These Fresh Green Beans with Bacon, Dijon Maple Sauce, Caramelized Pecans, and Feta aren’t your grandmother’s green beans – no offense grandma.

In need of a quick and easy Thanksgiving side dish? These green beans and bacon are a total winner! Plus, they can be made in advance.

top view of fresh green beans with bacon in a white serving dish

Fresh Green Beans with Bacon

I was in charge of making the “green bean casserole” for Thanksgiving a couple times back in the day so I whipped up my mom’s green beans that have been passed down for generations.  They were comforting and homey but there is a reason they are only made once a year.  Isn’t it funny how we only make certain foods only once a year because it’s an obligatory Thanksgiving item?

But what if green beans weren’t canned?  What if green beans weren’t smothered in mystery “cream-of-something-soup?  What if green beans weren’t bland and boring but fresh, exciting and exploding with flavor and texture?

I give you such green beans.

While these Dijon Maple Green Beans might sound like another Thanksgiving recipe, they are not just a Thanksgiving recipe.  They are going to become a year-round favorite dinner side, favorite side to impress company and favorite side when you simply crave crisp tender green beans sauteed in butter, garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes, infused with a sauce of Dijon, pure maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar topped with the crunch of bacon, sweet caramelized pecans and creamy Feta cheese.

Tangy, salty, sweet, crunchy, crispy, creamy – AKA, in my humble opinion, “the best green beans ever,” or at least that’s what I repeatedly exclaimed to myself when I tried to stop eaten them long enough to take pictures.

Move over, green bean casserole, there is a new exquisitely beautiful and exquisitely delicious green bean side in town.  And it goes by Dijon Maple Green Beans with Caramelized Pecans, Bacon and Feta.  Not your grandmother’s green beans.

front view of green beans recipe with bacon and pecans with a wood serving spoon

Green Beans and Bacon Ingredients

Despite the long recipe title, these sautéed green beans with bacon have a fairly short ingredient list:

  • Fresh green beans: Trim the ends before blanching and sautéing them.
  • Butter: Just 2 tablespoons adds lots of flavor to these beans.
  • Shallot: I prefer using a shallot because it has a light garlicky-onion flavor. But a small, mild onion may be substituted.
  • Garlic: Don’t be tempted to throw in extra garlic as it can easily overwhelm this dish.
  • Maple syrup: Use pure maple syrup, NOT pancake syrup.
  • Dijon mustard: Has a wonderful depth of flavor that regular mustard lacks.
  • Balsamic vinegar: Adds some tanginess to the dish.
  • Caramelized nuts: You need just 5 minutes to make my favorite caramelized nuts.
  • Bacon: Needs to be cooked until crisp and then crumbled.
  • Feta cheese: Adds extra saltiness the perfectly complements the sweet dressing.

How to Pick Fresh Green Beans

With the abundance of green beans in season, our Dijon Maple Green Beans boast fresh green beans instead of canned.   You will need 1 ½ pounds fresh green beans for this recipe.  Here are some helpful tips to select the freshest and therefore the most flavorful fresh green beans:

  • Color:  Green beans should be vibrant green.  They should not be yellowish or brownish and should be free from brown blemishes.
  • Texture:  The skin of the green beans should be smooth and tight.  It should be free from bumps, bruises and blemishes.  These can indicate overripe green beans.
  • Structure:  Fresh green beans should be firm and not limp or flabby.  The green beans should snap when bent.
  • Size.  Select, thin, small green beans.  This indicates they will be tender and flavorful.  Large green beans that are excessively thick can be tough or stringy.

