Sweet And Sour Green Beans



This is one of those recipes that was told to me over the phone, beginning with “You fry you up some bacon…”. Now in my experience, any recipe that begins with those instructions is gonna be good. I’ve never actually written this one down until now and I’ve never seen it written down so the way I cook it may vary slightly from the way my sister in law makes it, who is the person that gave me the recipe to begin with, but I can guarantee that its good regardless. To add a bit of humor here, the original person this recipe came from is a vegetarian. A vegetarian who cooks with bacon. Now that’s MY kind of Vegetarian!!!

This is the only way I will eat green beans that aren’t fresh from the garden. I haven’t bought canned green beans in close to ten years, I can’t even be bothered with those mooshy things. If you can’t have garden fresh green beans, frozen green beans cooked this way are the way to go! They are absolutely delicious. Don’t go thinking the vinegar makes them really sour, either. In this recipe, it just gives them an extra boost of flavor and is the perfect compliment to the bacon and onions.

Soon as I get this post up, I’m hitting the ground running to get Katy to her ballet recital rehearsal. I have company coming in this afternoon for that and the house is a mess so it’s gonna be one of those days! I hope y’all have a good one and if I haven’t responded to your email, I am going to do my best to get to it this afternoon if I have time. If not, I should be able to get caught up tomorrow!


I like french cut green beans but you can use whichever type you prefer. You’ll need those, a little sugar, a little white vinegar, an onion, some bacon, and a little sugar.

Exact amounts are below. :)


Chop up your onion.

Remember that cajun cooking guy who used to say ON-yon? Loved that guy.


Place your onion in a large skillet. I’m using my cast iron skillet for this one.

A reader asked me in an email (which I haven’t answered yet but hope to this afternoon if I have time before my company gets here and we have to go to Katy’s recital) if you can use cast iron skillets on glass stop stoves. You sure can! Just be careful because with it being so heavy, it would be a lot easier to break the glass top with.

Trust me, if that can happen, I’ll do it eventually.

I like to cut my bacon into pieces before I cook it for this. I just take my kitchen shears and cut it into one inch segments. Kitchen shears are one of the most versatile tools you can have in your kitchen. I have several pairs. Just use them for whatever and plop them in the dishwasher!


You’ll end up with this. This is half a package of bacon and 1/2 an onion.


The bacon pieces are easy to separate as it gets hot and begins to cook. You want to cook this over medium to medium high heat until your bacon is done, stirring frequently to prevent the onions from burning.


Like so. See all of that bacon grease in there? I got a plan for it. You see…these poor beans of ours…


Theys sophisticated beans :).

Bless their hearts. No green bean dreams of growing up and being sophisticated.

Nothing brings a snobby bean back down to earth so it can enjoy the good life like a little bacon grease.

I feel pretty sure this would work for snobby people too. Know any snooty folks in your neck of the woods? Invite ’em over, cook ’em up a mess of something in bacon grease, and see if they don’t leave happier and humbler.

It brings out the best in folks – and beans.


When you bacon and onions are done, remove them to a plate.

This is a Corelle plate in “Snowflake Blue”. Sometimes it is called “Blue Garland”. This is the pattern of dishes my grandmother had when we were little.

Whenever I see these plates I think about “fancy food” like Kentucky Fried Chicken. We couldn’t ever afford it when we were little but often when we went to eat at my Grandmother’s house they would go get KFC chicken and then make homemade mashed potatoes and fried corn to go with it and we’d eat it off of these plates. I always sat beside my great grandmother, Lela, at the big old table in my grandmother’s kitchen. You can see a pic of Lela on this post.

I sure do miss Lela and Grandaddy.


Toss your sophisticated beans in the hot skillet with your bacon grease.

When I did this, I swear those beans let out the biggest sigh of satisfaction.


Stir those often and continue cooking over medium heat until they get a bit tender.

This is where Southerners differ. Tradition deems that we cook the living mess out of our vegetables but I like my beans to have a little bit of life left in them so I stop cooking while there is still a bit of crunch.


Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, when they get to your desired tenderness, add about two tablespoons of vinegar and two tablespoons of sugar. Stir that in.


Add your bacon and onions back in.


Stir that up a bit.

dscn0856Salt and pepper to taste.

