These Crock Pot Green Beans have so much flavor – they are a family favorite. They are the perfect easy side dish for any holiday menu, and they cook hands-free in a slow cooker.

I love to cook fresh green beans in a slow cooker because it involves very little prep, the green beans cook unsupervised for hours, and it fills your house with a wonderful smell. I would say that I only save this recipe for special occasions, but that would be a lie.

I make this green bean recipe pretty often as a side dish to go with a weeknight meal – it is great to have when life gets busy, and it feeds us for several days. You can make Southern Green Beans in an Instant Pot as well, but if you don’t have one, this slow cooker recipe should hit the spot.

❓What are Southern Style Green Beans?

Southern Style means that fresh green beans cook for hours and hours in bacon fat with ham and delicious chicken broth with little effort to produce such delicious, tender green beans that just melt in your mouth. It’s a great side dish that the whole family will love.

A bowl of southern style green beans that were cooked in the crockpot with bacon and a ham hock.
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🥘 Ingredients Needed

The ingredients in southern style crock pot green beans, laid out and labeled.
  • Bacon – I like to use thick-cut, meaty bacon.
  • Onion – I usually use a yellow onion.
  • Garlic
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Chicken Stock
  • Fresh Green Beans – Washed with the ends snapped off.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Dried Minced Onion
  • Dried Minced Garlic
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ham – You can use this recipe to use up some leftover ham from Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter – dice it up and throw it in. We like to keep bags of it in the freezer for recipes like this. If you don’t have leftover ham, you can use a ham hock. (Or you can use both!) If you’ve never bought them, you will usually find ham hocks in the corner of the meat department with the seasoning meats, bones, and organs. The good stuff! Our Publix sells them smoked in packs of two.

String Beans vs. Green Beans – What’s the Difference?

If you hear someone say string beans, they are likely referring to fresh green beans. String beans are a type of green bean where the tough string has to be removed from the pod before the bean can be eaten. Because that was a lot of work, the “string” was bred out of the “string” bean, and they are pretty rare now – they really only exist in heirloom varieties. So, if you hear someone say they are cooking string beans, they are likely cooking green beans.

🍽 Equipment Needed

  • A 6 qt crockpot
  • A Knife and a Cutting Board
  • A Frying Pan
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons

🥣 How to Make Crock Pot Green Beans

This recipe is so easy to make that it barely needs step-by-step instructions. 

The first step is to cook the bacon until it is crispy. (Picture 1) I like to use really thick-cut bacon, so while the fat is rendering out of the bacon, I snap the ends off the green beans. Snapping the ends off of green beans is kind of like working with asparagus; just bend it near the end, and it will snap at the natural break-point.

A colander of green beans and a bowl showing how to snap the ends off of fresh green beans.

Once the bacon is nice and crispy, either remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon grease behind in the pan, or just leave the bacon in the pan.

Sauté peppers and onions in the bacon fat until the onions are translucent. (Picture 2) Add the garlic, and cook it just until the garlic is fragrant. It doesn’t need to cook much – it will cook for hours with the green beans. (Picture 3)

Next, in the slow cooker, add the snapped green beans and mix them with diced ham. (Pictures 5 – 6)

A collage of images showing how to cook southern green beans in a crockpot with bacon, steps 1 - 5.

Combine the snapped green beans with the crispy bacon pieces, onions, garlic, red bell peppers, and all of the grease from the pan. That’s where all the flavor is hiding.

Add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, minced onion, minced garlic, and cayenne, then mix. (Pictures 8 – 9)

Cover about 75% of the green beans with broth. Add any optional mixins, red potatoes, smoked turkey necks, or a ham hock now. (Picture 9)

Cover and cook on low for 6 – 7 hours or high for 4 hours. (Picture 10)

A collage of images showing how to cook green beans in a slow cooker, steps 6 - 10.

Check about halfway through and stir as needed – I like to stir every 2 hours or so.

