Southern Green Beans Recipe

| October 1, 2012 | 22 Comments

Southern Green Bean Recipe
Try our step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe for making delicious Southern Green Beans.  It’s just good old, basic Southern Cooking at it’s best, for a delicious side dish that compliments any meal.  Whether you’re using home canned beans, fresh, frozen or store bought in the can, it doesn’t get much easier than this to place another vegetable on your family table.


As a Southerner, I was surprised to learn there are over 130 varieties of “green beans.”  I guess that may speak something about my upbringing huh?  We had green beans on the table about every Sunday, and lots of other meals besides that.  Of course, mama cooked the “real” green beans at our house.  You know, the one’s like I’ve got pictured here.  Later on, we discovered those French Style Green Beans.  Those were the one’s where they took the time to cut the ends at an angle.  You know the one’s I’m talking about right?  They tasted just like our regular green beans but it made you think about far away places yet unseen when you saw those fancy French cut beans in a bowl.  Who knew cutting the ends of the green bean at an angle could cause such a difference?

Actually, truth be told (and I’m always about being truthful) we just called them “string beans” at our house.  I’ve since learned that some folks also refer to them as “snap beans” or even “squeaky beans.”  It’s said they call them squeaky beans because of the sound they make on your teeth as you chew them.  But, enough of the educational part of our recipe.

Last year, I took a couple of canning classes with our local North Carolina Agricultural Extension Office.  These places are a great source of information and when you run into problems with growing vegetables, or preparing and cooking vegetables, you just pick up the phone and give them a call.  They’re there to help you.  I highly recommend you search out the office nearest you.  They’re every where it seems.

In one of the classes, we prepared and canned green beans.  Each participant brought in fresh, washed and cut beans, that we packed into jars and placed inside a pressure canner for processing.  I think the class was about $8.00 and they provided the jars, lids, bands and even a very nice book on canning lots of other things.  It was well worth the investment and a fun way to get to know some other folks, many of which were just learning how to can home goods for their families.  Search them out, you want regret it.

I decided it was high time to open up the jar of green beans that I had processed in class.  I mean after all, they had been looking good for almost an entire year now…why not see if they still tasted good.  I’m glad to be able to share the results with you here.

You may not have any home canned beans to use right now but that’s OK.  You can use fresh, frozen or store bought canned beans.  But, I do hope that one day you get to enjoy some that you have personally canned yourself.  We’ve got various recipes here on Taste of Southern to help you learn the exciting process of home food preservation.  It’s a bit addictive though once you get started.  I’m just warning you.

So, if you’re ready to cook up a delicious side dish to your next family meal….grab some green beans…and Let’s Get Cooking!


Southern Green Beans Recipe
Southern Green Beans Recipe:


Southern Green Beans, ingredients you'll need.
Green Beans Recipe:  You’ll need just a few ingredients.  (Isn’t that jar I prepared pretty?)


Southern Green Beans, side meat.
We’ll begin by slicing up a little bit of side meat.  Cut it into a couple of 1/2 inch thick slices.

You could certainly use some other things to season the meat if you don’t have any side meat on hand.  Bacon, bacon grease, ham hock or a piece of fatback will work just as well.  It’s a matter of taste of course, and all these cuts of pork add just a little different taste to the finished recipe.  And, if adding the pork isn’t your thing, try cooking the beans in chicken stock.  The beans are versatile and a great way to explore what your family will like best.  Start with the basics and get creative as you go.

Mama always used a big thick hunk of fatback in her vegetables.  She’d slice through the fat part and stop when she got to the outer skin layer, much like what I’ve done with the side meat I’m using in the photo above.

Those big thick hunks of fatback are really hard to find these days.  I mentioned this to my older brother the other day and he says, it’s because pigs are raised to be much leaner now, and that has eliminated the large pieces of fat or fatback.  My brother spent his working career in the grocery store business and he just knows important stuff like that.  You’ve just gotta love the wisdom of an older brother right?  Anyway, about the only way to get those big thick slices of fatback is if you know a local farmer that raises pigs for his own families use.  They tend to fatten them up a bit more.  Pork Knowledge….it’s a wonderful thing isn’t it?


