Slow-Cooker Green Beans

4.3
(3)

This recipe frees up precious stove-top space and reminds us of the traditional green beans our grandmothers used to make.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 20 mins
Servings:
8 servings
Yield:
8 cups

There's something about mixing vegetables and bacon that leads to the perfect Southern side dish. From collard greens to pot pie filling, we like to incorporate savory, crispy bacon into every possible dish—including this slow-cooker green bean side dish. 

This easy green bean recipe is the perfect way to bring a Southern comfort-food classic to your dinner table. Cooking it in a Crockpot makes it easy and hands-free. Fresh green beans, crispy bits of pan-fried bacon, yellow onions, and an herb infusion of fresh thyme sprigs all come together to form a classic dish that reminds us of the traditional green bean dishes our grandmothers used to make. A staple side dish, this easy recipe is great for Thanksgiving crowds or busy weeknights alike.

Slow-Cooker Green Beans

Stacy K. Allen; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Should You Make Slow Cooker Green Beans for Thanksgiving?

Green beans hold a special place in many families’ hearts for Thanksgiving. But let’s face it: Space is at a premium when it comes to cooking up a holiday feast—and we aren’t just talking about around your dinner table. The oven and stovetop are in high demand on any multi-course meal, so lean on a slow-cooker to save some precious space. 

How Do You Prep Fresh Green Beans?

You’ll know your green beans are fresh when they make a satisfying “snap” when bent in half, so be sure to check for freshness before you purchase them.

Once home, trim off the ends with a knife, and peel away any of the hard-to-chew fibers along the edge. Then give them a good rinse.

If you’d like to cut them in half to make them bite-sized, feel free—some cooks like to keep them long for a more elegant presentation, but that’s a matter of preference that won’t affect your slow cooker green beans recipe.

How Long Should You Cook Green Beans?

When cooking fresh green beans in a slow cooker, two pounds will take about three hours on high. The end goal is to serve green beans that are tender and crisp with a bright-green color. 

slow-cooker green beans

Stacy K. Allen; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Can You Overcook Green Beans in a Slow Cooker?

Yes, you can overcook slow-cooker green beans, and then you’ll be left with a drab, mushy side dish. In order to maintain the vibrant green color and crisp texture, it’s important to keep an eye on timing—three hours on high is all these slow cooker green beans need.

If you’ve miscalculated your other dishes and need to buy some time, turn the slow cooker to the “warm” setting to stop the cooking process but maintain the heat. 

What Can You Add to Green Beans for Flavor?

In a word: bacon. Flash-frying fresh green beans in bacon drippings give this green bean dish major flavor, while slow-cooking them in simmering chicken broth with two slices of bacon makes sure that the savory flavor of bacon lingers throughout every single bite.

Once the beans are tender, top them with crunchy bits of bacon for the ultimate vegetable side dish—you just might find yourself cooking this green bean recipe as a weeknight main. 

cooking bacon in skillet

Stacy K. Allen; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Aside from the bacon in this slow-cooker green beans recipe, the yellow onions add a rich, umami flavor and a subtle sweetness to the dish. And the thyme sprigs will add fresh, herbaceous notes without overwhelming the dish. 

Can You Substitute Dried Thyme for Fresh?

Fresh herbs always add the most flavor and aroma, but dried can work in a pinch. It’s important to note that it’s not a 1:1 substitution, however, because fresh herbs are more potent. The general rule of thumb is one tablespoon of fresh herbs equals one teaspoon of dried herbs. 

Ingredients

  • 8 thick-cut bacon slices, divided

  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 4 thyme sprigs

Directions

  1. Cut 6 of the bacon slices into ½-inch pieces. Cook, stirring often, in a large skillet over medium-high until crispy, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain; reserve drippings in skillet. Crumble cooked bacon, and set aside.

    cooking bacon in skillet

    Stacy K. Allen; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

    Add onion to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in green beans; cook, stirring often, 2 minutes.

    onions in skillet

    Stacy K. Allen; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

  2. Transfer green bean mixture to a 5-quart slow cooker. Stir in broth, salt, pepper, thyme sprigs, and 2 uncooked bacon slices. Cover and cook on HIGH until beans are tender, about 3 hours. Discard bacon and thyme; top with crumbled cooked bacon.

    slow-cooker green beans

    Stacy K. Allen; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

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