A recipe and tutorial for home canned pickled beans flavored with garlic, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes (to your taste). These pickled green beans are a perfect balance of spice, salt, and sweet for salads, antipasto plates, appetizers and snacking.
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Before I started growing vegetables, including green beans, I'd never thought to buy pickled green beans (do they even sell them?), and I'm not even sure I'd ever eaten them!
I only knew I needed to find something to do with all the beans I was harvesting besides eating them fresh and I only knew how to use a water-bath canner, so if I wanted to can beans, they'd have to be pickled. (To can beans with water safely, you need a pressure canner.)
Update: At the time, I didn't care for traditional frozen beans, but now we happily eat frozen beans after discovering this way to easily freeze green beans with less of the texture issues that put me off them. I did also learn to use a pressure canner, but we found we didn't care for canned beans as well as the frozen unblanched - so now I freeze green beans and make these delicious pickled beans, too!
After making a batch, I found out our whole family loved pickled beans, even though the first test batch wasn't the best (they were too sweet for us and not flavored enough). So the search was on for a recipe with the perfect balance between spicy and sweet.
In the end, I combined a couple of recipes (always with the same trusted liquid measurements from the Ball Blue Book to be safe) that resulted in our favorite pickled beans ever with flavors of garlic and spice (and no dill - I wasn't looking for cucumber pickles).
How Do You Use Pickled Green Beans?
Lots of ways! Here are just a few of our favorites:
- Chopped up on top of a green salad.
- On a vegetable plate next to carrots and celery.
- On an antipasto platter/charcuterie with olives, meats, and cheeses.
- As part of a super easy, super tasty appetizer.
- At the holidays, add small plate of pickled beans near the bowl of olives and cranberry sauce (staples for us).
I've even turned some of my extended family into fans of pickled beans - and I'm not sure they'd ever eaten them before, either.
They're as easy as pickled asparagus, and the most time-consuming thing about making pickled beans is cutting them to fit the jars. In fact, when it comes to the canning part, it takes literally minutes.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Green beans - about 4-5 pounds as fresh as possible.
- Vinegar - I use regular white vinegar, but you could also use apple cider vinegar.
- Cane sugar - many pickled bean recipes use 2+ times the amount of my recipe and I've lowered it as much as we like to keep that balance between too puckery and too sweet. I haven't tried honey instead, but you could definitely try it or use half honey.
- Pickling spice - I like the different flavors from a good pickling spice mix, but you can leave it out or use only mustard seeds (which I think are the most important part of the mix).
- Pickling salt - you can also use plain fine sea salt (you want a salt with no additives or anti-caking ingredients).
- Garlic cloves - two, whole cloves are needed for each jar (TIP: increase flavor by cutting them in half).
- Red pepper flakes - this is essential to me for the spice we love, but you can decrease the amount or leave it out completely.
- Sharp knife and cutting board
- 6-8 quart stockpot
- Pint size 16-oz. canning jars (or 12-ounce jars like the quilted ones in my photos) and new lids, regular or wide mouth
- Water bath canner and jar lifter - this is the canner I love and it's WAY better than the cheap enamel canners, plus can be safely used on glass-top stoves.
- Stainless steel canning funnel and stainless steel ladle - I recommend stainless when working with hot foods and water.
How to Make Canned Pickled Beans
Detailed quantities and instructions are included in the full recipe box below, but here are a few extra tips to help with each step:
1. Start by washing a lot of green beans.
I usually don't weigh them, I just start cutting and fitting into jars what I have from the garden. But for you, I did - of course.
For a canner load of 7 pint (or 12-oz jars) you will need between 4 and 5 pounds of green beans. It varies some depending on the size of your beans and how many will fit in each jar.
2. Cut the beans and fit to the jars and fill canner with water to start heating.
It's recommended to do this one jar at a time, removing a warm jar which has been cleaned and waiting in the sink filled with hot water, like outlined in this canning tutorial, filling with spices and beans, covering with brine, attaching lid and then adding to the raised rack of a canner before moving to the next jar.
This is to ensure no broken jars and floating beans from putting cold jars into the simmering water of the canner.
Tip for cutting the green beans to fit the jars
Cut both ends off of washed beans: lay as many beans as you can cut on a cutting board and slice through all (with this many beans, I cannot be bothered with "snapping" each end off, one by one).
Note: I've seen beautiful food photos of beans with the curly little ends left on. Have you tried eating these? Serious texture problems...it's a hard little pokey thing. Off with its end, I say. (Though you can certainly leave them on.)
Take one bean, put it in one of your jars to measure and cut it to length, making sure it is 1/2" from the top of the jar rim. Use this bean as a measure to cut all the remaining beans.
To know how many cut beans will fit in each jar, empty a jar and fill it with cut beans. Then remove the beans from the jar and lay them in a pile, refilling the jar with hot water. Now you have a picture of how many beans you need for each jar.