Southern Green Beans, add the side meat.
Place the piece of sliced side meat in a medium sized stock pot over medium heat on your stove.  Once it starts to sizzle, turn the heat down a bit so the pork doesn’t cook too fast and burn.  It will only take a few minutes to see the white or fat of the meat start to become translucent.  We want to render down some of the fat in the side meat to use for the beans.


Southern Green Beans, drain the beans.
I always suggest that you drain the water off of any home canned green beans you might be using.  The same goes for store bought.  Just remove the lid and pour them into a colander.  Give them a quick rinse with a little cold water and let them drain for a minute or two while the pork is heating up in that sauce pot.

Draining off the liquid is probably even more important if you’re using store bought canned beans.  If I’m using frozen beans, I’ll generally rinse them off as well to remove any ice crystals that might have formed inside the bag.  It’s a personal preference that I think you’ll see will improve the taste of your finished beans.


Southern Green Beans, cooked side meat.
The side meat has browned a bit around the edges and the fat is starting to lose it’s solid white color and appear more translucent.  We’ve now fried down the side meat some and rendered off a couple of tablespoons of fat for seasoning.  You could let the meat cook a little longer and remove it completly from the pan if you prefer a little crunchier texture to the fat of the side meat.  Just chop it up and add it to the fully cooked beans.  Or, leave it in the sauce pot as the beans cook….the choice is yours.


Southern Green Beans, add some water.
Pour a couple of cups of warm water into the sauce pot.


Southern Green Beans, add the beans.
Add the beans.


Southern Green Beans, add a little sugar.
Add the sugar.  I’ve mentioned it before but mama added a little sugar to just about everything she cooked.  I came by it naturally.


Southern Green Beans, add the black pepper.
Add the Black Pepper.


Southern Green Beans, add the salt.
Add the salt.


Southern Green Beans, give it a good stir.
Give it all a good stir.  You might also need to adjust the amount of water in the sauce pot.  You need enough liquid to cover the beans about an inch or so.  This liquid is going to evaporate and cook down over the length of time it will take to cook the beans.  You just don’t want to come back later and find all the liquid has disappeared from the pot.  Of course, you can still add some more later if you see they need it.


Southern Green Beans, cover the pot.
Bring the beans up to a slight boil, then cover the pot.  REDUCE the heat down to about medium-low and just let them cook at a slow simmer until they are done to your liking.  Some folks prefer to cook the beans down until they’re very soft, almost mushy soft.  Some folks prefer a bit more of a “bite” to the texture.  Again, the choice is yours as there is no right or wrong….unless you’re a die hard Southerner.  Most of our parents always cooked them way down until they were very soft.


Southern Green Beans, cook until they reach the desired tenderness.
It will take the beans about 45 minutes to cook, maybe a little longer depending on the temperature you have them set on.  After about 30 minutes, start taste testing a bean or two to see how they are progressing.  You’ll also want to see if they need a bit more salt or even a little more liquid at this point, and add either one if they need it.  Continue to taste them about every 10 minutes until they reach the point that you want them.

Remove from heat and keep covered until ready to serve.


Southern Green Beans, serve warm and enjoy.
Serve them warm…and Enjoy!


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Southern Green Beans Recipe

Southern Green Beans Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 - 6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dishes
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


Try our step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe for making delicious Southern Green Beans. It’s just good old basic Southern Cooking at it’s best for a delicious side dish that compliments any meal. Whether you’re using home canned beans, fresh, frozen or store bought in the can, it doesn’t get much easier than this to place another vegetable on your family table.



  • 1 quart of Green Beans
  • 2 ounces of Pork side meat, or similar
  • 1 teaspoon of Sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • Salt to taste


  1. Pour green beans into a colander to remove any liquid from jar or can.
  2. Rinse lightly with cool running water, let drain.
  3. Slice the pork side meat into ½ thick slices.
  4. Place pork in a sauce pot over medium heat.
  5. Cook meat until the fat sections appear translucent in color. Remove the meat if desired but leave the rendered fat in the pot to season the beans as they cook.
  6. Add 2 cups of warm water.
  7. Add the drained green beans. Add more water if needed to reach about 1 inch over top of beans.
  8. Add Sugar
  9. Add Black Pepper
  10. Add Salt
  11. Stir well and bring to a low boil. Cover pot, REDUCE heat to medium-low, simmer 30-45 minutes or until done.
  12. Taste a bean or two to see if they are cooked to your desired tenderness. Add more salt if needed, or more water if needed to finish cooking the beans to your taste preference.
  13. Remove from heat when done, cover until ready to serve.
  14. Serve warm and Enjoy.


You can also use fatback, bacon grease, hog jowl or even chicken stock to season these beans. The choice is yours.

Keywords: Southern Green Beans Recipe, string beans, french beans, snap beans, made from scratch, southern, old fashioned, southern recipes


Your Comments:  We love to hear your comments regarding any of our recipes here on Taste of Southern.  Actually, it’s the only way we really have of knowing that you stopped by.  It only takes a minute or two and it sure does make my day when I learn that you’ve tried one of our families recipes.  Are these green beans, string beans, squeaky beans or snap beans to you?  Inquiring minds would love to know.

As always, I personally read each and every comment.  All comments are moderated to prevent any unwanted spam and other such stuff from appearing on our website.  I also respond to as many comments as I possibly can, so come back again and check for a reply.  I sincerely appreciate your stopping by today and hope that you’ll tell you family and friends about Taste of Southern.  We currently add a new recipe each Monday morning and hope that you’ll stop by often.

Be Blessed!!!


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Category: Side Dishes

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (22)

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  1. Minney says:

    I have always put a little sugar in my beans just like mama did. I dont tell anybody cause they would have a fit. I also put it in my pinto beans
    What they dont know wont hurt them. I am from TN and cook COUNTRY!!!!!

  2. hermajesty52 says:

    Hi Steve—Leyla from Youngstown NY. I just cooked up a mess of these beans to go with our Easter feast tomorrow. I used salt pork because this is Yankeeland up here and they’d probably lock me up if I asked for side meat…. 🙂 They taste great already but will, I suspect, improve overnight. HE is risen!! HE is risen INDEED!!

  3. KA says:

    Hi Steve!
    I’m from Upstate SC while hubs is from a small town in Western NC. Eating his Dad’s green beans has made me irritated with my grandmother for cooking healthy for our diabetic grandfather while we were growing up. Your recipe is very similar to their family one (and luckily, their town still carries “side meat” at the local Bi-Lo even!
    Thanks for sharing!
    KA in SC

  4. Regan Driggers says:

    You can disregard my first question about how many green beans in a quart. I realized five minutes after I posted it, “Duh”, there are 4 cups in a quart. I tried frozen and they turned out horrible. I bought fresh today and am sure it will be delicious. I’m in Lumberton, N.C. by the way.

  5. Dee says:

    Steve do you have a cook book

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Dee, It’s been a dream for years, but I haven’t published a cook book. I do appreciate you asking though. I hope you’ll enjoy some of the recipes we’ve posted online until that day arrives. Please stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! Steve

  6. Lynda Clark says:

    Hi, Steve,
    Living out here in California, where I cannot find pole beans or turnip greens, which were mainstays in my family, in Greensboro, NC. I have your string bean recipe cooking on the stove, flavored with bacon grease. I have just subscribed and look forward to other recipes. Plan to try the pinto beans next. Lynda Clark

  7. Catherine says:

    Cut up some potatoes, or even half new potatoes, put them in to cook later in the cooking process. BUT – don’t eat them right away. Put everything in the fridge overnight and heat and eat the next day. Potatoes taste MUCH better then. I think it’s because the potatoes soak up some of the grease.
    String beans are not snap beans…..and sometimes string beans don’t have strings! Pole beans or half-runners is what you want.
    My parents grew up in the mountains of North Carolina – still have lots of relatives up ‘air, as they say.

  8. TG says:

    Made these today with Thanksgiving dinner and they were outstanding!! Thanks for the recipe! The little touch of sugar made all the difference 😀

  9. janice says:

    I’m a “yankee” married to a southerner. Have found your recipe and am trying today. Wish me luck!!

