This savory green beans with bacon recipe is an easy side dish to prepare. For a one-pan process, simply saute the bacon, onion, and beans first then cover and steam until crisp-tender.
Table of Contents
When the holidays hit, my green bean casserole is always on the menu. However, you don’t have to wait for a celebration to enjoy green beans with bacon and onions. This flavorful side dish is so easy to make that I often serve it on weekdays paired with meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
The secret is to steam the green beans to save time and streamline the cooking process. I crisp up the bacon, saute the aromatics, then steam the vegetables in the same pot. The tender beans are tossed with savory smoked pork and caramelized onions. The best part, it’s ready in under an hour and can even be prepared ahead of time!
Prepare the green beans
The key is to use fresh green beans for the best flavor and texture. Rinse them with cool water, as they may have dirt on the surface from harvesting. Trim off the tough strings from the ends. If the beans are long, cut them in half to make them easier to eat.
Haricot verts are a good swap. They are thinner, tender, and sweet since they are picked earlier. They do cook faster, so check on doneness a few minutes earlier.
Use thick-cut bacon for hearty pieces in the green beans. Cut them into 1/2-inch thick strips—the bacon fat will render, reducing the size considerably. If you like a lighter, crispier texture, use standard-cut regular bacon. It will cook in less time.
Crisp the bacon
Cook the bacon in a large heavy-bottomed saute pan, skillet, or dutch oven with a lid. I add the bacon to a cold pan and heat over medium heat. This will reduce splatter and cook the small bacon pieces evenly. Stir until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon and transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess grease on the surface. This keeps the bacon super crispy.
Keep two tablespoons of the rich and flavorful rendered bacon grease in the pan. I use it to saute the onions and garlic. If you prefer, you can substitute the bacon fat with olive oil. For quicker preparation, I also use leftover roasted bacon and chop up about ½ cup to sprinkle on top of the cooked beans.
Saute the onions and garlic
Add the onions to the hot pan with bacon grease, and saute them until they develop a golden hue. This process helps to carmelize the onions, adding a slightly sweet flavor to balance the salty bacon.
Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant. You do not want to burn the garlic or it will add unpleasant bitter notes to the side dish. If you like a spicier flavor, add a small amount of red pepper flakes or chopped jalapenos.
Steam the green beans
To make this a one-pot green bean recipe, I steam the beans in the same pot used to cook the bacon. I do this same method for sauteed green beans; it’s a game-changer! Add the green beans, chicken stock, salt, and pepper to the onion mixture. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and steam until the beans are tender but still have a slight crispness.
I like this method because you only use ½ cup of liquid to cook the beans instead of large amounts for boiling. Remove the lid and cook until the broth is reduced. This will complete the cooking process and concentrate the sauce’s flavor. Serve the beans with the crispy bacon on top.
Alternatively, you can blanch the green beans. Cook in a pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes, then add to the onion mixture.
More side dish recipes to complete your meal
Frequently asked questions
Dicing the bacon while still raw makes it easier to saute the pieces to be evenly cooked. However, if you prefer to cook whole slices, just wait for the pieces to cool down before chopping.
Green beans will lose their structure and become mushy if overcooked. Look for fresh beans to turn bright green, and have a tender texture with a slight crispness. Overcooked beans will turn a dull olive-green color and be very soft and floppy.
Yes! Simmer them in the chicken stock and onion mixture until the liquid cooks off entirely and the beans are nice and tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. The beans are already partially cooked, so they don’t need to steam, just defrost and reheat.
How to make green beans with bacon using canned beans
Canned green beans are fully cooked. They make for a fast and affordable option. You’ll need about 8 cups for this recipe. To prevent them from becoming mushy, skip the steaming step. After sauteing the onions, add them directly to the pan with the butter. Cook for a few minutes until hot.
Pin this recipe to save for laterPin This
Green Beans with Bacon
- 2 pounds green beans or haricot verts
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½" pieces, 5 ounces
- 1 cup diced yellow onion, ¼" dice
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
- ½ cup unsalted chicken stock, broth, or water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Prepare Green Beans – Wash the beans thoroughly under cool water and drain well. Trim off the string ends. If the beans are long, cut them in half. Set aside.
- Cook Bacon – In a large saute pan, skillet, or dutch oven, add the chopped bacon. Cook over medium heat and saute until crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate—reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan. Alternatively, use 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Saute Aromatics – Add the diced onion, and cook until lightly browned and translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and add the garlic. Saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.
- Cook Green Beans – Add the green beans, chicken stock, salt, and pepper to the pan. Stir to combine. Increase to medium-high heat. Cover and cook until the beans are crisp-tender and bright green, about 5 to 6 minutes.Remove the lid and stir until the water evaporates, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the butter. Stir until melted and combined, about 1 minute.
- To Serve – Taste the green beans and season with more salt and pepper as desired. Toss with bacon pieces and transfer to a serving dish.
- Recipe Yield: About 8 cups
- Serving Size: About 1 cup
- Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Cover and cook in the microwave in 30-second increments until hot. On the stovetop, cook over medium heat until hot.
- Blanching the Beans: If you prefer to blanch the beans in salted, boiling water instead of steaming, cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add directly to the onion mixture, stir, season with salt and pepper as desired, then top with crispy bacon.
- Using Frozen Beans: Do not cover, simmer in the chicken stock until defrosted and hot, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Using Canned Beans: Use 8 cups of drained canned beans. Skip the steaming step. Add to onion mixture with butter, and stir until beans are hot about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Using Cooked Bacon: Chop up about ½ cup of cooked bacon. Use 2 tablespoons of olive oil to cook the onions and garlic.
Tried this recipe?
Tag me on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!
2 Comments Leave a comment or review
Jim Ellis says
Jessica, Can your recipes be converted for us on AirFryers?
Jessica Gavin says
Great suggestion, Jim! For this recipe, I would could the pieces of bacon first at 370ºF, for 7 minutes. Then add in the green beans, onions, garlic, and seasonings. Toss, and cook until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let me know how it goes!