How to Steam Green Beans

Steamed green beans

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  • Total: 12 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 7 mins
  • Yield: 1 pound (4 servings)

Steaming is a simple way to cook vegetables, and it leaves the flavor intact. These steamed green beans are still bright green and have plenty of fresh flavors. What's the best thing about streaming vegetables, you wonder? They require little time and attention. Not to mention the fact that fewer nutrients end up in the water.


Watch Now: 3 Ways to Steam Green Beans In Under 5 Minutes


  • 1 pound green beans (fresh)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Steamed green beans recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Wash the green beans and trim the stem ends. Leave them whole or cut.

    Steamed green beans recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Set a steamer basket in a medium to a large saucepan filled with 2 inches of water. 

    Steamed green beans recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Put the green beans in the steamer basket.

    Steamed green beans recipe
     The Spruce
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and steam the green beans for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how tender or crisp you like them.

    Steamed green beans recipe
     The Spruce
  6. Discard the water in the saucepan. Add the butter and the steamed green beans and heat just until hot and butter has melted. 

    Steamed green beans recipe
    The Spruce 
  7. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

    Steamed green beans recipe
     The Spruce
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Variations

If you're looking for a way to jazz up the flavor for this simple side, trying playing around different flavors of butter that you use when you steam the green beans:

  • Beurre Maître d'Hôtel: Combine 1/2 cup butter with 1 tablespoon minced parsley and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Add fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Basil Butter: Use about 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves for every 1/2 cup butter. Add a clove of minced garlic, if you like, and/or a grating or two of lemon zest as well as fine sea salt to taste.
  • Cilantro Lime Butter: For each 1/2 cup of butter, use 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, and 2 teaspoons lime zest. Add a bit of green chile sauce (or green Tabasco) if you're so inclined.
  • Garlic Butter: Combine 1/2 cup butter, 1 clove minced garlic, and fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. You can also add minced parsley for a bit of color if you like.​
  • Lemon-y Butter: Combine 1/2 cup butter with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice and 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (just the yellow part of the peel, being sure to avoid the bitter white pith beneath when you grate).