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Southern Style Green Beans

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve sitting in the yard with my grandfather picking crabs and snapping string beans for southern green beans. I’m still amazed by how simple things like that kept me so amused for so long. That’s what it was like growing up in the country, simple and fulfilling. Just like dinner at granny’s house! Me and pop-pop did the prep work and granny got everything cooked and on the table. If I was good I got to watch how she worked her magic in the kitchen. I swear, there’s nothing that compares to grandma’s cooking.

southern style green beans

Nowadays I wish I had someone to snap the ends off of the green beans for me as she had. It’s a tedious job but the end results are so worth the effort. I’ve had all kinds of green beans, steamed, baked, boiled, and even fried. None of them compare to my grandmother’s southern style green beans. I only recently perfected the recipe but have been making it every chance I get now that I have. The fact that these southern style green beans are keto-friendly just makes them more delicious. 

There are a ton of different ways to prepare green beans, but I like using minimal ingredients and effort. With this green bean recipe, you only need a handful of ingredients. 2 pounds of green beans, 4 cups of water, 6 slices of fat meat (more on this in a bit), a teaspoon of baking soda, and pepper to taste. Some people swear by cooking beans in chicken stock, but there’s no need. The fat meat will give it the perfect amount of flavor. 

What Do You Mean by Fat Meat?

There are a few different cuts of meat you could use for this and they all carry a similar flavor. I prefer to use hog’s jowl or jowl bacon because it fries great, gives off plenty of grease (this is important!), and adds a deliciously savory flavor to the beans. Alternately, you could use fatback or salt pork. Look for them in the pork section of the grocery store or ask the butcher. They’re sure to know what you’re talking about. If you want true southern green beans you can’t skip this step!

southern style green beans

The secret to southern green beans is cooking them low and slow. You don’t want them to come to a complete boil, just a slow simmer. Add two pounds of green beans to a large pot, filled halfway with water (about 4 cups) and add the baking soda. Let them cook for at least an hour on low heat until they’re starting to wilt and lose some color. I like to cook green beans for 90 minutes on low heat and find that they’re perfect. 

Once the beans are cooked, transfer them to a colander and let them drain completely. Fry your strips of fat meat in an ungreased, medium-sized non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Shuffle them around a bit to keep them from burning and flip them over every 3 or 4 minutes. Once the slices of fat meat are browned on both sides you should have about 2 tablespoons of grease in the pan. If you don’t, let them cook a while longer. 

southern green beans

Return the beans to the pan after the liquid is completely drained. Pour the grease (yes, all of it!) over the green beans and stir to coat them. You can dice and toss the fat meat in with the beans, eat it as it is, or throw it away – your choice. I personally love it, it’s like a pork rind only better. Be careful though, they can be high in sodium, hence why we don’t add extra salt to the beans. You can add pepper to taste. 

It’s that easy to make southern green beans. I used to think there was some difficult trick to getting them to come out like my grandmother’s, but when you make them like this they’re perfect. 

southern green beans

Southern Green Beans

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes


  • 2 pounds green beans
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • black pepper to taste


    Add green beans to a large pot and cover with water. Add baking soda. Cover and simmer over low heat.
    Simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Drain beans and fry the fat meat in an ungreased pan over medium heat. Flip the slices every 4 minutes.
    Continue to fry until meat is browned on both sides and 2 tablespoons of grease has been rendered.
    Return beans to the pot they were cooked in and pour the grease over beans, stir, and serve.

Did you make this recipe?

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Can You Make Southern Green Beans from a Can or Frozen Beans?

You can make southern green beans using canned string beans or frozen string beans. You won’t get that absolute fresh taste that you do with freshly snapped beans and you’ll need to adjust the cooking time also.

If you use canned string beans, drain them well before you cook them and only use enough water to cover them. Do everything else the same, only reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes (you don’t want to cook them to pieces.) 

southern green beans

If you absolutely can’t use fresh string beans then try to at least use frozen whole string beans. Frozen beans are closer to fresh than the canned beans, at least for this recipe. Canned beans can get mushy really quick. Use your best judgment to determine how long to cook them, using the color of the water as a guide. You don’t want it too green, just a slight yellow-green hue. 

Can You Make Southern Green Beans in the Slow Cooker

southern green beans

I haven’t personally tried this (yet) but I don’t see why you can’t fix southern string beans in the slow cooker. Since it’s all about low and slow, this seems like a great way to achieve that. You’d still want to drain the water and fry your fat meat separately, so maybe do that during the final few minutes. If you do try it in the Crock-Pot, or have done it in the past, please let me know how it works out!

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One Comment

  1. Just like my Granny’s too! Always with a ham hock. The baking soda really helps to bind the fat
    to the beans, delicious!

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