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Cooking Green Beans

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

Green beans are one of those vegetables that are available year round at the grocery store. Make sure you buy ones that have a nice bright color and are free of blemishes.

With just a sprinkle of salt and two minutes in the microwave, you’ve got a fresh vegetable for dinner. Given they cook so quickly, make only enough for what you are going to eat for dinner tonight.

About 24 (four inch long) green beans will be enough for two servings.

The first thing you have to do is “top and tail” the beans. That’s the official term used to nip the tips off each end of the beans.

You can line them up and with a knife cut the ends off. As long as the beans are young and fresh, they should not be stringy. If they are stringy you will need to nip the ends off, one at a time, with your fingers. This same technique is used when making snow peas as well.

Sort of drag the tip off, pulling any of the stringy bit off as you go.

Rinse the beans in a colander.

Put them in a microwave safe dish. Add about 2 Tablespoons of water.

Cover the beans with plastic wrap leaving a small corner open.

If you seal them completely, the plastic wrap will almost shrink-wrap itself to the beans. This makes it a lot harder to remove the plastic wrap and much more likely you will get burned by the trapped steam.

Some people serve green beans with lashings of butter, or with almonds. I prefer them just with salt and sometimes a squeeze of lemon juice.


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will said:

Have you ever seen those super expensive very very skinny french green beans… so great, and worth the price.

Kathy Maister said:

You are so right, they are delicious! If you do splurge on these treasures, cook and eat them within a day or two of buying them. They don’t keep for very long, even in the refrigerator.

Ken said:

With beans, either green or runner, I always ‘French’ them, I notice the Americans never do this, and In my opinion they look more appetising…of course preparation takes considerably longer… Secondly I always add a 1/4 tsp baking soda, this does not impair the flavour, but ensures the beans keep a nice healthy looking greenness. Another additive which makes the dish more interesting are slithered almonds, add amount to your own personal choice.

Kathy Maister said:

OK Ken…so you REALLY do know how to cook! You have wonderful suggestions. I knew about the baking soda but have never tried it. Do you add it in the very beginning of the cooking process?

Ken said:

Hi Kathy, Thanks for your kind comment re. my cooking, but really I am very basic.

Any green vegetable I cook, collard greens, cabbage,, beans etc. I boil the water first and then add it just prior to immersing the veggies. Hope you find this tip useful.

Bill Tukaussey said:

I have never met a microwave yet that will not turn food into some kind of rubbery substance without covering, using water. It is just as quick to bring out a sauté pan, through them in with some olive oil, butter, cook for 5 min then deglaze pan with 2 tbsp of lemon juice.

pauline joy said:

How long should I microwave these for? I would like to microwave them for the least amount of time to maintain the crispness, taste and nutritional value.

Bill Tukaussey said:

Stop!!!! Don’t Mirowave green beans, they will tun into rubber beans. But if you have to microwave, cook them for 20 minutes on power setting 3 with a little bit of water. It’s probably shorter time wise to cook them on the stove. I would say sauté them in a little butter olive oil lemon zest. with a splash of fresh lemon juice at the end.

pauline joy said:


I stared at one large serving of green beans & just went for it without waiting for a reply. I microwaved them for 1:30 with very little water (2T) and they came out still crunchy and delicious.

Thanks though! 20 minutes sounds long..?

Bill Tukaussey said:

That is great, you must have a sensor in your microwave. I cook them beyond al dente with my method and still get incredible crispness and flavor, especially using organically grown

startcooking said:

I am glad to hear that your green beans turned out well. I like mine to be “tender-crisp” which means cooking them for usually less than 2 minutes.

Are you sure you meant to say 20 minutes and not 2 minutes??????


shawna said:

do you have to cover with plastic wrap? I prefer to avoid the use of plastic as much as possible. I have never microwaved my green beans, so I would like to give it a try. I am assuming the plastic wrap provides the steam necessary to cook it.

startcooking said:

Yes the green beans do need to be covered or they will not cook properly.
If your microwave safe dish has a cover you can use that, as long as you keep the lid ajar.
Or you could use a paper towel.

shawna said:

i will try it with the paper towel. thanks for the response. I like your step by step tutorial with pictures. thanks , shawna

Sheilah said:

I am supposed to make a green beans dish for 55 football players. How much do I need to make?

startcooking said:

Sheilah, if you Google Cooking For a Crowd you will discover lots of options.
Good Luck!

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