I wasn’t a bean lover until I made these Buttery Lemon & Garlic Green Beans but I’m a convert now! They’re a 10 minute wonder of a side dish and far more than the sum of their parts. Plus they’re as delicious served with roast meats as with a simple sausage plait or even as a barbecue side dish!
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A great vegetable side is often overlooked when putting together a meal. Or feast as I obviously like to call them! I am on a mission to give our veg a touch of love and these green beans are the latest addition to my roster of simple but perfect sides.
I talk a lot about the importance of having well cooked and tasty sides which complement but don’t overwhelm the flavour of the main event. I’ve applied this theory to everything from classic roast potatoes and parsnips to griddled bell peppers or courgettes and garlic roasted sweet potatoes.
So whilst this 10 minute green bean dish has great flavour with butter, garlic and the tang of lemon, they meld perfectly with whatever they’re served with. And importantly, you can taste the green beans. They actually taste great, lets not hide it.
If you’re looking for a green bean recipe which is a little more extra, I have you covered… check out my Green Bean Casserole. It involves….soup. I did say it was a bit extra!
Types of Green Bean
In the UK the term green beans is used fairly broadly and interchangeably with string beans, fine beans, french beans and haricot verts. They are also called snap beans or snaps in the US.
There are many varieties of bean which can be harvested early such as runner beans which we eat as green beans. They’re also a very popular homegrown crop. I’ve even managed to grow my own. Trust me, if I can, you can.
For the purpose of this recipe you can use any variety of green bean you fancy. You can even use the purple or yellow varieties, the cooking method is exactly the same and the flavours will work perfectly. The trick is to not overcook them.
How to Serve Buttery Green Beans
I do want to insist that these buttery beans are served hot. Decently warm is fine but once they get lukewarm and cold, the buttery goodness starts to solidify and it is a much less delicious eating experience.
Otherwise it doesn’t matter whether you’re dishing up family style or straight to the plate. Just make sure that you add the lemon zest – this isn’t just a garnish, it’s an intrinsic part of the recipe flavour.
Make Garlicky Lemon Green Beans into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
All you need now is to throw a carby side onto the plate like garlic roasted sweet potatoes, regular roasties, or some flavour packed rosemary roasted potato cubes. If you like your carbs more bread shaped, try one of my garlic swirl rolls!
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Lemon & Garlic Green Beans
As I’ve mentioned above, you really can use any kind of green bean you like for this recipe. Even the purple or yellow or other funky coloured ones.
The recipe also works for their close cousins like broad beans, edamame beans (both shelled) and mangetout or sugarsnaps. You can skip the boiling stage for these two as they are super tender already.
Now I have a bee in my bonnet about people cooking and serving untrimmed green beans. You know the spindly ends of the beans. They might look pretty in instagram photos but they’re nasty to eat. And if you don’t want to eat it, I don’t want it on my plate. Chicken wings excepted. So please cut them off.
It is also worth having a look at your beans and seeing how big/tough they are. Beans picked later in the season can have a tougher stringy bit running all the way down the length of them. Also best removed.
To do this, you can grab one of the stringy ends and rip it off all the way down the bean. You’ll see what I mean when they’re in your hands. Younger, thinner beans won’t need the extra prep. But believe me it is worth the extra five minutes. Leaving that string on is why people think they don’t like green beans. Like I didn’t.
Please use a good salted butter. This is not a time for a margarine substitute or light spread. If you do insist on breaking my heart and using unsalted butter, please add some sea salt flakes along with the garlic salt.
You might wonder why I’ve called these buttery beans but then given them a fry in olive oil. Let me explain.
Butter browns (tasty but another flavour entirely) and then burns quite easily. I want the beans to have a couple of minutes in a very hot pan to get a little blistery and gain some extra flavour. I tried this using butter in the pan but the flavour was all wrong.
So please do use olive oil or another neutral or complementary oil to do this bit of the recipe. You don’t need anything fancy like extra virgin.
If you’re not new around here, you’ll already know my preference for using garlic salt over fresh garlic in certain circumstances. My garlic roasted sweet potatoes are a prime example of this and I go into a little more detail why in that recipe.
For the purposes of this recipe, whilst the garlic isn’t being cooked and won’t therefore burn, it not being cooked is the reason for using the garlic salt. Imagine stirring in fresh crushed garlic with the butter just before serving. Nope. No thank you!
The garlic salt gives the right amount of flavour without any raw garlic burn. Please look for a version with minimal or no onion powder mixed in. Many of them do but this adds an extra unwanted flavour to the dish. Morrisons own brand is my preference.
Please buy a fresh lemon. I am no stranger to or adverse to bottled lemon juice – it is extremely handy. But in a recipe like this where lemon is a dominant flavour, fresh really is needed. Plus I’ve always found it really difficult to zest a bottle.
It is an extremely good idea to make sure you buy unwaxed lemons here. No one wants a garnish of wax.
I use both the juice and zest of the lemon in this recipe. I don’t like waste and I believe in writing my recipe in a sensible order. So I’ve instructed you to zest the lemon then cut and squeeze it.
