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Sauteed green beans are a deceptively simple side dish, but this version is addictive! Today I’m going to show you how to cook green beans so they are perfectly tender and flavorful every time.

sauteed green beans in pan

Benefits of Green Beans

If you’re not already a big fan of green beans, here’s more reason to love them:

What can you add to green beans for flavor? In this simple recipe, you’ll use fresh garlic, olive oil, and salt. It sounds simple, but it tastes unbelievably good.

Should You Steam Green Beans Before Sauteing?

No, you don’t need to blanch or steam green beans before sauteing them. They will become perfectly tender and bright green using this sauté method, and they’re ready to eat in just about 10 minutes!

How to Cut Them

Most stores will sell bags of “trimmed” green beans, but I usually like to trim those edges again, to avoid any dry-looking edges. I also recommend cutting the green beans into smaller, more bite-sized pieces, about 1- to 1 1/2-inches long.

cut green beans on board

Longer green beans are pretty, but they are definitely more awkward to eat. I think your dinner guests will appreciate the bite-sized pieces, and they’ll cook faster, too.

How to Saute Green Beans

To saute green beans, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add in 2-3 minced garlic cloves. Stir those for 1-2 minutes, just until they smell fragrant.

garlic and water in the pan

Pour in 1/4 cup of water to stop the garlic from cooking. It will most likely steam up your pan, which is a good thing!

Add in the green beans, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and stir briefly. Cover the pan and let the green beans cook until fork tender, about 5 minutes.

cooking green beans in pan

If you want your green beans to still have some crunch to them, you might only want to cover the pan for 3 minutes. I like my green beans to be very tender, without being mushy.

The 5-minute mark is usually the sweet-spot for me, but this can vary based on how hot your stove top runs. If the green beans aren’t tender after 5 minutes, just keep stirring and you can cover again until they are to your liking. This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes total.

How to Cook Frozen Green Beans

When you use frozen green beans, you’ll skip the cutting process and save time. You’ll cook these just like fresh, starting with the sauteed garlic, but you’ll add less water. I like to start with just 1 tablespoon, and add more, if needed.

The frozen beans will release water as they thaw in the pan, and should be tender in about 5 minutes, just like the fresh version. Be sure to check on them as they cook, so they don’t get too mushy.

How to Serve Them

Since this is such a fast side dish, you’ll want the rest of your meal ready to go when these are done. I like to serve them at Thanksgiving instead of green bean casserole, because they are so flavorful!

If you’d like to serve these at a holiday meal, like Thanksgiving, try placing them in a slow cooker on a warm setting to keep them warm longer. (You can add a 1/4 cup of water at the bottom, if you’d like to help keep them moist.)

sauteed green beans on plate overhead

sauteed green beans in pan

Sauteed Green Beans (Addictive!)

5 from 13 votes
Sauteed green beans are the best side dish! All you need is 4 ingredients to make them, and they cook in 10 minutes or less. The flavor is addictive!
prep10 mins cook7 mins total17 mins


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced (or more to taste)
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen green beans , cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water


  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the garlic until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
    sauteed garlic in pan
  • Add in 1/4 cup of water to stop the garlic from cooking; steam should fill the pan.
    water added to the garlic in pan
  • Add in the green beans and salt, and toss briefly. Cover the pan with a lid and cook until the green beans are fork-tender, about 5 minutes. If you'd like the beans to have some crunch, check on them after 3 minutes instead.
    green beans and salt in pan
  • Remove the lid, and continue to stir the beans until all of the water has evaporated. Adjust any seasoning to taste, adding more salt or black pepper, if desired, then serve warm right away. Leftover green beans can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, and you can reheat them in a skillet to quickly warm them up again.
    finished green beans in pan



Nutrition information is for 1 of 4 servings, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
The seasoning here is really simple and so delicious, so I hope you'll try it as written. However, I think these are also delicious with a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil added in at the end of cooking, and tossing the beans with sesame seeds.


Calories: 60kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 297mg | Potassium: 179mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 587IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: vegan
Keyword: sauteed green beans

If you try these sauteed green beans, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like them. And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too! We can all benefit from your experience.

Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite vegetable side dish? The ones I tend to make most often are Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes and my favorite holiday salad.

Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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  1. Delicious! I’ve done something very similar with green beans before but your simple instructions are perfect! Thanks!

  2. Megan, Thank you for this recipe! It is the only way I can get my kids to eat green beans without a bunch of complaining! It’s amazing that such a simple recipe can taste so good.

  3. Great really simple recipe. Kids getting really tired of peas,corn, collie flower and broccoli. No blanching necessary right? We love garlic, well I’m obcesse. Great side. Thank you