. I used green onions instead of regular onions and it came out pretty good , I may even make them again for xmas :).

  49. Alicia says:

    Not sure how fresh ones come out, but I tried this recipe with frozen beans and no seasoning salt(I forgot to buy some), and it was DELICIOUS!

  50. Sheila says:

    I’m gonna be making these again for xmas dinner (my hubby finally tried them and liked them , he actually asked for more LOL). I’ll make a big enough pot this time so we’ll have some extra :hungry: .

  51. Sheila says:

    Ok it’s official my hubby LOVES your country style green beans , my son not so much but he will eat them (and I’d eat them all the time if peppered bacon weren’t so expensive LOL).

  52. MsNat says:

    Good Evening-I made these on this past Saturday evening in order to have for dining this week. I used fresh green beans. The peppered bacon was on sale this week (but even if not it is WORTH the extra cost! LOL). It has been cool and rainy all this week and having these delicious HOT veggies with my side of tomatoes and corn muffins has been a dining DELIGHT. Thanks for sharing this recipe-it is my ‘standard’ anytime I make green beans for myself and/or my family.

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