Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Herbs

by Kristen on March 7, 2012 · 35 comments

in Recipes, Vegetables

We’ve been eating green beans around here for a long time…the steamed sort, topped with butter, salt, and freshly-ground black pepper.

They’re good, but nothing extraordinary. Just a standard veggie side-dish.

I’ve been looking for ways to spice up my vegetable preparation, though, so I flipped through my Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and happened across this recipe.

You guys, these beans are really good! They’re crisp-tender, bright green, and they’ve got a great garlic butter flavor.

I normally eat beans at least partially out of a sense of duty, but I might be tempted to eat these even if I thought they were bad for me.

Plus, the process is quick and easy, and only one pan is dirtied. What’s not to love??

The process actually moves so quickly, I didn’t manage to snap step by step pictures. I’m sure you’ll be fine, though.

First up, you’ll need to make a little bowl of flavored butter by combining butter, garlic, and thyme. I usually just use garlic, but do whatever floats your boat.

Second, you’ll need to heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a 12-inch frying pan. If this pan has a lid, you get bonus points, because you’ll need it later.

I got an All Clad stainless steel panfor Christmas a few years ago, and it came with a lid.

Twenty bonus points for me.

Ok, once the oil is heated, add a pound of trimmed, halved green beans, along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and cook them for 4-8 minutes, or until they’re looking a bit browned and spotty.

It feels really weird at first to add beans to a dry pan, but it works. Just trust Cook’s Illustrated, mmkay?

Next, add 1/4 cup of water, put a lid* on the pan, and cook the beans for two minutes. Remove the lid, and let the rest of the water evaporate (that should only take 30 seconds or so.)

*If you don’t have a lid for your pan, you can use a cookie sheet or something similar for a makeshift lid.

Stir the garlic butter into the beans, and cook for about one or two minutes more, until the butter mixture is melted and the beans are coated. Sprinkle with lemon juice (I just squeeze a lemon half over the beans) and toss to coat.

Serve right away because green beans tend to lose their heat pretty promptly, and I think these are much better when they’re piping hot.

Actually, I think that about most foods, which is why Mr. FG is always a little bit scared to come to the table right when I call him. He’s burned his mouth on my hot food a few too many times.

(I think my mouth has a higher temperature tolerance than his because I can eat piping hot food without burning myself.)

Where was I?

Oh, right. The delicious beans.

Make a pan of these soon, because they just might turn green beans into a treat you look forward to.

And honestly, if you haven’t bought a Cook’s Illustrated cookbook or subscribed to their website, what are you waiting for? Cook’s Illustrated is awesome sauce,* and their recipes will make you a better cook. It’ll be money well-spent!

*Cook’s Illustrated does not pay me to say that.

Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic Herb Butter

1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound green beans , stem ends snapped off, beans cut into 2-inch pieces
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)

In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic, and thyme; set aside.

In a 12 inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until it’s just smoking. Add beans plus 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; cook and stir for 4-8 minutes, or until beans are spotty brown.

Add 1/4 cup water; cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove lid and cook until all the water has evaporated.

Stir in herb butter and cook beans for 1-3 minutes longer, or until beans are crisp-tender. Toss with lemon juice and parsley if desired; serve immediately.

Print This Recipe!

P.S. I’ll be back this afternoon with a short post because I have a couple of things I want to share with you.


Today’s 365 post: Sometimes it doesn’t stink to have to come along on a photo shoot.

Joshua’s 365 post: Something I’ve Always Wanted

Leave a Comment

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alison March 7, 2012 at 7:18 am

I served sauteed green beans last night too, but a bit different than your recipe. After seeing your picture, I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture of them for my blog!


2 Beth Anne @ Thrifty Living March 7, 2012 at 7:36 am

I LOVE green beans…it’s a little crazy, but I’ll eat green beans just about any way – baked, steamed, sautéed, or frozen from the bag! Haha…I’m sure this recipe will be fantastic!


3 Kristin March 7, 2012 at 7:46 am

I too love my food piping hot and my husband is always burning his mouth! He always says I have an iron mouth because I eat my soup piping hot and he has to add 3 ice cubes!


4 Shannon Locklear March 7, 2012 at 8:11 am

Kristen! My husband and I are the same way about food temperatures as you and your husband! I like things piping hot and he doesn’t like to scald his mouth! Sometimes he will take a bite of something and say “this isn’t going to be hot enough for you.”


5 Elspeth @ paper armour March 7, 2012 at 11:18 am

That’s so funny, my husband and I are the complete opposite! I’ll be the one to take a bite and think “oh Zach isn’t going to think this is hot enough.” Unfortunately he hasn’t developed that spidey sense about me, I’ve asked him if something is cool enough and he’s said yes, only to have me burn my mouth! :(

It’s okay, we’re newlyweds, he’ll learn. :)


6 Elaine in Ark March 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm

“spidey sense”

Do you read Victoria Laurie, too? Her “Psychic Eye” series is the only place I’ve ever read that phrase.


7 Elspeth @ paper armour March 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm

No, actually! I first read it in Spider-Man comic strips in our Sunday paper growing up, I think that’s where the phrase started.


8 Patti March 7, 2012 at 8:29 am

Hi Kristen,

I make my beans a lot like that. Reverse though. Cook them for a few minutes in a little water, drain, and sautee in garlic and butter for a few more minutes before serving.

I laughed, I’m also like you. Things have got to be hot!



9 K March 7, 2012 at 8:39 am

The dry-sauteeing thing looks interesting! I use that sometimes to cook sliced mushrooms. You should try it sometime; it’s totally bizarre. They make this weird squeaking noise as you stir them around and then all of a sudden they start to lose their water and when that’s gone you have these super-concentrated delicious mushroom slices. That’s when you add the butter ;) They’re great also great in egg dishes when you don’t want to add any extra water.


