How to Steam Green Beans

Steamed green beans on a platter

The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 7 mins
Total: 12 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
91 Calories
6g Fat
9g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 91
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 81mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 11mg 55%
Calcium 52mg 4%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 169mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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 collapsible 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 meat, or vegetarian main dish.


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

"This is a straightforward, easy-to-follow recipe to make delicious green beans. I was lucky to get freshly grown green beans, so I kept mine al dente and seasoned with butter and salt. I love green beans as a green veggie side dish for dinner, so this was a great way to enjoy them." —Tracy Wilk

Steamed Green Beans in a white bowl
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 pound fresh green beans

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Steamed green beans ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  2. Wash the green beans and trim the stem ends. Leave them whole or cut.

    Washed green beans with the stems trimmed

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  3. Set a steamer basket in a medium to a large saucepan filled with 1 to 2 inches of water. 

    Steamer basket for green beans set over a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  4. Put the green beans in the steamer basket.

    Green beans in a steamer basket set over a pot

    The Spruce Eats / 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 steaming in a strainer

    The Spruce Eats / 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. 

    Steamed green beans in pot with butter and a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  7. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Toss evenly to coat the green beans.

    Green beans with salt and pepper in a pot with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada

  8. Serve and enjoy.

    Steamed green beans in a serving dish

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Estrada


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, try playing around with 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, 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).