How to boil green beans? Simply drop them into salted boiling water, and cook just until tender-crisp. Drain, add salt and (optional) butter and enjoy!
I’m always looking for interesting ways to cook vegetables. I have a large collection of vegetable recipes on this blog. But sometimes the simplest recipes are the best.
Green beans are now in season, and I find that when they are very fresh, the most enjoyable way for me to savor this nutritious vegetable is to simply boil them in salted water until tender but crisp. I then sprinkle them with kosher salt. That’s it!
You can serve them as a snack!
When boiled green beans are fresh and crisp like this, they make not just a great side dish, but a wonderful snack that you can serve and eat as finger food, and get that peculiar satisfaction that we humans get when we eat something crunchy and salty.
I have quite a few green beans recipes on this blog (these roasted green beans are excellent). But when they are truly fresh, this simple recipe is my absolute favorite.
The ingredients you’ll need
The list of ingredients needed for this recipe is delightfully short – you’ll only need three ingredients! The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Fresh green beans: In this particular recipe I’m using standard green beans, not the ultra-thin French haricot vert.
Kosher salt: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Butter: I love using creamy European butter, but any butter will be great. And I often don’t use it at all.
How to cook fresh green beans
Boil them! It’s so easy. Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Start by trimming the ends of the green beans. You can leave them whole, or you can cut them into three-inch pieces.
2. Drop the beans into salted boiling water. Boil them for about 5 minutes.
3. Drain, season with salt and some butter, and serve.
It’s really important that the beans remain firm – soft and limp will not do. The only seasoning they need is some coarse kosher salt and maybe a pat of butter. Delicious!
What to serve with boiled green beans
It’s such a versatile side dish. It goes with anything, really. I often serve them with one of the following main dishes:
Sometimes I top them with a couple of poached eggs for an easy and delicious meatless dinner.
What about leftovers?
Although they taste best when freshly cooked, you can keep leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.
Reheat them gently, in the microwave on 50% power. Or chop them and add them cold to a salad. Sometimes I replace the asparagus in this asparagus salad with leftover boiled green beans.
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How to Boil Green Beans
- 1 lb. fresh green beans, ends trimmed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
- Pick through the green beans and discard any that are withered or discolored. This simple cooking method is suitable for only the freshest of beans.
- I prefer to leave green beans whole, they make such a great finger food when left at their full length. But to serve at dinner, you might want to cut them into 3-inch pieces.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Drop the green beans into the boiling water. Bring back to a full boil and cook, uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 5 minutes. But start checking after 3 minutes (use a fork to take one out of the pot and taste).
- Drain the boiled green beans into a colander, shake dry and season with kosher salt. You can use other seasonings of course, and a generous pat of butter on top of the hot green beans is heavenly. But really, when they are fresh, green beans only need brief boiling and some salt.