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How to Cook Green Beans: 4 Simple Ways

Steam, boil, blanch and bake your way to a delicious green bean dish with help from our Test Kitchen experts.

By Nicole Doster, Digital Associate Editor and Nick Iverson,

Cooked green beans in a skillet resting on top a gray checkered towel on top a wooden board



Green beans, string beans, snap beans, haricots verts—whatever you like to call 'em—are the simple, stringy veggies that have graced practically every dinner table. Especially around the holidays. (For me, Thanksgiving doesn't start until there's a green bean casserole present.) And what's not to love about green beans? They're available year-round, they're quick to cook and they complement almost any meal.

Looking to serve a bunch of green beans tonight? Test Kitchen expert Nick Iverson explains the four basic methods for how to cook fresh, tasty, lick-your-plate-clean green beans. Follow along as we walk step-by-step through each easy method.



Steam and Saute

Perhaps the easiest way to cook green beans is to prepare them on the stovetop. This one-pan method is quick and results in a dreamy caramelized dish.


You'll Need:

1 pound fresh green beans

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Person carefully removing the withered ends from a green bean with their hands. The ends are gathered on a cutting board below them and the finished beans are in a glass bowl



Step 1: Trim the ends off the beans

Before you get cooking, remove the tough, withered ends from the beans. You can do this with a knife or scissors—but your hands work just as well. Psst! This is a great task to get your kids involved.


Green beans in a skillet on the stove top. A person is picking up the glass lid to show them cooking



Step 2: Steam

Next, you'll want to steam the beans. Many cooks rely on a steamer basket, but we find steaming green beans directly in the skillet works just as well (and spares us from cleaning extra dishes later on.)

Grab a large skillet with a lid and add the beans and water. It's okay if the beans aren't covered—they'll be gently cooked by the steam that evaporates from the water. Bring the water to a boil and cook, covered, until the beans are slightly tender. This will take about 4-6 minutes. (Try to refrain from peeking, as the lid traps the steam to help the beans cook quickly.) Remove from heat and drain.

Test Kitchen tip: We recommend steaming green beans before sauteing. This ensures that the beans are partially cooked before we bring in more flavor. Sauteing finishes off the cooking process and adds caramelization—that flavorful browning we love so much.


Person stirring a slice of butter into their green beans as they cook in a skillet



Step 3: Saute

In the empty skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the green beans. Cook and stir until the beans are tender, for about 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and paper, then serve.

Test Kitchen tip: You can saute in butter, oil or a combination of the two. The caveat to using butter is that it offers more flavor, but it tends to burn more quickly. If you are sauteing at a higher temperature, oil is a better bet.

Another Test Kitchen tip: Spices are an easy way to add flavor. Feel free to add a dash of your favorite blend (think: paprika, red pepper, garlic powder) as the beans cook. However, save adding fresh herbs until the end.



Blanch and Shock


Person using metal tongs to remove green beans from a cold water bath in a glass bowl to place them in a metal pot on the stovetop



This method is a great way to preserve green beans' freshness—especially if you're preparing them in advance for a party or using them in a salad for lunch. The blanch-and-chill technique partially cooks the green beans so that they still taste snappy, but they're not raw.


You'll Need:

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

1 quart water

1 tablespoon salt


Step 1: Blanch the beans

Place water and salt in a large pot, and bring it to a boil. Then, carefully add the beans. Cook until the beans are just tender, for about 3-5 minutes. Then, remove them from heat and drain.

Did you know? Contrary to popular belief, adding salt to water does not make it boil faster. The purpose is to give extra flavor to the beans.


Step 2: Shock in cold water

Quickly transfer the beans to a large bowl of ice water. Let stand until beans are cool. Remove beans from water and pat dry. Blanched beans can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Test Kitchen tip: Shocking the beans in ice water stops the cooking process and helps set the vibrant green color.



Roast


Green beans spread out over a baking sheet resting on a wooden cutting board with a gray checkered towel on its lower right corner



For this technique, we'll bake the green beans in the oven at a high temperature. This crisps the beans up, creating an amazing depth of flavor (with almost no effort on our part!) Opt for roasting when you already have a dish—say, chicken?—roasting in the oven. The oven's already hot, so crank up the heat and roast them while the chicken is resting.


You'll Need:

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive or coconut oil works great)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper


Step 1: Prep the beans

Kick things off by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Then, in a large bowl, toss the green beans with oil, salt and pepper to coat.

Test Kitchen tip: Feeling spicy? Add your favorite seasonings into the mix.


Step 2: Roast

Arrange the beans in an even layer on a 15x10x1-in. baking pan.

Test Kitchen tip: Don't overcrowd the pan when roasting. If beans are too close to each other, they will not brown evenly.

Pop the pan into the oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the edges are browned. This should take about 10-12 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and serve.



Electric Pressure Cooking

Obsessed with your electric pressure cooker? Us too. Follow along to cook green beans to perfection with this versatile appliance.


You'll Need:

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

1 cup water

6-qt electric pressure cooker


Step 1: Set up the cooker

Cooking is easy. Pour water in the pressure cooker and place the trivet in the pan. Add the green beans and snap on the lid to lock. (Make sure the vent is completely closed!)


Step 2: Cook

Next, choose the manual setting. Adjust the pressure to high and set the time for 1 minute. Presto change-o! Your green beans are finished. Allow the pressure to gradually release for 8 minutes and then quick release any remaining pressure according to the manufacturer's instructions.


Make it Your Own

Now that you know how to cook green beans, it's time to add a little pizzazz to your side dish. Here are few simple ways to bring extra flavor (without much extra work!)


1. Play nice with herbs and spices.

Fresh herbs like dill, tarragon and thyme are good flavors with green beans. To learn more, check out our guide to cooking with fresh herbs. Got a spice rack the size of Mount Everest? Red pepper flakes, garlic powder and smoked paprika work well, too.


2. Go nuts.

Slivered almonds, pine nuts, and cashews add extra crunch. Try this recipe for Buttery Almond Green Beans to get started.


3. Make it super savory.

It's a proven fact that everything tastes better with bacon. Crumble a few extra-crispy pieces on top of your green bean side.


For even more ways to love green beans, explore our favorite recipes, here.