whole food ~ well made

caramelized green beans in cast iron pan

Best Way to Cook Frozen Green Beans

It’s the dead of winter and you’re tired of tasteless imported lettuce, green cabbage, leeks and Brussels sprouts.

You remember a bag of organic frozen green beans in the freezer. No matter how you cook them–sauteed, steamed, roasted, boiled–they’re always lame. Squeaky between your teeth, limp and bland.

But this time, inspired by a Saveur email alert, you try something completely different.

Caramelized Frozen Green Beans

Preheat the cast-iron pan, toss in the better part of a stick of butter {don’t sweat the butter}. When it melts and bubbles, in go the 1-pound bag of frozen green beans. They sit and begin to steam, then gradually lose their coating of frost.

Once they’re bright green, you hear sizzling and popping, you stir and see promising signs of color–ochre and brown.

You attend to the dishes, the kids, the mess of construction paper on their play table. You come back and stir–more beans losing their green grass color and their plumpness.

On and on it goes for the better part of an hour, a stir and then you leave them to their soothing sizzling. 

When some of the frozen green beans change to brown-black you taste a bean to be sure you’re on the right track.

caramelized green beans

The one you want is the crispiest bean in the center of the pan. Buttery and pleasingly salty, it actually crunches lightly in your mouth, like a delicate French fry that is unmistakably green bean.

You keep going, letting the beans cook as long as they can stand and then eat half the pan before you call anyone else to dinner.

Are you dying for something green? Try these game-changing caramelized frozen green beans.


and become a forager

caramelized green beans
Print Pin
4.83 from 28 votes

Caramelized Frozen Green Beans with Mushrooms

This recipe is originally from cookbook author Anne Willan who calls them “burnt beans.” It deals with the problem of mushy green beans, which is what happens when you cook any frozen green bean–even those you’ve picked, blanched and frozen straight from your garden. But in this recipe, the beans slow cook until crispy. Don’t fret the butter.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword green beans
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 188kcal
Author Lynne Curry


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee pastured
  • 1 pound frozen green beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium cremini mushrooms, sliced optional


  • Heat a large cast-iron pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. 
  • When the butter foams, add the green beans, stir to coat them in the butter and leave them to heat until they’re no longer frost coated, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low so that you can still hear them sizzling and stir the beans intermittently until they shrink, wrinkle and about half of them are darkly colored, about 30 minutes more. 
  • Add the shallots and mushrooms for the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking until the mushrooms brown and the shallots soften.
  • Taste for seasoning before serving. 


For some reason, frozen green beans come in many sizes, from 10 ounces up 19 ounces. I’ve written this recipe for 1 pound of frozen green beans–home grown or commercial–so that you can readily scale it to whatever amount of green beans you have on hand.


Calories: 188kcal

This post contains an affiliate link for a product that I wholeheartedly endorse from my person use in my home kitchen–for which I may receive a small commission to support this blog.


  1. Liz

    Genius! I made these tonight with green beans from 2 summers ago and they were delicious. I can’t eat dairy so I cooked in EVOO and seasoned with sea salt. Seriously, every last bean eaten. Thanks!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that the results are as good with olive oil. (And why wouldn’t they be?) Thanks for reminding me of this recipe when it’s zero degrees outside.

    2. Abby

      5 stars
      This is my go to green bean recipe, because we often only have frozen. Thank you!

    3. Kate

      1 star
      Every bit as bad as I suspected they would be. Like a nibble that you scrape out of the bottom of a pan, certainly not a side dish you would put next to respectable food. Wow. It’s a burnt, salty, greasy no for me.

    4. Not everything is for everyone. I am curious why you would make a recipe you suspected would be terrible.

  2. Kristin

    5 stars
    What an eeeeasy and delicious recipe. My in laws who don’t even like veggies at all raved about them, and then they are such and easy and cheap side to take to my aunt’s house for Christmas dinner. My husband requested these over my from-scratch green bean casserole which he loves. Thank you!!

    1. What a wonderful report Kristin–pleasing the in-laws is big. Not to mention beating out green bean casserole in your husband’s eyes. Thanks for writing!

