Simple Skillet Green Beans ♥

Simple Skillet Green Beans, another quick, healthy way to cook vegetables ♥ Weight Watchers Friendly. Weekday Easy, Weekend Special. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Vegan.
How to cook fresh green beans quickly at high heat right in a skillet, all it takes is a little garlic, a pinch of sugar and plenty of salt and pepper. Cook the beans on the stove this way just once and you'll do it again and again. Good news, the same technique works for frozen green beans too!

Fresh & Flexible. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Great for Meal Prep. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free.

Sauté vs Stir Fry: Just Subtle Semantics?

The inspiring recipe calls this supper staple "stir-fried green beans". But mention "stir fry" and my eyes glaze over as I imagine lugging the twelve-ton cast iron wok from the basement – something that's just not happening on a weeknight. Or maybe ever. But a skillet sauté? That's a great idea! But really, are they different? or the same thing?

STIR-FRY implies the use of a wok with high sides to quickly cook small pieces of food at high heat usually with a substantial amount of oil.

TO SAUTÉ (also called PAN-FRYING) implies the use of a shallow skillet to cook foods at medium heat with just enough oil to prevent sticking.

Can you stir-fry in a skillet? Sure although you might miss the high sides to park pieces that are done while other pieces finish cooking. Can you sauté in a wok? Absolutely although you'll miss the larger surface area.

Today's recipe is a hybrid, a mix of both a sauté and a stir-fry. It calls for high heat but just a little oil.

What Kind of a Pan Is Best Here?

Most of all, this recipe works in an everyday skillet, no wok required. Perfect! No special pan is needed! In fact, I use two kinds of skillets for pan-cooking vegetables in this way.

One is well-seasoned cast iron, which is inexpensive to buy and can handle high heat; it does take a little babying after each use, nothing hard, just attention. With babying, cast iron will last for decades.
My favorite skillet, however, is a non-stick skillet with a glass lid. (It's this Cuisinart non-stick skillet. You'll need a non-stick-safe spatula too, I've used this Berndes spatula for probably 20 years! FYI those are both affiliate links.) Non-stick skillets are typically limited to medium heat, this protects the non-stick surface from deteriorating. Confession time, I use high heat on non-stick skillets but do replace them every two or three years.

A Technique to Memorize

Skillet-cooked beans cook up in just minutes, with minimal attention. The technique is simple, easy to memorize. They are very good, even with slightly woody supermarket beans. It's one of just two ways I cook green beans for every day, the other is in the oven, Roasted Green Beans with Rosemary & Walnuts.

I first cooked green beans using this recipe way back in 2007. But many years later, it often surprises me how often I've incorporated a technique 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.

How to Meal Prep Green Beans

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. Just cook the beans almost all the way, slightly undercooking them and omitting that last bit of salt and pepper seasoning. Off they go into the fridge. Later, 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
"... the best green beans I've ever made. ~ Sharon

Just updated. First published way back in 2007.


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, add the oil and heat the oil until shimmery.
  • Add the garlic, sprinkle with salt. Cook for 30 seconds or until lightly golden, stirring.
  • Add the beans, turn a few times to coat well with the oil.
  • Stir in the water/sugar mixture. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
  • Cover and cook 2 - 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are slightly wilted but still crunchy.

  • Uncover the skillet and increase the heat to HIGH. Cook 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 over top, yum!

The cooking moves fast! Be sure to have the beans fully prepped before starting.
Don't skip the garlic and do use fresh whole clovers rather garlic from a jar like my favorite garlic in jar.
Olive oil works well, so does peanut oil. But 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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Still Hungry?

More Favorite Green Bean Recipes

~ Falling In Love with Green Beans: Favorite Recipes ~
~ World's Best Green Bean Casserole ~
~ "Best Ever" New Potatoes & Green Beans ~
~ Green Beans with Mayo-Soy Sauce ~
~ more green bean recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Eggplant & Bean Thai Curry ~
~ Slow Cooker Chicken, Chickpea & Kale Stew ~
~ Tourlou Tourlou (Greek Baked Vegetables) ~
~ more green bean recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2007, 2010, 2012 & 2020

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