  10. Robin says:

    Steve, thank you! This will work perfectly. It’s too bad my Mama can’t and never could cook! She remembers dishes from her childhood and if it weren’t for my grandmother’s cookbook, you, and a special cousin in Florida, I’d be up a creek (pronounced crick in our family)! And Mama has always called them string beans too! We have some fresh beans arriving this morning from the farm, so I’ll be all set and let you know how it turned out.
    I always have questions, but after the holiday, would please let me know what the difference is between Salt Pork and Fat Back? I can get Salt Pork here in Southern California very easily. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Fat Back.
    Thanks! Robin

  11. Gary Strader says:

    A note about fatback. A local source for fat back is Triad Meat, on Randleman Road. They are a first class butcher shop, with fresh local grown meats, and produce. Thought you might want to know where you could get Fat Back.

  12. Joan says:

    OK Steve. I’m hooked. This morning I made your Ham Bone Beans and this afternoon I made your green bean recipe. Both are excellent. Where we live, we cannot get the side meats or fatbacks. I just used a tbsp. of bacon grease for the beans and I cut up some cooked ham to add some flavor. Both of your recipes will be tonight’s dinner with nothing else. It just can’t get any better. I’m looking forward to making Ms. Sally’s pinto bean recipe. Maybe tomorrow??????

  13. Nicole says:

    This turned out very well! I had never considered adding pork to green beans but they turned out to be a good match. I used 8 ounces of applewood smoked bacon instead of the fatback ’cause I couldn’t find it here and a little extra sugar and salt for flavor. My mom really liked them and said they tasted just like the green beans the Southern ladies at her work used to make. I’ve had their cooking before and that’s high praise indeed! Anyway, thanks for the great recipe.


    PS: They’ve always been green beans to me. I’ve never known them by another name except calling them ”weird green things” when I was a kid.

    PPS: Do you think you could work on a macaroni and cheese recipe? Or a macaroni salad recipe? It’s been ages since I’ve had either from scratch and I would love to see your take on them.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Nicole, I’m so thankful you’ve found Taste of Southern and that you’re trying out lots of our recipes. Keep it up.

      I’m sure the bacon made a fine pot of green beans, lots of seasoning flavor in bacon. I’m very happy that you and your mom enjoyed the recipe and thank you for the compliment.

      I’ve been thinking about the Macaroni and Cheese. I like it made with “hoop cheese,” and maybe we can put together our version for you soon. Interestingly enough, when my niece had a restaurant a few years back, she made mac and cheese using real cheese. As it turned out, folks preferred the soupy type made more like you’d get from a box mix. I guess it’s what they grew up on and it’s what they expected, so she switched and started making one using commercially packed ingredients.

      Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll be working on it as I love it myself. Do keep up the good work, and be sure to stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  14. Meghan says:

    Sounds just like my mom makes, fatback and all! Was a picky eater as a kid and would turn my nose up at it but enjoy these mushy green beans now. She sometimes adds cut up potatoes too. I’m going to have to try it like this, frying the pork first. The taste is good but hate the jiggly texture of the fat just boiled along with the beans, would end up wasted if it were up to me to eat it.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Meghan, I felt the same way about collards, but I still don’t like them. I’m happy you were able to overcome your disdain for green beans. My mom would sometimes make them with the cut up potatoes as well. Love those too. Thank you for sharing your memories and I hope you’ll visit again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  15. Keri Brown says:

    I love these green beans!!!! How did you make green beans in the can? I tried to avoid using canned beans. Thank you.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Keri, The “canned” beans were some that I made during a class I took with our local Extension Service office on home food preservation. They were pretty simple to make but require a pressure canner to process them as opposed to just a plain water bath canning process as I’ve done with the jams etc. I had hoped to get around to doing some vegetables this year but it just didn’t happen. Maybe we can get an earlier start next year and produce some step-by-step instructions on how to can some of the vegetables. They really do taste much different from the beans in an actual can that you purchase in the grocery store.

      I suggest you buy the frozen one’s and try our recipe using those. I hope it turns out well for you.

      Thank you for your comments and your question. I do appreciate them both and I hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

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