These lemony green beans with pine nuts and garlic are flavorful, simple, and go great alongside pretty much any main dish! They’re one of my go-to sides for weeknight meals, holidays, and dinner parties.

Lemony green beans with pine nuts and garlic on a white oval tray with wood salad tongs placed on a white speckled counter.

Fancy green bean varieties are back at the farmer’s market and I am in my peak Millennial foodie mode. Sundresses and mesh produce bags are involved. I stroll around with a coffee and pretend I’m at a Parisian outdoor market. It’s a whole thing.

The benefit of this is I come home with armfuls of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies. The fruit sometimes gets spooned over yogurt but more oftentimes get baked into a galette. With the veggies, I like to make something that’s fancy enough to serve guests but simple and attainable enough for an elevated weeknight dinner. These lemony green beans are a lovely example of my favorite kind of veggie side dish situation! They’re bright, fresh, savory, a bit spicy, and have a nice crunch thanks to the pine nuts.

Details on lemony green beans with pine nuts & garlic

To make these green beans, we’re going to do a combo of sautéing and steaming. This will give us green beans that are tender but still a little crisp on the outside. Then, we’ll season the green beans with shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon, and toasty pine nuts! I almost always have the ingredients on hand so I can whip up a quick veggie side dish anytime I don’t know what to make for dinner.

Also, this recipe makes four generous servings which is nice if you’re just making these green beans on a weeknight. However, if you’re going to serve them at a dinner party or for the holidays, it’s super easy to multiply! They’re beyond delicious and go with just about any main course from roasted chicken to pot roast to veggie soup. Let’s get into it!

A wood board topped with string beans, a bowl of pine nuts, shallots, lemon, and garlic on a light grey table.

The ingredient list

You’ll need just a few ingredients to make these lemony green beans – you might even have most of them in your pantry!

  • Pine nuts – these will be our topping at the end to add a nice toasty, earthy flavor.
  • Green beans – look for green beans that are bright green, firm, and don’t have a ton of discolored brown spots.
  • Shallot – just a small one to add a little extra flavor!
  • Garlic – to complement the lemon and pepper flakes.
  • Red pepper flakes – I like adding these for a little spice. You can skip them if you’re not into heat!
  • Lemon – we’ll need the zest and the juice in this recipe.
  • Kitchen staples – olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper.
Four photos of string beans being steamed in a pan, sauteed with shallots and garlic, finished with lemon zest, and topped with pine nuts.

How to make this recipe step-by-step

  1. Start by toasting the pine nuts in a large, dry pan. Stir often to prevent burning. The pine nuts are done when they are light brown and smell toasted. Spoon them into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Next, add the green beans to the hot pan. Add the water and bring it to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and steam for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Then, remove the lid from the pan and stir the green beans until the water evaporates.
  4. Make a well in the center of the green beans. Add some olive oil and butter.
  5. Once the butter is melted, add the shallot and cook for a few minutes until they’re soft and starting to brown on the edges.
  6. Next, add the garlic. Cook for about 30 more seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.
  7. Remove the green beans from the heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  8. Spoon the green beans onto a serving dish. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and enjoy!

The secret to the best sauteed green beans

My favorite tip for getting sautéed green beans that are tender, perfectly-cooked, and just a tad crisp is to both steam and sauté them! Here’s how I do it:

  1. Add 1 pound of green beans to a pan. Pour in about 1/3 cup of water.
  2. Bring the green beans to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and steam for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Then, remove the lid and cook the green beans, stirring frequently, until the water evaporates.
  4. Add any seasonings and aromatics. You should have tender, but still crisp, green beans!

Storing leftovers & reheating

To store leftover green beans, let them come to room temperature. Then, spoon them into an airtight container. Keep them in the fridge for up to four days. I do not recommend freezing the green beans, they are best when made fresh!

To reheat the leftovers, you can either microwave them for 30-60 seconds until hot. Or, you can always reheat them with a little olive oil in a pan on the stove. Heat the lemony green beans just until they’re hot so they don’t get too overcooked!

To make this recipe in advance

Although I usually find that veggie side dishes taste best when served immediately, these hold up surprisingly well! I have made them in advance for a few holidays and they still come out tasting delicious. They’ll still require a bit of cooking but the most time-consuming parts will be finished. Here’s how I make lemony green beans in advance:

  1. Start by steaming the green beans as directed for about 3 minutes.
  2. Then, remove the lid and sauté the green beans for just 1-2 minutes. Drain the remaining water from the pan.
  3. Next, add the olive oil, butter, and shallots and cook just 1-2 minutes (the shallot should start to get soft but now brown).
  4. Toss the green beans and shallots together. Then, spoon the mixture into a heat-proof dish. Let them cool and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  5. When you’re ready to finish the green beans, heat a large skillet. Add the green beans to the pan along with 2-3 Tablespoons of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the water is evaporated and the green beans are crisp-tender.
  6. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the garlic to the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant.
  7. Lastly, remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining seasonings and pine nuts.

