Quick Side: Simple Skillet Green Beans ♥

Simple Skillet Green Beans
How to cook fresh or frozen green beans quickly right in a skillet. A little garlic, a pinch of sugar and plenty of salt and pepper make this a recipe to make again and again. Low carb. Just Weight Watchers 1 point.

~recipe & photo updated in 2010 & republished 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

2007 ORIGINAL POST The inspiring recipe calls these 'stir-fried green beans a la Tang'. But mention 'stir fry' and my eyes glaze over over as I imagine lugging the twelve-ton cast iron wok from the basement – something that's just not happening on a weeknight, if ever. But this recipe works in an everyday skillet, no wok required. In fact, it calls for a skillet! Perfect! The recipe comes from this month's issue of Saveur. It's one of my favorite food magazines; every issue always includes one or two recipes that I want to make right away.

The beans cook up in just minutes, with minimal attention. They are very good, even with slightly woody supermarket beans. Next time I'll give frozen green beans (which are great) a shot using this same technique.

2010 UPDATE As I revisit earlier recipes here on A Veggie Venture, it surprises me how often I've incorporated a technique or recipe into my regular routine, without really remembering its origin. This is one of those recipes. So often, I cook a few green beans in a skillet on the stove. Mostly the green beans are fresh, other times they are frozen green beans. But always, now, I cook them at high heat with garlic and just a smidgen of sugar – it's almost like pan-roasting the beans, without heating up the oven.

2012 UPDATE This is my favorite way to cook green beans ahead of time, some times a big batch early in the week to use in small batches later in the week. I cook the beans almost all the way, slightly undercooking them. I also leave out the last bit of salt and pepper seasoning. Off they go into the fridge. At supper, I throw a handful into a hot skillet (no more oil is required), heat them quickly and give a quick sprinkle of salt and pepper. Perfect!

"Wonderful recipe, simple and delicious." ~ Lydia
"Very good." ~ Sarabeth
"What a great recipe!" ~ PaniniKathy


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound green beans, washed, tips snapped
1 tablespoon peanut oil or olive oil (see TIPS)
3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed flat with side of a knife, then roughly chopped
A little salt
1/4 cup water stirred with 1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt & pepper
  • Heat the skillet on MEDIUM HIGH and oil until shimmery.
  • Add garlic, sprinkle with salt. Cook 30 seconds or til lightly golden, stirring.
  • Add the beans, turn a few times to coat well with the oil.
  • Stir in the water/sugar mixture. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
  • Cover and cook 2 - 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, til beans are slightly wilted but still crunchy.
  • Uncover and increase heat to HIGH. Cook 2 minutes (although mine took more in both 2007 and 2010) until the liquid has evaporated and the beans are cooked but still bright green.
  • Taste and adjust the salt as needed.
  • Transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with the syrupy liquid from the skillet.

Have the beans fully prepped before starting because the cooking moves fast.
Don't skip the garlic and do use fresh whole clovers rather garlic from a jar like my favorite garlic in jar.
CHANGES The inspiring recipe called for 3/4 pound of green beans and 1-1/2 tablespoons peanut oil.
In 2007, I used olive oil and it worked just fine. In 2010, however, I used the recommended peanut oil, it was great too. Peanut oil has an important advantage, it has a higher smoke point, an feature that's beneficial when cooking at a high temperature.

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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2007

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I made these last weekend, with haricot vert I bought at Costco (a real bargain!). Wonderful recipe, simple and delicious.

  2. Sounds wonderful, Allana. I don't even mind hauling out the wok (it just lives on the wall behind the stove) but these look like a cinch.

  3. Oh that does looks good!!

  4. I love recipes like these -- simple, fast, and sounds yummy. I bet a drizzle of sesame oil would be good in place of the peanut too.

    Btw, thanks for your encouragement during my blogging hiatus; I appreciate it!

  5. Lydia ~ I just must try Costco. The timing is good, my Sam's membership just expired.

    Christine ~ No wok required. But nice to know yours is close when it is!

    Kristen ~ Ummm, good.

    Jennifer ~ Sesame oil is a brilliant idea. Nice to have you 'back'.

  6. Thanks, this is just the kind of recipe I need! Plus I love greenbeans...

  7. Very good. We paired this with the simple roasted sweet potatoes and cajun spice marinated shrimp on the grill. It was a lovely meal that was quick.

  8. What a great recipe! I just made it to accompany some tri-tip and roasted potatoes and my family really liked it. Alas, I decided to make it at the last minute and didn't have any fresh garlic on hand and had to improvise with garlic powder. It still worked okay in a pinch, but I agree it would be 10x better with the real thing. Next time!

  9. will be trying them tonight!

  10. Funny, in photo tips aren't snapped. Really isn't necessary I guess and they look so natural!

  11. Simple, yet delicious--especially this time of year when it's easy to find really great green beans (locally too!).

  12. Got green beans in my CSA box this week. So making these this weekend! Thanks.

  13. I've been cooking green beans in a skillet for sometime now and will try your addition of a bit of sugar. Hubby would like that. I usually just put them in the pan wet from being rinsed w/a smigdeon of unsalted butter or olive oil, a little kosher salt and black pepper and sometimes the chopped garlic. Looking forward to try it your way this week after we use up the squash.

  14. I found this recipe thru Google when I was staring a big bag of green beans from Costco. I have to admit I was skeptical because this seemed too easy to be so good. But darn it, these are the best green beans I've ever made. Thanks for your tips on these, too!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna