Start to Finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Steamed green beans are a vibrant, healthy side dish, and including garlic gives them flavor without adding unhealthy ingredients. Traditional steamer baskets are not well-suited for steaming veggies seasoned with garlic, however, because pieces of minced garlic will fall through the holes or mesh of the basket. Steaming them in a skillet or microwave enables you to prepare garlic green beans in one pan — or bowl — without losing the garlic.

  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Remove any stems from the green beans. Trim the ends off the beans with a knife, if desired — no more than 1/4-inch off each end.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add water and salt, stirring them briefly with a spoon to distribute the salt evenly. Bring the water to a simmer.

Add the green beans. Cover the skillet with a lid or a large plate to trap the steam, which will cook the beans.

Cook the green beans until they have the texture you desire. Skillet-steamed green beans that are still a bit crisp typically cook in 3 to 5 minutes. Taste-testing the beans is the best way to determine doneness. Add 1/4 cup of water to the skillet if it becomes dry before the beans are sufficiently tender.

Pour the green beans into a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Shake the colander gently while you hold it under the water, enabling water to reach the beans buried in the middle. Leave the beans in the colander while you prepare the garlic.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, then the minced garlic to the skillet.

Sauté the garlic until it becomes fragrant, slightly translucent and tender, approximately 30 to 90 seconds. Do not let it brown — browning can make it bitter. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Stir the green beans into the garlic until it is evenly distributed. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.


You can add minced garlic to the water before skillet-steaming the beans to avoid the added time or fat of sautéing the garlic.

Remove stems from the green beans. Trim the ends, if desired.

Put water, salt and minced garlic in a microwave safe bowl. Stir the ingredients briefly with a spoon to distribute the salt and garlic evenly.

Add the green beans to the bowl. Cover it with its lid or a piece of plastic wrap.

Microwave the green beans on High until they reach the desired texture. Microwave-steamed green beans that are still a bit crisp typically cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Taste-testing the beans is the best way to determine doneness. Add 1/4 cup of water to the bowl if it becomes dry before the beans reach the level of tenderness you desire.

Pour off any excess liquid before serving. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil for flavor, if desired. Season to taste with ground black pepper and additional salt.


Frozen green beans are acceptable for steaming in the microwave or on the stove. But you may need to cook the green beans an additional 2 to 4 minutes.

Enhance the dish with one or more additional ingredients if desired:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as dill, oregano, tarragon or thyme, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or more, to taste
  • 1 to 2 cups sautéed sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup sunflower kernels
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté ginger with the garlic if you steam the beans in a skillet; add ginger to the water if you steam the beans in the microwave.

Stir herbs, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, mushrooms, almonds sunflower kernels, sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese to microwave or skillet green beans after the beans finish cooking, when you season them with salt and pepper.


  • You can substitute jarred garlic for fresh garlic cloves.
  • Drizzle microwave-steamed beans with melted butter instead of olive oil, if preferred.
  • You can substitute butter for half of the olive oil if you sauté garlic in a skillet before stirring it into the green beans.