Ingredient substitutions

  • Green beans – for this recipe, I typically just go with the usual variety you find in the grocery store (sometimes called string beans or snap beans). But, you can also try other fun varieties like haricots verts (French green beans), long beans, Romano beans (Italian green beans), or wax beans.
  • Pine nuts – almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts would be delicious as well! For a nut-free option, try sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
  • Shallots – use a quarter of a yellow onion if you don’t have shallots on hand.
  • Parmesan – this recipe doesn’t call for any, but it’s a nice addition! You can sprinkle a couple tablespoons of Parmesan over the green beans when you add the lemon zest.
Lemony green beans with garlic and pine nuts on a white platter on a white linen with a cream-colored bowl of pine nuts and halved lemon in the background.

Making this recipe with other green bean varieties

While I typically just use the regular green beans you find in the grocery store, you can use any green bean variety in this recipe. Just keep in mind you might need to adjust the cooking time depending on variety.

  • Haricots verts – because this variety is very thin and delicate, I’d only steam the green beans for about 1-2 minutes. Drain the water, and quickly proceed with the rest of the recipe to avoid overcooking the beans. If you want to avoid overcooking haricots verts, you could also steam them for 2-3 minutes until crisp-tender, remove the beans, cook the rest of the ingredients and aromatics, and then stir everything together at the end!
  • Long beans & wax beans – these varieties cooks similarly to green beans, so go ahead and proceed with the recipe as normal!
  • Romano beans – this variety takes a bit more time to cook. Steam the beans for closer to 5-6 minutes. Then, saute the beans until they’re tender and add the remaining aromatics.

Helpful tools

You don’t necessarily need these tools to make this recipe but they definitely help! I’ve listed alternatives below in case you don’t have all of these tools on hand.

  • Large skillet – I use my 12-inch Staub skillet but a wok or any other large saute pan will work. Just make sure you have something big enough to fit all the green beans!
  • Microplane – this is the best way to get finely grated lemon zest. If you don’t have one, you can use the small holes on a cheese grater instead.
  • Citrus juicer – if you want to get the most amount of juice out of the lemon. However, I usually just squeeze the lemon with my hands!

Serving suggestions

Lemony green beans go with pretty much anything but these are some of my favorites!

Recipe tips

  • To avoid soggy green beans, only trim off the ends. Avoid cutting the green beans in half whenever possible so they don’t absorb too much water.
  • Once the water is evaporated, saute the aromatics quickly to avoid overcooking the green beans.
  • To char the green beans a bit more, you can skip the steaming part. Just heat the olive oil, add the green beans and cook for about 10-12 minutes until they are tender-crisp and charred on the outside.
  • If you want to make the green beans in advance, just undercook them a tad. Then, keep them warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve. They will continue cooking in the oven, which is why it’s best to undercook the beans a bit! Don’t keep them in the oven longer than 30 minutes.
A woman's hands holding a white platter with lemony green beans over a white counter next to wood salad tossers and a bowl of pine nuts.

More veggie side dishes to try out

Charred Broccoli with Breadcrumbs & Pecorino
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Fried Shallots, Bacon, & Dijon Vinaigrette
Spring Panzanella Salad
Turmeric & Za’atar Roasted Carrots
Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing

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Lemony Green Beans with Pine Nuts & Garlic

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
This is one of my go-to side dishes for weeknight dinners, holidays, and dinner parties! They are perfectly tender and tossed with garlic, shallots, lemon zest, and toasty pine nuts for a savory, fresh, bright dish. Serve with chicken, beef, pork, seafood, vegetarian dishes, and more!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Tbs pine nuts
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1/2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, plus more or less, to taste*
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (about 1 small lemon)
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Equipment

  • 12-inch skillet

Instructions 

  • In a large dry skillet, cook the pine nuts over medium heat until they are toasted and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Spoon the pine nuts into a bowl and set aside. Return the pan to the stove.
  • Place green beans in the skillet. Add the water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the green beans are slightly tender but still crisp.**
  • Remove the lid from the pan and stir until the water is evaporated, about 3-4 minutes.** Then, make a well in the center of the pan and add the olive oil and butter until it is melted.
  • Add the shallots to the olive oil-butter mixture and sauté until the shallots are soft and starting to brown on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Then, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir the green beans with the shallot-garlic mixture.
  • Remove the pan from the heat (at this point, the green beans should be crisp-tender). Add the red pepper flakes, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss, taste, and add additional seasonings if desired.
  • Spoon the green beans onto a serving dish and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts.*** Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

*If you are sensitive to spice, you can leave out the red pepper flakes. If you like your food hot, add more. I would avoid adding too much red pepper flakes or it overpowers the lemon and garlic.
**If you prefer very tender green beans, steam them closer to 4-5 minutes. For more crisp green beans, sauté the green beans for 2-3 minutes and then drain out any remaining water.
***You can also finish the dish off in the skillet. Just make sure to remove the pan from the heat so the garlic and pine nuts do not burn.
This recipe makes 4 large or 6 small servings. It can easily be doubled or tripled if you’re serving a crowd.
Cuisine: American
Course: Side Dish
Serving: 1serving, Sodium: 310mg, Calcium: 52mg, Sugar: 1.8g, Fiber: 4.2g, Potassium: 306mg, Cholesterol: 4mg, Calories: 96kcal, Saturated Fat: 1.4g, Fat: 5.6g, Protein: 2.9g, Carbohydrates: 11.1g, Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @serendipitybysaralynn on Instagram!

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: I Follow You by Melody’s Echo Chamber