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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. 
4.83 from 28 votes
Print Pin Save Recipe
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

Jane Beasley

Friday 19th of February 2021

This recipe sounds really and I'm going to try it. Can I use chicken bouillon instead of beef?

Rachel Ballard

Saturday 20th of February 2021

Yes Jane you can! I have used both and like beef better, but chicken works fine. --Rachel

Carol Hubbard

Monday 25th of January 2021

I have a question. Do you just add a teaspoon of the Better than Bouillon beef flavor to the liquid with the beans or do you add a cup of bouillon either homemade or made with BTB?

Rachel Ballard

Monday 25th of January 2021

Hi Carol That's a teaspoon of the paste in to the water. --Rachel


Sunday 24th of January 2021

My new go-to canned bean recipe! My grandmother used to can half runners, so I never had to eat canned green beans. She passed away several years ago, and I have been missing her beans a lot, especially at the holidays. I found this recipe and made them for Christmas this year. While not identical, this recipe gives canned beans a similar consistency and texture to her home canned beans. Thank you!


Friday 15th of January 2021

I have to be honest and say I do not like green beans. When I make them for my family, I make another vegetable for myself. However, I tried this recipe, and I ate all my green beans and another helping as well. These are great! And if you don’t believe it, just try it. I use Better than Bouillion as well so I can’t say what using another type might be like, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say to try using that specific brand. Thank you for making my life easier and better!

Rachel Ballard

Saturday 16th of January 2021

Oh that's great to hear SueEliza. I'm glad it's helpful! --Rachel


Friday 1st of January 2021

I decided to try this recipe because I had canned green beans and really wanted them to taste better. They turned out ok, but to salty for me. So I drained the cans and added some of my homemade stock and continued with your instructions and they turned out wonderful. Thanks!

Rachel Ballard

Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Bouillon is historically unpredictable with the sodium Margaret. That's why homemade is always best or the one brand I recommend in the post. -Rachel