Fresh green beans combined with a tangy garlic-butter sauce and topped with crisp bacon makes this Arkansas Green Beans recipe an unforgettable side dish!
Green beans are one of the best, staple side dishes because they taste great and have several health benefits.
There are several ways to perfectly cook this tasty veggie. The Arkansas method that utilizes bacon is one of my favorites, but you can try my Garlic Roasted Green Beans or Air fryer green beans if you're looking for something without bacon.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Only 35 minutes.
- Pairs well with most meals.
- Can be made ahead.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Green Beans - I'm using fresh, which I like best. Frozen or canned are an option, but the texture and flavor will vary.
- Bacon - Traditionally pork bacon, but you can use turkey bacon too. To save time, you can substitute store bought pre-cooked bacon. However, be sure to check the ingredients. If the pre-cooked bacon has a maple flavoring it will affect the flavor of this recipe.
- Butter- I always cook with unsalted butter, so I can control the level of saltiness.
- Brown Sugar- The brown sugar sugar adds a bit of sweet to the otherwise salty flavor. You can substitute coconut sugar, or a stevia based sweetener like Swerve Brown.
- Soy Sauce- This ingredient adds a surprising kick of flavor to the dish!
- Garlic- Fresh is best! If that's not an option, you can use the jarred version, or garlic powder. If using the powder, use 1 teaspoon.
- Salt & Pepper- To taste! Soy sauce is salty on it's own, so I recommend adding these seasonings afterwards to satisfy your taste buds, if needed.
How To Make Arkansas Green Beans
There are three parts to this recipe:
- prepping the bacon
- prepping the beans
- assembling and baking the dish
I'll break down each part for you so you know exactly what to do.
PART ONE: PREPARE THE BACON
The easiest way to cook bacon is in the oven. I LOVE crispy bacon, but for this recipe, don't let it get that far. It's going in the oven a second time with the beans and it will get its crispness then.
NOTE: My bacon is not perfect strips because it came straight from the farm, but it tastes amazing!
- Lay strips of bacon on a rimmed baking sheet, bake in a preheated 350° oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked, but not crispy.
- After cooking, transfer each piece to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb extra grease. Once cooled enough to handle, chop into pieces.
PART TWO: BLANCH THE BEANS
Blanching the beans is an extra step that is worth it in my opinion. Blanching helps preserve the color, nutrients, and texture of the beans. I don't care for mushy beans, so this is my secret sauce for the perfect bean.
- Add the green beans to a large pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. While the beans are cooking, prepare an ice bath by placing 2 cups of ice cubes in a bowl, add very cold water, set aside.
- After 3 minutes of boiling, drain the beans and immediately put them in the ice bath to stop the cooking.
They will be crisp-tender at this point and will soften a little bit more after cooking in the oven.
PART THREE: ASSEMBLE AND BAKE
- Place melted butter, sugar, soy sauce, and garlic into a measuring cup or small bowl. Stir until combined.
- Place the blanched green beans in a 9x13 baking dish.
- Pour the sauce over and toss to coat well.
- Add the bacon over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
Chef’s Tips and Variations
- Freshness Counts- When shopping for green beans, look for a bold green color and firm skin that makes a snapping sound when you break it in half.
- Trim- Be sure that you trim your beans so that they don’t have the wiry stems on them. It’s annoying to take those off later.
- Prep Early- You can save loads of time with this recipe by prepping early with several ingredients.
- Easy clean up- Lining the sheet pan with foil makes for easy clean up.
- Blanching- This step sets this recipe apart from all the others! It keeps the color bright and beautiful and leaves health benefits to your veggies. It also gives this dish the perfect texture (no mushy beans here!)
- Don’t overcook bacon- Pull bacon out of the oven before it gets crispy. (It will start crisping at 15-20 minutes.) The bacon will crisp up and cook more when you’re cooking the entire dish in the oven. If you start with crispy bacon, it may burn.
- Sliced or slivered almonds, or Candied Pecans make a delicious addition to the topping if you're a fan of nuts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Blanching, after boiling, immediately stops the cooking process and stops enzymes from breaking down. This sudden stop helps to preserve the vivid green color of the vegetable. It also prevents the loss of nutrients such as vitamins D and K.After blanching, you can freeze or refrigerate your beans in airtight containers.
Green beans should be washed thoroughly before cooking to prevent dirt and debris that may be left behind from getting into your recipe or cross-contaminating other ingredients.
Yes, however, depending on the recipe it may vary your results in flavor and texture.
For this recipe, canned beans work fine, but their texture is much softer, and you may need to adjust the soy sauce as some canned beans contain salt. Frozen beans can also be used, you may need to increase your cooking time. Also, they will release moisture when cooking, so you will have excess water in the dish.
If you do use canned or frozen, you can skip the blanching step. It won't do anything for canned beans because they are already cooked, and frozen beans are typically already blanched.
Make Ahead Instructions
If you happen to be serving this up on a holiday or you're just extra busy, you can save some time by prepping ahead of time. Keep the ingredients separate and store them in the fridge.
- Prep the bacon up to 3 days in advance.
- Blanch the green beans 1 day in advance
- Make the sauce 1 day ahead of time.
Because the sauce has butter in it, after making it, it will re-harden. You can melt it again in the microwave just before using it. Use 20-second increments for re-heating and stir in between. Also, cover it with a paper towel one of those plastic microwave lids. If you heat too long, it can pop and make a big mess.
Storing & Freezing
Store cooked Arkansas beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. When you are ready to reheat, we recommend roasting in the oven. This will re-crisp the bacon.
If you have leftovers, you can certainly freeze them in an air-tight container for up to 6 months. When you thaw and reheat, it may have a softer texture.
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Arkansas green beans
- 9x13 casserole dish
- Rimmed baking sheet
- 1 ½ pound fresh green beans ends trimmed
- 6-8 slices bacon cooked (not crispy) and chopped.
- ¼ cup butter melted
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 garlic cloves pressed
- Salt and pepper to taste this will vary as bacon and soy sauce are salty
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Lay strips of bacon on a rimmed baking sheet, bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked, but not crispy.
- After cooking, transfer each piece to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb extra grease. Once cooled enough to handle, chop into pieces.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Prepare an ice bath by placing 2 cups of ice cubes in a bowl, add very cold water, set aside.
- Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes.
- Drain the beans and immediately put them in the ice bath to stop the cooking.
Cook the beans:
- Place melted butter, sugar, soy sauce, and pressed garlic into a measuring cup or small bowl. Stir until combined.
- Place the blanched green beans in a 9x13 baking dish.
- Pour the sauce over and toss to coat the beans well.
- Add the bacon over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Blanching the green beans preserves their color and texture. It also prevents loss of the vegetable nutrients.
- Blanching isn’t required, it just gives you a better result. I highly recommend it.
- You can sub out pre-cooked store-bought bacon-- watch the ingredients though. Some of them have a strong maple flavor, which will affect the flavor of this recipe.
- Save time by cooking and prepping the bacon, beans, and sauce ahead of time. Store separately. Let beans sit on the counter for 30 minutes to bring to room temperature. If you start with cold beans, you may need to increase cooking time.
- Don’t overcook the bacon. It will crisp up and cook more when you’re cooking the entire dish in the oven. If you start with crispy bacon, it may burn.
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