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How to make canned green beans taste better

Reality is that most people don’t have a garden. And if you want to get even more real, it’s probably safe to say you haven’t so much as stuck your pinky finger in any dirt to grow anything, ever. But you like yourself some good green beans and would love that home-grown, slow cooked taste on your dinner table.  You can actually get it from a canned green bean. Here’s every tip you need to make canned green beans taste better–or dare I say–good enough you won’t even need a garden. 

a plate of green beans with bacon on a napkin

The secret to make a canned green bean taste better isn’t the least bit difficult, I promise. And while my grandmother and even my mom still use the bacon or ham-hock approach to their beans, I’ve gone a different route over the last year or so and I have to say, they make some pretty fabulous green beans–leaving them tender and full of slow-c00ked flavor when they didn’t take very long at all.

You can use my great bean approach with any style you like. The trick here is simple: you need canned beans, some beef bouillon and two cooking times. Now don’t die…let me explain.

A note on salt and bouillon

You start by dumping your canned beans into a pot (don’t drain them). Then I use my favorite beef bouillon called Better Than Bouillon or you can use a cube of it if you’d prefer. You can find either of these in the soup section of your grocery store. Certain brands of bouillon are very salty. Powdered ones are terrible. Please keep this in mind and start with half as much if you are afraid of over salting.

I’ve never had any issues with Better Than Bouillon being too salty but I cannot speculate on the others–some can ruin a dish easily so try to get what we know works.

a shallow bowl of cooked green beans with a serving spoon on a napkin

Then you turn your beans on high heat and bring them to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-high and then cook about 90% of the water off. When there’s a 1/2 left in the bottom of the pan, turn your beans off and walk away.

If you can, leave them sitting on the stove top for several hours. It’s fine to leave them there all day while you’re gone to work or you can put them in the fridge if that freaks you out and do the second step when you get in.

The final step is to bring them back to a low simmer and cook off the rest of the liquid and serve–that takes about 10 minutes or so.  A long rest between cooking gives the bouillon time to really get in to the beans and they take on a soft, slow-cooked flavor. No one will ever know you don’t have a half-acre of them in the back yard.

I’ll attempt to make this in to a logical recipe you can follow.

a plate of green beans with bacon on a napkin

How to make canned green beans taste better

Just because your beans come canned and from a grocery store doesn’t mean they can’t have that classic slow-cooked flavor you crave. Easy steps and no-fuss. 
4.82 from 27 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 63kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard


  • 2 14.5 ounce cans green beans of your choice canned in water
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon base 1 cube beef bouilon would also work but watch the salt!


  • In a medium sauce pan, empty in the cans of green beans with their water. Add the beef bouillon. 
  • Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook until the water reduces by 3/4. Turn off heat and set beans aside on the stovetop or in the fridge for one to two hours or overnight is fine. 
  • When ready to eat, bring the beans back to a simmer on the stove top and cook to remove the remaining water. Serve warm. 


Calories: 63kcal

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Recipe Rating


Friday 27th of November 2020

It can be hard for a southern girl to change from her tried & true recipes. I've made green beans with ham hock or salt pork all my life - sometimes canned and sometimes fresh. While my mom taught me many wonderful recipes that were passed down to her, I've gradually been trying simpler, equally delicious one over the last several years. You can't get much simpler than these green beans and they definitely will be my new go to. I used a larger pot than my 3 cans of Allens Italian beans needed because the liquid could cook down faster. I used the Better Than Bouillon that Rachel suggested and it was delicious without any extra seasoning. Cooked for about 30 mins in the morning. Changed them into a smaller pot to take up less room on the stove on Thanksgiving and reheated them for a 4PM dinner. They were delicious and simple. Thanks for an updated way to fix green beans that tastes like a whole lot more effort went into them!

Rachel Ballard

Friday 27th of November 2020

Cathy that's wonderful!


Thursday 26th of November 2020

If you have beef broth instead do you just add a teaspoon of that instead of the cube of bouillon?

Rachel Ballard

Thursday 26th of November 2020

I'm assuming you mean non concentrated, regular beef broth. If that's the case then you can simply swap half the water in the beans for half beef broth or you can use all beef broth but you sometimes have to be careful as it boils down because the salt content can get very strong so just make sure you're using a low sodium version. --Rachel

Amber Kindle

Thursday 26th of November 2020

This recipe is very easy to make and full of flavor. I use Vegan Not-Beef bouillon cubes. I've made this recipe before and my entire family loves them. I'm following this recipe again tomorrow as one of my Thanksgiving sides. Thank you for sharing with us!


Friday 20th of November 2020


I want to apologize for the few ignorant people that comment negatively. Some people just aren’t kind.

Your time and recipes are greatly appreciated.

Thank You.


Wednesday 28th of October 2020

Used this recipe in a take over dinner to a young couple w a new baby. Delicious! Did add a little crumbled bacon as it simmered and left that in.