How to cook runner beans

Cooking runner beans is so easy. Our handy guide explains all...
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • Everything you need to know about preparing and cooking runner beans, including our best runner bean recipes.

    Runner beans have a short season. In the UK runner beans are in season from July until September. And, as any keen gardener will know, they taste even better when they are homegrown.

    When buying runner beans select young small pods that are still firm. The old ones can be stringy and tough and not very nice to eat. Fresh beans will still have a snap when broken. They keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days.

    *How to prepare runner beans
    *How to cook runner beans
    *How to cook runner beans: boil
    *How to cook runner beans: steam
    *How to cook runner beans: stir-fry
    *How to cook runner beans: blanching 
    *How to store runner beans
    *How to freeze runner beans
    *Our best runner bean recipes

    How to cook runner beans

    How to prepare runner beans

    It is important to prepare runner beans properly to avoid them being stringy and gritty when cooked.

    Firstly you’ll need to wash the beans and then top and tail them. To top and tail cut off a couple of millimeters from each end of the bean. Then use a vegetable peeler or knife to carefully strip off the stringy edges.

    Cut the beans into either oblique shapes by chopping diagonally, or cut lengthways three or four times, to create long strips. To make this task easier you can use a bean slicer tool.

    If you have lots of beans to prepare it can be faster to hold the blade of a small knife between your thumb and top of your forefinger. Pinch the top of the bean against the knife and twist your hand to snap the pointy top of the bean. This way the top will stay attached to any stringy bits and you can peel them off.

    How to cook runner beans

    There a few different ways of preparing runner beans: boiled, steamed, or stir-fried. The best way is to simply boil them and then stir through a little butter. This creates a great accompaniment to any meal. 

    How to cook runner beans: boil

    1. Bring a small pan of salted water to a boil. 
    2. Add the prepared beans and cook until tender, this should take about 5-8 mins. Drain.
    3. Stir through half a tablespoon of salted butter to serve. 

    How to cook runner beans: steam

    1. Fill a pan with about 2inches of water. Bring to the boil. 
    2. Place the prepared beans into the steamer basket and place them into the pan with a lid on and the heat on low-medium.
    3. Cook for 15-20 mins until knife tender.

    How to cook runner beans

    How to cook runner beans: stir-fry

    1. Heat a wok or large frying pan to high heat.
    2. Add one tablespoon of oil and any aromatics that you like, e.g. spring onions, ginger, garlic. 
    3. Add the beans to the pan with a pinch of salt and fry for 3-5 mins until knife tender.

    How to cook runner beans: blanching

    Blanching is great if you want to prep veg ahead of time and then reheat it before serving or if you want to add it into a salad. The process keeps a bit of crunch to the beans and retains the bright green colour. 

    1. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. 
    2. Add the prepared beans to the water and cook for 4-6 mins, they should still be a vibrant green colour.
    3. Drain the beans and add to a pan of iced water. Drain again when ready to serve.
    4. Beans can be reheated in hot water again before serving, or stir-fried. 

    How to cook runner beans

    How to store runner beans

    It is important to store runner beans well so that they stay fresh for as long as possible. 

    Uncooked runner beans will keep in the vegetable draw for 3-5 days. If they go a bit softer you can crisp them up in cold water. 

    Blanched runner beans will stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

    You can also remove the beans from inside the pods and then leave them to dry out in a warm and dry place. These beans can then be stored in an airtight container for a year and then left to soak before cooking, as you would with other dried beans. 

    How to freeze runner beans

    Runner beans are seasonal and often tricky to get hold of out of season. So storing beans in the freezer is a great way to ensure that you have a supply all year round. 

    We recommend washing and cutting the runner beans, then blanching for 3 mins in boiling water, then add them to ice water to cool rapidly. Freeze the cooled beans in a freezer bag. The frozen beans will keep well for about three months.

    You can cook the prepared beans from frozen. Just add to boiling water, bring back to the boil, and cook until tender, which should take about 5 mins in total.

    For more advice read our guide on the best way to freeze foods, including vegetables, meats, cakes, and other items.

    Our best runner bean recipes

    If you’re unsure how to serve runner beans, we’ve got plenty of inspiration for you. We’ve rounded up some of our best runner bean recipes; tossed in salads, paired with lamb chops, or buttered with fish…