I appreciate that this is not as fun or satisfying as zesting a lemon directly over the food. But if you’ve ever tried to zest an already cut and juiced lemon, you’ll understand why this must be. Of course if you have more lemons or one you have zested but not juiced in the fridge etc, do your own thing.
You can change the type of bean you are using. You could leave out the garlic salt and replace it with a little regular sea salt. But there aren’t really too many more changes you could make.
Swapping the lemon for another citrus? I don’t think orange or lime would actually work here. Feel free to try but on your head be it.
So the best way to mix things up is to add things. Clearly I’m obsessed with bacon so that is my first thought. Sliced and fried mushrooms would actually be good too. A light grating of parmesan would also be a lovely addition.
Finely sliced red chillies would provide a kick and breadcrumbs toasted in garlic butter would provide crunch. And if you wanted to take things to the next level, add some double (heavy) cream!
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
This Garlic Green Bean recipe is suitable for vegetarians as written.
To make vegan Lemon and Garlic Green Beans, simply substitute the butter for olive oil. Simples.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This recipe is free from egg, gluten and nuts.
Dairy Free: I often suggest using a dairy free butter alternative instead of butter to make my recipes suitable for dairy-free diets. But in this case I’d suggest substituting olive oil instead. The flavour will be less “buttery” but it will have a much better flavour than using a substitute margarine.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Sauteed Green Beans
But there are a couple of pieces of equipment which make recipes like this much easier. A decent sharp and pointy lemon reamer is one of them. Not expensive but by far the best way to get the most juice possible out of a lemon. Certainly without having to plug something in and create a load of washing up.
The next is a fine Microplane grater for zesting that lemon. Unlike most of the time when I’m not bothered about things being branded, it turns out that Microplane are well worth the investment (I’m not paid to say this, I just love them).
To cut down on washing up I use one pan for both boiling the beans and then frying/flavouring them. Any old large non-stick frying pan will do but I love my cast iron skillet more than life itself. The heat retaining qualities are perfect for dishes like this.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
The cooking time on this dish is so short that there isn’t a huge need to get ahead that much. And actually I wouldn’t recommend you do.
Trimming the beans and popping them back in the fridge for a few hours will be fine. You could blache (boil) the beans and then keep them aside for a while before frying. But you will lose some of the texture so I’d ask you not to. These are a veg best cooked and served straight away.
Leftover Buttery Lemon & Garlic Green Beans
I’ve suggested not “getting ahead” with these beans so it would follow that they’re not at their best reheated. That doesn’t meant to say that you can’t, they just won’t be as awesome as when they’re freshly cooked.
I would suggest reheating them in the microwave rather than in a pan. This should prevent the butter from browning and the lemon zest/garlic from burning.
Steaming them is another good option. Or you can combine the two with a microwave steamer plate. I’m not really a microwave gadget girl but I use these plates all the time; they’re ideal for reheating.
However you reheat, a little extra butter and lemon zest to freshen them up would not be a bad thing at all.
Other than just reheating and eating them as a side. you can also add them into things. Green beans are great chopped up and thrown into a chowder style soup. You can of course make them into a green bean casserole or throw them into a creamy white bean chili too.
Green Bean Cooking Tips
Please don’t skip the boiling stage unless you are using the finest and freshest of beans or have subbed in sugar snaps.
Equally please don’t panic and think that the 2 minute boil isn’t enough. I experimented with the cooking times on this recipe. If you boil longer, by the time they’ve had a little time in the hot pan, they turn to sad mush.
Don’t be tempted to fry the beans over heat in the butter. We’re aiming for fresh in this recipe not a browned butter taste.
And please don’t skimp on the lemon zest. It really is more than just a pretty garnish. Although it does make a very pretty garnish.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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More Simple Side Dishes
Buttery Lemon & Garlic Green Beans
- 1 Lemons
- 30 g Salted Butter
- ½ tsp Garlic Salt
- 400 g Green/French/String Beans
- 1 tbsp Fine Salt - approx
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- Zest 1 Lemon and set the zest aside. Cut the lemon in half and juice it.
- Add roughly 2 tbsp of the lemon juice into a small bowl. Measure 30g Salted Butter and ½ tsp Garlic Salt into the same bowl and set aside for a moment.
- Pop a full kettle of water onto boil and put a large frying pan or skillet on the heat to start warming.
- Top and tail 400g Green/French/String Beans.
- Add the beans to the pan and cover with boiling water. Add roughly 1 tbsp Fine Salt and give it a little stir.
- Boil the beans for 2 minutes then drain in a colander. Run a little cold water over the beans from the tap to cool them.
- Dry the pan and add 1 tbsp Olive Oil then the drained beans. Fry the beans for 2 minutes over a high heat.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the lemon juice/butter/garlic salt. Stir through the beans until all combined and the butter has melted. Turn the heat back on for a minute if you need to but turn off as soon as the butter melts.
- Sprinkle over the lemon zest and serve!