Super simple side dishes are taking over all week, so put away the canned beans and cream of mushroom soup. Forget that casserole! You can still score farm fresh green beans through early fall, so get ’em while the gettin’s still good. Garlic Green Beans take just a bit of technique (don’t worry – provided below, at no extra charge) but I promise this easy side dish brings the most flavor with the least effort to your table in just about 15 minutes.
Just when you thought I was done talking about summer vegetables, I’m about to flip the fall switch. Cause some of our summer faves just happen to be crossover vegetables that stay “in season” through early fall. Yeah, that’s right… tomatoes, corn, and (you guessed it) green beans all fall into that category. However, unlike tomatoes and corn, which have early and late season varieties, green beans (a.k.a. string beans) are at peak through September.
Conveniently enough, garlic is ALWAYS in season so putting these two lovebirds together was just a matter of time. If you have not had garlicky green beans before, then be fully prepared to a) love them and b) hate me for not perfecting the technique and posting this recipe earlier in the season so you could have enjoyed them all summer.
Let’s be very clear here: this recipe took a lot of restraint. I spent some serious time reigning it in to find the most flavor using the fewest cloves, because apparently there are people in the world who don’t double, triple, or even quadruple the amount of garlic in every recipe they cook. I don’t know those people, but I am assured they exist. It may be the one food peccadillo that I don’t respect and combat by just adding more garlic until picky eaters are forced to surrender.
This is, hands down, the best (well, at the very least, my favorite) way to dress up green beans, a vegetable which some people sometimes find a bit boring. The crispy bits of garlic in this dish are a revelation. Fried onion bits ain’t got nothing on these. You will want to cook garlic this way just to eat it with a spoon. As well you should. Because it’s delicious and shows you have good taste.
But before you run off to the kitchen and get out your skillet, I’m going to share a secret with you…
The trick to perfect garlicky green beans
Actually, there’s two tricks: thinly sliced garlic cloves and moisture.
I’ve tried a thousand (okay, like 5) different ways of cooking green beans with garlic and they all come with their own problems. If you start the garlic first, then add the green beans, the garlic tends to burn. If you add the garlic at the end, it tends to be raw and the flavor is both sharp and underwhelming.
But I’ve finally nailed the right technique for perfectly sautéed green beans with intense garlic flavor.
You’ll just barely cook the garlic, then add slightly wet green beans and a tablespoon of water.
- Starting the garlic first ensures it cooks through, then seasons the green beans with flavor.
- The water prevents the garlic from burning, while also helping to cook the green beans.
- By increasingly the heat after you’ve added the green beans, they’ll both steam and sear at the same time for bright, crisp, slightly-charred green beans with the perfect bite.
How to make garlic green beans
For my next trick, may I present Garlic Green Beans, a ridiculously fresh, fast and easy side dish that happens to also fit grain-free, vegan, Whole30, and paleo diets – it’s the perfect side dish for, well, everyone. It also happens to be ridiculously delicious (even my kids asked for second helpings) and pairs great with proteins from steak to shrimp. Be sure to follow my trick for perfect garlicky green beans for the best taste and texture. (See above.)
- Rinse the green beans in a colander; shake to release some of the moisture, but don’t dry completely.
- Heat a 12″ skillet over medium heat; add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers, then add three cloves of thinly sliced garlic. Saute the garlic until it’s fragrant and just barely starting to brown, 1 minute at most.
- Add the green beans, toss to coat in the fat and garlic, then add 1 tablespoon of water.
- Increase the heat to medium high, cover the pan, and sautee for 6 minutes. Stir every 2 minutes to ensure the green beans cook evenly.
- Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Use fresh green beans!
Green beans are sold in a surprising number of packages: in bulk, trimmed and pre-bagged, canned, and frozen. This recipe works best with fresh, bulk green beans. Pre-trimmed and bagged green beans will also work, but require a shorter cook time (a minute or two less, so keep an eye on ’em). Don’t attempt this recipe with frozen or canned green beans – they have too much water content.
Make it your way
Season these green beans with an extra ingredient or two for a dish that’s just right for you:
- Fresh grated parmesan cheese: grate over top as soon as the beans are plated.
- A squeeze of lime juice: just a squeeze (or about 1 teaspoon, if you’ve only got bottled) and then toss to disperse.
- A teaspoon of red pepper flakes: add in 1 minute before they finish cooking.
- Toasted almonds: for the most complementary texture, use pre-sliced almonds, toasted 3-4 minutes in a 350 oven or toaster oven.
More simple side dish recipes
- Maple Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Lemon Garlic Asparagus
- Green Beans with Bacon
- Roasted Sheet Pan Vegetables
Did you make these garlic green beans? I’d love to know how they turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below
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- 12 oz green beans, ends trimmed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- Rinse the trimmed green beans in a colander. Shake to release most of the moisture, but don't dry completely.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add the green beans and toss to coat in the fat. Add 1 tbsp water to the pan, then cover and saute, stirring occasionally, until the green beans are charred and just about bite tender, about 6 minutes.
- Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
- Very thinly sliced garlic cloves work best in this recipe. For safety, use a sharp paring knife or chef's knife; dull knives tend to slip.
- Fresh, bulk green beans work best. Pre-trimmed and bagged green beans can be substituted but will cook more quickly; keep an eye on them. Do not substitute frozen or canned green beans.