How to boil green beans perfectly every time from fresh or frozen for a tender-crisp vegetable side tossed in butter. Boiled green beans are quick, simple, naturally low carb, gluten-free, paleo, whole30, and optionally vegan!
Sauteed green beans are perfect for those wanting tender-crisp and slightly blistered green beans, and roasted and air-fried green beans maximize caramelization. In comparison, these boiled green beans are perfect for those who love neutral, tender green beans, perfect for tossing with butter and salt for a simple and delicious side!
Within this post, I’ll take you through how to prepare green beans for cooking, how long to boil green beans to make them soft (spoiler, it’s under 10 minutes!), as well as all my favorite serving recommendations, including seasoning and what to serve them with. You’ll never have to deal with mushy or bland boiled string beans again.
Best of all, the process of how to cook green beans on the stove couldn’t get much more straightforward. Just trim the pods, drop them into salted boiling water, and cook until tender-crisp (or tender if you’re someone who likes their veggies soft) and a vibrant, bright green color.
Simple Green Bean Recipe Ingredients
Boiling green beans relies on three ingredients to make a super versatile “neutral” side dish.
- Green beans: Use fresh green beans (aka string beans/snap beans) that are firm and free from wrinkles. Frozen green beans also work for this boiled green beans recipe method.
You could also use Haricot verts, reducing the boiling time by a minute or two. Wax beans (which are yellow) or purple string beans would also work.
- Salt: I recommend using sea salt or kosher salt.
- Water: to boil the beans.
- Butter: Optional, for serving. You can’t beat fresh boiled veggies tossed with melted butter (dairy butter or vegan). Add more flavor with roasted garlic butter or herby compound butter. These buttered beans are a delicious addition to any dinner table!
How to Boil Green Beans
Learn how to boil green beans in just a few quick, simple, and fuss-free steps.
Do You Need to Trim the Ends Off of Green Beans?
Trimming green beans to remove the tough, chewy fibrous part of the pods is essential. To prepare the green beans for boiling:
First, rinse the beans in a colander and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels.
Then, spread a layer of green beans on your chopping board, lining up the ends. This makes it easy to slice off the stem ends (about ¼ – ½ inch) of multiple pods in one go. Repeat until all the beans are trimmed.
You can optionally turn them over and trim the other side, too, though it isn’t necessary.
If you’d prefer, cut the green beans into smaller even sized pieces – this is especially great when boiling green beans for toddlers and small children.
How Long to Boil Green Beans
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat, and add the salt.
Once boiling, add the green beans to the saucepan of salted water and bring it back to a boil.
Cook the fresh green beans for 3-4 minutes or until tender-crisp.
How long to boil green beans depends on their size so check on them after 2.5-3 minutes and adjust the green beans boiling time to your preference.
Once ready, drain the boiled green beans through a strainer, toss with the butter, and then season to taste. If wanted, sprinkle red pepper flakes or drizzle with lemon juice. Enjoy!
To avoid overcooking the boiled green beans, you could transfer them directly to an ice bath (bowl of ice water) for 4-5 minutes before draining them and tossing them with melted butter.
Can You Boil Frozen Green Beans?
Absolutely. To boil frozen green beans, follow the same method as above, cooking for 6-8 minutes or until tender.
Note that the beans will have been blanched before freezing, so they won’t take much longer to cook after thawing in the water, so keep an eye on them.
What to Serve with Boiled Green Beans
These cooked green beans are neutral and versatile enough to pair with almost any meal. Here are just a few serving options for this easy side dish.
- Add them to cooked grains or pasta dishes.
- Serve with creamy mashed potatoes.
- Serve along with protein like roast chicken, fried chicken, or air fryer salmon.
- Enjoy alongside stuffed zucchini.
- Serve along with spaghetti Bolognese.
- Top with a poached egg.
You could also use them to make a green bean casserole or enjoy chilled leftover green beans chopped into small pieces to add to potato salad, pasta salads, and other salads (like a 5 bean salad).
There’s no need to thaw frozen green beans before boiling them.
Generally, it will take 4-5 minutes for them to be crisp-tender and a minute or two more for more tender boiled green beans.
French green beans (haricot verts) are thinner, longer beans, so they’ll require 1-2 minutes less of cooking time.
Rubbery beans mean they’re undercooked (meanwhile, overcooked become mushy). If they’re rubbery, try returning them to the pot to cook for longer.
I recommend testing one or two as they cook, so you only remove them from the pan at the correct time.
When properly cooked, the boiled string beans will be a vibrant green and have a crisp-tender texture when eaten.
More Easy Vegetable Side Dishes
If you try this easy green beans recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d really appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
How to Boil Green Beans Perfectly
- Rinse the beans in a colander and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels.
- Spread a layer of green beans on your chopping board, lining up the ends. This makes it easy to slice off the stem ends (about ¼ – ½ inch) of multiple pods in one go. Repeat until all the beans are trimmed.You can optionally turn them over and trim the other side, too, though it isn't necessary.If you’d prefer, cut the green beans into smaller pieces – this is especially great when boiling green beans for toddlers and small children.
- Meanwhile, bring a medium or large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat, and add the salt.
- Once boiling, add the prepared green beans to the saucepan and bring back to a boil.
- Boil the green beans for 3-4 minutes or until tender-crisp.When cooking green beans, use a fork or knife to test if the beans are cooked to your desired level. I recommend checking on them in about 2.5-3 minutes to ensure they don't overcook.
- Once ready, drain the boiled green beans through a strainer, toss with the butter, and then season to taste. Enjoy!To avoid overcooking the boiled green beans, you could transfer the green beans directly to an ice bath (bowl of ice water) for 4-5 minutes before draining them and tossing them with melted butter.
To Boil Frozen Green Beans
- To boil frozen green beans, follow the same method as above, cooking for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Note that the beans will have been blanched before freezing, so they won't take much longer to cook after thawing in the water, so keep an eye on them.
- Make ahead: You can rinse, dry, and de-string the green beans 2-3 days in advance and store them in a Ziplock bag in the fridge. Store: Store any leftover cooled boiled green beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.Freeze: Green beans don't freeze particularly well, as they’ll become very soft upon thawing. However, frozen (for up to 4 months in a Ziplock bag) and thawed boiled green beans work well in soups, stews, and casseroles.Reheat: You can reheat the beans in the microwave at 50% power (for softer results) or sauté them with a little butter.
- To save time: You can purchase the green beans already trimmed. Either way, just make sure the beans are trimmed to avoid chewy, tough beans.
- Adjust the cooking time: The boiling time for green beans will vary on whether you’d prefer tender-crisp or more tender boiled string beans.
- For the crispest boiled green beans: Use the blanching and shocking (in an ice bath) method to stop the cooking process as soon as they’re ready (3-4 minutes).
- Be careful not to overcook the beans: They’ll become overly mushy and limp.
- Save the discarded pod ends: They can be added to vegetable stock, used to feed chickens, or composted.
- Lemon juice (and optional zest)
- Red pepper flakes
- Smoked paprika
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Shredded parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast/vegan parmesan)
- Fresh herbs (parsley, basil, mint, chives, etc.)
- Dried thyme
- Toasted slivered almonds
- Dried cranberries
- Tahini and toasted sesame seeds
- Stir in some basil pesto
- Mustard and honey