These simple skillet green beans are 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 recipe on July 10th, 2015. I have updated the text today.

I am so excited for you to try these simple skillet green beans. They’re one of my most beloved recipes.

I actually have been making green beans this way since I was a teenager and was learning how to cook. My dad came up with this cooking technique and we both have been making them this way ever since. 

What Are Green Beans

Are Green Beans and String Beans the Same Thing?

  • Phaseolus vulgaris: Yes, string beans and green beans are the same thing. Green beans are a type of snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) which can actually be yellow or purple too. You can read more about varieties and buy green bean seeds here
  • Other Names For Green Beans: Haricot Vert, snap beans, wax beans and filet beans, are the same thing as fresh green bean. Haricot Vert are more slender and tender and meant to be picked when they are smaller. In the market, wax beans are usually yellow. 
  • What are Green Beans: Green beans are tender annuals in the Leguminosae family, which also includes garbanzos, peas, lentils, and peanuts. They’re eaten fresh (as opposed to dry beans which are grown for their mature bean seeds.)
  • Pole vs Bush Beans: Green beans can be bush beans or pole beans, they just have different growing habits. You can read more about growing green beans here.

Ways to Cook Green Beans

If you are one of the unfortunate many who has ever experienced the texture of canned green beans, *raises hand* then you know just how wrong things can go for a green bean if it isn’t cooked correctly. {Aside: When I was a kid my mom always made Salad Nicoise with canned green beans and I always thought they were so strange!} Anyway, no matter what you do, when cooking green beans, the key is to not overcook them.

How Long To Cook Green Beans: As a general rule, you can cook them from raw to crisp-tender in about 4 minutes. This is especially true in steaming and boiling. That said, there are several ways to cook green beans and cooking times will vary depending. 

Sautéed Green Beans

  • Sautéeing Green Beans is so simple because there is only one skillet needed. I’ll walk you through how to do it in the following green bean recipe below. 

Steamed Green Beans

Roasted Green Beans

  • I do love to make roasted green beans, especially once the weather cools off, and I don’t mind having the oven on. You can see complete instructions on how to roast green beans here in my Roasted Green Beans with Almonds and Thyme recipe.

Boiling or Blanching

If you’re hoping to make fresh green beans ahead, and you don’t want to make a casserole, then blanching them in boiling water and then shocking them in an ice-water bath is a great option. For example, in this recipe here for Orange Ginger Green Beans, you then will reheat them in a skillet. 

You can read more about all of this and get tips for freezing, grilling and even frying green beans in my guide to How To Cook Green Beans

close-up of the green beans showing garlic and spice

Ingredients For This Green Bean Recipe

Extra virgin olive oil

To cook the green beans in the skillet, I chose extra-virgin olive oil. You can also use another cooking oil instead such as avocado oil or canola oil.

Red pepper flake

We love the bit of heat that red pepper flake 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. 

Green beans

You’ll need one and a half pounds of fresh green beans for this recipe. Read our tips on how to pick out the freshest green beans at the grocery store here

Garlic, minced

We adore garlic as a simple seasoning for fresh veggies. You’ll need three cloves. We always recommend freshly chopped garlic over buying pre-chopped jarred garlic.

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.


A key to getting great texture is adding water to the skillet. This helps to steam the green beans so that they become perfectly tender. 

How To Make Simple Skillet Green Beans

Cut the stem ends off. An easy way to do that is to line a handful of stem sides together and then 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 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.)

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, and it takes a while to turn the mass of green beans to touch the skillet.

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 stop the browning, but it creates steam, so you can trap that in with the lid to cook the beans through.

How to Know They’re Done: They’ll be become bright green and cooked to crisp-tender perfection in a minute or two. And that’s it!

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

Expert Tips And FAQs

How to store leftovers

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

How to reheat leftovers

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 broth, covered until steaming hot. Stir occasionally to heat evenly.

How to make ahead

We get this question quite a bit! 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. Blanching the green beans for 1 minute in boiling 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

Our favorite meals in the summer months usually involve grilling and these green beans are a great compliment to grilled meat and poultry. They are fabulous with this Grilled Sirloin Steak with Chimichurri Sauce or our Lemon Garlic Marinated Chicken.

Another main course to pair these with is our Roasted Chicken Thighs with crispy skin

For a traditional holiday meal or Sunday Supper pair these skillet green beans with Roasted Turkey or the ever-festive Pork Loin Roast with Apple Chutney. For a smaller feast, you could pair these green beans with Roasted Turkey Breast

For a vegetarian meal, these go great with Vegetable Lasagna or Veggie Quiche.

Purchasing Green Beans

  • I’d encourage you to take a moment at the grocery store to pick out the best-looking green beans. If the beans aren’t all looking stellar, I’ll literally stand there and pick and choose which beans go into my bag.
  • You’ll want to choose fresh green beans that are free from wrinkles or any spots that are becoming mushy.
  • TIP: if you’re looking for ways to eat more produce but reduce your plastic bag use, this post about reusable produce bags has lots of great ideas. 

More Green Bean Recipes To Try

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 Vegan Skillet Green Beans- Naturally paleo, gluten-free and low carb. On Healthy Seasonal Recipes by Katie Webster

Simple Skillet Green Beans


These simple skillet green beans are a perfect healthy side dish. They are made in one pot with garlic, olive oil and a little spice. They are vegan, paleo and naturally gluten-free.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flake, or to taste
  • 1.5 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ 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. Add green beans and cook, stirring often until the beans are blistering and browning in areas, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and salt and cook, stirring constantly until the garlic is fragrant and browning, about 30 seconds. Add water and immediately cover. Cook covered until the beans are bright green and crisp tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.


To Trim The 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

Keywords: green beans, string beans, sauteed green beans, how to cook green beans,skillet green beans