I always start with 1/2 tsp or so of each.


We’re going to be serving this in a Pyrex bowl in the “Friendship” pattern. This bowl came from my grandmother and I absolutely love this pattern! I have tried to purchase more of it on Ebay but I seem slightly cursed.

The last time I purchased a set of three mini friendship casseroles. I paid far more than I normally would because I really wanted them and they all came with lids. When I received them, however, The casserole dishes hadn’t been packed all that well and were in shatters, with only the lids surviving. ~laughs~ Might as well laugh coz crying wouldn’t help! I contacted the seller and she refunded me eight dollars of the almost sixty I had paid for them (I told you I bid too much!) but I was still out basically fifty bucks and had three lids to show for it. I’ve been skittish about ordering this pattern ever since.

It’s not that I’m superstitious, I just think some things aren’t meant to be gotten the easy way. So now I’m searching high and low at antique shops. So far I haven’t run across a single thing in this pattern though! Thrill of the hunt I suppose.

Hint: When purchasing on Ebay, if it is something expensive and breakable, I now email the seller and offer to pay an additional three to five dollars to help them package it carefully. This lets them know that you are concerned and helps them to pay special attention to your package. They are also motivated to buy better packing materials since you are paying them to do so (packing can get expensive!). Getting postal insurance has never helped me with this as every time I’ve had a problem the post office just blames it on packaging and says it isn’t their fault and therefore the damage isn’t covered.

So my best bet is to send a nice email, thanking the seller and offering more money. Every time I have done this they have been very appreciative!


Sweet and Sour Green Beans

Guaranteed to please!

Sweet And Sour Green Beans
  • ½ package bacon (6 or 7 slices)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 32 ounces french style green beans (or other green beans)
  • 2 T vinegar
  • 2 T sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut bacon into one inch segments. Place bacon and onions in skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned, stirring often. Remove to plate. Add beans to bacon grease and continue cooking over medium heat until they are to desired tenderness. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir. Add bacon and onions back and let simmer a few minutes, stirring often. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Serve warm. Tell friends about Southern Plate so they can get the recipe, too! ~winks~

“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” – W. Clement Stone

Contributed by Southern Plate Reader, Jay. To submit your quote, click here!

A note on comments: To put it simply, I LOVE COMMENTS! Other reader’s love them, too! Please feel free to have a conversation in them. You are welcome to reply to other comments and chat among yourselves! Southern Plate is it’s own little community and I’m thrilled to have each and every one of you here!


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  1. Lori Lear says

    Christy, I too have the plates from my grandmother that you posted in this recipe and fondly remember sitting across from my grandmother but right beside my grandfather while growing up. Going to be trying this recipe for the first time on Christmas day. Merry Christmas to you and yours and as always, thanks for the laughs. ~ Lori

  2. Laura says

    I smiled when you mention your Grandma’s dishes. I have so many of them and I think (and dream about) her all the time. We were very close. It’s a nice way to remember her and my wonderful childhood memories. I have her Pyrex Autumn Harvest set and use it daily.

  3. Cathy says

    I fixed this for our Sunday school picnic today and I am gonna fuss a little. Could not find french-cut green beans in our WalMart’s freezer so went with regular. I should have cooked the bacon a good bit first…almost done…and THEN added the onion. I dumped the bacon and onion all in at once (as directed by the recipe_, and much of the onion burned since it took way longer to cook the bacon.
    Also, I don’t like crunchy green beans…I don’t want them to taste green at all – so I added a cup of water and boiled the bejesus out of ’em to get them cooked enough. All went well. About half the beans were eaten, but we got there late. More for me to eat later!

  4. says

    I agree with Cathy. Just know I’ll have to add water to the beans. Do like mine well cooked. The bacon, onion, vinegar and sugar bit all sounds like a plus. Will be trying it soon. Also liked the fried cabbage recipe. Think that one would work for me without adding water – just so the cabbage is cut in small pieces. Do enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work!!!!

  5. Connie says

    I loved your comment on the sophisticated beans. I was having a bad day and after reading your stories behind your recipes I had to laugh. you are an awesome person! thanks for making my day!