Make 7 little piles all roughly the same size, and throw in a few extra, just to make sure you'll have enough.
Now you have all your beans ready to do one jar at a time because the actual canning goes pretty quickly.
3. Make the brine and cook according to the recipe.
4. Fill the jars.
Add the garlic cloves and pepper flakes in each jar and then pack the beans in as tightly as possible.
Add the brine to each jar, leaving 1/2" headspace, remove air bubbles with a plastic spatula or chopstick, wipe the rim, attach lid fingertip tight and add to a raised rack in the simmering canner.
Repeat until all jars are filled.
5. Process in the water-bath canner for 10 minutes.
Lower rack in canner, cover and bring to a roiling boil, start timing and reduce heat a bit to keep at a low boil (being able to see this through a glass lid is one of the things I like so much with the stainless steel canner). When timer goes off, remove lid and let jars sit in canner 5 minutes.
Remove jars with jar lifter to a towel lined surface (I like using a tray so I can move them without disturbing if I have to) and let sit for 12 hours before checking the lids to see if they sealed, labeling and storing.
Note: the beans may look shriveled after removing from the canner and can look like that for a few weeks - never fear, they will plump up by the time they are ready to eat in a few weeks!
Wait for about a month for the flavors to infuse the beans before enjoying your pickled beans.
Need a canning refresher? Click here for a complete Water Bath Canning Tutorial.
Here are some questions I've received since first publishing this recipe that might answer some questions for you, too:
They last for 1-1/2 years (18 months) stored in a cool, dark place.
You will want to wait 3-4 weeks before eating them - a good indication is when they plump up again (they look shriveled right after canning).
The sugar in this recipe is just to cut the vinegar flavor a bit. Some pickled beans don't have sugar (and some have a lot more), but I've always found them to be a bit puckery for us without this amount. You can try them without the sugar or try the honey, but add less, since it's sweeter than sugar and just adjust to your tastes.
Yes - it easily adapts that way!
Yes, you can choose to refrigerate pickled beans instead of water-bath canning them. You may want to blanch them in boiling water for 3 minutes or so (and plunge into ice water) before filling the jars just to make sure they aren't too raw tasting, though I'm not sure this would be needed. I haven't tested this, so I would try both ways - blanch a jar and do a jar not blanched and see which you like better!
If you have leftover brine, you can store it in the fridge and add other veggies to it as you have them - roasted, sliced beets, cauliflower, cucumbers, sliced onions. Leave them for a week or so and you will have a quick pickle!
OR if you need to make more beans or pickles, save the brine and add it to a new batch that you are boiling to use in more canned veggies.
More Easy Canning Recipes
- Easy Pickled Beets for Canning or Refrigerator
- Safe-to-can Roasted Tomato Sauce
- Perfect Homemade Canned Pizza Sauce
- Canned Sweet Onion Marmalade
What Others Are Saying About This Recipe
"Excellent just made these again today. Easy process, cut to size, packed in there with their garlic and dried chillies from the garden the rest is all down to your recipe. They are just perfect! We love them." - Julie
"You are right, not only are they wonderful, they are addictive, as well." -Kerry
Garlic Spiced Canned Pickled Beans Recipe
- Sharp knife and cutting board
- 6-8 quart stockpot
- 7 Pint (or 12-ounce) canning jars and new lids, regular or wide mouth
- Water bath canner and jar lifter
- Stainless steel canning funnel and ladle
- 4 to 5 pounds green beans washed and trimmed to fit pint jars
- 6 cups white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons pickling spice
- 1 tablespoons pickling salt or pure fine sea salt
- 14 garlic cloves peeled and cut in half
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes for each jar or to taste
- Prepare 7 pint jars, bands, lids, and canner for processing. Heat canner and keep water simmering while preparing beans.
- Prepare green beans.
- Combine vinegar, water, sugar, pickling spice, and salt in 6-8-qt. pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 3 minutes.
- Add a two garlic cloves (4 halves) and the red pepper flakes to each jar before packing with beans. (Do one jar at a time, pouring brine over and sealing before moving to the next jar.)
- Ladle the hot brine over beans, leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove air bubbles with a spatula or chopstick, wipe the jar rim with a damp cloth, and attach the lid, fingertip tight. (TIP: Try to get a bit of the pickling spices in each jar as you pour.) Continue until all the jars are full.
- Lower rack of canner, cover and bring to a boil. Process in a boil-water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to keep at a low boil. When timer goes off, remove lid and let jars sit in canner for 5 minutes.
- Remove jars from canner to a towel-lined surface and leave undisturbed for 12-24 hours before checking lids for seal, labeling with date and storing.*
- Wait for 3-4 weeks before eating for best flavor. Use within a year to 18 months.
This recipe was originally published in August of 2009, updated in 2016 and 2023.Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read our full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.