How to Cook Green Beans Like a Pro

4.95 from 138 votes
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Master how to cook green beans and achieve the perfect texture and color every time. The simple blanch and shock method is the key to bright and crunchy beans.

Master how to cook green beans and achieve the perfect texture and color every time. The simple blanch and shock method is the key to bright and crunchy beans.

Nobody likes to eat mushy and dull-colored vegetables, that’s why learning how to cook green beans like a pro will be a game-changer in the kitchen. There is an easy method to achieve beautiful bright and crisp beans called “blanch and shock.”

It’s a two-step process that takes less than 10 minutes to ensure perfect results. From there, you can refrigerate the beans for later use in recipes, or rewarm them immediately with seasonings for a tasty side dish. Once you’ve mastered this cooking technique, you will never have to worry about the dreaded green bean disaster being served to your guests every again!

Metal tongs grabbing green beans from a hot boiling pot of water

What is Blanching?

Blanching is submerging vegetables in a large pot of boiling salted water for just a few minutes to soften the cell walls. For green beans, what you’ll observe is the dull green chlorophyll transform into a bright green color. The change is due to the air between the cells bubbling off in the hot environment and the tissue of the plant becoming more transparent.

Beware! Do not walk away from the pot. If you cook the vegetables too long or don’t stop the cooking process, the bright green can change to the dull olive green. This is because as the chlorophyll molecules get heated, the magnesium ion contained in the center releases, and causes the unpleasant color change. What should you do to prevent this?

Large silver bowl of green beans and ice cubes

Let the Beans Chill!

The quick blanching helps cook and tenderize the green beans, but shocking them right after in a large ice water bath stops the cooking and any further change in color. The result is crisp, tender, gorgeous green vegetables.

Just reheat the vegetables right before serving. You can also freeze or refrigerate the blanched beans until ready to cook. This method is also perfect for green vegetables like broccoli, snow and snap peas and asparagus.

More green bean recipes

 

How to Cook Green Beans

Learn how to cook green beans to achieve the perfect texture and color every time. The blanch and shock method is the key to bright and crunchy beans.
4.95 from 138 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time3 minutes
Total Time8 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients  

  • 4 quarts water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 1 pound green beans, or haricot verts

Instructions 

  • Add 3 quarts of water and salt to a large pot. Heat pot over high heat until a rolling boil is reached and large bubbles break the surface.
  • In a medium-sized bowl combine 1-quart water and ice. Set the ice bath aside.
  • Add beans to the boiling water and cook until the green beans are bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Immediately transfer beans to the ice bath for 5 minutes. Drain beans and use them as desired.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 35kcal (2%)Carbohydrates 8g (3%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 0.1gSaturated Fat 0.03gPolyunsaturated Fat 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat 0.01gSodium 307mg (13%)Potassium 237mg (7%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 2g (2%)Vitamin A 750IU (15%)Vitamin C 25.6mg (31%)Calcium 40mg (4%)Iron 1.1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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38 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Kevin says

    Thank you for an uncomplicated explanation of how to do this. This works better than any of those other authors’ confusing method instructions that are utterly impossible to follow. Do it like Jessica and you can’t go wrong. Thank you.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would add then towards the end of cooking to warm them up, unless you want them very soft like a braise.

  2. Helen Kelly says

    Hi, what’s the best way to re-heat the beans or broccoli for use in a roast dinner for example?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I like to reheat beans on the stovetop with some oil and any aromatics or seasonings you want to use to flavor the vegetable. Broccoli can be reheated in the microwave, on the stovetop like the bean, or on a sheet pan in the oven with seasonings after you make the roast.

  3. Amy Robbins says

    Excellent video, Jessica! I just got a heap of green beans on sale at the grocery store, and am blanching+shocking them this morning so they’ll be ready to go come dinnertime, when I’ll likely be too tired to face this key step! (One question: I’m planning to sauté them in olive oil, so should the prepped beans be dried off and stored in the fridge wrapped in paper towels?) Thanks and cheers!

  4. Denise Corklin says

    So simple…so basic….and perfect! I couldn’t stop eating them out of the ice water. I need to stop and leave a few for dinner.

  5. Denise says

    If your green beans were frozen to begin with and then you blanched and shot them, then put them in the refrigerator for a couple days, can you refreeze them,?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I wouldn’t recommend refreezing the already frozen then blanched beans, otherwise, the texture may be mushy and soft.

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