Green Beans with Bacon

Side DishFavorite SummerGreen Bean

Fresh green beans are a wonderful thing. Cook these by briefly blanching, then sauté in bacon fat. Toss with a little bacon, black pepper, and vinegar, and serve as a side with roast chicken or steak.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

There is nothing better than garden fresh green beans!

Even when my parents abandoned their garden beds for ten years, they still had their green bean “tee-pees” every summer.

Fresh Green Beans from the Garden

My father is rather picky about his green beans. They must snap and break when you bend them, not wiggle around like a rubber band. That’s how you know they’re fresh.

I have a couple rows of green beans this year, planted from seed right after I pulled out the fava beans and spring peas. (BTW, if you grow green beans from seed, it helps to soak the beans over night in water before planting them, or place them between two layers of wet paper towels for a couple of days, so they germinate first.)

They like heat, and at least in our part of the world, come into their own in August and September. When I left for vacation the plants were only a foot high, two weeks later they are climbing over the fence.

So far I’ve pulled off a total of one mighty green bean, but my parents got started on their bean teepee a few weeks before I did, so their beans are now ripe for picking.

A garden of green beans ready to harvest

The Trick to Cooking Green Beans

Zucchini can sometimes wear me out if I have to eat it every. single. day. But green beans? I can eat a pound all on my own (as Hank can attest, as I ate almost the whole batch of these) and never get tired of them.

Here’s the trick with green beans. Usually we boil them, but if you boil them for longer than 7 minutes, they’ll turn a brownish olive color. It’s just a chemical reality. Tough old beans will take longer than 7 minutes to cook to tenderness, so no matter what you do, they’ll be off color by the time you eat them.

Fresh, young beans though? They should cook quickly enough so they’ll still have that vibrant green color when cooked. Look for beans that easily snap in half when you bend them.

Side shot of fresh green beans, blanched and sauteed with bacon on a plate

Bacon Makes Green Beans Even Better

This recipe is a simple preparation in which the beans are first boiled, then sautéed very quickly in bacon fat, then tossed with chopped bacon and sprinkled with black pepper. Easy and absolutely delicious.

At the very end you sprinkle on some vinegar or lemon juice. Acid is another thing that will turn green beans from green to brown, so add the vinegar just before serving.

What to Serve with Green Beans

These green beans make an excellent side dish for practically everything — roasted or grilled chicken, pork chops, fish, steak, you name it. For a starch, serve alongside roasted new potatoes or mashed potatoes.

Love Green Beans? Try These Recipes

Updated March 23, 2020 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe.

Green Beans with Bacon Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

Not all green beans are alike. The longer the bean was on the vine, the tougher it can be. Fresh, young beans should be able to cook up perfectly well in less than 6 minutes. Tough old beans will have to cook a lot longer to get them tender. Look for beans that easily snap in half when you bend them.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, ends snipped off and discarded, extra long beans, cut in half if you want
  • Salt
  • 2-3 slices bacon
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar

Method

1 Boil the green beans: Heat a pot of salted water to a rolling boil (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts of water). Add the green beans and boil them for 4-5 minutes, until just tender enough to eat (you may have to cook longer depending on the particular green beans you have). Drain and set aside.

2 Cook the bacon: While the water is heating up to boil the beans, slowly cook the bacon until crispy in a large sauté pan set over medium-low heat.

Use a slotted spoon or a fork to remove the bacon from the pan. Set the bacon on paper towels to sop up the excess fat.

You should have about one tablespoon of fat left in the pan. Pour off any fat beyond 1 tablespoon. (Do not pour the fat down the drain or you'll stop up your drain.) If you have much less fat than a tablespoon left in the pan, add a little olive oil or butter to the pan.

3 Sauté the green beans in the bacon fat: Once the green beans are just barely cooked through, sauté them  over medium-high heat for another minute in the bacon fat.

4 Toss with bacon: Dice the bacon and add to the pan with the green beans. Sauté another minute.

5 Finish and serve: Put the beans and bacon into a large serving bowl and sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper. Toss with lemon juice or vinegar and serve at once.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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21 Comments / Reviews

No ImageGreen Beans with Bacon

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Hungry

    The simpler the cooking of the green bean the better. ” MUST use fat back or bacon to season the green bean”. Salt and pepper with a little butter coating.
    Makes a perfect meal of Green Bean.
    YUMMMMM. :)

  2. paul

    add fresh chopped garlic and after in serving bowl add fresh parm cheese. delish

  3. Dawn Nelson

    I also sometimes add onion by itself, and sometimes just a pinch or two of brown sugar or some fresh minced garlic with the bacon and the onions. Love my green beans, and am constantly looking for new ways to dress them up.

  4. KariVery

    This reminds me of one of my Mom’s recipes – she’d cook the bacon, then saute slices of sweet white onion in the bacon fat until they were nice and brown. Then, she’d mix in fresh, lightly steamed green beans and lots and lots of black pepper with a dash of lemon juice. That flavor combination is so delicious!

  5. chef G

    nothing loves green beans more than bacon but to really make um pop you need acid. whether it be lemon, vinegar, lime or wine. something has to cut the fat of the bacon and freshen the green bean. The marriage is perfect. I love you chef G.

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Green beans, sauteed with bacon and served on a plateGreen Beans with Bacon