Southern-Style Canned Green Beans
The trick to making perfectly cooked Southern-style green beans with canned beans - the beans don’t fall apart but taste like they’ve cooked all day!
My daddy used to say he liked green beans lots of ways. He liked them cooked fresh from the garden. He liked them firm and crisp, the “frou-frou” way. But he liked them best from a can and “cooked all to hell”.
And you know what? Me too!!
I’ve watched enough Food Network and been to enough fancy restaurants to know there are more refined ways to cook green beans and that most foodies look down their noses at vegetables from a can, but I love green beans cooked like this!
Now, I’ve been around enough southern kitchens to know there are different methods for cooking canned green beans but I’ve got a little trick that will give you “cooked all to hell” flavor without busted up or watery beans!
Most Southerners will agree the key to cooking good canned green beans is to “cook the can out” of the beans. I don’t know the precise moment it happens but at some point or temperature, that “canned” flavor cooks out, which is the difference in really good beans and beans that literally taste like you just dumped them out of the can.
Some folks pour the liquid out then replace it with water or broth to cook but I’ve never found that to be necessary so long as they cook enough.
The second thing most of us will agree on is to add some sort of fat. My go-to is bacon grease, which I keep in a coffee cup in the fridge. Pouring out bacon grease will get you kicked out of my kitchen (and maybe the house). Vegetable oil, olive oil, butter or margarine all work great too.
And last, but not least, we need to add some flavor. When I’m in a hurry, that might be a beef bullion cube or a handful of prepared bacon pieces (like for salads) but when I have time, I like to use fresh-cooked bacon.
OK, back to that little trick!
Simply pour a can of regular green beans (with the can juices) into a wide pot or skillet with some bacon grease or other fat, then cook those suckers until all the liquid has evaporated and the beans start to sizzle.
That’s it! You can walk away from the pot and just leave the beans to cook down – just set a timer because they will go from perfect to burnt slap up within minutes once the liquid evaporates.
Oh, and DO NOT add salt. Once the liquid evaporates, the beans are plenty salty. You will be tempted, but trust me, they will be too salty if you add any salt. These are frog’s hair away from being too salty so if you’re sensitive to salt, consider using reduced sodium beans or omitting the bacon and using olive oil instead.
HOW TO COOK SOUTHERN-STYLE CANNED GREEN BEANS
- Select a pot or skillet wide enough that the beans will be about an inch deep in.
- Cook bacon until crispy then remove bacon to add back later, leaving the pan drippings in the pot.
- Add canned green beans with liquid to the pot.
- Boil until all of the liquid has evaporated and the beans start to sizzle in the bacon drippings, adding the cooked bacon pieces back to the pot about halfway through cooking.
NOTES ABOUT THIS RECIPE
- This recipe is on the salty side. If you’re sensitive to salt, consider using reduced sodium beans or omitting the bacon and using olive oil instead.
- The beans with liquid should be about an inch deep in whatever vessel you’re cooking them in (1½ inches max). Don’t cook them in anything they would be too deep in or they may not cook properly. If you cook them shallower than an inch, you will need to reduce cooking time as the liquid will evaporate more quickly.
- To use a 28-oz. can of beans, use 3-4 slices of bacon (or 2 tablespoons bacon grease) and cook in a smaller pot or skillet (always try to start with the contents of the pot about an inch deep.
- The brown sugar is completely optional. I don’t typically use sugar in southern vegetables but think that little hint is perfect in these!
- Don't use any "southern seasoned" canned beans for this recipe (as they will have waaay too much salt to cook this way). I almost always use Del Monte or the store brand.