    • says

      I do pour some off Pat. It really just depends on how much grease the bacon renders when cooking but you want to leave several Tablespoons. As fas as how long to cook the fresh ones, I just cook them until they are tender. It isn’t about a specific time, just cook until they are tender enough for your taste.

  6. missy says

    christy, we love these in our house. i have a quick question though, in your cookbook you say that you freeze these for future use. if i was to make a double/triple batch for my daughter’s first communion party, how would you recommend i reheat them? oven is already full. i was thinking crockpot or microwave? trying to avoid stovetop day of because i’ll need it to set hot stuff down on in my small kitchen…

  7. Karen Garrett says

    Funny you mentioned about the crunchy green beans, so many recipes call for fresh green beans and tell you to cook about 5 minutes. I like the life cooked out of mine, the longer they cook the better I think they taste. I have never used frozen bought beans I always used canned or fresh. I froze some from my garden one year and by the time I cooked them enough to lose the green taste and crunch they became mushy and fell apart. Might try the bought kind though in this recipe and see if I have better luck. They sound like they would be good and my husband would probably like them as he is wild about vegetables so I like to try new recipes for variety. He has been on a diet and has to watch his fat content so I believe I may cut back on the amount of bacon I put in these. Thanks for the recipe though, will give it a try!

  8. Sherry crutchfield says

    I made these and they were delish! I think I may have cooked them alittle too long but they were still so yummy. I used apple smoked bacon when I made them! Thanks for the recipe. I have never made anything of yours that we didnt like!

  9. Tania Lynn Petry says

    My boyfriend and I are in a long distance relationship–difficult to say the least. He is coming in May for a visit. It has been a long time since we’ve seen each other. But, I’ve already got my menu for the first evening–Chicken Poulet, Sweet and Sour green beans, mashed potatoes, 10-minute rolls and buttermilk congealed salad (cherry)! The man LOVES my cooking! I was already a good cook, but your recipes have broadened my repertoire.

  10. Shirley Towe says

    This is similar to the way I make my green beans.
    Except… I use lean country ham fried in olive oil..until crisp. I then remove the ham. Add water to the drippings and then
    Add your green beans, 2 tsps. apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp sugar (or 1 pk splenda) 2 tsp of salt. add water to cover and cook till the doneness you like and boil dry.
    You may use canned beans and just leave out the salt and cook till done.
    Boiling the water down makes the delicious sauce the beans cook in.
    A little bit healthier for those who do eat the fat of meat.

  11. says

    Green beans have always been my nemesis. My Mom always makes really good green beans (and she’s a yankee to boot!) but my paternal Grandmother made the absolute best…and yes, she was a true “grow my own veggies and can them” southern lady! My green beans, they are terrible each and every time I make them. I had saved my bacon grease, because, well, um, I’m southern? I don’t really know why, I just do. I hadn’t used any yet, but after reading your post, I decided to try making green beans one more time.

    I used 1 1/2 T of bacon grease (plus lots of little bits), 1 bag of frozen french cut green beans (frozen, not defrosted). Cooked them in a large pan adding salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. Cooked some more, added water, cooked even more, (yep, I like mine good and cooked) and OH MY! They were so D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!!! I never thought I would EVER say that about my green beans, but I had to stop myself from eating them all in one sitting!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for this post! You have saved my green beans!

  12. Beulah says

    I love green beans, they are probably my favorite veggie! I like to take a heel of homemade bread when it gets sorta dried out, sprinkle some black pepper on it and cover irt with hot green beans and a little of the bean juice, yum!!!!

  13. Ruth says

    Like louanne, my German grandmother frequently made these, but I seem to recall that they just might have had a slightly thickened dressing. Loved them. The lunchroom ladies in a local school here in Florida make this dish but there’ s usually chunks of ham instead of bacon, but nevertheless, I made sure I always got a healthy portion, with cornbread on the side.. You realize that you’re now dealing with a “Yankee Southerner.” :) .

  14. C. Wayne Lammers says

    Dear Christy,

    Just found your site and am loving reading your articles. I was raised in an old Boarding House in Little Rock, AR in the early 50s through the first part of the 60s where we fed as many as three to four hundred at each meal. We had the contract to feed ned recruits in the military for the four or five days they spent in town. So many of your recipes are the same I learned before I could reach over a ten-burner stove. Sure brings back memories.

