Pears, Beans, and Bacon: Birnen, Bohnen, und Speck (from Bremen)

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Bring a touch of northern Germany to your kitchen with this authentic Pears, Beans, and Bacon recipe. Traditionally made at the end of summer and into autumn, this delightfully sweet and savory dish combines the sweetness of juicy pears, the earthy flavor of fresh green beans, and the smokiness of bacon. Yum!

My version of pears, beans, and bacon with smoked sausage!My version of pears (used Bosc pears), beans, and bacon with smoked sausage, served with a non-traditional side of Spätzle

This traditional dish is particularly popular in Bremen, as well as in other northern regions such as Lower Saxony, Hamburg, and Schleswig-Holstein. The exact origin of this recipe is unknown, but just like most German recipes, it was created out of fresh local and seasonal ingredients and passed down from generation to generation.

The making of Birnen, Bohnen, und Speck coincides with the pear harvest in late August and takes full advantage of the green bean harvest that occurs from about June to September. It is traditionally served with boiled potatoes.

How to make this Pears, Beans, and Bacon recipe

If this is your first time making this dish, prepare yourself for a burst of flavors with every bite!

Now, to get started, take 1¼ pounds of smoked slab bacon and cut it into 5 pieces. Take 4 of those pieces and place them in a large saucepan, Dutch oven, or deep skillet. Cover with 4 cups of cold beef broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Now add 1 pound of fresh green beans (ends trimmed and broken in half, or cut into 2-inch pieces), 4 small whole pears with stems (see the recipe card below for other options), and 1 teaspoon of dried summer savory. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

While the bacon, green beans, and pears are simmering, dice the remaining piece of bacon.

Sauté the diced bacon and ½ cup of chopped onions in another skillet until the bacon has rendered its fat and the onions have caramelized a little, and set aside. If you wish, you can transfer the bacon and onions to a bowl or plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess rendered bacon fat.

When you're ready to serve, transfer the bacon, beans, and pears with a slotted spoon to a serving dish.

Make a cornstarch slurry by combining 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water and add it to the simmering cooking liquid to thicken it. Season the sauce with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour some sauce over the pears, green beans, and bacon, sprinkle with the sautéed bacon and onions, and garnish with fresh parsley. Put the rest of the sauce in a bowl to serve alongside.

Serve as a main course or side dish along with boiled potatoes and enjoy!

Variations of Birnen, Bohnen und Speck

There are probably as many variations as there are German families. A great thing about this recipe is that it is so versatile.

You can easily vary the amount of bacon, beans, and pears according to your liking. More of a bacon lover? Heap it on! Prefer the sweetness of ripe pears or the crispy texture of fresh green beans? Go ahead and add more.

Ingredients for Birnen, Bohnen, und Speck

Variations can also include using or adding any of the following:

  • water or broth
  • sugar or honey
  • lemon juice
  • apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • lemon peel
  • fresh thyme
  • onion powder

While there may be arguments over whether you must or mustn't keep the pear stems and whether you must or mustn't peel the pears, the only thing that really matters is that the dish consists of the three main ingredients: pears, green beans, and bacon. However, variations also include using Kasseler (German smoked pork) or smoked sausage instead of bacon.

I confess, I often like to replace half or most of the bacon with smoked sausage, just like I did in the photo above!

Basically, what it all boils down to is that you can create your own traditional recipe, just the way you like it. That's the best way to make this Pears, Beans, and Bacon recipe!

More recipes from Bremen

Want more great recipes from this part of Germany? Check out the following recipes:

Now, time to make this wunderbar dish!!

Pears, Beans, and Bacon: Birnen, Bohnen, und Speck (from Bremen)

Enjoy this traditional autumn dish that combines pears, green beans, and bacon. The sweetness of the pears adds such a wonderful flavor to the earthy green beans and smoky bacon.

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

45 minutes

Total Time

60 minutes


Makes 4 servings


  • 1¼ pounds (570 grams) smoked slab bacon
  • 4 cups (1 liter) cold beef broth
  • 1 pound (454 grams) fresh green beans, ends trimmed and broken in half
  • 4 small firm pears with stems
  • 1 teaspoon dried summer savory
  • ½ cup (75 grams) chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons (19 grams) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) cold water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (5 grams) finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. Cut the bacon slab into 5 pieces.
  2. Place 4 of the bacon pieces in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the beef broth and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the green beans, whole pears, and summer savory. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, dice the remaining piece of bacon into small pieces. In a small skillet over medium heat, sauté the diced bacon and chopped onions for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon has rendered its fat and the onions are lightly caramelized. Set aside.
  4. Just before serving, use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears, green beans, and bacon from the sauce pan to a large serving dish.
  5. Add just enough of the cornstarch slurry to the simmering liquid to thicken the sauce. This should take about 2 minutes. Season it with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Pour some of the sauce over the pears, green beans, and bacon and put the rest of it in a serving bowl to serve alongside. Sprinkle the dish with the sautéed bacon and onions and garnish with the parsley.
  7. Serve with boiled potatoes. 


  • VARIATION: Instead of the bacon, use 4 smoked sausages. Pierce them with a fork and add them to the large saucepan in Step 2. In Step 3, sauté only the onions.
  • If you're unable to find small cooking pears, use 2 Bosc pears instead. Simply cut them in half and remove the seeds. Be sure to leave the peel on since it looks so nice in the finished dish.
  • If you don't have beef broth on hand, you can use 4 cups of water instead.
  • Be non-traditional and serve this with Spätzle (one of my favorite combinations).

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