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Microwave Green Beans (that everyone loves)

Microwave green beans have to be one of the easiest ways to make green beans. Dress them up the way you like – or don’t. They’re a popular and simple way to add something healthy and green to the plate.

They take only 8 minutes or even less with a shortcut. Make them once and you will never need the recipe again.

top view of green beans on white plate with chopped almonds on top

I know this sounds crazy, but here’s how the conversation goes when I serve these green beans to company:

Guests: The beans! What did you do to them? They’re delicious.

Me: Er (slightly embarrassed), I microwaved them and added butter, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Me: (in my head). I slaved over all this food and they’re commenting on microwaved green beans? 🤣

I do make these beans for company (check out the tip below), but mostly I make them as a quick and easy weeknight healthy side dish.

Because they are a bit of a blank slate, you can get creative about flavors and toppings. We gathered all the ideas for you in one place. No need to keep searching 🙂

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

raw green beans in bowl, salt and pepper, butter, garlic powder on board
Ingredients: fresh green beans, butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Beans:

  • Mostly I use regular green beans – also called string beans or snap beans – found in most grocery stores.
  • Sometimes I use thinner French green beans (haricots verts) like the ones at Costco which cook more quickly and don’t have to be trimmed. They are pictured above.
  • Or try other types. Here’s an article by The Spruce Eats on different types of green beans if you’re interested.

Seasonings and toppings: During the week, I just use butter, salt, pepper and garlic powder as per the recipe. If you’re feeling fancy or want to up your game, try one of these flavor boosters.

  • panko bread crumbs combined with butter and lemon zest. The instructions are in the recipe for green beans with panko crumbs
  • sesame seeds and a drizzle of tahini
  • parmesan cheese with butter and garlic powder
  • fried onions (you can buy the crispy kind or make them yourself)
  • fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, chives, marjoram
  • lemon zest – really good!
  • top with roasted red pepper sauce
  • pomegranate arils for crunch and Christmas colors
  • tossed with honey mustard
  • drizzle of pesto
  • crushed toasted nuts (as in the pictures)

Step by step

red covered dish in microwave.

Place beans in a microwave-safe bowl or dish. Cover and microwave 4-6 minutes. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the beans, microwave power and how tender you like them.

cooked green beans topped with butter, salt, pepper and garlic.

Drain any excess water. Add butter, salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste – toss to coat beans evenly.

close up of green beans on plate with chopped nuts

Serve as is or add a topping like chopped nuts, lemon zest, etc.

Tips

  1. How to trim green beans: I line up the ends of a bunch of beans at a time against the blade of my knife. Then I chop off the ends all at once. Repeat on other side.
  2. Amount of water to add: I find that rinsing the beans before microwaving adds enough water. If your beans are dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water.
  3. How to keep your beans a vibrant green: Serve them right after they are finished cooking and they will be bright green. Don’t let them sit around covered or they will turn a pea green. Or see tip #3.
  4. How to make beans ahead for company: When I have company, I blanch the beans ahead of time (microwave or boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes), then plunge them into ice water to cool them down quickly and retain their color. Set aside to dry or pat with paper towels. Before serving, I heat butter and oil in a skillet, drop in the blanched beans to heat them through, then add seasoning.
  5. Decide how you like your beans: Soft and crisp tender? Or al dente? This will determine how long to cook them. Softer takes 1-2 minutes longer.

Shortcut

As with some many convenience products these days, you can buy pre-washed and trimmed green beans.

Make ahead

  • Day before: Wash and trim the beans the day before and store them in the fridge. Add 1-2 tablespoons water before microwaving.
  • Leftover beans can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Rewarm them for a 60-90 seconds in the microwave.

FAQ

Are green beans healthy?

According to Healthline on nutrition benefits, green beans are heart healthy and great for people watching their weight (only 31 calories per cup with almost no fat and very low sugar) and for people with digestive conditions (e.g. on a FODMAP diet). They are also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.

What is the best way to store fresh green beans?

Store unwashed fresh green beans in a plastic bag or sealed container in the crisper drawer of the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze them in an airtight container or ziploc for several months. No need to blanch them first.

How much green beans are needed per serving?

Figure about 1 pound/450 grams for 4 people or 1/4 pound/112 grams per person. One pound is equivalent to approximately 3 cups of fresh beans that are trimmed with tips cut off.

How can I tell if my green beans are over cooked?

The beans will start to collapse, lose their shape and lose moisture.

What to serve with microwave green beans

Beans are a quick side dish that go with almost anything. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to pair them with. And don’t forget to adapt the flavors to your taste with the different topping options in the recipe card.

Other green bean recipes

green beans on white plate with chopped almonds on top

Recipe

top view of green beans on white plate with chopped almonds on top
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Microwave Green Beans (that everyone loves)

Microwave green beans have to be one of the easiest ways to make green beans. Dress them up the way you like – or don't. They're a popular and simple way to add something healthy and green to the plate.
Prep Time3 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time8 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh green beans (string beans) French haricot verts are good too
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (or half of each) – or a bit less (butter has a richer taste)
  • kosher salt (or sea salt), black pepper and garlic powder to taste

Instructions

  • PREPARE GREEN BEANS:
    °Rinse green beans under running water. I use a strainer. °Trim ends of both sides. An easy way is to line up a bunch at a time against the blade of your knife, then chop off ends. Repeat on other side of beans.
    Place beans in a microwave-safe dish. If you just rinsed them, no need to add more water. If dry, add 1-2 tablespoons water. Cover dish with a microwave-safe lid, an upside down plate or plastic wrap.
  • MICROWAVE BEANS: Microwave on High power for 3 1/2 – 6 minutes. Cook time will depend on thickness of beans, power or your microwave and how tender you like them. ° Thin beans like French haricots verts will take 3-4 minutes. ° Regular string beans will take 4-6 minutes. ***Cook for less time to start. Then add more time in 1 minute increments as needed.*** (Times are for a 1200 watt microwave)
  • FINISH: Drain excess liquid. Add pat of butter and seasoning. Start with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (if using granulated garlic, use a bit more). Stir, taste and add more if needed. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Seasoning and topping variations
    • panko bread crumbs combined with butter and lemon zest. The instructions are in the recipe for green beans with panko crumbs
    • sesame seeds and a drizzle of tahini
    • parmesan cheese with butter and garlic powder
    • fried onions (you can buy the crispy kind or make them yourself)
    • fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, chives, marjoram
    • lemon zest – really good!
    • top with roasted red pepper sauce
    • pomegranate arils for crunch and Christmas colors
    • tossed with honey mustard
    • drizzle of pesto
    • butter and balsamic vinegar
    • crushed toasted nuts (as in the pictures)
  2. How to keep your beans vibrant green: Serve them right after they are finished cooking and they will be bright green. Don’t let them sit around covered or they will turn a pea green. Alternatively, see #3 – for company.
  3. How to make beans ahead for company: When I have company, I blanch the beans several hours ahead of time (microwave or boiling salted water for 2- 3 minutes), then plunge them into an ice bath to cool them down quickly and retain their color. Set aside to dry or pat dry with paper towel. Before serving, I heat butter and oil in a skillet, drop in the blanched beans to heat them through, then add seasoning.
  4. Make ahead
    • Day before: Wash and trim the beans the day before and store them in the fridge. Add 1-2 tablespoons water before microwaving the next day before serving.
    • Leftover beans can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Rewarm them for a 60-90 seconds in the microwave.
 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Calories: 73kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 41mg | Potassium: 241mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 914IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg
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