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.

  6. Lisa I. says

    Thank you, Jessica! Can you tell me how many days the blanched green beans can stay in the fridge before using them?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      If you are reheating the next day, in a microwave works well. I like to add some olive oil or butter to a saute pan over medium heat an reheat them that way, plus add seasonings.

  7. Twila Chaloupek says

    I am sure you are busy with family this Thanksgiving Day. I am trying to settle a situation between my retied chef brother, and myself. I used to help Mom a lot with the blanching of some vegetables. I am of the opinion that I do not have to blanch the beans before cooking them, if we are going to eat them today. I am going to proceed without blanching and I hope I do not regret it.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I always blanch or parboil the green beans to help tenderize them, but if I’m serving them right away, I won’t shock them in cold ice water. Let me know how it goes!

  8. Brandon says

    Can I leave the green beans in the ice water overnight then drain and reheat the next day of do they need to be drained before putting them in the fridge?

  9. Elise Vincett says

    Argh! I just processed 6 pounds of green beans. I erred by blanching in 3 large batches, and landed on the bright-green-but-mushy square. What can I do to use these watery beans that are not “company-friendly” to say the least? BTW…your book looks fabulous, and I cannot wait til it arrives soon in my mailbox!

    • Larry Harman says

      Sounds like it’s time for vegetable soup! Get some beef broth, potatoes, celery, carrots and the beans will fit right in !

  10. Gary says

    My green beans should have been picked earlier, they’re good looking, but too big and probably tough (past prime). How can I now cook them?

    • Virginia says

      I just cook the old ones a little longer. When they’re drained and in a serving bowl, mix them with butter and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over them. They’ll still be delicious!

  11. Ceara says

    Can I do this process with fresh green beans from the garden? and how long from the time they are picked can I wait to do this?

  12. Kylie Kardashian says

    For years Ive been looking and wondering what blanch meant and how to do it and finally came across this article. so happy you wrote this. Very informative and it feels good to finally know what blanch is and even how too.Thanks a bunch

  13. Jeannee says

    I want to make bright green fresh green beans…but I want them to be tender not crunchy. Will this recipe do that??

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, just continue to cook the beans until you get the desired texture. I would check every 30 seconds, just grab a bean and take a bite.

  14. Lele says

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I made my beans and came out so perfect. I could not stop picking at them. When I made beans in the past they always end up soggy and nobody wants to eat them even myself. This time my beans taste so yummy and yes crisp. Thanks again

    • Beth says

      Hi Jessica! Thank you for the great tips on cooking perfect green beans! I am wondering..what is the best way to reheat the beans? Microwave? Oven? Hot water? Thanks in advance!

      • Jessica Gavin says

        Hi Beth- I would reheat them either in the microwave in 30 seconds internals, or I saute them with some oil or butter, and any other flavorings like garlic, onions, or herbs.