How to Cook Fresh Green Beans

Learn how to cook fresh green beans perfectly every time! Serve them as a side dish, or add them to your favorite green bean recipes.

Fresh green beans

Nearly all of my fresh green bean recipes begin with blanching the beans. If you ask me, everyone should learn this method for how to cook green beans. It’s quick and easy, and it yields beans that are vibrant, crisp-tender, and not at all mushy. They’re perfect for serving as a side dish or adding to salads and sandwiches. Heck, they even make a great green bean casserole!

Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to how to cook fresh green beans, as well as my favorite green bean recipes. They include ideas for Thanksgiving, summer picnics, and dinners all year round. I hope you find something you love!

String beans in a colander

How to Cook Fresh Green Beans

My method for how to cook green beans is super simple! Here’s how it goes:

First, wash and trim the beans. Rinse them in a colander under cool running water, and snap off the stems. While you work, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Set a large bowl of ice water nearby.

How to cook green beans

Next, blanch the beans. When the water is boiling, drop the trimmed beans into the pot. Cook for 2 minutes, until the beans are crisp-tender and vibrant green.

Then, chill! Immediately transfer the blanched beans to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let them chill for at least 15 seconds; you want them to cool completely.

Finally, drain the beans, and spread them on a kitchen towel or paper towels to dry.

That’s it! The string beans are ready to eat.

draining fresh green beans

Favorite Green Bean Recipes and Serving Suggestions

In the summer and early fall, when fresh green beans are at their best, I often serve them on their own as a side dish. Then, I toss the blanched beans with olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, and salt to pep up their flavor. Serve them just like that, or dress them up more with toasted almonds or pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, or fresh herbs like basil, parsley, or thyme.

Simply cooked green beans are also a great starting point for larger green bean recipes. You’ll find them in my Creamy Vegan Pasta Salad, Niçoise Salad, Broccoli Pasta Salad, and Chickpea Salad Sandwiches as well as my Green Bean Salad and casserole! In short, learning how to cook fresh green beans by blanching them will set you up for making all kinds of delicious recipes. Let me know which ones you try!

green bean recipes

How to Cook Fresh Green Beans

rate this recipe:
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Serves 4
Serve these blanched green beans or haricots verts as a side dish with lemon and olive oil, or add them to your favorite green bean recipes. Find suggestions in the post above!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans, stemmed

Optional seasoning:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • juice of 1/2 lemon plus 1/2 teaspoon zest
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water nearby. Drop the green beans into the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes.
  • Remove the beans and immediately immerse in the ice water long enough to cool completely, about 15 seconds. Drain and place on paper towels to dry.
  • Use in any recipe that calls for blanched green beans (see suggestions in the blog post above), or simply toss the blanched green beans with the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

 

35 comments

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  1. Theresa from underhonesttrees.com
    11.24.2014

    I love having lighter dishes to balance out the potatoes, rolls and stuffing. As a non-turkey eater, having an assortment of sides is so essential! This recipe looks perfect and so easy!

    Theresa
    http://www.underhonesttrees.com

  2. This is almost my everyday take on green beans. It goes with anything but isn’t bland!

  3. Looks so beautiful even though it’s so simple – such a perfect side to balance out the heavy meal!

  4. Green beans are not the first vegetable I usually grab in the produce department, and I tend to forget how delicious they can be, especially when dressed simply like this. I think this recipe would be a much more welcome and tastier side than its casserole counterpart. 😉

  5. Dahn from savorthebest.com
    11.24.2014

    beautiful, I could fill up on these alone. There are never enough fresh green beans for me.

  6. The last time I made green beans they were kind of tough and I didn’t like them that much. But these look super easy and wonderful!

    • jeanine
      11.24.2014

      Hi Heather – look for ones that are as small and thin as you can find – they’re usually more tender and less chewy. Also, if you can find them at your local farmers market, they always taste better 🙂

  7. I have not had green bean casserole in years. I love your fresh and light way to dress these up as an alternative to casserole. There are typically so many heavy foods already on the table this is good to have as an alternative!

