How to Shell Fava Beans

Fava beans
spfoto / Getty Images
  • 01 of 10

    Start With Fresh, Clean Pods

    Fava beans
    Molly Watson

    When you buy fava beans, look for smooth, firm, bright green pods with freshly cut ends and as little browning as possible. Wondering how many fava beans to buy? Choose about 1 pound of fava beans for every scant 1 cup of shelled beans you want at the end.

    Most recipes call for shelled fava beans, and that usually means double-shelled. Fava beans need to be removed from their pods, blanched, and then removed from their individual shells to release the fully tender, delicately flavored fava beans deep inside. This guide walks you through the steps so you can get through this task as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    Snap off End of Fava Pod

    Snapped fava bean
    Molly Watson

    Snap off the stem end of the fava pod. This works best if you pull it towards the inside of the curve of the bean, towards the thicker seam.

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    String Fava Pod

    Removing the string from fava beans
    Molly Watson

    Pull down and remove the "string" that runs along the inner curve of the fava pod.

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Remove Beans From Pod

    Removing fava beans from pod
    Molly Watson

    Open the pods and use your thumb to run down the inside of the pod, "popping" the beans out along the way to remove them from the pod. Repeat steps 2 through 4 with all of the remaining pods.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Blanch Fava Beans

    Blanching fava beans
    Molly Watson

    Blanching means giving a quick dunk in boiling water. To blanch shelled fava beans bring a large pot of water (about 2 quarts) to a boil. Add enough salt (about 1 tablespoon) so the water tastes salty (this will help the beans stay green).

    Add the fava beans and cook 1 minute.

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Drain and Cool the Blanched Favas

    Cooling blanched fava beans
    Molly Watson

    Drain the blanched fava beans.

    Cool them off by either rinsing them with cold running water or plunging them into a large bowl of ice water. Let sit until completely cool, 3 to 5 minutes. This stops the cooking from the blanching and makes them easier to peel.

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Shell Fava Beans Again

    Shelling individual fava beans
    Molly Watson

    Yes, shell them again. This is what makes fava beans so labor-intensive. Make as speedy work of this as possible by using your thumbnail to break through the shell at the dimpled point at the inside curve of the bean.

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Pop the Cap off the Fava Bean

    Opening the "cap" on fava beans
    Molly Watson

    Continue with the second shelling by pulling up to remove the "cap" at the top of the bean.


    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Push Fava Beans out of Shell

    Peeling individual fava beans
    Molly Watson

    Having removed the top of the shell, you can now simply squeeze the other end of the shell to pop out the fava bean. Repeat steps 7 through 9 with the remaining blanched fava beans.

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Fully Shelled Fava Beans

    Peeled fava beans
    Molly Watson

    Fully shelled fava beans are bright, emerald green and have an amazingly tender texture. Once all the beans are shelled you can make all sorts of goodies. A few favorites include adding them to a spring vegetable risotto, mashing them onto crostini with a drizzle of olive oil or simply sautéeing them.

    Does this process all just seem too laborious? No worries. This recipe for braised fava beans cooks the beans in their pods, rendering the entire thing edible.