Wonderfully tender-crisp and well seasoned, these flavorful Chinese green beans are one of my favorite side dishes.
I really like green beans. They are so delicious! Simple boiled green beans, liberally salted, are wonderful. I also love spicy green beans. When tender-crisp, rather than limp and lifeless, green beans are like a salty, spicy snack.
The secret to delicious Chinese green beans is sautéing them until tender-crisp and not a second longer. The tasty sauce – garlic, soy sauce and honey – is wonderfully flavorful.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty side dish. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Avocado oil: This neutral-tasting oil has a neutral taste and a high smoke point, making it ideal for cooking.
Fresh green beans: I haven’t tried making this recipe with frozen beans, but I suspect that fresh is the way to go in terms of flavor and texture.
Soy sauce: I use reduced-sodium soy sauce in most of my recipes. I find that traditional soy sauce is too salty. Obviously, you can also use a gluten-free alternative.
Rice vinegar: You can replace it with white wine vinegar. It works just as well in this Chinese green beans recipe.
Honey: Just a little to balance out the other flavors in this recipe. It doesn’t make the dish taste sweet.
Cornstarch: Just a little to help thicken the sauce.
Minced garlic: Mince it yourself, or use the stuff that comes in a jar.
Red pepper flakes: I use 1/2 teaspoon, which makes the dish quite spicy. If you don’t like spicy food, you can use half that amount.
Sesame oil: To finish the dish after it’s cooked. It adds great flavor!
How to make Chinese green beans
It’s so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Your first step is to mix the sauce ingredients – soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, cornstarch, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
2. Next, sauté the green beans in avocado oil until they are tender-crisp and just begin to brown in spots.
3. Reduce the heat to low, add the sauce, and cook briefly, just until the green beans are coated and the sauce has thickened.
4. Drizzle the dish with sesame oil and serve.
Should I parboil the green beans?
Some green bean recipes will instruct you to parboil the beans prior to sautéing them. Frankly, I lack the patience for that, and I also find it unnecessary. One-step cooking is always better than two-step cooking, and washing one pot is preferable to washing two!
Variations and substitutions
Here are a few ideas for changing up this recipe:
- You can use half a teaspoon of garlic powder in the sauce instead of fresh garlic.
- You can add a teaspoon of minced fresh ginger to the sauce.
- Try toasting a tablespoon of sesame seeds and sprinkling them on top of the finished dish.
- Instead of red pepper flakes, you can mix a teaspoon of hot pepper sauce into the sauce. The only caveat is that pepper sauce tends to create more fumes when cooked, so if you’re sensitive to that, you might want to stick with pepper flakes (and possibly use less of them).
How to serve Chinese green beans?
You don’t really have to serve them with an Asian-style main dish. They are quite versatile and go well with any meat or fish.
I often serve them with grilled chicken breast. They are also very nice alongside fried eggs, for a tasty and filling meatless meal.
What about leftovers?
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them in the microwave on 50% power. Sometimes I just snack on them cold – they are surprisingly good that way!
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Chinese Green Beans
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 12 oz green beans , trimmed, long ones halved
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and cornstarch. Mix in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Add the green beans and sauté them, stirring often, until they are tender-crisp and just begin to brown in spots, about 8 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low. Give the sauce another whisk, then add it to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the beans are coated in the sauce and the sauce has thickened, about 1 minute.
- Transfer the green beans to a serving plate, drizzle with sesame oil, and serve.