What Is Edamame and How Do You Use It?

We tell you everything you need to know about edamame.

Published June 27, 2022.

Edamame is a protein-packed legume that is a freezer staple for busy families and individuals. Here’s what you need to know about edamame and how to cook and prepare it for quick and easy meals. 

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What Is Edamame?

Edamame are green soybeans harvested before they mature; larger, more mature soybeans are used to make products like tofu, miso, and soy sauce. "Edamame" is Japanese for “branch” or “stem” bean: "eda" meaning “branch” or “stem” and "mame" meaning “bean.” 

What Does Edamame Taste Like?

The protein-rich soybeans are “savory and nutty” with a “firm, dense texture.” The thin, fuzzy, and fibrous shell is inedible. Edamame pods (fresh or frozen) are typically boiled in salted water or steamed and then salted and eaten out of hand. Shelled beans can be cooked and served as a side dish, tossed into a salad, or used as added protein in a grain bowl.

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Where Do I Find Edamame?

In the United States, both shelled and unshelled edamame are found in 10- to 16-ounce bags in the frozen food section of most supermarkets. The convenience of frozen allows you to use as much or as little as you want, perfect for cooking for one or for a family full of kids. While most people buy whole edamame for steaming and eating right out of their pods, unshelled edamame can also be found for a quick addition to salads, bowls, or soups.

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How Do I Cook with Shelled Edamame?

Shelled edamame beans can be cooked straight from the freezer or thawed in the refrigerator or at room temperature for a quick protein supplement. Edamame beans have a smooth outer skin that can repel dressing and flavorings. Blanching for about 5 minutes in heavily salted water ensures that the slick little beans are seasoned all the way through while breaking them down just enough to create a more tender texture while maintaining heartiness. If you are tossing the beans with a creamier dressing, some recipes call for simply tossing thawed beans together with the other ingredients. 

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How Do I Dress Edamame?

Tossing edamame with rich, vibrant dressings or thicker, creamy dressings such as peanut sauce or green goddess dressing helps coat the edamame. Fresh herbs and added cheeses can balance the nuttiness of the edamame. Nuts and seeds or cooked brown rice can enhance the edamame's nutty qualities and add textural interest to any dish. 

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