  3. Katie

    5 stars
    I made these for dinner tonight. YUM! I subbed ghee for butter as we are paleo. These were the best green beans I have ever had…fresh or frozen! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Thanks for the glowing report, Katie. It is kind of a counter-intuitive recipe, isn’t it? I love your idea of using ghee and am going to add it to the recipe now with thanks to you for the recommendation.

  4. Ginny

    5 stars
    This IS the best way to cook frozen green beans! Many thanks, that bag of frozen beans in the freezer was getting no love until now. For some reason the rating feature is giving me grief, but 5 stars from me!

    1. I know, weird–right? But it so works, especially at this time of year when I am force-feeding my whole family (myself included) green vegetables. Thanks for the 5 stars, Ginny!

    2. Laura Mathews

      I just made this tonight! This was sooooo good, we will definitely be making for Thanksgiving. Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    The beans in my freezer were looking a little bit old for standard steaming, so I did a quick online search for alternative ways to cook frozen beans. Your recipe was the first one I clicked on, and I’m so glad I did. These were so good! I really think the cast-iron pan is key here to get that nice, slow cook with browning, but not burning. I also toasted up a handful of chopped pecans and tossed them in — wow, the perfect complement to the beans!

    1. You pretty much summed it all up, Wendy. Thanks! Love the idea of the toasted nuts, too.

  6. Kathy Lacebal

    Will this work in a normal non-stick pan if I don’t have a cast-iron pan?

    1. Yes, you can make this recipe in another type of pan. You may not get the same depth of browning as in cast iron, but if you follow the slow-cook technique, you’ll get similar results. Hope you let me know if you do try it.

    2. D McCluskey

      5 stars
      Love this recipe, I also used it for brussel sprouts and put rice with it.. sooo good! Thanks for your help

  7. MYL

    5 stars
    Wow. I never thought frozen vegetables could be so tasty. That was so delicious and easy to make that I had to write and say thank you for this amazing recipe. I served it alongside chicken piccata and the veggies disappeared long before the entree. I’d give it six stars if I could. Thanks Lynne!

    1. So sweet of you to take the time to write to tell me! Your meal sounds terrific.

  8. TBies

    5 stars
    I’m going to make these today. Do you think these are good to reheat the next day?

    1. I’d recommend making them to eat the same day, to be honest.

  9. Andie

    5 stars
    Tried this tonight and l loved it. I’ll never look at frozen green beans the same way again, lol. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome, Andie!

  10. 5 stars
    I came across this recipe last night while trying to figure out what to do with a bag of frozen French cut green beans. Holy tamole!! This recipe is incredible! It would have never occurred to me to cook them like this. My family finished these before anything else. Your method turned Ho-hum frozen green beans into delicious comfort food. Thank you so much!!

    1. That’s awesome, Eva! It really is an unexpected method, and we can both thank Anne Willan for the idea. Thanks for commenting to let me know!

  11. 5 stars
    I freeze our green beans also and this was so amazingly delicious ! Normally I only use them in my ham and green beans recipe because they are mushy and that’s ok for that dish. But now we’ll be using this recipe a lot!! We loved it! Thank you.

    1. Fantastic to hear, Lisa. Love those homegrown green beans.

  12. Lori

    My grocery delivery service was unable deliver my fresh green beans the day before Thanksgiving and I had absolutely no time to find good, fresh beans close by. I scrambled to the internet and was so fortunate to have stumbled upon this recipe. I had almost all of the ingredients on hand (I subbed sliced shiitakes for criminis), so I took a chance at service it for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Wow. These were incredible. Absolutely delicious and so, so easy to make. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Since everyone raved about it, I’m going to make it part of Thanksgiving tradition. But it was so easy and inexpensive that it’s also going in the rotation for regular old dinners at home. As an added bonus, I loved them reheated. 🙂

    1. I love your happy ending, Lori! Thank you for writing to share this story of an averted green bean crisis. They’re one of my favorite holiday sides, too! Happy holidays.

  13. K. Clark

    Just wondering if you have tried these with Red Palm Oil? For some reason I can no longer remember, I bought a jar and now need dishes to use it in. I will be adding this dish to my planner.