  8. Thanks Jeanine! I think maybe the problem was that they were too long and fat, because I even got them fresh from the farmers market! Going to look for thin ones next time.

  9. Eileen from hampiesandwiches.blogspot.com
    11.26.2014

    Simple, delicious green beans are WAY better than a reconstructed casserole, any day! And you have to love that they’re easy and fast too. 🙂

  10. Jamey
    11.28.2014

    Three of your recipes graced our Thanksgiving table — all new and all wonderful! Thank you from our whole family!

    • jeanine
      11.28.2014

      I’m so glad! Which ones were your favorites?

      • Jamey
        11.28.2014

        I made the green beans here in this post, the farro/kale/pom salad, and curried sweet potato soup. Beans my favorite, but at least one person raved about all three dishes. I made the soup using turkey stock and subbed Tuscan kale for spinach. So happy to have “discovered” your blog.

    • Teena
      11.20.2016

      Is this meant to be a cold dish? The reason I ask is because the beans are rinsed in cold water and not reheated. Thanks

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        11.21.2016

        Hi Teena, it’s a room-temp dish but you can easily just reheat them!

        • Tim Polak
          11.25.2020

          How would you suggest reheating them and still keep the integrity of blanching? I plan to take them to Thanksgiving dinner prepared but would like to heat them up before serving.

          • Jeanine Donofrio
            11.25.2020

            Hi Tim, if you blanch them then store them in the fridge, they should stay vibrant green.

  11. Diane
    11.28.2014

    Do you have weight watcher’s points for your recipes?

  12. melissa
    10.06.2015

    simple and perfect!

    i did this with broccoli ( the only thing at home) but tomorrow i will try with what chinese called longxudou 龙须豆 something like….asparagus beans. they look like green beans just longer, way longer.

  13. Sarah
    12.25.2016

    I made this for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and my family LOVED it both times! Super easy and delisiois, my favorite combo. 🙂

  14. Jill
    01.22.2019

    5 stars
    This is simple, fresh, pretty and delish.
    Thanks

  15. Teresa
    04.17.2019

    5 stars
    These green beans are so delicious! Thank you!!!

  16. Ginny
    10.12.2019

    5 stars
    This has become my go-to “need a vegetable to balance out a heavy meal” recipe. Quick and easy, but way more exciting than the standard side salad.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.18.2019

      Hi Ginny, haha, I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the green beans!

  17. Kit
    11.07.2019

    5 stars
    I made these today and they are wonderful!! We don’t care for garlic, so I left that out and they were just perfect for our taste.

    Would I be able to make these green beans ahead of time (for example make them in the morning, and then serve them in the evening)? If I did this, when would I toss the green beans with the dressing….just before serving or right after boiling them?

    Thanks for the lovely recipe!

    • I have the same question. I need a green veggie to take for Thanksgiving and want something I can cook the day before.

      I’ll probably use less garlic but will add some for flavor. Can this be reheated in the microwave at the last minute?

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        11.23.2019

        Hi Ruth, yep, you can make this the day before and reheat it in the microwave as you’re ready to serve it.

  18. Emily
    03.07.2020

    5 stars
    Such an easy and fresh way to enjoy green beans. As equally delicious as it is fresh.

    • Emily
      03.07.2020

      5 stars
      Meant to say as equally delicious as it is quick. Fresh works too though.

  19. lynn riddle
    10.26.2020

    5 stars
    Made this last night & it was delicious. Will definitely be part of the regular rotation!

  20. Marie keehl
    11.13.2020

    My husband is diabetic and is going through chemo. He is a very picky eater, he loves green beans. I am excited to try this recipe. Thank you so much

  21. 5 stars
    Love the idea of adding something a little on the lighter side for a Thanksgiving dish. I usually will do a simple roasted brussel sprout but I think I will add this to the mix instead!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.