How to Prep Fresh Green Beans

  • Wash fresh green beans thoroughly in cool water. Repeat.
  • Pat green beans dry.
  • Trim the stems off the green beans in batches. You can trim them straight or at a slight diagonal for a more gourmet look.
  • The most efficient way to trim fresh green beans is to line a small bunch on a cutting board so the ends are even on one side. Trim the ends on this even side.
  • Level the other side and trim those ends.
  • Beans are more aesthetically pleasing left whole but if they are extra long, then you can cut them in half.
showing how to boil green beans then how to sautee green beans wiith  Dijon maple sauce

How To Store Fresh Green Beans

If you’re making these Dijon Maple Green Beans for Thanksgiving, you aren’t going to want to wait to the last minute to purchase your green beans – or else they could all be sold out!  Thankfully green beans store very well.  To store fresh green beans:

  • Do NOT wash the beans.  Wait until you are ready to cook your green beans to wash them otherwise moisture can be left on them which can cause mold.
  • Use a paper towel.  Line an airtight container or large freezer bag with a paper towel. The paper towel will absorb any moisture and prevent the green beans from growing mold.  
  • Remove excess air.  If using a resealable bag, try and push out as much air as possible before you seal it.
  • Store.  Store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for 5-7 days.

What is the best way to cook fresh green beans?

There are several ways to cook fresh green beans from sautéing, roasting, or steaming.  No matter the method, the most important part of cooking fresh green beans is to not OVER-COOK them.  We want crisp-tender green beans and never mushy green beans.

My preferred method of cooking fresh green beans is to blanch them for tenderness and then sauté them for flavor.  To do this:

  • Add water to a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
  • Add about ⅛ teaspoon salt.
  • Carefully add green beans using a slotted spoon or strainer so the water doesn’t splatter and burn you.
  • Boil green beans for 2 minutes. Make sure you set a timer.
  • Drain green beans in a strainer.
  • Immediately add green beans to an ice bath.

How Long to Blanch Green Beans?

The fresh green beans need to blanch for just 2 minutes in boiling water. Set a timer!

WHAT IS AN ICE BATH FOR COOKING?

If you aren’t familiar with an ice bath, it is used to quickly stop the cooking process.  We need an ice bath to stop our green beans from cooking because we are going to sauté them later.  If they continue to cook, they will become mushy and unappetizing.

Prepare your ice bath before you start cooking your green beans so it is all ready for you.  To make an ice bath, simply fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.

showing how to caramelize pecans for green bean casserole

How to Make Fresh Green Beans with Bacon

I’ve given detailed instructions below on how to make this green bean side dish, but here’s an overview of the process:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard-maple sauce. Set aside.
  2. Blanch green beans in a large stock pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer beans to a large bowl of ice water.
  3. In a saucepan, sauté the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes n some melted butter.
  4. Add beans and Dijon-maple sauce and continue to cook until beans are evenly coated in the sauce and beans and cooked to desired crisp-tenderness.
  5. Garnish with caramelized nuts, bacon and Feta.

Tips for Making Green Beans and Bacon

  • Double the sauce: I tend to like more Dijon Maple Sauce than some, so you might want to Double the Dijon Maple Sauce and add to taste.
  • Use fresh green beans: Make sure your beans are green all over and aren’t soft or spotty.
  • Use plain bacon: You don’t want to use flavored bacon for this dish since there are already so many wonderful flavors in this green bean dish. Plain bacon is the way to go!
up close of fresh green beans with bacon in a white casserole dish

CAN GREEN BEANS with Bacon BE MADE AHEAD of Time?

Yes!  These green beans are excellent to make ahead of time for stress-free Thanksgiving or entertaining.  To make ahead:

  • Blanch the green beans according to directions and immediately transfer to a water bath.
  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add beans and Dijon Maple Sauce and stir to coat green beans but do NOT continue to cook. Once green beans are coated in sauce, immediately remove from heat.
  • You can also make the caramelized pecans in advance and store the in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
  • You can cook the bacon up to 2 days in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How to Reheat Fresh Green Beans with Bacon

To reheat, add green beans to a skillet and sauté until they achieve desired crisp tenderness. Garnish with feta, bacon and caramelized nuts.