10 Elspeth @ paper armour March 7, 2012 at 11:23 am

That sounds amazing! I love mushrooms and am intrigued to hear the weird squeaking noise too. ;)


11 WilliamB March 7, 2012 at 8:47 am

Have you tried CI’s Braised Green Beans? Offered in two flavors: Chinese and Italian. It works best (for me) with bigger, tougher beans that are intact. The braising is too long for young tender beans, and any cut ends lets in too much liquid and they get soggy.

Since we’re on the subject of CI: the new issue has a Cinnamon Raisin Bread you might like. Several interesting tweaks to keep the filling from melting out. It’s good but time-consuming: three rises and a 20 min rest period will do that.


12 Linda March 7, 2012 at 9:51 am

Thanks, Frugal Girl,
Strangely green beans are the only vegetable (I can think of) that I prefer to eat canned rather than fresh. I look forward to this summer’s harvest so I can give this recipe a try.


13 Renee CA March 7, 2012 at 10:12 am

Me, too! If I cook fresh (or frozen) I tend to boil them to death to get rid of that raw taste. I promise to try these, though!


14 Megan March 7, 2012 at 11:03 am

Love this! I do something very similar with the frozen green beans from Aldi. I always get tons of compliments when we share. They look so fancy! But they are so easy!


15 Elspeth @ paper armour March 7, 2012 at 11:24 am

Do you thaw them first? I was going to ask in another comment about how to do this with frozen green beans because I have a huge bag of them right now!


16 Megan March 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm

nope. straight into the pan. they don’t have quite the “burn marks” but the simplicity makes it worth it!


17 Elspeth @ paperarmour March 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Awesome! Thanks :)


18 Becca S. March 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I just bought some green beans from the farmer’s market yesterday and was wondering how I was going to cook them . We usually do the standard steamed beans w/ salt and pepper, so this sounds like a nice departure. I’ll be trying it for sure!
And, my husband is exactly like you when it comes to liking super hot food while I prefer it to be a bit cooler. :)


19 Amanda @ The Scacchi House March 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm

These look amazing! I will have to give them a try. I will try anything new to get my husband to eat veggies.


20 Vicki March 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Hi Kristen!

Due to your love of Cook’s Illustrated, we just bought their 30 minute cook book and can’t wait to try some of the recipes!

Do you love your All Clad cookware? Have you/would you pay for it out of pocket? We’ve recently had an off spring ruin our most used stainless steel pot by burning butter in it (I’m so thankful we still have a house!) and need to get a new one. We keep coming back to All Clad. It’s so expensive but everyone says it’s well worth it! What do you think? Thanks!


21 Kristen March 7, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I do like it a lot. It’s sturdy and warp-proof (I burnt butter and nuts in it once…smoking and black and the pan was just fine), and I think it could conceivably last for the rest of my life.


22 Katie March 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Ooh, definitely saving this one for later. I love green beans, and g.b. season is just around the corner!

*green bean dance*


23 Mairsydoats March 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I do that cooking technique with broccoli as well – in my head I call it Brown-a-Little, Steam-a-Little. (I like my veggies just BARELY cooked) I’m totally grooving on the suggestion to add flavored butter and something acidic. Thanks!


24 Sue @ March 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm

So excited to try this! I have some green beans that need to be used in the next day = veggie tomorrow night!


25 Sue @ March 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Tried this recipe out tonight without any substitutions or changes and my husband’s comment was, “Sue, this green beans are amazing!”

Yay! Thanks Frugal Girl and Cooks Illustrated!


26 Sue @ March 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm



27 laura@MotherWouldKnow March 8, 2012 at 11:13 am

The dry sauteeing was a nice touch. Made them last night, with an Asian stir-fry. Like how they stay crisp.


28 Randi March 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I love Cook’s. I’m making their chicken fajitas for my partners 50th bday party this saturday. So freaking good, flavorful and juicy. Have you tried them? We also get sauteed green beans at a chinese restaurant. They do a dry saute too.


29 EngineerMom March 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Yum! Green beans are so very loved that they are “special occasion” food at our house. When they’re in season, I steam a whole bunch and eat them like chips with my fingers.

I saw an earlier comment about canned green beans – *shudder* I think it might be a “what you grew up with” thing for some people – my mom always served them steamed from fresh. I can’t stand a canned green bean, or even an overcooked one in soup.

Anyway, this looks delicious!

My husband and I have different food temperature tolerances, too. For us, it’s about range, though. I can eat food in a fairly wide temperature range – hot enough to burn his mouth, or too cool for him to think it tastes good (like reheated lasagna). He’s very specific about how hot something must be, so sometimes he just sits waiting for his food to cool, and sometimes he tosses it in the microwave because it isn’t warm enough. I gave up early on in our marriage, and just decided he could modify the temperature if he wanted too!


30 Sharon March 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I dry sauté my green beans with garlic too. The recipe is a little different, but it is our favorite way to eat a delicious vegetable! (And yes, please make it very hot!)


31 Katie March 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm

We tried these tonight – they’re really good! We’ll definitely make them again.


32 Mindy @ Debt Free By 26 June 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm

We have some green beans just about ready to be picked from our garden, will be making this recipe first with them! Hubby dislikes green beans, wonder if this recipe will change his mind?


33 Tom November 26, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I too was flipping, but for me it was the Cook’s Illustrated website and that’s not where the flipping ended. These bean’s are worth flipping over each and every time you make them. They’re G-R-E-A-T!


34 lk November 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Hope it passes the muster!


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