This sautéed garlic green beans recipe is a quick and uncomplicated side dish to prepare. The beans are cooked in olive oil with garlic and a pinch of fresh thyme, bringing out their tender crispiness. The best part of this green beans recipe is you can make it ahead of time and later enjoy it warm or cold, making this recipe a fuss-free addition to any meal. Get ready for a burst of simple yet delicious flavours in every bite!
What are green beans?
Depending on the region and culinary context, green beans are often known by different names such as French beans, haricots verts, string beans and snap beans. Green beans are sold fresh, canned or frozen making them available all year round. This versatile vegetable lends itself to numerous preparation options like steaming, cooking, grilling, roasting and pan-frying.
Whether incorporated into soups, stews, casseroles, or featured in festive occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas, green beans are a great addition to a whole range of recipes.
Don’t miss out on this other great side dish for Thanksgiving: Sautéed green beans with cherry tomatoes.
Recipe ingredients and substitutions
For this green beans recipe recipe you only need a handful of ingredients:
- Green beans: Use either fresh or frozen green beans. However, canned green beans won’t work for this particular recipe as they are generally too soft. This recipe (total cooking time) is written for fresh green beans.
- Garlic: As this is a garlic green beans recipe, use a few cloves of garlic for optimal flavour. Fresh garlic cloves have preference over garlic flakes or powder where you’ll miss the beautiful, pungent, fragrant taste of fresh garlic.
- Olive oil: I use olive oil to sauté the beans and garlic, but you can use another type of cooking oil or butter according to personal preference.
- Salt: Add some sea salt to the water when boiling the beans before sautéing and a pinch of coarse salt to season the sautéed beans when ready to serve.
- Pepper: Freshly ground or cracked black pepper is what works best.
- Thyme: Preferably use fresh thyme as it has a more vibrant and pronounced flavour profile compared to dried thyme. However, you can use dried thyme if you don’t have fresh thyme available. As an alternative to thyme, you can also use any other Mediterranean herbs like marjoram, oregano, parsley or tarragon.
- Lemon juice (optional): A splash of fresh lemon juice will freshen up this recipe. But this is optional, I have not used it in this recipe.
How to make garlic green beans
Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Prepare the green beans: Place the beans in a strainer, rinse under cold running water and drain. Trim both ends with a knife. If using frozen beans they usually come with the ends already trimmed off.
- Cook the beans: Bring a large pot of water with a teaspoon of sea salt to a boil. Blanch the beans for about 6 minutes until they are slightly tender, but make sure they are not too soft as we will still sauté them. Check with a fork if they have the desired tenderness, if not, leave to boil for another minute.
- Drain and cool: Drain the boiling water from the beans using a strainer then rinse again under cold running water, this time to stop the cooking process. Set aside to allow them to further dry and cool for a few minutes.
- Sauté: Finely slice or mince the garlic cloves. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium to low heat and sauté the garlic for 30 seconds. Keep stirring to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn otherwise it will taste bitter. When the garlic releases its fragrant smell, add the green beans and sauté for a few minutes until soft and tender.
- Season and serve: While sautéing the beans, season with coarse salt, cracked black pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Serve either warm or cold.
Useful tips and tricks
This recipe with green beans can perfectly be made in advance. After cooking, leave to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can either re-heat the beans in the microwave or in a pan on the stove and serve warm. Or serve cold directly from the fridge.
Do I need to blanche the beans before sautéing?
If you try to sauté raw beans it will take quite a while for them to become tender so it’s best to first blanch them for a few minutes after which you can sauté them until they become crisp and tender.
What to serve with green beans?
These garlic sautéed green beans are an excellent side dish for numerous main dish recipes. They go very well with any weeknight dinner but also with any festive meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can even choose to serve these beans hot, cold or lukewarm, depending if its during fall or winter, or in summertime with a barbecue.
Serve together with these recipes:
- Carbonnades flammandes or Flemish beef stew
- Wild boar stew with mushrooms
- Chicken saltimbocca
- South African bobotie or minced curry
- Vegetarian lentil bobotie
- Ground beef stuffed peppers
- French potato casserole or tartiflette
More green bean recipes to try
- Grilled flat green beans
- Sautéed green beans with tomatoes and onion
- Chicken with green beans and bell peppers
- Italian green beans with garlic and onions
Sautéed garlic green beans with thyme
- 1 pound (or 500 grams) green beans washed, ends trimmed
- 3 cloves garlic minced or very thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pinch coarse salt to taste
- cracked black pepper to taste
- fresh thyme
- In a large saucepan, bring water and a teaspoon of sea salt to a boil. Once boiling, add the trimmed green beans and cook for about 6 minutes until slightly tender and soft. Drain the beans, rinse with cold water and drain again. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
- Heat some olive oil in a large skillet on medium-low heat and add the sliced garlic. Sautée for 30 seconds until fragrant. Keep stirring to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the green beans and sautée over medium heat. This will take a few minutes until the beans are soft and tender.
- Season with course salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add fresh thyme leaves. Toss to coat.
- Serve warm or cold.
- Cooking time of the beans: The exact cooking time will depend on the thickness of the beans. Before draining the water, check if they are at least half tender or the softness you prefer.
- Garlic: For this recipe I prefer to thinly slice the garlic instead of mincing. The garlic flavour will be more pronounced while eating. Also, smaller bits of minced garlic will burn more easily while sautéing making the garlic taste bitter.