How to Store Green Beans and Bacon

Leftovers will last up to 5 days in the fridge. If possible, store the toppings and the beans separately so nothing gets soggy.

fresh green beans with bacon, pecans and feta in a white serving dish

WHAT TO SERVE WITH GREEN BEANS and Bacon

These green beans are an excellent side to Thanksgiving Turkey as well as:

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Dijon Maple Green Beans

Dijon Maple Green Beans with Caramelized Pecans, Bacon and Feta are tangy, salty, sweet, crunchy, crispy, creamy AKA, “the best green beans ever.” They aren't just for Thanksgiving but a year round company pleasing, delicious side.
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • dash of red pepper

Dijon Maple Sauce

Garnish

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix together the Dijon Maple Sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  • Blanch green beans in a large stock pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer beans to a large bowl of ice water.
  • Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute. Add beans and Dijon Maple Sauce and continue to saute until beans are evenly coated in the sauce and beans and cooked to desired crisp-tenderness.
  • Taste and season with additional red pepper flakes and freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with caramelized pecans, bacon and Feta.

Notes

I tend to like more Dijon Maple Sauce than some, so you might want to Double the Dijon Maple Sauce and add to taste.

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39 Comments

  1. Renee's Kitchen Adventures says

    What a fantastic looking side dish! Like you say, perfect for the holidays or really anytime! Veggies need to get some love too! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thank you Renee, its always fun to dress up veggies and turn them into something extraordinary 🙂

  2. Valerie | From Valerie's Kitchen says

    Your dijon maple sauce is similar to a sauce I do with chicken and I know I would love it! These green beans are so much better than the old, tired, green beans you usually come across for Thanksgiving. Lovely!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Valerie, great minds think alike! I need to go and try your chicken recipe 🙂

  3. Thalia @ butter and brioche says

    Oh god these green beans look delicious with all that crispy bacon and feta ontop.. I can imagine how good they must have tasted. Definitely a recipe I can see myself making!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Thalia! I hope you love them! I have to warn you they are perfectly addicting 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Sinea! I love this combination of flavors as well – its fun to be able to combine them all into one delicious recipe 🙂 Enjoy!

  4. Jessi says

    I just got tasked with the ‘green bean casserole’ this Thanksgiving, but I’m revolting! This is just what I was looking for and I think our meat-and-potatoes guys will dig this….especially with the bacon bonus. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Jen says

      LOL! I felt the same way years ago when I was asked to bring the green bean casserole! I am so happy you found this recipe and yes, bacon makes everything better! Enjoy and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Jessi says

        Btw, we will be traveling later this week so we had our early Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family yesterday….and the green beans were a hit! All I said was, ‘No mushroom soup in this one’. We all enjoyed them. Thanks again! Happy T-giving to you and yours

  5. Lauren says

    I am super excited about this recipe but I was just curious is this served hot or is it something that can be made the day before or the day of and still be yummy at room temperature or cold?

    • Jen says

      Hi Lauren! It is best served hot but can definitely be served at room temperature. You can always microwave it without the bacon and feta until just warmed through. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Jen says

    I made this recipe for my family today (Thanksgiving) and my mom assigned me the green beans side for the rest of my life. Needless to say, they were a HIT! Thanks so much for posting this amazing recipe!

    • Jen says

      LOL! I am so happy everyone loved them enough to give you lifetime bean duty 🙂 YAY! Thank you SO much for sharing that they were a hit! I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Rachel says

    I made these for Thanksgiving this year- they were a hit! Everyone voted to make these the new regular recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jen says

      That’s fabulous Rachel, so happy to hear it! And you are most welcome, THANK YOU for making my day!

      • Pam says

        Can’t fine the recipe for the pecans. Can you please send. Gone through everything and can’t fine. Thank you

        • Jen says

          Hi Pam! It is the green link under garnishes that says, “1/3 cup Recipe 5 Minute Perfect Caramelized Nuts chopped or to taste” Click on the green wording and it will take you to the recipe. Enjoy!

  8. Shelby says

    I made this for dinner last night as a side dish for some yummy stovetop flank steak with chimichurri… GUYS. These green beans have changed my life!!

