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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.

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    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. 
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 25 minutes
    Total Time 30 minutes
    Servings 4 people
    Author Rachel Ballard

    Ingredients
      

    • 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!

    Instructions
     

    • 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. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 63kcal
    Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
    Course Side Dish
    Cuisine American

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    163 Comments

    1. How much do you REALLY reduce the liquid? 1. You say “cook about 90% of the water off.” Then you say 2. “When there’s a 1/2 [1/2 of the water?] left in the bottom of the pan, turn your beans off and walk away. Then you say 3.”Reduce heat to medium-high and cook until the water reduces by 3/4.” So we seem to be left with three different directions!

      1. Hi Jack, you reduce the liquid by half, turn off the heat then turn them back on and reduce that by 3/4. It leaves you with just a couple of tablespoons in the bottom when you’re done. –Rachel

      1. Anything is possible Cheryl! That’s a ton of people but I’d calculate how big you want each serving to be. Usually a half cup or so is typical. Then multiply and make the recipe as usual. Find a really, really big pot or a few small ones and make them the same day and reheat in time to serve. –Rachel

      1. I would love that Susan. I actually never, ever recommend bouillon cubes. This recipe recommends Better Than Bouillon Paste which isn’t anything like cubes. If you want to ruin a recipe those things are the sure fire way to do it. If you do use broth, make sure it’s unsalted so you can season separately. As the broth simmers down, the salt concentrates too much and could really ruin your beans. –Rachel

    2. 5 stars
      I am ready to try this delicious sounding recipe. Maybe I overlooked it, but when should I add the bacon? Do I add it right before I serve it or do I let the bacon simmer with the bean the entire time?

    3. 5 stars
      I’ve made this with both better than bouillon beef base and ham base. Both are good but I preferred the beef base. Maybe I’ll try 1/2 teaspoon of each next time.

    4. Had anyone ever done this with potatoes added in? I have a big southern family that wants extra starch added to everything :p I’m worried that they’ll turn to mush if I cook them with the beans, but worried they won’t soak up all the flavor if I only cook them in the bouillon the second cooking go-round. Any advice?

      1. Amy I do it with potatoes. Use the “little” ones or cube yours to about an inch in diameter and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, then just turn it off and let the potatoes sit in the broth. It’s okay if there’s still quite a bit of liquid in the pot. Then reheat everything together before serving and if you need to pour off a bit of the liquid, you can do that or just leave it. My family doesn’t mind a slotted spoon to dip out what they want. –Rachel

    5. I have been doing the beef bouillon for a long time. but I do cut up some onion and bacon to add, each to there own, just my preference.

    6. Love this recipe! Only thing I do different is drain water from can and refill it with beef broth. I don’t like the can taste that comes from the water in can.

    7. 5 stars
      I’ve been cooking my green beans this way for years, I asked an Aunt about her green beans many years ago and she told me this secret, I used bouillon cubes for years, so glad we have the “better than bouillon” option today. I’ve been complimented many times over the years! While I still love some good southern style fresh green beans, this method is so much better than just plain canned green beans.

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