Everyday is a great day for Sautéed Green Beans! This ever-reliable side dish complements just about any entree and any cuisine, and you only need five simple ingredients to put it together. Let’s go!
Why You’ll Love This Sautéed Green Bean Recipe
- An Addition to Your Side Dish Library. Because everyone who cooks dinner at home at least a few days a week needs a side dish library—you know, that collection of effortless back pocket sides you choose from whenever you’ve got a more demanding main dish. This recipe for sautéed green beans is one you’ll return to again and again.
- Tender-Crisp Green Bean Perfection. Like my Roasted Green Beans and Air Fryer Green Beans, these sautéed green beans are cooked until they’re tender, but still crisp—bright green in color, soft enough to be appetizing, without being limp and mushy.
- Quick Cook Time. Yes, yes, we all love roasting vegetables, but when you want to get dinner on the table fast, you can’t do better than sautéed green beans (or Sautéed Spinach, or Sautéed Broccoli, or Sautéed Mushrooms…).
- A Healthy Side. Green beans are high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, and this recipe for sautéed green beans is also low in saturated fat because it’s cooked in extra-virgin olive oil. Win!
- Serve Them With Everything. Choose your own flavor adventure—this recipe is versatile! Soy sauce and rice vinegar make these sautéed green beans an excellent side for Asian-inspired dishes like Teriyaki Salmon. Apple cider vinegar gives it an all-American flavor fitting for pairing with Breaded Pork Chops, while freshly-squeezed lemon juice gives these beans a bistro-style feel that you’ll love with Grilled Flank Steak.
How to Make Sautéed Green Beans
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. As with so many recipes, it all starts here.
- Green Beans. Trim the ends now so the beans are easy to eat later.
- Kosher Salt. Always my fave for cooking.
- Soy Sauce or Kosher Salt. Using rice vinegar? Then choose soy sauce. Lemon juice? Go with the salt. Apple cider vinegar can go either way.
- Acid. Rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or freshly-squeezed lemon juice brighten up your sautéed green beans and enhance their flavor.
- Get Started. Add the oil to a hot skillet, followed by the green beans.
- Season and Steam. Sprinkle the salt over the beans, then cover for 2 minutes, stir, and cover for 2 minutes more.
- Keep Cooking. Stir in the soy sauce (or more salt), cover, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes.
- Finish. Remove from heat, add your acid of choice. Season the sautéed green beans and ENJOY!
- Sautéed Green Beans Almondine. Before starting the recipe, toast blanched almond slivers or almond slices in the skillet. Transfer them to a bowl, then make the recipe as instructed, using lemon juice. Just before serving, stir the toasted almonds into the skillet. Add fresh parsley or other herbs if you happen to have them on hand.
- Sautéed Green Beans With Bacon. Cook a few strips of bacon and reserve one tablespoon of the fat; use this to cook the beans instead of extra-virgin olive oil. Crumble the cooked bacon and stir it into the beans after adding apple cider vinegar.
- Asian-Inspired Sautéed Green Beans. Add sesame seeds and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil before serving. You can add some freshly minced ginger and garlic cloves during the last 2 minutes of cooking time for extra flavor, or give your green beans some heat with red pepper flakes.
- Garlicky Sautéed Green Beans. Add a clove or two of crushed garlic during the last 2 minutes of cooking time, before you add the acid. Garlic powder also works.
- Sautéed Green Beans With Parmesan and Breadcrumbs. Plate the green beans and top them with panko breadcrumbs toasted in unsalted butter, black pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. A little bit of lemon zest or thinly sliced basil is delightful too!
- To Store. Refrigerate sautéed green beans in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Heat leftovers in a skillet set over medium heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze the sautéed green beans in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months, then thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
To get a head start on this recipe, you can prep the green beans a day or two in advance by washing and trimming them.
What to Serve with Sautéed Green Beans
- Chicken. Serve sautéed green beans with Grilled Chicken Breast or Air Fryer Chicken Thighs.
- Pork. For another protein option, pair your green beans with Air Fryer Pork Chops or Baked Pork Tenderloin.
- Asian-Inspired Dishes. If you go with the soy sauce/rice vinegar variation, these sautéed green beans complement Crispy Asian Chicken Tenders and Kung Pao Chicken.
- Pasta. Pesto Pasta and Garlic Pasta are delicious with lemony sautéed green beans.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. Kitchen shears work too, but I like stacking a handful of green beans together when trimming to reduce the prep time.
- Extra Large Cutting Board. This board has the space you need for all those green beans!
- Nonstick Skillet. A nonstick skillet allows you to use a minimal amount of oil.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Make Sure Your Skillet Is Hot-Hot-Hot. This is important! The hot pan gives your beans a nice sear right out of the gate, with makes them lightly blistered and extra flavorful. When you cover the beans, they’ll steam, which is how they get that perfect tender texture.
- Don’t Overcook. The best way to know when your sautéed green beans are done is to taste one. It’s up to you what “done” means, but for me, I look for the flavor to go from raw to cooked, a bright green color, and a texture that’s easy to bite into, but still has a little fresh green bean bite.
- Add Water If Needed. If your pan starts smoking or your beans start burning, reduce the heat and add a splash of water to the pan. Do this carefully because it could potentially spatter a bit.
- Dry Your Green Beans. Speaking of spatters! If there’s a lot of water clinging to your green beans when you add them to the oil, you will get oil spatters. They’re annoying on your stovetop and painful on your hands and arms, so make sure your green beans are as dry as possible. Sometimes I’ll wash them a few hours ahead of time and let them drain in a colander until I’m ready to cook; if I don’t have time for that, I’ll dump them into a kitchen towel, fold it over onto the beans, and pat them dry.
Sautéed Green Beans
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat until it’s good and hot. Add the oil, swirl to coat, then add the green beans, spreading them into an even layer.
- Add the salt, then cover (if your pan doesn’t have a lid, cover it with a baking sheet). Cook for 2 minutes, stir and spread the green beans back into an even layer, the recover and continue cooking 2 minutes more.
- Stir in the soy sauce. Recover and cook until the green beans are crisp-tender and browning in spots, about 4 to 6 minutes more. Stir them every 2 minutes to make sure they brown evenly. If at any point the green beans start to burn, reduce the heat and add a little water to the pan as needed. Watch the green beans carefully to make sure they don’t overcook and become mushy.
- Remove from the heat. Stir in the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Enjoy hot.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate sautéed green beans in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Heat leftovers in a skillet set over medium heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze the sautéed green beans in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months, then thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
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Frequently Asked Questions
No, if you boil green beans before you sauté them, they’ll be limp and lifeless from the get-go. It’s best to give them a nice sear in the pan, then let them steam with their own moisture by covering the skillet.
While some vegetables are delicious as-is, green beans really benefit from seasoning—here, we use salt and an acid like vinegar or lemon juice to bring out the best in our beans.
My secret to perfect sautéed green beans is a combination of direct heat and steaming, which makes the beans less tough. Sautéing gives them some light blistering for flavor, then you’ll cover the pan and let them steam until they’re tender.