Three images showing the progression of green beans cooking in a crockpot.

Serve when the beans are soft and just melt in your mouth. (Though let them cool because they will be so hot that might actually melt your mouth.) Savor the broth that the beans are in – it is kind of like collard greens potlikker… dunk your cornbread in it, and it is so good.

Green beans in a crock pot that have cooked down with bacon and ham.

⏲ How Long to Cook Fresh Green Beans

I nearly always use fresh green beans to make this recipe, so follow the instructions as written – cook in your slow cooker on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4 hours, stirring as needed.

🥓 Crock Pot Green Bean Recipe Variations

There are a few different ways to play around with this recipe. I think you always need the bacon, but you can switch out the ham for sausage, add leftover smoked turkey or chicken, or you could add a ham hock in with the green beans while they cook. A couple of other popular additions are:

  • Red Potatoes – Always a great addition. Quarter the potatoes and add them in to absorb some of the delicious broth.
  • If you don’t have chicken broth or stock, you can use vegetable broth or a bouillon cube dissolved in water. If you use a bouillon cube, make sure to taste the broth and adjust the salt accordingly. (One bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon of jarred bouillon dissolved in 1 cup of hot water should be the equivalent of 1 cup of broth. Just taste it, as it might be saltier than you think.)
  • Add Brown Sugar to the beans – a little sweetness can completely change the taste of these beans!
  • Add a teaspoon of Vinegar to the broth – just like making collard greens, vinegar adds another layer of flavor to southern green beans.

🫘 How to Make Vegetarian Green Beans

To make this slow cooker green beans vegetarian, simply omit the bacon and ham and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Unfortunately, you won’t get that same smoky flavor that the bacon adds if you don’t use it, and that is important to making southern green beans… 

So if you are dead set on making vegetarian southern green beans, you can try adding a little bit of liquid smoke, a few drops of vegan Worcestershire sauce, or even try vegan bacon. (Though I have not tried this, these are just suggestions.)

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

Can this recipe be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd?

Yes, absolutely! You can easily fit double the recipe in a 6 quart crockpot, but you might need a larger slow cooker to triple the recipe. If you triple the recipe, the cooking time will need to be increased to account for the time it will take for the excess liquid to heat up.

Can I use frozen green beans?

Yes! You can definitely use frozen green beans. It might take a little longer for them to cook if you throw them in from frozen, but once they get going, they will cook just fine. Just plan accordingly and leave yourself an extra hour or so of cooking time. I have made this recipe using frozen cut green beans, fresh green beans from the garden, and haricot verts (skinny green beans), and it has turned out great each way.

Can I use canned green beans?

Eh. This is a personal preference, but canned green beans are already kind of mushy, so cooking them in the crockpot will turn them into even more mush. If that is all you have, you can certainly give it a try, but I would probably cook them on the stove for a much shorter amount of time to try to preserve some texture if at all possible.

Can Southern Green Beans be cooked in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker?

Oh yeah. I have a really great recipe to make Instant Pot Southern Green Beans. It is my go-to side dish when I forgot to plan something to go with dinner.

Can these beans be frozen after cooking?

Yes! Once cooled, cooked green beans can be frozen. Some varieties of fresh green beans can develop a bitter taste when frozen, so be sure to freeze the beans in their cooking liquid – that should prevent this from happening. Reheat in the delicious juices.

Are crockpot green beans low carb?

Yes, green beans are great for a low carb/keto diet, as green beans are inherently low in carbohydrates (as long as you don’t add brown sugar or potatoes!)

🥡 How to Store Leftover Green Beans

Once cooled, leftover green beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer storage, cooked green beans can be frozen in their cooking liquid.

