Blanch Green Beans Like a Pro!

Have you ever ordered green beans at a restaurant and gasped when they arrived so gorgeously green? What sort of culinary magic is happening back in that kitchen? And more importantly, how can you create the same magic in your kitchen? It’s a lot simpler than you think.

Blanch and Shock Method

Green vegetables get their color from the plant pigment, chlorophyll. Harold McGee, in his book On Food and Cooking, says that when you toss these raw vegetables in boiling water, it causes expansion between the plant’s cells. The gas that’s normally trapped there (which clouds the full view of chlorophyll) escapes and with the gas gone, the bright green color of the chlorophyll can be seen more clearly. 

Beyond making for a pretty amazing science experiment, blanching and shocking is a great prep and preserving technique. It’s frequently employed by restaurant kitchens to prepare vegetables ahead of time for service. Blanching and shocking partially cooks the food in the best way, making it easy to flash-cook it when ordered. You can do the same at home!

And If you have a garden or refrigerator full of green beans, consider blanching and shocking them. Once cool, dry them and place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 6 months. This way you’ll always have beautiful green beans ready for any dish.

Before you get started:

  • Don’t walk away from your beans. They only need a short (just a few minutes) time in the boiling water before they need to come out of the pot. 
  • Prepare your bowl of ice water for shocking while your beans are boiling. Or if you’d like, get it ready before you start cooking. Because like a good boy scout, it’s good to be prepared.
  • Don’t waste any time moving your beans from the boiling water to the cold water. Submerging them quickly in ice water stops the cooking process, locking in that perfect crispness and green hue.

 What You Need

Green beans – Your beans should be bright green without soft spots or signs of mold. They They should be firm and snap when bent.

Water – Like any food you plan on cutting, you’ll need to give your green a good rinse under cool, running water to clean it. A colander works well for this task.

Pot – Your pot should be big enough to hold your green beans plus enough water to cover them by a few inches. If you’re cooking a big batch of beans, use your biggest pot to help get the job done. For 12 ounces of green beans, a medium-size pot should be sufficient. Just remember, the right size pot gives your beans enough room to roll around and cook. 

Kosher salt – You can salt blanching water like you would pasta water. A good rule of thumb is 2 tablespoons per quart of water. But there are no “rules,” so experiment and use what works for you.

Bowl of ice water – Use a bowl that’s large enough to hold, ice, water and your green beans. 

Tongs – Long handled tongs will make it easy to move your green beans from the pot to their ice bath.

How to Blanch and Shock Green Beans

Step 1: Use a colander to wash the green beans under cool, running water. 

Step 2: Set a pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.

Step 3: Add salt to the pot (about 2 tablespoons per quart) and stir. 

Step 4: Add green beans, stir, and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. 

Step 5: Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Step 6: Use tongs to transfer green beans to the bowl of ice water. Fully submerge green beans to cool rapidly.

Step 7: Remove and pat dry with clean towels. Use in your recipe or transfer to freezer bags. Freeze and use within 3 months. 


  • 30 Recipes That Make Canned Green Beans Taste Good
  • Green Bean Recipes for Thanksgiving
  • These 13 Delicious Dinners Have the Side Dish Built Right In