This sauteed Green Beans With Bacon and onion recipe is easy to make and full of flavor. The green beans are cooked until tender, then tossed in a simple sauce with crispy, smoky bacon.
It's a great side dish that can be served all year long. And at my house, it's also one of our favorite side dishes on our holiday table.
Why This Recipe Works
FLAVOR & TEXTURE - The tender yet slightly crunchy bright green beans have a fabulous texture and incredible taste. Once simmered, the smoky bacon sauce transforms this side dish into comfort food perfection.
SIMPLE INGREDIENTS - You need a handful of ingredients for this recipe. Besides the green beans, you'll probably find everything else in your fridge and pantry.
GERMAN ROOTS - This recipe is based on a popular German side dish called Speckbohnen. "Speck" means bacon, and "Bohnen" means beans. Traditionally we make it with fresh or ground savory (German: Bohnenkraut). But it can also be made with nutmeg.
For a detailed, printable ingredient list, please use the recipe below.
GREEN BEANS - If possible, look for fresh green beans. You can use frozen green beans. If you use frozen green beans, you will only need to boil the green beans for about 5-7 minutes.
Just keep in mind that fresh beans will be crunchier than frozen ones. Make sure to clean the fresh beans properly and trim the ends. You can cut the whole beans into bite-sized pieces or leave them intact (except for the trimmed ends).
ONION - Sweet or yellow onion both work well.
BACON - Parts of this recipe are similar to my Warm German Potato Salad, for which I recommend thick-cut bacon. And the recommendation holds. If you have thick-cut bacon, great, use it. But any other bacon you have will work, too.
BUTTER. - A couple of tablespoons of butter are melted and combined with the bacon drippings to create an incredibly flavorful sauce.
As in 99% of my recipes, I recommend unsalted butter.
NUTMEG - A dash of nutmeg adds a nutty, warm flavor. But this is not the only spice you can use. Learn all about SAVORY below.
FRENCH GREEN BEANS. - If you like, you can also make this recipe with French green beans (which you can find at Trader Joe's). These are called Haricot Vert. They are more delicate but similar in taste.
OLIVE OIL - You can use 2 tablespoons of olive oil if you want to avoid butter. Heat the oil before you add the onion and the bacon. As with the butter, combine the bacon grease with the oil as this is the base for our sauce.
SAVORY - Savory (German: Bohnenkraut) is a delicious, often underused herb. It resembles thyme, rosemary, and sage.
When a recipe calls for thyme, you can almost always substitute it with savory. It's a great herb to add to green beans, beef, lamb, mushrooms, potatoes, and many other dishes.
BUT it's tough to find in US-Supermarkets!
I went to Whole Food, Trader Joe's, Stop & Shop, and ACME, all large, well-sorted grocery stores but couldn't find it. However, if you are curious, you can order savory from Amazon.
Although I use nutmeg in this recipe, I highly recommend using savory. Savory adds an extra bit of delicious flavor to the sautéed green beans.
GARLIC - If you like, add a couple of fresh garlic cloves. It's a great way to make this classic side dish your own.
How To Make Green Beans With Bacon and Onion
- BOIL & BLANCH - Cook the fresh green beans in boiling salt water for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the hot beans into a large bowl of ice water. Remove the blanched green beans from the cold water and transfer them onto a plate.
- BACON AND ONION - Melt butter in a large skillet. Add chopped bacon and diced onions. Saute everything bacon-butter mixture.
Saute until the bacon is crispy and the onion is translucent. Add in nutmeg.
- SAUTE - Add the blanched green beans and saute for an additional 10 minutes in the bacon and onion mixture. Stir regularly. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Recipe Success Tips
You might be wondering how to cook fresh green beans. And why it's necessary to blanch the green beans. Why not simply simmer the beans until they are tender in the bacon and onion mixture? And there are indeed recipes like that out there.
But you'll get way better results blanching the green beans first. Blanching means boiling water, adding salt, briefly cooking the fresh vegetables, and transferring the vegetables into an ice bath.
The advantages are that the green beans will retain their bright green color; they will be crispier and tastier.
HOLIDAY PREP TIP - Blanch the green beans a day in advance. Pat dry with a paper towel and store overnight in an airtight container in the fridge.
On Thanksgiving Day, simmer the blanched beans in the bacon and onion mixture. This will reduce prep time to 10-15 minutes.
And this recipe also goes well with a fish dish like Broiled Salmon, steak, pork chops, or pork tenderloin.
Leftovers and Storage
LEFTOVERS. You can store cooked leftovers in an airtight container for 1-2 days in the fridge.
REHEAT. To reheat, place the leftover sautéed green beans in a medium skillet and warm gently over medium heat.
FREEZE. Technically, you could freeze sautéed green beans for up to 3 months. However, I have never done this myself and don't recommend it. And I can foresee how defrosted sautéed beans and bacon become diluted and soggy.
As always, I've asked my Grandmother for her take. She told me that she also never frozen sautéed green beans.
More Recipes Easy Side Dishes
CANDIED SWEET POTATOES - And easy side dish made with brown sugar, butter, and balsamic vinegar. Perfect with fish, chicken, or beef.
WARM GERMAN POTATO SALAD. - Perfectly tender potatoes are drizzled with a smoky, sweet, and tangy bacon dressing and topped with lots of crispy bacon.
RED CABBAGE - This simple side dish strikes the perfect balance between savory, sweet, and sour.
MASHED SWEET POTATOES - Easy buttery, creamy, nutty, mashed sweet potatoes with hints of caramel.
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Green Beans With Onions and Bacon
- In a large pot, bring cold water to a boil. Once boiling, add about ½ tablespoon of salt. Add the green beans and cook for 10 minutes. While the green beans are cooking, prepare a large bowl with ice water.
- Transfer the green beans from the boiling water into the ice water bath. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the blanched green beans onto a plate. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt butter and add the bacon and onions. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the bacon crispy. Stir in nutmeg and transfer the cooked green beans into the skillet. Toss well and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Stir regularly.If desired, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy.