Ever wondered if it was possible to cook frozen green beans without them getting mushy? Well good news: it totally is!
In this post, I’ll go over the two best methods for how to cook frozen green beans: in a skillet on the stovetop, or roasting on a sheet pan.
For both of these methods, the result is bright green and tender (but not mushy) green beans. They’ll never be as crisp-tender as fresh green beans, but as far as convenient frozen veggies go, they’re phenomenal!
They get tossed with olive oil, garlic, and lemon zest for a bright and delicious flavor.
Can you roast frozen green beans?
In short: absolutely! You can also saute them in a skillet (I’ll go over both methods!).
The overall method for cooking frozen green beans without them getting watery and rubbery is to thaw and drain off water first, then cook fast and hot (and don’t overcook!).
Thawing then draining before cooking lets you get rid of most of the water that would come out during the cooking process.
If you toss frozen green beans straight into a pan, all the ice around them will thaw and create a pool of water in the bottom of the pan, which then has to cook off before the green beans start to saute. This results in overcooked, soft, soggy, and rubbery green beans.
Thawing them first lets you drain off all that ice, so that when you toss the green beans into the pan, they’re as dry as possible (and therefore as close to fresh green beans as possible). It helps them cook up quickly in a hot pan and get a little crispy, too.
Here’s more information on roasting vegetables from frozen featuring a lot of other veggies (like broccoli, asparagus, and more)!
The same idea goes for roasting. You want green beans to go into the oven as dry as possible, without ice around them. That way, they don’t end up sitting in a sheet pan of water, and have the chance to crisp up in a hot oven.
For both methods, it’s important to remove the green beans pretty much as soon as they’re heated through to avoid overcooking.
Frozen green beans won’t get nearly as blistery and charred as fresh green beans, and if you try to heavily char them you’ll end up with mush on the inside. Just let them get heated through and call it a day.
Save the expectation of heavily charred green beans for when you have access to fresh ones!
Nutrition Info for Green Beans
Green beans are high in Vitamin K, and are also good source of calcium (which is good for bone health!). They also contain potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
They are a favorite veggie in our house!
This isn’t a super rigid recipe – it’s more of a cooking method. Feel free to change up the seasonings or flavors to suit your needs!
But my favorite way to make frozen green beans is with:
- lemon zest
- fresh garlic
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- and, of course, frozen green beans!
You might also love this lemon garlic string beans recipe! It’s similar, but uses fresh green beans.
What kind of frozen green beans should I buy?
First, it’s important to choose the right type of green beans. In my opinion, the best are petite frozen green beans (often labeled haricots verts or petite whole green beans).
They should be whole, not “french style” or “french cut” green beans, which are cut diagonally into thin pieces.
I find that thin green beans get less mushy and flat when cooked from frozen, compared to thicker green beans. If you can’t find the thin style, regular whole green beans are the next best option.
Pre-cut frozen green beans will get the mushiest and wateriest, so they’re not ideal here. (But of course can still be used if necessary, especially if you are mixing them in to certain types of dishes (like mac and cheese) vs. cooking them alone.)
How to Cook Frozen Green Beans in the Oven
To roast frozen green beans in the oven, start by thawing the green beans in the microwave to melt the excess ice/water. Fill the bowl of green beans halfway with water, then microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the ice is just melted.
Then, drain the water from the bowl and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the drained and dried green beans on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Next, toss them with a light drizzle of olive oil, chopped or minced garlic, and salt & pepper. Make sure to spread them into a single layer.
Then, bake them at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes, until they’re heated through and just starting to blister. (Don’t overcook, or they may start to get mushy).
Sprinkle with fresh lemon zest, and enjoy!
How to Saute Frozen Green Beans
To cook frozen green beans on the stovetop, start with the same first step as with roasting: lightly thaw the frozen beans in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until the ice is melted.
Drain the green beans and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, drizzle a large skillet with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add 1-2 cloves of chopped or minced garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is aromatic and lightly crispy.
Next, add the green beans and stir to coat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until just heated through. (Be sure not to overcook them, or they might turn mushy).
Lastly, season with salt, pepper, and lemon zest, then serve!
Are fresh vegetables healthier than frozen vegetables?
This is a common myth that I’m happy to debunk. Actually, frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh ones. In fact, they may be healthier, since they’re flash frozen at their peak freshness!
Additionally, the way to cook vegetables makes a difference, too. Roasting them and sauteing them in a skillet are both better methods for preserving nutrients as opposed to boiling them (when some of the nutrients can leach out into the water, which is then thrown away).
What causes frozen vegetables to get mushy when cooked?
When fruits and veggies get frozen, the water inside of them freezes (and most fruits and veggies are something like 80%+ water!). Water in fruits and veggies is held in cells, and since water expands when it freezes, the cell walls burst when that captive water freezes.
Those cell walls staying intact and holding in pockets of water is what makes fresh fruits and veggies crunchy, juicy, and/or crispy. So when frozen produce thaws and its internal cell walls are busted, all that water leaks out and you’re left without any plump water-filled cells to create crunch.
This is why pre-cut frozen green beans can get extra mushy when cooked. All the internal water can just come leaking right out of the cut sides and you end up with a pretty sad, deflated green bean.
This is a perfect side dish for any meal! Here are some main dishes that would pair great with these lemon garlic green beans:
- Ground Chicken Meatloaf with Glaze
- Honey Lemon Chicken (Slow Cooker)
- Instant Pot Pork Roast
- Healthy Stuffed Peppers (Mix & Match Recipes!)
- Crockpot Balsamic Chicken
- Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Feta
Roasted or sauteed frozen green beans make the perfect healthy side dish for any meal! It’s a great recipe to have in your arsenal for busy weeknights. 🙂 Enjoy!
More frozen vegetable recipes & tips to try:
- How to Roast Frozen Broccoli (+ Recipe Ideas!)
- How to Cook Frozen Brussels Sprouts (+ Recipe Ideas!)
- The Best Frozen Vegetables to Buy
- How to Cook Frozen Cauliflower (+ Recipe Ideas!)
- How to Cook Frozen Asparagus (+ Recipe Ideas!)
- 1 lb frozen green beans*
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
- 1 lemon, zested (use as much as you like)
- olive oil
- Place frozen green beans in a large microwave-safe bowl and fill about halfway with water. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until the ice around the green beans has melted (they should still be cold or room temp, not hot). Drain, pat dry with a paper towel, and set aside.
- Heat a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil and a clove or two of chopped/minced garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is light golden brown. Add in the green beans and toss to coat in the garlic and oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, just until the green beans are heated through. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and fresh lemon zest.
Method for sauteed frozen green beans:
Method for roasting frozen green beans:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, or grease the pan.
- Place frozen green beans in a large microwave-safe bowl and fill about halfway with water. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until the ice around the green beans has melted (they should still be cold or room temp, not hot). Drain, pat dry with a paper towel, and place green beans on the prepared sheet pan. Drizzle the green beans lightly with olive oil and add a clove or two of chopped/minced garlic and a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Toss everything together on the sheet pan to coat the green beans in seasoning, then spread into a single layer.
- Roast for 10-12 minutes, until the green beans are heated through and just starting to blister. Top with fresh lemon zest and serve.
*My favorite type to buy is petite frozen green beans (often labeled haricots verts or petite whole green beans). They should be whole, not "french style" or "french cut" green beans, which are cut diagonally into thin pieces.
Thin green beans get less mushy and flat when cooked from frozen, compared to thicker green beans. If you can't find the thin style, regular whole green beans are the next best option.
Pre-cut frozen green beans will get the mushiest and wateriest, so they're not ideal here.