How To Cook Green Beans

Learn how to perfectly cook green beans. Our guide teaches you selection and prep tips, the best cooking techniques, and flavoring too!

Not everyone knows that green beans are simply a younger version of the beans we all know and love including black, pinto, and kidney beans. But because they are still "growing up" they fall into the vegetable category instead.

When I cook with green beans, I feel a particularly close bond with my food. That's because going through the motions of snapping off each end (oh, snap!) causes me to slow down for a second and have my moment to appreciate the noble green bean.

Green beans are high in Vitamin K, Manganese, and Vitamin C so they're high in antioxidants and also phytonutrients. Surely one of the healthiest foods you can eat.

Let's jump right in and learn more about the snappy green bean!

How To Select Green Beans

You'll notice that green beans aren't always -- well, green! They also come in yellow and purple varieties. But they all cook up and taste about the same. Interestingly, you might find the green variety to be less expensive than the others. So watch those price tags!

When I choose my green beans, the very first thing I look for is whether the batch has a lot of brown spots. If so, I pass on them. So the first thing you want to be sure of is that the green beans look fresh with no brown patches.

The next thing I do is pick one up and give it a little bend. Not enough to break it, of course, but you'll get to know what a fresh and healthy green bean feels like after a while. It should feel very firm and have only the slightest bend to it. If it's limp, I'll put it down and move on. (Because, really, nothing limp ever made me happy! tee-hee)

And that's all there is to choosing your green beans.

How To Clean and Prep Green Beans

Generally, I find green beans to be very clean veggies. They won't have any dirt hanging off of them or anything. That's because they grow on a plant versus growing directly in the ground as root veggies do.

So cleaning is quick and easy.

Fill a large bowl or Salad Spinner with fresh water and 1-2 Tbsp. of vinegar or lemon juice (or other foodie acid like lime juice) and soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Your green beans are now ready to go.

To prepare your green beans for cooking, it's best to remove the ends. While you CAN line them up and cut the ends off with a knife, I find that to be easier said than done, especially when you aren't dealing with beans that are all perfectly straight. If you have a batch of curvy beans, trying to line them up will drive you crazy.

So I recommend snapping off the ends. It may take a little longer, but as I mentioned earlier it's sorta nice to get in touch with the nature of your food as you pick each bean up and play with it. It's quite relaxing. And the sound of that snap is so satisfying -- like popping bubble wrap.    ;)

Next, let's move on to cooking our beans.

How To Cook Green Beans

There is one main cooking technique we use and recommend for green beans.

Please know, we use green beans in other ways rather than just steaming, such as in soups or stews. But if we're going to use green beans in, say, a no-meat loaf then we'll steam them first because baking them directly in the loaf usually does not provide the moisture they need to thoroughly cook until tender.

A collapsible steamer

Green Beans Vegan Flavor Matches

Create your very own green beans recipes with some of your favorite ingredients from this list of foods that match perfectly.

(What are Flavor Matches?)

  • Allspice
  • Apples
  • Bacon bits (vegetarian, 'natch)
  • Bell pepper, especially green
  • Black olives
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Brown Sugar
  • Butter, non-dairy (I like organic Earth Balance)
  • Cayenne
  • Chili Peppers
  • Cinnamon
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut nectar
  • Coriander
  • Cream, vegan (plain and whipped)
  • Cream cheese, vegan
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Garlic
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Ginger
  • Lemon
  • Leeks
  • Maple syrup
  • Nuts, especially pecans and walnuts
  • Nutmeg
  • Onions, especially Sweet
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Pears
  • Pepper, black
  • Potatoes
  • Raisins
  • Sage
  • Shallots
  • Sherry
  • Sour Cream, vegan
  • Tamari
  • Thyme
  • Tomato
  • Worcestershire sauce

Try One Of These Vegan Green Bean Recipes...

Almond Green Beans
Asian Green Beans
Italian Green Beans w/Roasted Shallots
Spicy Green Beans
Dilled Potato-Green Bean Salad
Irish Stew
Russian Potato Stew w/Sour Cream

Green Beans Helpful Hints

It's best to wash your green beans just before using to keep them crisp and fresh.

Steam your green beans for at LEAST 5 minutes so you can bring out their nutritional qualities. Personally, I steam them longer (up to 25 minutes) until they are cooked al-dente (tender with a bite).

Happy cooking!

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