An easy and super delicious Thanksgiving side dish: Green Beans with Bacon!
A Thanksgiving table is not complete without green beans. It’s a classic! There are so many ways to make it, but sautéd green beans with bacon are my absolute favorite.
I’ll show you how to cook green beans perfectly so they stay crisp and bright green, and how to make sure it’s packed with flavor. Everyone will love this green beans with bacon recipe!
Everyone loves green beans for Thanksgiving. I usually stick to fresh and bright green bean side dishes, such as this ultra delicious green beans with bacon!
The trick to keeping green beans bright green and crisp is boiling them for just 5 minutes and transferring to an ice bath immediately. The ice bath will immediately stop the cooking process and keep those green beans perfectly cooked.
For flavor, sauté everything in bacon fat (from the cooked bacon). That’s the secret. I swear, these green beans with bacon are so simple yet so delicious!
The Trick to Bright Green Beans: An Ice Bath!
The trick to crisp and bright green beans is to immediately stop the cooking process in an ice bath (aka water with ice cubes). This process is called blanching. Here’s how it goes: First, cook green beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes or until crisp tender and bright green. Then transfer the cooked green beans to the ice bath. That’s it!
Cook Green Beans in Bacon Fat
In order to ensure amazing flavors throughout the dish, make sure to cook everything in the bacon fat left from the cooked bacon. That’s the secret!
After you cook the bacon, leave about 2 to 3 tablespoons of bacon fat on the skillet. Cook the garlic and shallots in the bacon fat until fragrant, and return the green beans to the pan to cook for a few minutes until all that flavor is fully incorporated.
For the ice bath, you need ice cubes and water, enough to fully submerge the beans and keep the water ice cold.
For the green beans and bacon recipe, you need:
- Green beans: For 4 to 5 people, you need about 1.5 pounds of green beans.
- Bacon: I used thick-cut applewood smoked bacon.
- Minced garlic: For flavor and aromatics.
- Shallot: For flavor and aromatics. You can also use yellow onions.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
As always, the specific ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card down below.
1. Cook green beans
First, wash the green beans and trim the ends, which are a bit tough. Bring salted water to a boil in a pot or saucepan. While the water is boiling, prepare an ice bath by combining water and ice in a large bowl.
Cook the green beans in the boiling water for about 5 minutes until crisp and bright green.
2. Transfer to an ice bath
Transfer cooked green beans to the ice bath (you can either use tongs or drain the hot water first). Leave them in the ice bath for about 5-8 minutes until cold, and then remove from the ice bath and pat dry using paper towel. Set aside.
Blanching in an ice bath: An ice bath is just ice and water. Transferring the cooked green beans to an ice bath immediately stops the cooking process, keeping them bright green and crisp. This process is called “blanching.” Without an ice bath, they would continue cooking from residual heat, and could turn too soft and pale green.
3. Cook bacon until crispy and chop
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet until crispy and chop into small pieces. Leave about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet.
Tip: Cooking the aromatics and green beans in bacon fat adds tons of flavor! After cooking the bacon, don’t wipe the skillet completely clean. Leave about 2 to 3 tablespoons of bacon fat behind.
4. Sauté aromatics and green beans
Sauté garlic and shallots in the skillet until fragrant and slightly golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked greens beans (patted dry) to the skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste, about 2 minutes. You can also add red chili pepper flakes for some heat.
5. Add chopped bacon and stir
Stir in the chopped bacon..and done! Easy peasy. You’ll love how easy and delicious green beans with bacon are!
Pairing and Serving Ideas
These are other amazing side dishes that I love:
It should cook for about 5 minutes in boiling water, or until crisp and bright green. However, it really depends on your own preference. Test them every 2 minutes until they are cooked to taste.
It’s just water and ice in a large bowl, where you’ll add the cooked ingredients to “shock” them. You need enough water to fully submerge the green beans and enough ice to keep the water very cold. This process immediately stops the cooking process and keeps the green beans crisp and bright green. This is also called “blanching.”
About 5-8 minutes, or until they are completely cold. Then, remove from the ice bath and pat them dry with paper towel.
Yes! After they are cold, remove from the ice bath and pat dry completely with paper towel. Refrigerate for up to 3 days in a container.
I would NOT recommend using frozen green beans for this recipe. They will turn out very mushy, pale, and soft.
I hope you like this green beans with bacon recipe as much as we do. It’s a beloved recipe that we love to serve every Thanksgiving. Everyone raves about it!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Tips for Success
- Ice bath: You need enough water to fully submerge the green beans and enough ice to keep the water ice cold.
- Blanching: The process of transferring cooked ingredients to an ice bath in order to immediately stop the cooking process is called “blanching.” This process of “shocking” the vegetables allows them to stay crisp and bright by preventing any residual heat from further cooking them.
- Cook the green beans for about 5 minutes, or until they are cooked to taste. It’s a matter of preference – you can taste test it every 2 minutes just to be sure.
Green Beans with Bacon
- 1 ½ pounds green beans, washed and ends trimmed
- 6 slices bacon
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste - optional
- Ice cubes
- In a medium pot, bring generously salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, set up the ice bath: In a large bowl, combine water and ice (enough water to fully submerge the green beans and enough ice to keep the water ice cold). Set aside.
- Cook green beans for 5 minutes in the boiling water until they are crisp and bright green. Drain and transfer to the prepared ice bath. You could also transfer them straight from the pot using tongs. Let them get fully cold, about 5-8 minutes. Then, remove green beans from the ice bath and pat dry with paper towel. Note: This process is called “blanching” – it immediately stops the cooking process and ensures it stays crisp and bright green.
- In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Then, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel and chop it. Set aside.
- Leave about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet. Add garlic and shallots to the skillet, and cook until fragrant and slightly golden brown for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat.
- Add the green beans and bacon to the skillet, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, tossing. Season with salt, pepper and red chili flakes (if using) to taste. Serve warm. Enjoy!
- Blanching: Blanching is the process of “shocking” cooked vegetables in an ice bath (water and ice in a large bowl) to immediately stop the cooking process, which helps to maintain them crisp and bright green.
- Use fresh green beans. Don’t use canned or frozen green beans – they will turn out soft, mushy, and pale.
- For crisp and bright green results, boil green beans for about 5-6 minutes. But really, it’s a matter of preference. Taste test the green beans every 2 minutes until they are cook to your liking.
- Use that bacon fat for flavor! After you cook the bacon, wipe all but 2-3 tablespoons of bacon fat. Use that bacon fat to sauté the garlic, shallots, and green beans for flavor!
- Green beans: French green beans (aka haricort verts).
- Bacon fat: If you prefer not to cook with bacon fat, use olive oil, coconut oil, or vegetable oil.
- Shallots: Yellow onions.