How to cook fresh green beans? Simply drop them into salted boiling water and cook them until tender-crisp (and not a second longer).
Drain, add some salt and (optional) butter, and enjoy! This truly easy side dish is ready in about 20 minutes.
I'm always looking for interesting ways to cook vegetables. I have a large collection of vegetable recipes on this website. 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 them is to simply boil them in salted water until tender-crisp. I then sprinkle them with kosher salt. That's it!
The list of ingredients needed for this recipe is delightfully short - you'll only need three of them! 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. I don't recommend using frozen beans in this recipe.
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.
I find that the easiest way to cook fresh green beans is to boil them. Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
You start by trimming the ends of the beans. You can leave them whole, or you can cut them into three-inch pieces.
Now, drop the beans into salted boiling water. Cook them for about 5 minutes.
Drain the beans and season them with salt.
Serve them topped with butter.
It's really important that the beans remain firm - soft and limp will not do. So take care not to overcook them. When properly cooked, they are so inherently tasty, that the only seasoning they need is some coarse kosher salt and maybe a pat of butter.
Frequently asked questions
While I do like to roast green beans in the oven, my favorite method is to briefly boil them in water. As long as they're not overcooked, they emerge from the water wonderfully tender-crisp and fresh tasting.
I don't recommend that. Fresh green beans are so much better in terms of flavor and texture. I've got nothing against frozen veggies - they have their place and I do use them - just not in this particular recipe.
French green beans, or haricot verts, are longer and thinner and will require an even shorter cooking time. So check on them after just 2 minutes - most likely they'll be ready.
You can vary this recipe by adding more seasonings to the cooked green beans. Good candidates include garlic granules and dried thyme. You can also sprinkle the cooked beans with dry-grated parmesan or with bacon bits for extra flavor.
This is such a versatile side dish. It goes with anything, really. I often serve it with one of the following main dishes:
Sometimes I top them with a couple of poached eggs for an easy and delicious meatless dinner.
In fact, when green beans are fresh and crisp, 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.
Although they taste best when freshly cooked, you can keep the 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 green beans.
👩🏻🍳 I typically publish a new or an updated recipe once a week. Want these recipes in your inbox? Subscribe! You can unsubscribe at any time.
Boiled Green Beans
- 1 lb. fresh green beans ends trimmed
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal 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 of kosher salt. Drop the green beans into the boiling water. Bring back to a full boil and cook, uncovered, until the 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. Careful - they'll be hot!).
- Drain the green beans into a colander, shake them 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, they only need brief boiling and some salt.