Simple Lemon Green Beans

This Simple Lemon Green Beans recipe is a fresh & healthy last minute vegetarian Thanksgiving side dish.

Simple Lemon Green Beans on a plate with lemon slices

Every fall when Jack and I talk about Thanksgiving-inspired recipes to make for the blog, “reinvent the green bean casserole” always comes up. And every year it never happens. I guess I just think that some traditions just shouldn’t be messed with… even if one of them involves processed cream of mushroom soup, canned green beans and canned fried onions. It’s an American family favorite so I’m not going to make fun of it this time.

Simple Lemon Green Beans /

However, if the infamous green bean casserole isn’t part of your tradition and you’re looking for an easy last minute veggie side, how about this one? Make a little lemon-garlic oil and toss it with lightly cooked fresh green beans. It’ll take you longer to boil the pot of water than to put this “recipe” together.

Simple Lemon Green Beans /

If this is too simple, jazz it up with some toasted almonds, fresh herbs, or a little shaved parmesan cheese… maybe even a few fried onions, I won’t judge.

Simple Lemon Green Beans /

For a few more vegetarian Thanksgiving recipe ideas click here.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Lemon Green Beans
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 1 lb. green beans, de-stemmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • about ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • a few good squeezes of lemon
  • salt & pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and de-stem your green beans.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the olive oil, a smashed clove of garlic (you'll remove it later), lemon zest, a big squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Boil green beans until tender but still vibrant green and a little bit crunchy. This will depend on the size of your green beans (about 2-4 minutes).
  4. Drain green beans in a colander, and rinse under cold water. Let them dry for a bit then transfer green beans to a bowl and toss with some of the dressing. Taste and add more dressing to your liking. Serve.



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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Theresa from

    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!


  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

    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

      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

    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

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

    • jeanine

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

      • Jamey

        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

      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

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

  11. Diane

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

  12. melissa

    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

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

  14. Jill

    This is simple, fresh, pretty and delish.

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.