    1. I’ve never used red palm oil. If you like the flavor of it, I think you could use some in this recipe to replace the butter, say a few tablespoons, and give it a try. Butter has more qualities than just the fats, so I’m guessing that using just red palm oil could create just an oily (and maybe not very tasty) skillet of beans.

  14. Kendra

    I was skeptical but not anymore. These green beans are amazing! Thank you!

    1. I know—right? I’d never cooked green beans this long before myself 😀. Thanks!

  15. Sandy Jaakobs

    5 stars
    These beans were awesome! I had a lot frozen beans harvested from last year and didn’t know what to do with them! They have a nasty texture when using them in most recipes. My 12 year old son ( who is not a veggie lover) yummed them up. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

    1. That’s quite the testimonial, Sandy! So happy to hear you put those well-loved, home-grown green beans to good use.

  16. I made these last night and my husband ate more green beans than I’ve EVER seen in our 15 years together. Thank you for upping my veg game—and to go from frozen to the pan? BRILLIANT!

    1. Love hearing that, Robin!

  17. jamie

    I did not have mushrooms or shallots and it still turned out to be the best green bean dish I’ve ever made. My daughter who refuses to eat green beans said she loved it, too! THANK YOU!! 🙂

  18. Kate

    Must have done something wrong. These were just awful. A waste of butter. One bite and no one touched them. Not sure what went wrong but they were inedible.

    1. Hi Kate,

      I’m terribly sorry to hear that (and about the butter, too). I’m happy to offer suggestions, but maybe this recipe just isn’t to your taste. It happens.

  19. Ariel

    This recipe was a little bit terrifying because of the long cook in cast iron, but I trusted the recipe and followed the instructions exactly. And woah, those were some seriously good green beans!! Thank you for this easy recipe, it’s definitely going into the regular rotation. Best part, I can keep all the ingredients on hand and whip this up whenever.

    1. Thanks for the trust, Ariel! So happy to hear that you loved this frozen green bean technique as much as I do!

  20. Lisa

    4 stars
    Didn’t work great for me. I blame the non stick pan. They didn’t really get crispy, just dried out and cardboardy. I could tell they would’ve been delicious, but missed the mark. I will definitely try them again with a cast iron pan.

    1. Hope so! Thanks for the info.

  21. Debra Every

    Would this recipe work with commercially frozen CUT green beans (all I have in my freezer.)

    1. For sure.

  22. Cole

    5 stars
    Wow! This was better than expected. Used an old bag of thin cut green beans found in the back of the freezer – this was far better than anything I would have thought to do with them myself.

    For the reviewers that said it didn’t work out, I wonder if they didn’t cook them long enough. Mine took a good 15-20 min longer than the recipe calls for. At the time specified, they were still green and a bit rubbery. Maybe it’s my stove (I’m still getting used to an electric one, YUCK!), but I just kept cooking until a good chunk of them were blackened and crispy.

    I used thin sliced onions instead of the shallot/mushrooms.

    So, so delicious! A win with all 7 family members.

    1. Yes, black and crispy is the ticket! Happy to hear it was a hit, Cole.

  23. Danielle

    Can you use salted butter?? Thats all I have

    1. Sure! Just hold back on the salt until you have a chance to taste them.

  24. Danielle

    Awesome! Thanks so much!!

  25. Nancy

    5 stars
    This was an amazing addition to our Keto dinner tonight. Didn’t have shallots or mushrooms but used red onion.
    A definite repeat. Thank you!!!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Nancy. And red onion is just what I would have used instead of shallot. The mushrooms are totally optional.

  26. Laresa

    You can do the same thing with canned green beans. My mother was coming then that way when I was a kid. Works miracles on canned corn as well. I don’t think we’ve ever used that much butter, maybe half a stick of butter to two or three cans of either vegetable and use about half the water from the cans. Cook until about half the green beans are good and brown. The corn just needs to cook for awhile until uniformly tan. (I add a little cream to it… 😊)

    1. That is so good to know, Laresa. And I’m intrigued by the corn variation!

  27. Michelle

    Wondering if this will work with a non-dairy option “butter” like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. I am excited to try this recipe for Thanksgiving tomorrow and right now planning to use the vegan butter sticks.

    1. My best guess is that this will work with any tasty cooking fat. It is also the low and slow method that makes them so tasty. Have a wonderful day!

  28. Victoria

    5 stars
    My 14yo daughter picked this recipe for Thanksgiving because she loves anything carmelized or blackened. I was skeptical about using frozen beans, but they cooked up beautifully (although my stirring did break them a bit, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone. I used generous butter, kosher salt (the best, in my opinion), regular ol whatever-I-found-in-the-supermarket mushrooms and everything else exactly as your recipe says. Everyone in the family devoured them – even my mushroom hating 16yo son! The best part is that because it uses frozen beans, you can do your shopping waaaay ahead of time, and this is a perfect last-minute “green item” to add to any dinner when your fresh vegetable supply gets low. I think this will be a new regular menu item in our house, as it was such a huge hit with my whole family!

  29. Brent

    5 stars
    Outstanding! My partner is lucky I left any for her!

    1. You must be a very generous guy, Brent 😉

  30. ncscot3

    5 stars
    My Irish nana made these once a week, slow cooked and the smell drove us crazy. Could not wait to eat supper. Just a tip I read on some thread somewhere. Olive oil is fine, but does not brown as butter does. The solids in butter produce a more toasted flavor and color in everything you cook.

    1. Lovely memories! And thanks for the olive oil tip.

  31. Shannon

    5 stars
    Very tasty! I added a clove of minced garlic and a sprinkle of crumbled bacon at the end – because they make everything better!

    1. Sounds yummy.

  32. Diane

    5 stars
    This recipe even hid the freezerburnt tast of the cut greenbeans that I pulled out of my deep freezer. Obviously not the healthiest, but boy were they tasty!

  33. Sharon Nicodemus

    Your recipe for the sauteed green beans is delicious. I cooked them exactly the way the recipe said. This is a keeper and it is a five plus

    1. Right on! Thanks for sharing your experience with this recipe.

  34. Ruthie Sellers

    5 stars
    Ms. Lynne, this recipe changed my life. You have no idea how many times I have made this and served it over simple steamed jasmine rice?

    1. Well, WOW! Thanks for writing, Ruthie.

  35. Liz Gorr

    5 stars
    Let me just say, I thought you went too far saying you could snack on these green beans. I mean their a veggie. But you were right. I tasted one and wasn’t sure I like it so I tried another. Next thing I know half the beans were gone. They are a delicious snack food. Thanks

    1. LOL, Liz! So glad you liked them, too.

  36. 5 stars
    I am not a fan of green beans so what to do with the bag my daughter brought for a green bean casserole that never got made? Googled recipes and found yours. So glad I did! The beans turned out great! And, honestly, they were the first things gone from my plate.

  37. Dawn O

    5 stars
    What a genius recipe!!!! I was trying to avoid the grocery store this week and was hoping to use up stuff in the freezer and VOILA!!! I found this recipe to use up that old frozen bag of green beans. Now, I actually have a reason to buy another bag of frozen green beans!!

    1. Love that, Dawn. Thanks. My main mission is always to use up what I have in the freezer.

  38. Melanie

    5 stars
    These are THE best! My husband and my 18 month old LOVED them and I was sad I didn’t make more for us!! Do you think this trick would work with frozen broccoli??? Always trying to find ways to get more veggies gobbled up and the taste of this recipe is so outstanding!

    1. Love to hear that, Melanie. I have not tried this with broccoli, but it is definitely worth a try!

    2. Chris

      Melanie, did you try the broccoli? That’s what I have on hand.

  39. Vanessa Polly

    I’ve got this bag of frozen Green beans that I’ve been experimenting with. So I’m trying this for dinner tonight. Fingers crossed! Also, so much love from Nairobi, Kenya!

    1. Right back at you, Vanessa :). And I truly hope you had a wonderful dinner.

  40. Mark Fagan

    I love French green beans but my spouse didn’t until I used this recipe. Now we eat them weekly

    1. Well, that’s fun to learn, Mark. Thanks for writing in!

  41. Jenna

    5 stars
    Found this recipe today. So far looking and smelling amazing

  42. Heather

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness these are the best I made one bag. And then made another cause they ate them so fast😍🍵🍵

    1. Yaaasss! Thanks for writing, Heather.

share your thoughts

Recipe Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *