This green beans recipe is a perfect healthy side dish. All you need is a pile of fresh string beans, one pot, garlic, olive oil and a little spice! That’s it! So if you’ve never tried making sautéed green beans, you’ll fall in love with just how easy they are to make! 

an orange plate with bright green string beans and a serving spoon

I originally shared this technique for cooking green beans and simple recipe on July 10th, 2015. I have updated the text today.

Best Green Beans Recipe

These sauteed green beans are a fan favorite and one of my most beloved recipes. I have been making string beans this way since I was a teenager and was first learning how to cook. My dad stumbled upon this cooking technique, and we have been making them this way ever since. 

I have made it several times and my family absolutely enjoys eating it every time. This is a go to recipe for green beans.


Ingredients For This Green Bean Recipe

  • Extra virgin olive oil: I chose extra-virgin olive oil to cook the green beans in the skillet. Another cooking oil like avocado oil or canola oil works too.
  • Red pepper flake: We love the bit of heat that red pepper flake or crushed red pepper adds to this dish. Feel free to use less or more to suit your taste. If you do not like spicy food you can omit it altogether. Alternatively, once the beans are cooked you can season them with ground black pepper for a more subtle amount of spice. 
  • Fresh Green beans: You’ll need one and a half pounds of fresh green beans or string beans. To pick out the freshest green beans at the grocery store simply take your time and pick through the pile of green beans. Avoid wrinkled, broken or rotting string beans.
  • Minced Garlic: Fresh chopped garlic is the star of the simple seasonings in this easy green bean recipe. You’ll need three cloves.
  • Coarse kosher salt: We chose coarse kosher salt instead of table salt here to easily sprinkle over the green beans. You can use regular table salt if you prefer, but note that it is higher in sodium so you will need less. Read more about substituting kosher salt here.
  • Water: To keep this fresh green bean recipe as simple as possible we save a step and dishes by adding water to the skillet to steam them. They’ll be perfectly tender and keep great texture. 

Tip: Yellow wax beans also work for this recipe, or you can use a blend of green and yellow beans. We have also made this with Haricots verts which are skinnier French green beans. Note that they cook more quickly but will work too, just adjust your cooking time.

How To Cook Green Beans

Not only is this simple garlic green bean recipe the best, but it is arguably the easiest way to cook green beans! Here are the step-by-step instructions. More can be found in the blog post’s recipe card at the bottom.

Cut the stem ends off. An easy way to do that is to line a handful of stem sides together and cut them off with a knife. I think this method is faster than breaking them off by hand.

Next, choose a large skillet. We have a nice big cast-iron skillet that I like to use for this green beans recipe. You’ll need a lid- so make sure the skillet you choose has a lid that fits. (Note: a sheet of aluminum foil will work too if need be.)

Add your oil to the skillet and let it get hot. After blooming the red pepper flake in the oil, add green beans to let them blister and brown. This step takes a bit of time, simply because the skillet is so full.

After that step, you can add the garlic. Doing so earlier will allow it to burn. Cook it until it becomes fragrant, but doesn’t burn.

Then add the water. Adding water will prevent the sauteed garlic from burning and it creates steam, so you can trap that in with the lid to cook the beans through.

How to Know They’re Done: The cooked string beans will become bright green and cooked to crisp-tender perfection in a minute or two. And that’s it! See our serving suggestions below for what to serve with this easy side dish.

a table with votive candles, flowers and an orange platter piled with cooked green beans

Expert Tips And FAQs

Variations To Try

These sauteed green beans are perfect in their simplicity, but they’re also somewhat of a blank canvas for adding creative flavors!

  • Fresh Herbs: Add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme with the three cloves garlic. Tender varieties of chopped herbs like 1 tablespoon minced basil or chives or 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon can be added after the beans come off the heat.
  • Lemon or Balsamic: We love what a splash of acid will do to this green bean recipe! Add a drizzle of fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar just before serving to help preserve the vibrant green color. A little lemon zest is also a nice touch.
  • Nuts and/or Bacon: Almonds, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts are all great choices. After the beans are cooked add the nuts. Another yummy choice is a couple strips of crispy bacon, crumbled.
  • Infused Oil: Drizzle on a little infused oil, roasted garlic oil or other gourmet herb oil.
  • Sesame: For pairing with Asian food, try adding a little minced ginger with the red pepper flakes and drizzling on toasted sesame oil to finish the dish. If you have sesame seeds add them after the cooking process.
  • Cheese: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how excellent a little shaved or grated Parmesan cheese would be on top. Crumbled chevre or goat cheese is also another yummy option.

Storing Leftovers and Reheating

Leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container up to three days. Keep refrigerated.

Reheating: Avoid overheating when you reheat so that the green beans do not get overcooked. We like to reheat them in the microwave for about 90 seconds per serving. Alternatively, you can reheat them in a non-stick skillet with a little splash of water or chicken broth, covered until steaming hot. Stir occasionally to heat evenly.

Meal Prep Tips For This String Bean Recipe

Other than Green Bean Casserole, fresh green bean recipes are typically a last minute cooking task. That’s why we came up with these Make Ahead Green Beans as a great way to fix them in advance. You can use a similar method here by doing the following:
1. Blanch green beans for 1 minute in boiling salted water.
2. Shock in an ice bath to immediately stop them from cooking. Drain well in a colander.
3. Keep refrigerated in a large storage container or ziplock bag for 1 day.
4. Before using in the recipe, make sure they are completely dry (use a clean dish towel or paper towels.)
5. Follow the instructions in this recipe but do not add the water and steam covered. They will be tender enough after searing them. Note that the beans will not brown as well as they sear, but they will still be quite tasty.

What To Serve With Green Beans

Want More Green Beans? For other ways how to cook fresh green beans check out More Green Bean Recipes below the recipe card or invent your own recipe after reading our chef’s tips in my guide to How To Cook Green Beans!

close-up of the green beans showing garlic and spice

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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Simple Skillet Green Beans

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4.8 from 139 reviews


This delicious green bean recipe is a perfect healthy side dish. They are cooked in one pot with garlic, olive oil and a little spice. It is one of the best green bean recipes because it is both quick and delicious!


Units Scale
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake, or to taste
  • 1.5 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons water


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add red pepper flake and stir to coat the pepper in the oil.
  2. Add green beans and cook, stirring often until the beans are blistering and browning in areas, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and salt and cook, stirring constantly until the garlic is fragrant and browning, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add water and immediately cover. Steam the green beans, covered, until they are bright green and crisp tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.


To Trim Haricot Vert or Green Beans: The stem end of the bean is tough and fibrous. This must be removed. To do so easily, line up a handful of the beans with the stems facing the same direction. Cut them off all at once. No need to cut off the pointy tip.

Skillet: We have a nice big cast-iron skillet that I like to use for this recipe. You’ll need a lid- so make sure the skillet you choose has a lid that’ll work with it. (Note: a sheet of aluminum foil will work too if need be.)

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 70
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 230 mg
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 1 g