Reintroducing green beans

A tray of green beans set in front of an air fryer.
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This blog post was written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Joo Yee Lim.

Green beans don’t usually get much attention other than their once-a-year debut in Thanksgiving casseroles. However, their unassuming profile hides some pretty interesting facts! Green beans are the immature pods of dried beans, meant to be grown and eaten unripe. One of the most common garden vegetables in the U.S., green beans grow very quickly and are ready for harvest just 50 to 60 days after planting. Years ago, green beans had a long, stringy fiber running down the side of the pod, hence its nickname, the “string bean.” A plant breeder back in the 19th century decided to cultivate a “stringless” green bean, thus saving kitchen cooks the time and effort of removing the strings! Except for a few heirloom varieties, most green beans today do not have strings. Green beans are also called “snap beans” because they make a “SNAP!” sound when they are broken or bent.

Despite their humble profile, green beans have much to offer! Like many vegetables, green beans are low in calories and fat, and rich in fiber. They provide vitamins A and C, which are important for immune functioning, as well as folate, a B vitamin that is needed by our bodies to make DNA.

Most recipes work best with fresh green beans rather than canned. When choosing green beans, look for beans that are smooth and crisp. Don’t pick beans that are wilted or scarred, and avoid beans with swollen pods - this means the beans are older and tough. Fresh green beans can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they will last up to a week. Don’t wash them before storing, otherwise you’ll quickly find black spots and decay on your beans! Wash them just before use.

Green beans are more versatile than you might think. They can be sauteed, steamed, baked, or even grilled. Add them into mixed dishes like stir-fries, soups and stews, casseroles, or fried rice. You can even pickle green beans and serve them as a side dish or a snack. With a bit of creativity, you’ll find many exciting ways to serve green beans on your table!

Crunchy Green Beans Fingers

2 cups fresh green beans (about 40 beans)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 egg

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Red pepper flakes or other spices (optional)

Wash the green beans and trim off the ends with a knife. Place the flour in a shallow bowl, then lightly toss green beans in flour. In another shallow bowl, mix the panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, garlic powder, and any other spices you would like to use. Beat the egg in a separate bowl. Tap off excess flour, dip green beans in the egg, then coat green beans with the panko crumbs mixture. Place coated green beans on a plate or tray. Preheat air fryer at 390 °F for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange green beans on the crisper plate in a single layer. Make sure the beans don’t overlap, so that the coating can be fried evenly all around. If the beans can’t fit all at once, work in batches. Place the green beans in the air fryer at 390 °F for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 4 servings


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 100 calories, 2 grams fat, 230 milligrams sodium, 17 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 5 gram protein



University of Nebraska-Lincoln - Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources

University of Illinois Extension - Watch Your Garden Grow

University of Arizona - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

University of Florida - Gardening Solutions

Edible Ashville

Washington State University Extension

Recipe adapted from: