Looking for an easy side dish? These Chinese-style garlic green beans are ready in 15 minutes and will pack your plate with a punch of umami.
4.34 from 3 votes

By Christie Vanover | Published October 7, 2018 | Last Updated December 13, 2022

Home | Recipes | 15-Minute Garlic Green Beans

Disclosure: Lodge Cast Iron sponsored this post. Opinions are my own.

Is it just me or is it hard to come up with a healthy side dish that tastes good?

I never have any problem in the meat category. And I can whip up some mean mac and cheese, but vegetables sometimes get overlooked in my household.

One veggie dish I love though is Chinese Style Garlic Green Beans. Every time I go to the Chinese buffet, I load my plate up with these and crab rangoons. Don’t judge. 

garlic green beans.

What makes garlic green beans so good?

The secret to these green beans is that you cook them in super hot oil, hot and fast. I’m not talking about a vat of oil. They’re not fried like French fries. They’re just wok-fried.

As they steam, the green beans will turn bright green and start blister, releasing their natural sugars.

Then, the veggies are hit with a splash of aromatics and fresh garlic, which gets absorbed into each wonderful bite. They have the perfect texture, because the string beans still have a little snap while also being tender.

They’re traditionally made using a wok. I cook mine in the Lodge Cast Iron Cook-It-All, because half of the 2-piece set is a 14-inch wok.

Learn more about the Lodge Cast Iron Cook-It-All in my product review

Ingredients

  • Canola Oil: It’s best to use a vegetable oil with a high smoke point.
  • Green Beans: Make sure the green beans are fresh. Canned and frozen green beans contain too much moisture. You can use traditional green beans or Chinese long beans.
  • Garlic: For this green bean recipe, use shaved garlic cloves, which is garlic peeled and sliced in thin pieces.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar provides the perfect balance of acid to this dish. Apple cider vinegar also provides a touch of sweetness.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire sauce is added for umami, which is that warm, earthy flavor that rounds the whole side dish together.
  • Seasonings: Kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Substitutions: If you don’t have Worcestershire sauce, you could use soy sauce instead.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

How to make garlic green beans

Ideally, this recipe would be cooked in a wok, but I realize not everyone has a wok lying around. So you could also use a large skillet with higher edges.

You can cook this on the stove or if you’re using cast iron, you can cook the recipe over a bed of medium-hot coals in the backyard or while you’re camping or on a stove top.

  1. STEP ONE: Start by rinsing your green beans and patting them dry really well with a paper towel. You want as little moisture as possible.
  1. STEP TWO: Place your wok or pan over medium heat. Add the oil and heat it until it starts to shimmer, about 2-3 minutes.
oil heating in wok.

PRO TIP: If you want to cook this recipe over a campfire, let your coals burn until you can hold your hand over the coals for 6-8 seconds before you need to pull it away. This will be about medium heat.

  1. STEP THREE: Add the green beans to the hot pan of oil. They’ll start to steam and soften in the oil in about 4-6 minutes. Stir them occasionally.
fresh green beans in wok.
  1. STEP FOUR: Next, it’s time to add some umami. Add a splash of water, vinegar and Worcestershire with garlic, salt and pepper. This part of the cook is really fast.
green beans starting to blister in wok.

Because the pan is super hot, the liquid may splatter or steam, so be careful. Stir it quickly. You want the beans to blister, but you don’t want the garlic to burn.

This step only takes 45 seconds to a minute. As soon as you get that beautiful color, pull them from the heat.

How to serve garlicky green beans

Once you remove the sautéed green beans from the heat, you can serve them right up. Be sure each serving gets a some pieces of garlic.

blistered garlic green beans in wok.

Storage

Garlic green beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can reheat them in the microwave or give them a quick sauté in a clean skillet with a little oil.

While you can freeze the cooked green beans. They lose their texture over time. They’re much better hot right out of the skillet.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Make sure your washed, fresh green beans are patted dry before adding them to the oil
  • Use sliced garlic, instead of minced garlic
  • Be prepared to work quickly so the garlic doesn’t burn

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make green beans more flavorful?

You can make green beans more flavorful by adding salt and umami. This green beans recipe includes both, because it includes Worcestershire sauce. The sautéed garlic also give the dish that familiar flavor that you experience in Chinese restaurants.

Can you make garlic green beans from a can?

No. It’s really best to make this recipe with fresh green beans. Canned green beans have already been cooked, so they will be soft and have too much moisture. Fresh green beans will blister with the heat, which is exactly what you want.

Are garlic green beans good for you?

Well, they’re vegetables, so that’s a bonus. But they are cooked with oil, which means they contain more fat than if you were to steam them or boil them. They’re about 100 calories per serving. If you want to reduce the calories, try using a little less oil.

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garlic green beans.

15-Minute Garlic Green Beans

Looking for an easy side dish? These Chinese-style garlic green beans are ready in 15 minutes and will pack your plate with a punch of umami.
4.34 from 3 votes
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
 

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb green beans trimmed
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Place a wok over medium heat, and heat the oil.
  • Add the green beans. Cook 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Add the remaining ingredients. Be careful. It may splatter and create steam. 
  • Stir and continue cooking for 1 minute, making sure not to burn the garlic.
  • Remove from heat. 

Notes

If you like a little heat, add in a pinch of red pepper flakes when you add the salt and pepper. 

Nutrition

Calories: 105kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSodium: 340mgPotassium: 282mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 785IUVitamin C: 15.1mgCalcium: 51mgIron: 1.4mg

This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator

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