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These are the best sauteed green beans: an easy side dish bursting with flavor! Here’s the trick for how to saute them to perfection.

Sauteed green beans

Bright green string beans are a little underrated, if you ask us. But they make a perfect side dish: delicious, healthy, and easy to make. They’re great steamed or roasted, but the easiest way to prepare them? Sauteed Green Beans! It might sound too simple, but you do need a few tricks to sauté green beans perfection. This recipe is our tried and true method that works every time. It’s easy to make for a weeknight, but fancy enough for a party. Here’s what you need to know!

How to saute green beans

Sure, you can just throw green beans straight in a skillet and go about sautéing. But here’s the thing: the pan starts to dry up before the beans are fully cooked. The best way to saute green beans? Steam them in the pan first, then finish with a saute. This method works very well with tougher vegetables like pan fried broccoli or sauteed broccoli. Here are the basic steps for how to saute green beans:

  • Steam. Add the beans with a splash of water to a skillet. Cook over medium high heat for 4 minutes covered.
  • Cook out the water. Remove the cover and cook until the remaining water evaporates, about 1 minute.
  • Saute! Now that the beans are softened, add the olive oil or butter and saute the beans for 2 minutes until tender but still bright green!
How to saute green beans

Go for bright green and crisp tender: avoid overcooking!

The biggest problem most people have with sauteed green beans? They overcook them. Even a minute or 2 too long, and the beans turn dark green and limp. They’ll taste fine, but the texture is not nearly as desirable. Here are a few tips to avoid overcooking green beans:

  • Taste often. Once you see the beans start to become tender, pull out a bean with a fork and give it a taste! If it’s too crunchy, keep going. Keep on tasting until you’ve got it where you want it.
  • Err on the early side. If you’re in doubt, pull them earlier rather than later. Even a few minutes can make soggy green beans: and no one likes that!

Seasoning for sauteed green beans

What do you need for seasoning sauteed green beans? Very little, in fact! Green beans go well with simple flavors, so you don’t need much to dress them up. Here’s what you need for this recipe:

  • Salt and pepper. This is 100% the most important! You must salt your beans to perfection. This means that when you bite into it, it tastes seasoned but not salty. Just like the cooking part, you’ll need to taste to get it to the right level.
  • Lemon juice and zest. Lemony green beans always taste delicious! Here we’ve used both lemon juice and lemon zest, but you can skip the zest if you prefer. Fresh citrus always makes beans taste incredible. We use the trick of finishing with lemon juice in many of our sauteed vegetables recipes.
Sauteed green beans

How to trim green beans

Do you ever feel like it takes forever to trim green beans? Here’s a quick way that we’ve found to do it, so you’re not wasting too much time prepping these sauteed green beans. The best way we’ve found to trim green beans quickly is this:

  • Line them up: Grab a handful (about 15 to 20 beans) and then place them on the cutting board. Working quickly, make a uniform pile with them all lined up lengthwise. They don’t all need to be facing the same way, or they can be if you like. For this recipe we cut off just the stem ends and left the other end uncut.
  • Slice one end: Line up all the ends against your knife edge. Grab them in one hand, and cut off the ends with a knife.
  • Flip and slice the other (optional): If you’re trimming the beans to be bite-sized, quickly flip the beans the other way, and then push them towards your knife blade so that the other ends line up. Grab the pile and slice off the other ends.

Storing leftovers

Sauteed green beans look absolutely beautiful and bright green immediately after making them. But take note! Storage changes the game:

  • The green color fades in the refrigerator. While the beans fade to a dark green color, they still taste great! So this shouldn’t be a problem unless you were planning to serve them to guests. We don’t recommend making this recipe in advance!
  • Green beans last up to 3 days refrigerated. Pop them in a sealed container and they might be good even longer.
  • How to you keep the color of green beans? Blanch them! Go to Nicoise Salad and follow the prep instructions for the green beans.
Sauteed green beans

Green beans nutrition

Last up: why eat green beans? Well, they’re packed full of good stuff! like many green veggies, green beans have what your body needs to power through the day. Here are some of the highlights (source):

  • Green beans are a low calorie food. 1 cup of raw green beans has just 31 calories.
  • Green beans contain fiber. 1 cup raw beans has 2.7 grams fiber, or about 8% of your daily need.
  • Green beans have lots of Vitamin C and other vitamins. 1 cup raw beans has about 25% of your daily vitamin C.

More green bean recipes

Green beans are a delicious way to load up your table with veggies! Here are a few more favorite green bean recipes:

This sauteed green beans recipe is…

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

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Sauteed green beans

Perfect Sauteed Green Beans

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


These are the best sauteed green beans: an easy side dish bursting with flavor! Here’s the trick for how to saute them to perfection. 


  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 shallot (optional but recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (and zest of 1/2 lemon if desired)
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. Trim the green beans. Mince the shallot. 
  2. Place the beans in a large skillet and add ⅓ cup water. Heat over medium-high heat. Once the water starts boiling, cover the skillet and boil the beans for 4 minutes. Then uncover and cook until the water is fully evaporated, about 1 minute or os. 
  3. Once all the water has cooked out, add the olive oil or butter, minced shallot and kosher salt (take care because any additional moisture can cause the beans to momentarily spit). Sauté for 2 minutes more until tender, stirring frequently.
  4. Turn off the heat and remove the beans to a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and if using, top with grated lemon zest. Taste, then add plenty of fresh ground pepper and a few additional pinches of kosher salt. Eat immediately. Leftovers store 2 to 3 days refrigerated: though the bright green color is lost, they still taste delicious.
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Sauteed
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Sauteed green beans

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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  1. Good recipe! Much better than blah steamed green beans. I sometimes replace the shallot and lemon with about 1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds, sauteed separately in butter (which is what my mom used to do with green beans). Also, I sometimes have too much water left in the pan after the steaming step, so a useful trick is to remove it with a turkey baster.