Garlic green beans are easy to make with just 5 ingredients, in only 15 minutes! This recipe is the perfect simple side dish for a holiday meal or weeknight dinner. Simple yet flavorful, these green beans are sautéed with fresh garlic and lemon zest, for a burst of fresh flavors!

cooked green beans in white serving bowl with wooden spoon

My family has been making this green bean side dish for decades! It’s so simple, yet so flavorful. It’s easy enough to pair with a weeknight meal, yet impressive enough to WOW guests at a holiday dinner.

This recipe can be made with fresh or canned green beans and only takes 15 minutes or less to make. Pair it with Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast at Thanksgiving or Marinated Sirloin Steak for a flavorful weeknight meal. Because of the light, fresh flavors in this recipe, it really pairs well with anything!

This recipe is naturally vegan, gluten free and dairy free. It’s low in calories and contains a good amount of vitamins, making it a healthy side dish, that just so happens to also be seriously scrumptious!

ingredients for lemon garlic green beans

Ingredients

  • Fresh green beans – I’ve made this recipe with both fresh and canned green beans, and both work just fine! I’ve included notes below for how to adjust the recipe to make it with canned green beans vs. fresh green beans.
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Lemon – for this recipe, we’ll use both the juice and zest from the lemon. Be sure to find a lemon that’s fresh and brightly colored, with no blemishes on the skin of the lemon. Use a zester, grater or vegetable peeler to zest the lemon, then slice it open to juice the lemon.
  • Salt
two images with green beans in skillet

Step by step instructions

  1. Simmer the green beans. Trim the ends from the fresh green beans, then cut them in half. Add them to a large skillet and cover with cold water. Place on the stove over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat on the stove to medium-low and simmer until the beans start to soften, this should take about 5 minutes. Drain the water and place the skillet with the green beans back on the stove.
  2. Season the green beans. Increase the heat on the stove to medium-high and add olive oil to the skillet with the green beans. Add sliced garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring the green beans and garlic occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest and salt to the pan. Toss everything together and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Frequently asked questions

  • Can you make the recipe with canned green beans? Yes. Instead of boiling the green beans, start by adding the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat on the stove. Once the oil is hot, drain two (14.5 ounce) cans of green beans and add them to the skillet, along with the sliced garlic cloves. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the lemon juice, zest and salt to the pan. Toss everything together and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Can you make the beans ahead of time? I do not recommend making the beans ahead of time. The flavor and texture is best when they’re fresh off the stove. They’re so quick and easy to make, I recommend simply saving them for last, if you’re making them as part of a large holiday meal.
  • Can you double or triple the recipe? Yes, this recipe serves 4 as a side dish. If you’d like to serve 8, 12 or even more, simply hover over the “servings” in the recipe card below and adjust the number up to 8 people, or your desired number of servings. The ingredient amounts in the recipe card will automatically update to reflect the new serving size.
  • Can you make the recipe with butter instead of olive oil? Of course! Simply do an even swap of 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, to replace the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
cooked green beans in serving bowl with lemon slices

Additions to the recipe

One of the beautiful things about this recipe is that it only requires 5 ingredients. But that also means, you can easily add 1 or 2 additional ingredients for spice, crunch or flavor! Try mixing in any of these popular additions to the sauteed green beans.

  • Sliced almonds – green beans almondine is a classic French dish. Almondine is a culinary term for an almond garnish. To turn this recipe into Garlic Green Bean Almondine, simply add 1/4 cup sliced almonds to the green beans with the garlic.
  • Parmesan cheese – a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top of the green beans, pairs perfectly with the garlic and lemon in this recipe. I recommend adding 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese after you remove the green beans from the heat, right before serving.
  • Red pepper flakes – for a kick of spice, add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the green beans with the salt.
  • Shallots – to add a sweet onion flavor to the green beans, add 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots to the skillet with the garlic.
  • Balsamic glaze – for a hint of sweetness, drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic glaze over the green beans, after you remove them from the heat. Pre-made balsamic glaze can be found in a bottle at most grocery stores near the other vinegars.

What to serve it with

These green beans pair well with just about any main dish, but here are a few ideas to get you started!

garlic green beans in white serving dish with wooden serving spoon

More side dish recipes

Try these other delicious side dishes for a weeknight dinner or holiday meal!

cooked green beans in white serving bowl with spoon
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Garlic Green Beans

Garlic green beans are easy to make with just 5 ingredients, in only 15 minutes! This recipe is the perfect simple side dish for a holiday meal or weeknight dinner. Simple yet flavorful, these green beans are sautéed with fresh garlic and lemon zest, for a burst of fresh flavors!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Add the green beans to a large skillet and cover with cold water.
  • Place on the stove over high heat and bring the water to a boil. 
  • Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat on the stove to medium-low and simmer until the beans start to soften, this should take about 5 minutes. 
  • Drain the water and place the skillet with the green beans back on the stove.
  • Increase the heat on the stove to medium-high and add olive oil to the skillet with the green beans. 
  • Add the sliced garlic to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  • Add the lemon juice, zest and salt to the skillet.
  • Toss together and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Notes

  • To make this recipe with canned green beans, do not boil the green beans. Instead, start the recipe by adding the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat on the stove. Once the oil is hot, drain two (14.5 ounce) cans of green beans and add them to the skillet, along with the sliced garlic cloves. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the lemon juice, zest and salt to the pan. Toss everything together and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • You can easily double or triple this recipe. The recipe serves 4 as a side dish. If you’d like to serve 8, 12 or even more, simply hover over the “servings” amount above and adjust the number up to 8 people, or your desired number of servings. The ingredient amounts will automatically update to reflect the new serving size.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 103kcal (5%)Carbohydrates 9g (3%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 7g (11%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 5gSodium 298mg (12%)Potassium 260mg (7%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 4g (4%)Vitamin A 783mg (16%)Vitamin C 18mg (22%)Calcium 49mg (5%)Iron 1mg (6%)
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