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 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
- Bring a small pan of salted water to a boil.
- Add the prepared beans and cook until tender, this should take about 5-8 mins. Drain.
- Stir through half a tablespoon of salted butter to serve.
How to cook runner beans: steam
- Fill a pan with about 2inches of water. Bring to the boil.
- Place the prepared beans into the steamer basket and place them into the pan with a lid on and the heat on low-medium.
- Cook for 15-20 mins until knife tender.
How to cook runner beans: stir-fry
- Heat a wok or large frying pan to high heat.
- Add one tablespoon of oil and any aromatics that you like, e.g. spring onions, ginger, garlic.
- 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.
- Bring a pan of salted water to a boil.
- Add the prepared beans to the water and cook for 4-6 mins, they should still be a vibrant green colour.
- Drain the beans and add to a pan of iced water. Drain again when ready to serve.
- Beans can be reheated in hot water again before serving, or stir-fried.
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...
Greens with miso dressing
This is a delicious Asian inspired side dish. The dressing uses miso paste to boost the flavours of the greens. When out of season we recommend using frozen runner beans and
Or swap the runner beans for green beans.
Get the recipe: Greens with miso dressing recipe
Simple and delicious sausage bake
A sausage bake is always a hit. This is a popular recipe on the Good to Know website. It has over 200 reviews. The ingredients are relativity cheap, plus you bung it all in one dish, so you save on the washing up too!
Get the recipe: Sausage bake recipe
Quick and easy five veg stir-fry
Good to Know Food Writer Jessica Ransom favours this method of cooking runner beans; she loves to stir-fry them as they keep their nice crunchy texture. Jessica suggests “using them instead of Tenderstem broccoli and season with chilli, garlic and soy”.
Try this simple five veg stir-fry recipe, it’s bursting with green veggie goodness.
Get the recipe: Five veg stir-fry
Slimming World mixed summer bean salad
We love this hearty salad that can be served warm or cool. Perfect as an easy but impressive side dish. The dressing contains roasted cumin seeds and mild green chilli for a warming kick.
Get the recipe: Slimming World mixed summer bean salad recipe
Pork belly and tapenade
This dish really is a tasty treat. It’s a little time consuming to make, but worth the effort as the result is absolutely delicious. The runner beans are a lovely fresh flavour addition to cut through the fattiness of the pork.
Get the recipe: Belly pork with green bean tapenade recipe
Buttery pan-fried plaice
Plaice is a delicious delicate fish, often overlooked. It’s best, as it is here, doused in oodles of glorious butter sauce. It’s simple and quick to cook.
Get the recipe: Buttery plaice recipe
Runner bean and Tenderstem broccoli salad
Runner beans really lend themselves to being in salads. They have a lovely crunch and brilliant vibrant colour.
Get the recipe: Runner bean and tenderstem broccoli salad
Fresh summer vegetable noodles
An easy-peasy noodle dish that makes the most of the best seasonal summer ingredients.
Get the recipe: Summer vegetable spaghetti recipe
Slimming World’s garlic and thyme chicken with vegetable penne
Another yummy speedy pasta courtesy of Slimming World. This is a great option if you are working on reducing your calorie intake. It’s low fat and ready in 20 mins.
Get the recipe: Slimming World’s garlic and thyme chicken with vegetable penne recipe
Balsamic lamb chops with minted beans
All the classic flavours make for the ultimate Sunday roast dinner recipe.
Mint is sublime with peas and beans, as it amplifies their gorgeous beany flavour and adds a lovely freshness to this dish.
Get the recipe: Balsamic lamb chops with minted beans recipe
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Rose Fooks is Deputy Food Editor at Future Publishing, creating recipes, reviewing products and writing food features for a range of lifestyle and home titles including GoodTo and Woman&Home. Before joining the team, Rose obtained a Diplome de Patisserie and Culinary Management at London’s Le Cordon Bleu. Going on to work in professional kitchens at The Delaunay and Zedel.