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5 from 1 vote

Appalachian Beans and Greens

Hearty and humble, beans and greens with a side of cornbread has been a staple dish in Appalachia for generations. Use collards, turnip greens, kale, or spinach -- whatever you have on hand.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword beans and greens, greens and beans
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 410kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 4 ounces bacon, chopped (I use 5 slices of center cut bacon)
  • ½ of an onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large or 2 small bunches collards, turnip greens, kale, or Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped (10 to 12 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 (15.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, or other canned beans, drained and rinsed
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • For serving: cornbread


  • Cook bacon in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until almost crisp. Add onion, and sauté until translucent, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic and rosemary (or thyme), sauté 1 more minute. Add red pepper flakes, broth, greens, vinegar, sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Use a wooden spoon to stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Stir in the beans. Bring the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, mashing some of the beans with a wooden spoon, until the liquid has reduced and thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • At this point, the greens should be wilted and slightly tender. If you prefer the greens even more tender, you can cover the pot and let the mixture gently simmer until the greens reach the desired level of tenderness.
  • Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve with cornbread.


  • Just about any canned beans will work. I've shown cannellini beans (white kidney beans) here, but pinto beans, pink beans, kidney beans, lima beans, and black-eyed peas are all good options as well.
  • Use your favorite variety of hearty greens. Collard greens, mustard greens, kale, turnip greens, and spinach will all work.
  • Instead of bacon, try sausage instead. You can use smoked sausage, bulk pork sausage, or ground Italian sausage.
  • Give the greens even more smoky flavor by adding a dash of smoked paprika to the broth.
  • Brown sugar is a fine substitute for the white sugar.
  • Instead of vinegar, add a squeeze of lemon juice to the pot for an acidic touch.
  • Buy pre-washed and pre-chopped greens for a shortcut. If you choose to wash and chop your own greens, be sure that you rinse them really well to get out any sand or sediment in the leaves, and remove the tough stems.
  • Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste preferences. For a spicier dish, add more crushed red pepper flakes, or serve the pot with a side of extra hot sauce or cayenne.
  • If you prefer your greens more wilted, you can cover the pot and cook the dish over low heat until the greens reach the desired level of tenderness.
  • Add vinegar. The apple cider vinegar gives the dish a nice "tang," and it helps to cut the bitterness of the greens. It also balances out the salty, savory flavors in the recipe.
  • Fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme are best, but you can substitute with about 1 teaspoon of dried herbs when necessary.


Serving: 1/4 of the recipe | Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 673mg | Potassium: 1348mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 7094IU | Vitamin C: 68mg | Calcium: 352mg | Iron: 8mg