I have a simple trick for cooking French Green Beans (Haricots Verts) perfectly, seasoned with shallot and a hint of lemon.

French green beans make a great side dish for most any meal, but if you have a love for French inspired food, be sure to check out my Leek and Potato Soup, Croque Monsieur and French Onion Soup!

French green beans in a skillet with shallots and lemon slices.

Green beans is probably the vegetable served most often at our house, so I thought it was about time I shared my recipe and tips for making them, right! The biggest tip is in not overcooking them, and seasoning them perfectly.

French Green Beans vs. Regular Green Beans

I hope we’re all familiar with traditional green beans, with are long, thin, and often sold by the pound or in prepackaged bags simply labeled, “green beans”, at the grocery store.

French green beans (also called Haricots Verts) are slightly longer and skinnier than regular green beans and may be a little bit more expensive. They are harvested earlier then regular green beans, so they are thought to be more tender and more flavorful. You can find them at most grocery stores as well, just look for the label “french green beans” or “haricots verts.”

In my opinion, French green beans look a little bit fancier and you may notice many nicer restaurants use French green beans instead of regular green beans.  Haricots Verts (prounounced “arr-ee-co vair” is the French translation which literally means, “green” (vert) and “bean” (haricot).

When Buying Green Beans:

  • Check for crispness: green beans should be firm to the point that they would snap in half if you bent them. No one wants to eat a wilty green bean!
  • Check for freshness: Look for beans that are brightly colored and that don’t have brown spots, blemishes, or signs of aging or tears.
  • Uniformity is nice:  As best you can, try to get beans that are similar in size and shape so they cook uniformly.

What’s the Trick?

The trick for perfect green beans is to cook them until they are just barely tender (still have a slight crisp), and then seal in their moisture with a fat, like olive oil or butter. In this case we are using butter!


  • French Green beans
  • Butter
  • Shallots
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Lemon juice

French green beans in a bowl next to salt and pepper, shallot, onion, lemon and butter.

How to cook Haricots Verts:

1. Add beans and water to a large skillet.

2. Bring to a boil and cook until barely tender, but still crisp. About 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. Drain and set aside.

Green beans in a skillet with water, next to a skillet with chopped shallots.

3. Add butter to the skillet over medium high heat. Once melted add the shallots and saute for 1 minute.

4. Add the beans and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Close-up photo of cooked french green beans in a skillet.

Optional Add-In’s

  • Toated almonds
  • Bacon bits
  • Roasted garlic
  • Diced ham

Serve Haricots Verts with:

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Prep 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 20 minutes
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  • 2 cup water
  • 1 pound French green beans , firm and small
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot , peeled and chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt , or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper , or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  • Place beans in a large skillet. Add 2 cups water to the skillet.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until barely tender, but still crisp. About 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. Drain beans and water and set aside.
  • Add butter to the skillet over medium heat. Once melted add the shallots and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add the beans and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  • Store cooked green beans in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Reheat for a few seconds in the microwave or enjoy cold.  I love to eat them cold on a salad.


Optional Add-In's
  • Toated almonds
  • Bacon bits
  • Roasted garlic
  • Diced ham


Calories: 92kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 187mgPotassium: 208mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 836IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 1mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. 5 stars
    How many servings from 1 lb of fresh French green beans?
    If recipe calls for 3- 10oz frozen French green beans, how much fresh should I get?
    Your recipe is great, nice and simple too.

    Thank you.

  2. 5 stars
    I did a practice run on this recipe, and after tasting it will definitely make it for Thanksgiving. The shallots make a much more interesting flavor than garlic or onions alone. Thank you for posting this recipe.

  3. Delicious! I didn’t have shallots so used garlic instead. They were cooked perfectly. Will be my new go to way to make green beans.

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