How to make delicious Southern-style green beans! Tender string beans and smoked turkey are cooked in a flavorful broth. It’s the perfect side dish for holidays and soul food dinners!
When I think of soulful vegetables, I think of flavorful soul food collard greens and fried cabbage. Although I love both, I have another option for you—Southern-style green beans! These tender green beans aren’t your average “boiled with a tad of butter” green beans. These are Southern country-style green beans with smoked turkey.
Soul food green beans with smoked turkey make a perfect side dish for the holidays, a special occasion, and Sunday dinner, and they’re quite easy to make. Let me show and tell y’all how I make my Southern-style green beans recipe.
What Are Southern Green Beans?
So, what makes Southern-style green beans different from regular ol’ green bean recipes? Well, for starters, Southern green bean recipes usually have some smoked meat like turkey legs, turkey necks, turkey drumsticks, or smoked ham hocks. They’re also cooked in a flavorful broth, usually the same cooking liquid from the meat. The broth, aromatics like onions, garlic, and some choice spices make for the most flavorful green beans you’ve ever tried.
Ingredients for Southern Green Beans with Smoked Turkey
First things first, let’s talk ingredients! You don’t need anything fancy to make this Southern green beans recipe. If you want the complete ingredient measurements, scroll on down the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Green Beans: I use frozen green beans because I often have them in my deep freezer. They’re already clean, cut, and good to go, which makes it a plus for me. If you prefer fresh green beans, go for it—wash them thoroughly and cut off the ends.
- Smoked Turkey: you can use a turkey wing or leg—or even turkey necks if that’s what you have on hand.
- Garlic & Onions: flavorful aromatics that infuse flavor into the green beans and smoked turkey.
- Stewed Tomatoes: might seem like a wildcard ingredient, but trust me, Cousins! Stewed tomatoes add flavor and acidity that balances out the salty, smokey turkey.
- Water: to cook the smoked turkey leg, which will then create the flavorful broth we need to cook the green beans.
- Black Pepper: all I need to enhance the flavors in this recipe! The turkey is salty enough, so stick with simple black pepper.
How to Make Smoked Turkey for Southern Green Beans
Now, let’s talk about the smoked turkey I used for my Southern green beans. I used a smoked turkey leg. This turkey leg was BIG, y’all. It had way more meat than I actually needed, so you can save the excess for leftovers.
I actually slow-cooked my turkey leg in a crock pot for several hours. It comes out fall-off-the-bone tender and is a fool-proof way to cook the turkey. I don’t have to watch it cook; I just turn on my slow cooker and go about my business. You can tend to your other holiday recipes, let the turkey cook overnight, or even make it a day or two ahead of time while you do other holiday food prep.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, don’t worry! You can easily cook the smoked turkey on the stovetop. Make sure the turkey leg, wing, neck, etc., is thawed completely, then grab a large pot or large Dutch oven and pour in enough water to cover the turkey. Cover the pot and cook over medium-high heat until the meat falls off the bone.
Whether you choose the slow cooker method or stovetop method, be sure to save the liquid from the pot, y’all!! This liquid gold will be used later on when we bake the green beans in the oven.
How to Make Soul Food Green Beans with Turkey
Once the smoked turkey is out of the slow cooker and shredded from the bone (make sure to pick out all those annoying little turkey bones, y’all), these country green beans come together pretty quickly.
Simply toss the green beans into a casserole dish (if you’re using frozen green beans, you don’t even have to thaw them), and toss in the rest of the ingredients—smoked turkey meat, diced onions, fresh minced garlic cloves, stewed tomatoes, black pepper, and about 2 cups of the reserved turkey broth. Give everything a good mix and toss them into a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
Once done, these flavorful green beans are infused with the smoky flavor of the turkey, broth, onions, and garlic. They’re savory and satisfying—the perfect simple side dish for any soul food spread.
Southern-Style Green Beans with Turkey 3-Minute Video Tutorial
Watch how I make my country-style green beans with smoked turkey below! Be sure to subscribe to I Heart Recipes on YouTube to find all my recipe videos, including holiday dishes and Southern comfort food favorites.
Southern Green Beans with Turkey Recipe Variations, Pro-Tips, & FAQs
Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of ways to make country green beans for a delicious soul food side dish. Let’s talk through some yummy variations.
- Fresh garlic and onions add plenty of flavor to the green beans, but if you want to enhance those flavors, add a teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder along with the black pepper.
- Add a kick of heat with red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
- Use another smoked meat, like smoked ham hocks or cubed ham.
- Prefer bacon? No problem! Use bacon ends, smoked bacon, or even turkey bacon if you want to avoid pork.
- Add potatoes to make it a heartier side dish or even a main dish. I have a recipe that uses Russet potatoes, but red potatoes or Yukon golds would work too.
What are the best green beans to use for a country green beans recipe?
There are multiple types of green beans out there, but the best for this recipe are regular ol’ green beans, also called string beans or snap beans. I prefer frozen green beans since I usually have a bag or two on hand in my deep freezer. Frozen green beans have all the nutritional value and flavor as fresh, but they’re super convenient and require no prep.
You certainly can use fresh green beans from your local grocery store or farmers market. Just make sure you chop off those stringy ends and give them a good wash. I do not recommend using canned beans in this recipe. They’re mushy, often overly salty (or have that nasty canned flavor), and will overcook in a flash. You could also use French green beans, but those can be harder to find and more expensive.
How to Store Leftover Green Beans with Turkey
If you have leftovers, they’re super easy to store. The best part is you can make a large batch and have them on hand for meal prep or a quick and flavorful side with no effort.
- In the Fridge: store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
- In the Freezer: green beans and turkey can be stored in freezer bags or a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
- Reheating Leftovers: to reheat from the fridge, you can microwave the green beans and turkey, or warm them on the stovetop over medium-low heat. To reheat from frozen, either toss them into the slow cooker (no thawing needed) or allow them to thaw in the fridge, then heat on the stovetop.
What to Serve with Southern Style Green Beans and Turkey
These green beans are the perfect side dish for many other soul food dishes. I like to serve them with Southern staples like smothered oxtails, pot roast, or Salisbury steak. Fried chicken or meatloaf are also perfect pairings for green beans. If you’re looking for other side dishes, try a Southern macaroni and cheese, Southern collard greens, or a savory cornbread dressing to complete your soul food spread.
If you loved this recipe for Southern green beans with smoked turkey, leave me a comment below! Don’t forget to follow along with everything Rosie and I Heart Recipes on social media—you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and you can pre-order my next upcoming cookbook, A Cousin Rosie Holiday now!
Southern Green Beans with Smoked Turkey
- Place the smoked turkey into a slow cooker and pour in enough water to cover the turkey (about 6-8 cups).1 lb smoked turkey leg or wing, 6-8 cups water
- Cover the slow cooker and cook the turkey on high for 4 hours.
- Once the turkey is done, remove it from the slow cooker and reserve 4 cups of broth.
- Next, remove the turkey meat from the bones and shred it. Make sure to get rid of all the skinny bones that may be buried in the meat.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a 9×9 bake dish, toss in the green beans, chopped onions, garlic, stewed tomatoes, and smoked turkey.1 lb frozen green beans, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 small onion, 14 oz can of stewed tomatoes
- Sprinkle in the black pepper and pour in the broth.1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 4 cups broth
- Give everything a nice stir, then place the green beans into the oven uncovered, and let bake for 40 minutes.
- Once done, let the green beans cool until they are safe to eat.
- Serve and enjoy!