9 Options for Cooking Green Beans So Even Picky Eaters Will Ask for Them
Cooking green beans might take you back to kitchen adventures at your mom's or grandma's hip. But let's expand our cooking green beans horizons beyond basic steamed green beans or boiled green beans. (Although those can be great too! Especially to add to casseroles and other dishes.) With fresh and modern spice blends and new tools (hat tip to you, air fryer), the best ways to cook green beans can now also be among the best ways to get five-a-day veggie servings that are delicious, stocked with fresh flavor, and cooked to the perfect doneness.
How to Prep Green Beans to Cook
Many of these recipes can begin with drained canned green beans, if desired.
When cooking fresh green beans, wash the beans and remove the ends and strings. Leave beans whole, cut them into 1-inch pieces, or slice them lengthwise for french-cut beans. To trim green beans, place several beans at a time on a cutting board, lining up the stem ends. Cut off stems using a chef's knife ($60, Crate & Barrel) and, if you like, trim off the pointed tips too.
Now it's time to get down to cooking green beans! Hope your refrigerator is stocked with plenty, because our solutions on how to cook green beans are sure to give you plenty of culinary inspiration.
How to Cook Green Beans on the Stove
One of the easiest options for cooking green beans on the stove is to boil green beans. The key for the best beans is to master how long to boil green beans.
Cook the green beans, covered, in a small amount of boiling salted water until crisp-tender:
- 10 to 15 minutes for whole or cut green beans
- 5 to 10 minutes for french-cut green beans
So how do you tell when green beans are done? Bite into a bean a minute or two before the end of the suggested timing listed above for how long to boil green beans. The bean should give a bit but still have a slight crunch to it.
How to Cook Green Beans in the Microwave
Microwaved green beans are among the quickest and easiest strategies for cooking green beans.
- 8 to 12 minutes for whole or cut green beans
- 7 to 10 minutes for french-cut green beans
Get our fresh and healthy Green Bean Salad recipe, which calls for microwaving green beans.
How to Steam Green Beans
Place a steamer basket ($20, Target) in a large skillet with sides or a saucepan. Add water to just below the bottom of the steamer basket. Bring water to boiling and add green beans. Cook whole, cut, or french-cut green beans, covered, 10 to 18 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Make our steamed Lemony Green Beans and Arugula to go with your dinner tonight.
How to Blanch Green Beans
Blanched green beans can be incorporated into other recipes, cooked further using another method (such as sautéing), or used to start the freezing process of fresh green beans.
To blanch green beans:
- Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Use 1 gallon of water per pound of green beans.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water.
- Working in batches, carefully lower green beans into the boiling water.
- Boil small beans for 2 minutes, medium beans for 3 minutes, and large beans for 4 minutes.
- Cool the beans quickly by plunging them into the ice water.
- After they have cooled, drain beans.
How to Sauté Green Beans
Another one of the best ways to cook green beans on the stove is to sauté them. Some sautéed green bean recipes call for you to blanch them first. To blanch, follow the directions above and continue as directed below.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add beans. Cook the green beans, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until heated through. Season with ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Remove from heat.
Try these sautéed green bean recipes, one with blanched beans and one without:
How to Cook Green Beans in a Foil Pack
For zero cleanup time, grill green beans in a foil pack, also called a hobo pack.
- Fold a 36x18-inch piece of heavy-duty foil in half to make an 18-inch square.
- Place prepped green beans in the center of foil.
- Season beans as desired and drizzle with oil.
- Bring up opposite edges of foil; seal with a double fold.
- Fold remaining ends to completely enclose beans, leaving space for steam to build.
- Grill directly over medium heat on a covered grill 25 to 30 minutes, turning the packet occasionally.
How to Roast Green Beans
If you like sheet-pan recipes, you'll love mastering how to roast green beans in the oven. This caramelizes the veggies beautifully and makes them more palatable for picky eaters.
To roast green beans:
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- On a 15x10x1-inch baking pan, toss 1 pound of beans with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spread out beans in a single layer across the pan.
- Roast 15 to 20 minutes or until beans are beginning to blister and are crisp-tender.
Pair your next homemade entrée with these roasted Blistered Green Beans.
How to Make Air-Fryer Green Beans
For a lower-calorie french fry swap, try air fryer green beans. They offer the same stick shape and crunchy texture, just with fewer carbs and less fat than their deep-fried potato counterparts.
To make air-fryer green beans:
- Preheat air fryer ($140, Kohl's) to 400°F.
- Place green beans in a medium bowl and spray liberally with cooking spray or drizzle with a teaspoon of oil.
- Season as desired (we like 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper or chili powder, and ⅛ teaspoon of salt per 12 ounces of beans).
- Place the seasoned beans in the air-fryer basket. Cook until slightly browned and tender, or about 12 minutes.
For a better-than-fast-food supper, whip up our Southern-Style "Fried" Catfish and Green Beans in your air fryer.
How to Make Green Bean Casserole
We're firm believers that no holiday menu, from Easter to Thanksgiving or even Christmas, is complete without a green bean casserole. Here's how to take cooking green beans to the next celebration-worthy level with a creamy sauce and crunchy topping.
Step 1: Cook the green beans.
Cook your green beans using one of the methods above. We most often either steam, boil, or microwave the beans. Drain beans well.
Step 2: Combine cooked beans with the sauce mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together your sauce mixture. The sauce usually includes condensed cream of mushroom soup, black pepper, cheese, other liquids, and desired spices. Stir in the beans. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.
Step 3: Bake the green bean casserole.
Sprinkle the top of your casserole with french-fried onions or bread crumbs. Bake in a 350°F oven until the mixture is heated through and the topping is golden.
Now that you're well-versed in several styles for cooking green beans, you'll be ready for any and all dinner side dish opportunities that await.