    I left out the feta and pecans and subbed regular bacon for turkey bacon. I will never be able to eat plain green beans ever again.

    • Jen says

      Hi Shelby, your entire meal sounds delicious – LOVE steak and chimichurri! I am so glad you loved these beans and that they “have changed your life” – definitely the highest compliment, thank you!

  9. Lisa says

    Made this tonight with fresh asparagus instead of green beans… its what I had in the house… OMG… so delish!

    • Jen says

      YAY! So happy you loved it so much and I love the twist with green beans! Thank you so much Lisa!

  10. Pat E. says

    Is there a specific brand of maple syrup? So many choices. I don’t usually use maple syrup so have no idea if some are better than others.

    • Jen says

      Hi Pat! As long as its pure maple syrup you should be just fine but I actually love the Kirkland brand from Costco! Slopeside Syrup, Fadden’s, and Maple Grove Farms are also excellent!

  11. Michelle says

    There’s no oil, even a TBSP of olive oil in the dressing?

    • Jen says

      No because the beans are already plenty buttery so there is no need for extra oil/fat in the dressing. Enjoy!

  12. Shelby says

    Have you ever made this ahead of time? If so what would you recommend the method be?

    • Jen says

      Hi Shelby, I have never made these ahead of time but I think they should work great. I would recommend following the instructions but instead of sauteing the beans with the sauce until crisp tender, I would just coat the beans in the sauce and remove immediately once coated that way when you reheat them they won’t be overcooked. Hope this helps!

  13. Emily says

    okay so I’ve been making this recipe since I found it on Pinterest a while ago. Originally, I made the beans for Thanksgiving because…well, I hate green bean casserole (I know, treason). It helps my case that my husband is allergic to mushrooms *evil laugh.* Anywho, this is no longer just a recipe for the fancy times in life…this recipe has been made several times for various dinner parties where I need to bring a side dish or even just for a weeknight gig. I always leave the nuts on the side if I bring it to a gathering and everyone (seriously…there isn’t a person I’ve come across that doesn’t) loves it. Oh, and y’all….it CAN be made ahead of time. Do the frying part at the last minute…take them to your gathering place and warm them…then top them with the cheese and such….
    thanks for a great recipe!!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Emily, thank you so much for making my day! I am so happy you love these Green Beans so much and have made them so many times for so many different occasions! And thank you for the help on answering if they can be made ahead of time! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  14. lydia says

    I made the dish for 9 servings. Between the 5 of us, we ate it all up. That was how good the dish was. My husband asked me to make it again. Big round of applause to you, Jen, for another great recipe!! Oh, the caramelized nuts, yums and incredibly easy to make too.

    • Jen says

      Wahoo! I love a comment like yours, thanks so much Lydia for making my day! I’m thrilled it was such a huge winner! Thank YOU for taking the time to comment and for making my recipes!

  15. Brittany says

    This recipe sounds amazing! Like many other readers, I’ve been given the “honor” of the green bean casserole for Thanksgiving this year, but want to do something different! Do you think I can make this the day before (without the toppings) and reheat in the oven on Thanksgiving Day? We have 3 hours of travel and since everyone is brining dishes I’d rather not have to cook on Thursday…the kitchen will be busy!

    • Jen says

      Hi Brittany, I’m pleased you’re mixing up the “green bean casserole” this year! Yes, you can absolutely reheat these beans and then add the toppings. Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. Angelika says

    i did it for one of my thanksgiving dish OMG.. super delicious!! Of course i will return to this recipe.

    • Jen says

      Thank you for your awesome comment Angelika, I’m so pleased these green beans are a new fav!

  17. Edo says

    There’s a time for simple fresh baby green beans and then there is a time is bit of deliciousness…and wow!
    Beans with roasted garlic and balsamico are classics but caramelized pecans and feta? Brilliant! So thanks!, and will follow.

    • Jen says

      Agreed! Thank you so much, one of our special occasion favs!