    Here is a little tip we used in those days. Any canned green vegetable, mainly green beans and greens can be improved by flavoring with bacon and/or bacon grease. Just before serving, throw about a good three-fingered pinch of bakeing soda into the pot and stir, which will cause it to foam up momentarily. This action makes the grease stick to the beans or greens. Since the flavor is in the grease, your vegetables will taste more like fresh instead of canned.

    Looking forward to reading much moe of your site. You are a wonderful Southern Lady and a great cook and writer.

    C. Wayne Lammers

  15. Pat says

    Wow! Now I’m really feeling old! I have those exact dishes but I got them from my bridal shower. Ok, so it WAS 41 years ago. :)

    Love this recipe! I also love the way you write. Reminds me of my relatives from the south.

  16. Sharon Rose says

    Oh, Christy you brought back some memories of Justin Wilson cooking his ON-yons. He was so entertaining to watch and his stories were real gems, I gar-on-tee! Unfortunately he died in 2001 and I still can catch some of his episodes on TV now and then. He was a character. These beans are lip smacking! I like to throw some bacon pieces in my cornbread too. Yummy good. Love your blog and your stories (and recipes). Love to your beautiful family and as it’s Easter 2013-Happy Easter to all!

  17. Marilyn Hansen says

    If you have any left over boiled potatoes — just cut them into chunks and stir them into the green beans and heat all together until piping hot. You have your starch and your veggie and only one pot to clean.

  18. Karla S says

    I can’t wait to try these with the vinegar & sugar!!! (I already use bacon grease for a LOT of recipes lol) – just a tip, when buying on eBay, if you use paypal, paypal will refund your money for those broken dishes (you have to open a “dispute”) and they will reclaim it back off the seller….who obviously didn’t back the dishes as good as they should have – and if it wasn’t packed as good as it should have been because of the cost of packaging, then they should include those materials in part of the postage. But just remember – using Paypal gives you that little extra piece of mind. :-)

  19. Chris A. says

    Made these over Easter holiday and my husband LOVED them. I wasn’t totally crazy about the sugar in them but will definitely make again just because he liked tem so well!

  20. Don Brown says

    I have made these for years. im cooking for 13 so i use 7 cans of Green Beans and a pound of Bacon. I also flavor with salt, pepper and garlic and crumble the bacon back over the beans. My kids love them and i almost or never have any left.

  21. Kim Clemons says

    I love your blog and recipes. My husband is blaming you for my new obession which is Pyrex bowls and casseroles and oh my now plates. I am kidding about the blame.He actually likes them as much as I do.Keep up the good work. Let me know when you come to Nashville area for a book signing!

  22. Tracy says

    I finally made these over the weekend and I just ate a bowl of leftovers for lunch — they are so good! My sweetheart said, “Now THAT’S a green bean I can eat!” We love ’em! Thanks!

  23. Margaret says

    Maybe you should try canned green beans again. They are not mushy. I used to wouldn’t eat them either but love to just drain some french cut canned green beans and toss them in a hot skillet with a little bacon fat until heated through. For the cook all day kind, Allen’s Sunshine Green Beans are great. Just be careful to not get the pre-seasoned ones. My last home canned ones were mushy. I’m to arthritic to do much growing and canning these days so I’m appreciating store bought frozen veggies like I never thought I would.

  24. Gloria says

    Just read your recipe for Sweet and Sour Greens -Friends have always thought it strange that I sprinkled sugar on green beans. Now I know this is not quite so strange! I have some green beans and plan to try this very soon. Sounds really good!

  25. JoanS says

    Never having cooked for anything but family, I don’t know the answer to the following question? How many green beans should you cook for 45??????? Thank you for answering!

    Enjoy everything about you!!!

    • says

      Hmm. Okay I would immediately reduce that number to 35 because not everyone will eat green beans. Also, there tend to be an abundance of sides so folks dont normally eat the amount they might at other meals. Based on that, I’d make three to four recipes of this. The plus is that if any are left they freeze exceptionally well.
      I’m sorry this is so quick. My daughter is about to go play at a friends house and she’s tripping over me with excitement :)


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