Cooking Tips

Water Is the Key to Crispy, Browned Green Beans

Instead of parboiling your green beans, “parsauté” them.

Published May 20, 2021.

When you usually sauté, you add your ingredients to a pan with hot fat and cook until well-browned. But it isn’t that easy with certain vegetables, especially green beans.

Adding a tougher vegetable like raw green beans to hot oil does nothing but burn the outside and undercook the inside. Because of green beans' lack of moisture, water is necessary in order to soften them.

Traditionally, you may have to parboil the beans, shock them in ice water, dry them, and then sauté. Our favorite method for this process, however, is more streamlined and doesn’t require multiple pans. All you need is a 12-inch nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid.

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This method involves adding water to the same pan you are sautéing the beans in. Don’t worry, this won’t prevent any browning or sacrifice any crispiness. Stay with me.

Instead of parboiling the beans before sautéing, we flipped the order. Instead of parboiling first, you want to “parsauté” first, and then introduce the water to cook the beans. Here’s what you need to do:

  • In your skillet, sauté the beans in butter or oil until they are spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. 
  • Add about ¼ cup of water to the pan, and then quickly cover. By capturing the steam, it does the same job as parboiling, and cooks the beans through in about 2 minutes.
  • Once the beans are bright green and crisp, uncover and increase the heat to high, to let the rest of the water evaporate. Add a small amount of butter or oil to promote additional browning, and sauté the beans until they are fully cooked to taste, 1 to 3 minutes.

This method takes significantly less time, uses less dishes, and produces perfect results every time. You can also employ this method with other low-moisture vegetables such as broccoli, so you never have to worry about burnt, raw veggies ever again.

plate of sauteed green beans

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