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These zesty steamed green beans are the epitome of an easy side dish! This healthy recipe rounds out just about any dinner.

Steamed green beans
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Looking for a healthy and easy side dish that pairs with literally anything? These lemony steamed green beans go with almost any meal, from meatloaf to salmon to pasta. Even better: they take only 10 minutes to whip up! Alex and I are always on the lookout for easy side dishes. While “steamed green beans” might not be the most Instagram drool worthy idea, it’s seriously practical and 100% worth adding to your weeknight cooking skills! The zesty lemon flavor and bite of the black pepper in these beans have made them a favorite in our house.

Got an Instant Pot? Try our Instant Pot Green Beans with Lemon.

Steamed Green Beans

How to make perfect steamed green beans

The trick to steamed green beans is to catch them right when they’re bright green and crisp tender! Keep cooking and they’ll turn a muddy green color and become mushy. The perfect timing for steaming this green veggie is about 4 to 5 minutes. You’ll need to play it by ear each time you cook the beans, because the timing can depend on the thickness and freshness of the green beans. Here are our tips on how to steam beans.

Gear required: You’ll need a steamer basket or steamer pan to make this recipe. Here’s a steamer basket you can buy online.

Step 1: Trim the green beans.

The major time investment in green beans? Cutting them! Here’s our fast method for how to trim green beans that will shave off valuable minutes.

How to trim green beans: Cut off ends

Step 2: Boil the water.

The main thing you need to know for how to steam green beans: bring the water to a boil first! Don’t be tempted to boil the water with the veggies in the pot! You’ll boil the water in a saucepan or pot before you add the beans. If using a steamer basket without a handle, add it to the pot now: the water surface should be right under the basket. 

Step 3: Add the beans, cover and steam for 4 to 5 minutes, until crisp tender.

Once the water is boiling, add the beans (in the steamer basket, if it has a handle) and cover the pot with a lid. Steam for 4 to 5 minutes, until bright green and crisp tender. Test the bean with a fork and taste it: if you’d like it a little more tender, cook another minute. Just be careful not to go too long, or the color will fade and the beans will become mushy.

Steamed green beans

Step 4: Drain and season.

Remove from the heat and drain the beans. Then season with lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Voila! Steamed green beans in no time.

Steamed Green Beans

Ways to season steamed green beans

This steamed green beans recipe features our favorite seasoning: lemon juice and zest for brightness, and black pepper for a little flair. But there are lots of other ways to season steamed beans, of course! Here are a few other ideas to get your wheels turning:

  • Minced garlic and butter
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • Rice vinegar and sesame seeds
  • Slivered toasted almonds
  • Thinly sliced green onion
  • Feta crumbles

How to serve them

Any meal that needs an easy side dish, this recipe has got your back. It fits many diets: vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free, among others. Here are a few main dishes to serve with our best green beans recipe:

This steamed green beans recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, and vegan.

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Steamed green beans

Lemony Steamed Green Beans


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5 from 6 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

These zesty steamed green beans are the epitome of an easy side dish! This healthy recipe rounds out just about any dinner.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound fresh green beans*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus zest from 1 lemon (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Trim the green beans. Zest the lemon, then juice it.
  2. Place 1 ½ cups water into a saucepan or pot. If using a steamer basket without a handle, add it to the pot now: the water surface should be right under the basket. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, add the green beans (in the steamer basket, if it has a handle). Steam with the lid on 4 to 5 minutes until just tender, testing with a fork to assess whether it’s done.
  4. Carefully remove the beans to a bowl. Toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, kosher salt, and plenty of fresh ground black pepper.

Notes

*This recipe is easily doubled to feed a crowd.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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10 Comments

  1. Jonathan Bryans says:

    Simple and so good…. Nothing can go wrong with this……Thank you!!






  2. Kayla Hughey says:

    Hi! Can I use frozen green beans instead?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Yes!

  3. Linda Colandrea says:

    Vegetarian Meal. Also, if I use minced garlic & butter for my lemony green beans, do I cook the butter and garlic down first?. Thank you






  4. Gayle Scott says:

    I’m making your lemon green beans for a wedding this weekend. Can I steam the beans early and refrigerate and then reheat the day of the wedding? Would you add the lemon as if serving immediately or add it before reheating?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Great question! I would actually blanch them in advance to make sure they stay green in the refrigerator: here’s how to do it! https://www.acouplecooks.com/how-to-blanch-green-beans/ Then I’d gently reheat them before serving and stir in the lemon and other seasonings as instructed in the last step of the steaming recipe.

  5. Curly Smith says:

    Had green beans, found your recipe and it was awesome! Thank you!






  6. Jessica Femiak says:

    I steamed my beans in my Instant Pot for zero minutes and subbed 1 tablespoon of butter for the olive oil and omitted the lemon juice. My preschoolers loved them and I will be adding them to their lunch box in the morning.






  7. Wadagoducks says:

    Amazing and super easy. I’ll be making this again.






  8. Anonymous says:

    Super easy. A new family hit. ‘Good-bye’ boring beans.