These effortless Chinese Green Beans are pan-fried to blistered perfection then coated with a garlicky-sweet-spicy sauce that makes them impossible to resist.
Fried green beans tossed with a sweet and feisty garlicky soy sauce are a staple in most Chinese restaurants. I find them completely addictive and always order them when we are getting takeout.
Sadly, our favorite Chinese restaurant has closed but it turns out recreating a similar version at home is quick and easy, not to mention economical and utterly delicious.
If you’re looking for an easy and exciting new way to cook fresh green beans, give this recipe a try. It’s brilliantly simple, healthy, and with so much flavor and crunch, it will become your new favorite side dish.
Chinese Green Beans (Sichuan-Style) Cooking Method
Authentic Sichuan-style green beans are deep-fried in a wok in very hot oil for just a few minutes until their skins blister and shrivel while retaining some of their crunchy texture. Though it has created some confusion, this deep frying technique is actually called “dry-frying”. Once fried, the beans are then quickly stir-fried in a sauce that contains Sichuan peppers, garlic, soy sauce, sugar and sometimes ginger and scallions.
For this easy recipe, however, we are avoiding the deep-fry. This means it isn’t authentic, but it’s utterly delicious nonetheless.
To make it, toss fresh green beans with a little oil in a really hot skillet until they’re blistered and lightly charred, but still crisp-tender. Next, we add in some powerful flavours with lots of garlic, soy sauce, honey and a smidge of chile sauce. The result is outstanding: Blistered beans drenched in a delicious garlicky, soy sauce-y bath with a perfectly snappy interior. So good you’ll want to eat them straight from the bowl like French fries.
Best of all. they’re so much healthier than deep-frying and you’re not left with a huge amount of oil to deal with.
Ingredients And Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy sautéed Chinese green beans recipe:
- Fresh green beans – For best results, choose fresh beans that are bright green with no brown spots and similar in size. You will need 1 pound for this recipe.
- Neutral oil – I use avocado oil but any neutral oil, or even coconut oil, will work. In a pinch, you can use olive oil.
- Garlic – These Chinese green beans are meant to be cooked with lots of garlic. But you can use as much or as little as you like.
- Soy sauce – I like low-sodium soy sauce but any soy sauce such as gluten-free Tamari , or coconut aminos, will also work.
- Honey – For the best green beans, a little bit of sweet is really important to balance out the flavours.
- Sambal Oelek – For mildly spicy green beans, I like to add a teaspoon of Sambal Oelek. Sambal Oelek is available in most well-stocked grocery stores in the Asian food section, right next to the sriracha. You can also always find it at any Asian market. If you can’t find it, you can use another Asian chili sauce such as this garlic chili sauce or similar.
- Make it spicier: If you like heat, add at least another teaspoon of samba oelek. Or if using a mild chili sauce, add some red pepper flakes to taste.
- Add more aromatics: As mentioned, you can add ginger and scallions (or shallots) for more great flavor.
- Sesame seeds: Garnish the dish with toasted sesame seeds. Or, add a teaspoon of sesame oil for a wonderful nutty flavour.
- Add a little butter: Cook the beans in vegetable oil as instructed in the recipe, then add 1 tablespoon butter for more delicious flavour.
How To Make Chinese Green Beans
This delicious side dish comes together really fast. Here is the quick run-down:
- Wash and trim the beans: Trim the ends of the beans and place them in a colander. Wash with cold water then dry them using a tea towel, or paper towels.
- Prepare sauce: In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, sambal oelek and 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.
- Cook the beans: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, like really hot, add the green beans. Give them a quick toss to coat in the oil then leave them undisturbed until they start to slightly char, about 4 minutes. Flip them around to char on the other side, another 3 minutes, or so. Toss again and continue to cook beans until they are tender and blistered, about 3 more minutes. Increase heat to medium-high if you find the beans are not getting enough char. You may also want to do this in two batches.
- To finish: Lower heat to low, add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the pan and sauté for 1 more minute, tossing the beans until coated in the sauce. Serve immediately.
- Find the detailed instructions with exact measurements in the recipe card below.
Dry the beans really well. Moisture will cause the beans to steam in the pan and prevent them from blistering. This simple step will make all the difference in the world so make sure not to skip it.
Don’t overcook the beans! You want the beans slightly blistered on the outside and tender on the inside but with a bit of snap. That said, I have accidentally taken them to the side of limp many times and they are still delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cooked green beans have a tendency to go limp pretty quickly so I prefer to serve these Chinese green beans while still hot, straight from the skillet. That being said, when reheated properly, leftovers are delicious in a stir-fry or chopped into some scrambled eggs – drool.
It may seem that without parboiling the beans, they will not be cooked enough. I promise if you follow the recipe as written, the green beans will be perfectly tender and have the perfect amount of crunch.
Unfortunately I don’t recommend using frozen beans for this recipe. You need the beans to be nice and dry so they will blister and char on the outside. That is impossible to achieve with frozen beans.
Chinese Green Beans Serving Suggestions
These Chinese green beans recipe are a delicious, quick, and easy veggie side dish! Here are a few of our favourite dishes to serve alongside:
- Teriyaki salmon
- Roasted chicken
- Chinese green beans are the perfect side dish to serve with just about any grilled meat or fish. We especially love them with this Grilled Lemongrass Chicken.
- Scrambled or fried eggs
- Crispy tofu and rice bowl
- Chinese eggplant stir fry
- Coconut rice or plain white rice – Chinese green beans are the perfect side dish to serve served over coconut rice or plain white and call it dinner – so good!
Storing And Reheating Leftovers
- To store: Any leftover Chinese green beans can be stored in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for 2-3 days.
- To reheat: For best results, reheat the green beans in a skillet over medium high heat until sizzling hot. Make sure to toss and flip them so they warm up evenly.
If you give this Chinese Green Beans recipe a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
Chinese Green Beans
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or use Tamari for gluten-free
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon chili paste such as Sambal Oelek or chilli garlic sauce or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (I use avocado oil)
- 1 pound green beans trimmed, washed and thoroughly dried
- 2 fat garlic cloves minced
- pinch of salt only if necessary
- In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, sambal oelek and 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the green beans. Give them a quick toss to coat in the oil then leave them undisturbed until they start to slightly char, about 4 minutes. Flip them around to char on the other side, another 3 minutes, or so. Toss again and continue to cook beans until they are tender and blistered, about 3 more minutes. You may want to do this in two batches if your skillet isn't very large.
- Lower heat to low, add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and pour the soy sauce mixture into the pan and sauté for 1 more minute, tossing the beans until they are fully coated in the sauce. Taste and add a pinch of salt, if needed. Serve immediately.