Learn how to steam green beans to perfection with this easy-to-follow guide. Enjoy crisp and tender steamed green beans that retain their vibrant color and nutrients. Both stovetop and microwave directions are included.
Learning how to steam green beans is a valuable culinary skill to add a healthy side dish to your meals. Steamed green beans retain their vibrant color, crisp texture, and essential nutrients, making them a nutritious addition to any plate.
In this guide, I’ll take you through the step-by-step process of steaming green beans, ensuring you achieve perfectly cooked beans every time. Serve them with a squeeze of lemon, or stir them into soups, pasta and salads. Try pairing them with a dish from 40 High Protein Chicken Recipes.
How to choose green beans
▪️ Look for freshness: When selecting green beans, opt for ones that are vibrant green and firm to the touch. Avoid beans that are wilted, discolored, or have brown spots.
▪️ Consider the size: Thin green beans tend to be more tender and cook faster, while thicker ones have a heartier texture. Choose based on your personal preference or the specific dish you're preparing.
How to trim green beans
Trimming green beans is a quick and simple process. Just follow these steps:
▪️ Take a small handful of green beans and align the stem ends.
▪️ Use a sharp knife to cut off the tough ends in one go. You can also snap off the ends by hand if you prefer.
STEAMER BASKET: There are two variations of steam baskets available. The initial type features a metal basket that can be adjusted in size to fit snugly into a saucepan, as shown on the left side in the image below. The alternative choice is a steamer insert, resembling a double-boiler but with perforations, which rests on the top of a saucepan, as shown on the right side.
SAUCEPAN: Medium saucepan with a tightly fitting lid.
CONTAINER: If microwaving the green beans, use a microwave-safe container that fits the green beans. I prefer a glass container like this one. You will also need a microwave-safe plate or lid to rest on top.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
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How to steam green beans
Steaming green beans is a fast and uncomplicated technique that keeps their texture, color, and nutritional value intact. Here's how to do it:
PREPARE THE GREEN BEANS: Rinse the green beans under cold water to remove any dirt or impurities. Next, trim the ends. Hold a small handful of green beans and align their stems, then use a sharp knife to remove the tough ends.
PREPARE THE BASKET: Begin by setting up your trusty steamer basket. If you don't have one, don't worry! We'll also cover a microwave method later. Fill a pot with an inch or two of water, ensuring the water level is below the steamer basket when placed inside.
BOIL THE WATER: Fill a pot with about an inch of water and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Place the steamer basket on top, ensuring that it doesn't touch the water.
STEAM: Add the trimmed green beans to the steamer basket, cover the pot with a lid, and let the beans steam for approximately 3 minutes. The time will vary depending on the thickness of the beans. Check for doneness by poking a green bean with a fork—it should be tender yet still slightly crisp.
Keep a close eye on the beans while they steam, as overcooking can lead to mushy green beans. Remember, a little crunch is a good thing!
SERVE: Add flavor to your green beans by tossing them with a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, or a dash of herbs or spices before serving.
Steaming green beans in the microwave
If you don’t have a steamer basket, the microwave is your best friend for steaming broccoli. Here's how to do it:
- Add water: Add a few tablespoons of water to a microwave-safe dish.
- Add the beans: Place the green beans in the dish, ensuring they are spread out evenly. Cover the dish with a microwave-safe plate or lid.
- Microwave on high: Cook the green beans on HIGH for about 2-3 minutes. Check for desired tenderness and microwave for additional time, in short intervals, if needed.
Meal Prep and Storage
If you're planning ahead or meal prepping, steamed green beans can be prepared in advance and stored for later use.
FOR THE FRIDGE:
- If storing leftover green beans from dinner, let the green beans cool down to room temperature.
- If storing steamed green beans immediately after cooking, transfer them directly to an ice bath. Drain once they’re cool.
- Transfer them to an airtight container or resealable bag and store them in the refrigerator.
- Steamed green beans can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
FOR THE FREEZER:
- After steaming the green beans, immediately transfer them to an ice bath to cool.
- Pat them dry, then spread out on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour.
- Transfer the beans to freezer bags and store flat in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Yes! If you don't have a steamer basket, you can use a colander or sieve that fits snugly in a pot. Simply fill the pot with water, place the colander or sieve over it, and proceed with steaming as usual. Alternatively, follow the microwave directions mentioned earlier.er
The steaming time for green beans can vary depending on their thickness and personal preference. As a general guideline, steaming green beans for approximately 3-4 minutes will yield crisp-tender results. Keep in mind that thinner green beans will cook faster, while thicker ones may require a bit more time.
Yes, you can steam frozen green beans. Place the frozen green beans in a steamer basket set over simmering water. Steam until the green beans are tender-crisp when pierced with a fork, 5 to 8 minutes.
To check for doneness, pierce a green bean with a fork or taste a piece. The green beans should be tender yet still have a slight crunch. Avoid overcooking them, as they can become mushy.
Other Green Bean Recipes You'll Love
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How to Steam Green Beans
- Trim the ends of the green beans. Hold a small handful of green beans and align their stems, then use a sharp knife to remove the tough ends. Place the green beans in the steamer insert.
On the stovetop:
- Fill the bottom of a medium-sized saucepan with about 1 inch of water. Once the water boils, it should not touch the bottom of the steamer insert. If it does, pour out a bit of the water.
- Once the water is boiling, place the steamer insert (with the green beans) into the saucepan and cover with a lid. Turn the heat down slightly so the water maintains a lively simmer.
- Steam the green beans until it is tender, but not overcooked. This should take about 3 minutes, depending on the size of the green beans. French green beans may take less time. Insert a fork into one of the green beans. The fork should slide in easily, but with a bit of resistance. If you prefer a softer texture, increase the steaming time. Make sure there is still enough water in the bottom of the saucepan.
In the microwave:
- Pour a few tablespoons of water into the bottom of a microwave-safe bowl. You don't need much - just enough to cover the bottom of the bowl. Place the green beans in the bowl and cover the bowl with an upside down, microwave-safe plate that's big enough to cover the lip of the bowl.
- The cook time depends on a couple of factors, such as the wattage of your microwave and the size of the green beans. Three minutes is perfect in my microwave, but you may need to make adjustments to find the perfect cooking time.
- If you like, toss the steamed green beans with any of the optional ingredients listed above.
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