✏️ Helpful Tips

  • Make sure to add the bacon grease to the crockpot – it adds so much flavor!
  • Stir the green beans a few times as they cook to make sure they get an equal amount of time cooking while submerged in the delicious broth.
  • If you have time, cook on low heat for a long time instead of high heat for a short amount of time. Both will taste good, but the texture of the beans, when cooked for a longer amount of time, is so much better – the beans are so soft and just fall apart when you bite into them.
  • Save some of the bacon to sprinkle on top. We don’t really care about this for a weeknight meal, but if you are serving green beans for a holiday dinner, sprinkling some crispy bacon pieces on top is a nice garnish.
A bowl of green beans that were cooked in the crockpot, southern style.

🍴Looking for More Green Bean Recipes?

Have You Tried This Recipe?

Please rate it and leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think!

A bowl of southern style green beans cooked in a crock pot with ham, bacon, and red bell peppers.

Crock Pot Southern Green Beans

5 from 16 votes
These Crock Pot Southern Green beans have so much flavor – they are a family favorite. They are the perfect easy side dish for any holiday menu.
Author: Kari
Servings: 8
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 7 hours
Total: 7 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients  

Optional

  • 1 cup leftover ham diced
  • 1 ham hock

Instructions 

  • Cook the bacon until it is crispy. While the fat is rendering out of the bacon, snap the ends off the green beans.
    4 strips bacon, 8 cups fresh green beans
  • Once the bacon is nice and crispy either remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon leaving the bacon grease behind in the pan (or just keep the bacon in the pan.)
  • Sauté peppers and onions in the bacon fat until the onions are translucent.
    ½ cup yellow onion, 1 red bell pepper
  • Add the garlic, and cook it just until the garlic is fragrant. It doesn’t need to cook much – it will cook for hours with the green beans.
    4 – 6 cloves garlic
  • Next, in the slow cooker, add the snapped green beans and mix them with diced ham.
    1 cup leftover ham
  • Combine the snapped green beans with the crispy bacon pieces, onions, garlic, red bell peppers, and all of the grease from the pan. That’s where all the flavor is hiding.
  • Add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, minced onion, minced garlic, and cayenne, then mix.
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon dried minced onion, ½ teaspoon dried minced garlic, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Cover about 75% of the green beans with broth. Add any optional mixins, red potatoes, smoked turkey necks, or a ham hock, now.
    2 cups chicken stock, 1 ham hock
  • Cover and cook on low for 6 – 7 hours or high for 4 hours.

Video

Notes

Southern Green Bean Variations

There are a few different ways to play around with this recipe. I think you always need the bacon, but you can switch out the ham for sausage, add leftover smoked turkey or chicken, or you could add a ham hock in with the green beans while they cook. A couple of other popular additions are:
  • Red potatoes – Always a great addition.
  • If you don’t have chicken broth or stock, you can use vegetable broth or a bouillon cube dissolved in water. If you use a bouillon cube, make sure to taste the broth and adjust the salt accordingly. (One bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon of jarred bouillon dissolved in 1 cup of hot water should be the equivalent of 1 cup of broth. Just taste it as it might be saltier than you think.)
  • Add Brown Sugar to the beans – a little sweetness can completely change the taste of these beans!

Recipe Tips

  • Make sure to add the bacon grease to the crockpot – it adds so much flavor!
  • Stir the green beans a few times as they cook to make sure they get an equal amount of time cooking while submerged in the delicious broth.
  • If you have time, cook on low heat for a long time instead of high heat for a short amount of time. Both will taste good, but the texture of the beans when cooked for a longer amount of time is so much better – the beans are so soft and just fall apart when you bite into them.
  • Save some of the bacon to sprinkle on top. We don’t really care about this for a weeknight meal, but if you are serving green beans for a holiday dinner, sprinkling some crispy bacon pieces on top is a nice garnish.

Special Equipment Needeed

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 229kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 15gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 719mgPotassium: 512mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1254IUVitamin C: 35mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: crock pot green beans, slow cooker green beans, southern green beans
Did you make this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

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Hi, I'm Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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