How to Steam Green Beans

Steamed green beans recipe

The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  • Total: 12 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 7 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings

Steaming is a simple way to cook vegetables, and it leaves the flavor and much of the nutrients intact. It's slightly healthier than boiling since fewer nutrients end up in the water. Plus, steaming requires little time and attention.

A steamer basket is a great kitchen tool to have on hand. There are a variety of options when it comes to steamers, including collapsable metal and silicone options. Any steamer basket will work for this recipe, as long as it fits in your pot with the lid on.

The better the quality of the green beans, the better this recipe for steamed green beans will be. Add your choice of spices, fresh herbs, and other flavorings. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes and a meat or vegetarian main dish.

1:23

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

Ingredients

  • 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.

    Ingredients for steamed green beans
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  2. Wash the green beans and trim the stem ends. Leave them whole or cut.

    Wash green beans
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  3. Set a steamer basket in a medium to a large saucepan filled with 1 to 2 inches of water. 

    Steamer basket
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  4. Put the green beans in the steamer basket.

    Green beans
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  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.

    Green beans in strainer
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  6. Discard the water in the saucepan. Add the butter and the steamed green beans and heat just until hot and butter has melted. 

    Green beans in pot with butter
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  7. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Toss.

    Green beans with salt
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  8. Serve and enjoy!

    Serve and enjoy green beans
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

Tips

If you don't have a steamer basket, you can still steam vegetables. Here's a couple of easy hacks:

  • Use a metal or other heat-proof colander or strainer. Add an inch of water to a large pan and add the colander (make sure it will fit with the lid on top), treating it as a steamer.
  • Poke holes in a disposable metal pie pan. Add an inch of water to a pan large enough to fit the pie pan. Flip the pan upside down and place on top of the water. Place the green beans on top and secure the lid.
  • Alternatively, you can steam green beans in the microwave.

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. Excess flavored butter can be tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge for at least a week.

  • Beurre Maître d'Hôtel: Combine 1/2 cup butter with 1 tablespoon minced fresh 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).