All month long, we're cooking our way through some of the most famous Thanksgiving recipes on the internet. And today Pioneer Woman's "Best Ever Green Beans" (actual recipe title!) are up to the plate. The dish definitely seems to have a ton of fans: Between the Food Network's website and Ree Drummond's own blog, it's racked up hundreds of positive comments from people who make it every single year.
Compared to the other green bean recipes I made — here's Alton Brown's and Ina Garten's — Ree's stood out to me because everything is cooked in bacon fat. (It's ranch-worthy, to say the least.) It's also got some added color with the addition of red peppers. But did those two things really make them the best ever? I headed to the kitchen to find out.
How to Make Pioneer Woman's Green Beans
The recipe starts off in a pretty straightforward way: You sauté onions and garlic in a skillet of hot bacon fat. Then you add beans, chicken broth, and diced red bell peppers.
The whole thing simmers on low for about half an hour with the lid left slightly ajar, which allows some of the steam to escape and the liquid to evaporate. Once the beans are tender and the liquid is gone, everything's done.
What I Thought of the Results
First, the positives: The recipe is fairly hands-off. Most of the time spent is just waiting for the beans to cook and liquid to evaporate. That means it's a great contender for Thanksgiving when you're likely to have your hands in many other things. It also took me about 40 minutes to make, which is exactly what the recipe promised upfront.
But overall, I didn't love this recipe. One of reasons why is because the liquid took forever to evaporate. After about 30 minutes, I ended up cranking up the heat which sped up the process — but left me with overcooked beans.
The diced red bell peppers had also turned to mush, and while the extra color made for a pretty dish, it really didn't add anything flavor-wise. But I've shared some ideas below on how to prepare this recipe so that it yields better results!
If You Make Pioneer Woman's Green Beans ...
1. If you don't have bacon fat on hand, use butter.
The recipe calls for sautéing everything in bacon fat, which definitely adds a richer flavor profile. But I also tried it with butter — the recommended substitute — and it worked out just fine. (Although if you do happen to have leftover bacon fat on hand from breakfast Thanksgiving morning, it's worth grabbing.)
2. Use less broth and simmer over higher heat for crisper beans.
After cooking through the recipe the first time as written, my suggestion is to use half the amount of chicken broth and simmer the beans over medium-low to medium heat (as opposed to low heat) to result in crisper beans — without lots of liquid behind.
3. Skip the red bell pepper if you want to.
I wasn't a fan. In my opinion, the red bell pepper could totally be nixed and the dish would be even better.
Overall Rating: 6 out of 10
After testing, I definitely can't say these green beans are the best ever. But if you prefer your green beans on the more well-cooked side (or you're a die-hard red pepper fan), they could be the best ever for you.
Get the recipe: Pioneer Woman's Best Ever Green Beans
Thanksgiving is the ultimate food holiday, and when it comes to stand-out dishes, everyone has their favorites. This year we decided to put some of the internet's most popular Thanksgiving recipes — from Alton Brown, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and Ree Drummond — to the test in our own kitchens.