Sweet and Sour Green Beans made with canned green beans, smokey bacon, crunchy water chestnuts, and sweet onions is a little bit sweet, a little bit sour, and a whole lot of delicious, bite after bite!
It’s also one of those classic dishes that you will turn to time and time again when you want a special vegetable side dish. This make-ahead recipe is perfect whether you serve it with a quick meal or at a dinner party.
Side dishes, especially those made with canned vegetables, don’t usually get top billing and are often overlooked because, well, they are just “side” dishes! That is until today! While canned vegetables are good on their own, these Sweet and Sour Green Beans up the ante and are the kind of side dish that will have you coming back for more.
This easy recipe makes a flavorful side dish with an unexpected twist for Easter, Thanksgiving, or any special occasion. They are also just as wonderful when paired with barbecue for a backyard cookout and would make an awesome dish to take to a potluck.
Here’s what you will need:
There are only six ingredients:
- Canned green beans – the ultimate convenience food, canned vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh because canning preserves the nutrients.
- Bacon – with its delicious smoky taste, bacon makes any dish more flavorful, and this recipe is no exception.
- Water chestnuts – add a pleasing crunch and earthy flavor. You can find them already sliced in the Asian section of your grocery store.
- Onions – bring their familiar sweet oniony taste to this dish. I like to use Vidalia when they are in season, but any sweet yellow onion will work.
- Sugar – is responsible for half of the sweet and sour taste and combines with vinegar to make the tangy sauce.
- Vinegar – is sugar’s partner in this dish and makes up the other half of the flavorful sweet and sour tasting sauce.
Here’s how to make them:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pan-fry the bacon in a large oven-safe saute pan over medium-low heat. Turn frequently and cook for about ten minutes or until it is browned and crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Leave the drippings in the pan.
- Add the sugar and vinegar to the pan drippings and stir until well combined.
- Add the sliced onions and cook for 15 minutes.
- Then add one can of drained beans and one can that has not been drained.
- Add a can of drained sliced water chestnuts. Combine and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Crumble the bacon and add it to the dish – cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
Frequently asked questions:
Green beans and cornbread go together like shrimp and grits. Try my Traditional Southern Style Cornbread, gluten-free Old-Fashioned Southern Cornbread, or Jalapeno Cornbread for a match made in heaven.
If you are looking for additional ways to serve this versatile vegetable, try heating them on the stove and adding a few ingredients. First, drain them and add them to a skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
Add about a tablespoon of butter or bacon grease. Once warmed through, add a touch of salt and garlic powder. Then, add a tablespoon or so of any or a combination of these ingredients: sliced almonds, pesto, lemon zest, soy sauce, crumbled bacon, cherry tomatoes cut in half, pinenuts, or parmesan cheese or feta cheese, and serve. Alternatively, you can heat them covered in the microwave for about a minute.
Leftovers can be stored covered in your refrigerator for up to four days. After that, they can be reheated covered in the microwave or a saucepan on the stove.
One of the nice things about canned vegetables is that they should last three to five years if properly stored and are a great pantry staple. However, you should occasionally inspect your cans to check the expiration dates and discard any leaking or misshapen.
The nutritional value of canned vegetables is just about the same as fresh because canning is done at the peak of their freshness, and it preserves their vitamins and minerals. However, they can be high in sodium.
- This dish is delicious, served either warm or at room temperature.
- You can also make this dish up to 24 hours ahead and reheat before serving.
- Fresh cooked or frozen beans can be substituted in this recipe, but you will have to add about one-half cup of water or chicken broth to make up for the lack of liquid.
- If you are trying to cut back on salt, you can certainly use low or reduced-sodium canned vegetables.
If you like this recipe, you might like these other green bean recipes on my blog: Southern Green Beans and New Potatoes, Green Bean Bundles Wrapped in Bacon, Green Bean Pie with Ritz Cracker Crust, and Roasted Green Beans with Lemon and Bacon.
Other popular Southern-style vegetable side dish recipes include Fried Cabbage, Collard Greens, Squash Casserole, Fried Sweet Corn, Tomato Pie, Baked Tomato Casserole, Succotash, and Fried Green Tomatoes.
If you need more menu ideas, here is a link to all of my side dish recipes.
Special thanks to Brenda Godfrey of Fairhope, Alabama, for sharing this recipe with me to share it with you!.
★ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and give it a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thank you so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones; I hope you come back soon!
Southern-Style Canned Green Beans Recipe (Sweet and Sour)
- 6 slices bacon
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup white vinegar
- ½ yellow sweet onion medium, sliced
- 2 cans cut green beans 14.5 oz cans, low sodium
- 8 ounces water chestnuts canned, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pan-fry the bacon in a large oven-safe saute pan over medium-low heat and frequently turn for about 10 minutes or until it is browned and crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Leave the drippings in the pan.
- Add sugar and vinegar and stir until everything is well combined. Add the onions and cook for 15 minutes.
- Add two cans of green beans, one drained and one not drained, and add the can of drained sliced water chestnuts. Combine and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Crumble the bacon and add it to the green bean mixture – cover and bake for 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately!
- First, drain them and add them to a skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
- Add about a tablespoon of butter or bacon grease. Once warmed through, add a touch of salt and garlic powder.
- Then, add a tablespoon or so of any or a combination of these ingredients: sliced almonds, pesto, lemon zest, soy sauce, crumbled bacon, cherry tomatoes cut in half, pinenuts, or parmesan cheese or feta cheese, and serve.
**This recipe was originally published on January 18, 2017. It was republished on May 11, 2021, with new photos, a “how-to” video, a FAQ section, and expanded tips. There is no change to the original recipe.