31 Days of Vegetables

Green Beans: The Best Ways to Pick Them, Trim Them, Cook Them, and Eat Them

updated Jul 12, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Green beans! The snappiest, greenest, most underrated vegetable. They’re good when teeny and skinny and garlicky; they’re also good when cooked long and slow. If you want to look at green beans with a fresh eye, start here for everything you need to know.

The Green Bean Top 5

Five must-tries for the green bean-obsessed.

  1. Five ways to make green beans even more exciting.
  2. When a Southerner tells you how to cook green beans, shut up and listen.
  3. Meet the woman who invented the green bean casserole.
  4. The best French recipe for green beans.
  5. The semi-guilty / not-guilty pleasures of canned green beans.

Types of Green Beans

Most of the green beans you find in the grocery store are the standard round green beans. Sometimes you can find French haricot verts which are the extremely delicate and skinny beans that are so good quick-cooked. Other beans you may see in global groceries or at farmers markets are long beans like Chinese long beans and yellow wax beans. All of these beans can be trimmed and cooked with the methods shared below.

How to Choose the Best Green Beans

Look for green beans without brown spots or any faint lines of white mold. Also look for smaller, skinnier green beans, especially if you are going to cook them lightly (versus braising or roasting them).

How to Trim Green Beans

Most of the time, fresh green beans need to have the stem ends trimmed off; they’re a little crispy and woody and wouldn’t taste good when cooked. (Sometimes you will find them already trimmed at the grocery store.)

You can snap them off by hand, which if you have time is a pleasantly meditative activity while watching TV or listening to a podcast. Or try this quicker knife method:

The Best Ways to Cook Green Beans

The very best ways to cook green beans: start here.

Also, don’t forget about pickling!

How (and Why) to Blanch Green Beans

One of the most classic and the quickest way to cook green beans is to blanch them quickly in boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes, then to drain and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

This method is best used on the freshest, skinniest, most tender beans. Dress them then with butter or olive oil, and salt and pepper with a squeeze of lemon.

How to Season Green Beans

There are so many ways to season green beans, although a simple squeeze of lemon with salt and pepper is perhaps the finest. Here are some more really creative ideas!

The Best Green Beans from Your Favorite Chefs

Lots of people claim the “best” green beans ever. So we tried some of our top favorites to see who wins: Alton, Ina, or Ree.

What to Substitute for Fresh Green Beans

Do you have a recipe for green beans that you want to try… but no fresh green beans? Can you use frozen green beans? Yes! Frozen green beans are one of the best frozen vegetable options. (They’re just as good for you.) You can steam, roast, and saute frozen green beans just like fresh.

Credit: Kelli Foster

How to Freeze Green Beans

To freeze fresh or leftover green beans, blanch them first then freeze for up to 12 months.

Our Top 10 Green Bean Recipes

What’s your favorite recipe or use for green beans? Any favorite way to cook them?

31 Days of Vegetables: How to fall in love with vegetables in 31 days. How many of these splendid veg have you eaten this month? Take a look at the whole list and take our July challenge to eat every single one!