The Simplest, Best Way to Cook Fresh Green Beans

updated Apr 19, 2024
How to Cook Fresh Green Beans Recipe

Make this simple recipe your go-to side dish any night of the week.

Serves4

Prep5 minutes

Cook2 minutes to 3 minutes

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overhead shot of green beans on a white platter with lemon wheels on the platter
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Green beans are the little black dress of the vegetable drawer. They deliver verdant color and a crisp snap whether they are dressed up with garlic-Parmesan bread crumbs or kept simple and served chilled with ranch dressing

While there’s something special about crunching on a fresh green bean from the summertime garden, green beans are on my table all year long. Luckily, fresh green beans need little more than to be blanched in boiling water before they’re ready to serve. Here’s a foolproof method for cooking fresh green beans perfectly every time and suggestions on how to serve them.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Blanching green beans delivers vibrant, crisp-tender green beans every single time! And you can even freeze them for later use. 
  • These green beans are versatile and recipe-ready for classic casseroles, chopped salads, or served warm from the skillet. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Key Ingredients in Cooked Fresh Green Beans

  • Green beans: Choose beans that are green and firm, with no yellow or brown spots or blemishes.
  • Kosher salt: Add kosher salt to the pot of boiling water to season the green beans as they cook. 

How to Make Cooked Fresh Green Beans

  1. Boil water and prepare an ice bath. Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling water so that the water temperature recovers quickly after adding the beans. Fill a bowl with equal parts ice and water, and have it standing by. 
  2. Cook green beans. Blanch, or cook quickly in boiling water, for 2 to 3 minutes. The green beans will brighten in color and have a crisp-tender texture.  
  3. Chill green beans. Immediately transfer with tongs or a long-handled spider from the boiling water to the ice bath to shock the beans and halt the cooking process.
  4. Sauté with seasonings (optional). Serve these green beans warm by sautéing with garlic or dried red pepper flakes.

Helpful Swaps

  • Serve cold. Chilled, cooked green beans are perfect for serving in salads, grain bowls, or adding to recipes. 
  • Serve hot. You can also serve them warm as a side dish with just a few flavor boosters like lemon, garlic, or red pepper flakes. 
  • Freeze for later. Blanching is an essential step if you’re planning on freezing green beans because it stops the action of enzymes that cause flavor, texture, and color deterioration.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

  • Make ahead: Blanched and chilled the green beans up to 2 days before serving.
  • Refrigerate leftovers: Store cooked green beans in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 
  • Freeze for longer storage. Freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

What to Serve With Cooked Fresh Green Beans

How to Cook Fresh Green Beans Recipe

Make this simple recipe your go-to side dish any night of the week.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 2 minutes to 3 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    green beans

  • Kosher salt

Optional for serving:

  • freshly ground black pepper, lemon slices, 2 cloves garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, trim the stem end from 1 pound green beans. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and cold water. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels or a kitchen towel.

  2. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and transfer immediately to the ice water to stop the cooking. Let sit until cooled, 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Drain and remove any remaining ice cubes. Transfer to the baking sheet in a single layer to dry.

To serve chilled:

  1. Top the green beans with kosher salt, black pepper, and lemon slices if desired.

To serve warm:

  1. Mince 2 garlic cloves. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and/or red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the green beans and cook until coated and warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The green beans can be blanched and chilled up to 2 days ahead before serving.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer the beans to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

A version of this recipe was first published in November 2018 by Meghan Splawn.