Six simple ingredients, plus some salt and pepper. This recipe has the best of both worlds, super delicious and extremely simple. Fresh or frozen green beans, quickly sauteed in butter and olive oil, seasoned with garlic, a splash of honey, and red pepper flakes. Sweet Daddy D’s Sweet ‘N Savory Green Beans will be such a hit you’ll get lots more credit than you deserve. But don't worry, we won’t tell them how easy it is to make!
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Keys to the Best Sweet ‘n Savory Green Beans
Many side dishes are just placeholders and afterthoughts, but Sweet ‘n Savory Green Beans is a side dish that elevates the entire meal. If you want to maximize the flavor of this dish, follow these simple steps:
- Use fresh or frozen, slightly par-cooked green beans. We don't want to overcook or undercook the green beans.
- Cook this hot and fast. This recipe cooks fast over high heat. Let the butter and garlic get slightly brown, but not burned.
- Get a light char on your beans. The sugar in the beans will start to caramelize and the flavor will intensify.
- Don't skip the chilies. Whether using pepper flakes or whole dried peppers, this flavor provides a balance this recipe needs.
- Don't overdo the honey. We want the beans kissed with honey, not drenched. Add a little at a time until you have it the way you like it.
- Serve immediately. This is a recipe you prepare at the last minute. It does not do any good to let it sit around before serving.
Here's What You Need
- Green Beans: Whole fresh green beans are the best for this recipe, but I usually use the "steamable" frozen green beans because the quality is good and they are easy to prepare. Either choice is good. They need to be par-cooked before the quick saute. Canned green beans can also be used and don't have to be par-cooked. If you don't have whole green beans, use cut beans. French-cut green beans don't work as well for this recipe.
- Olive Oil and Butter: Using this mixture gives you the great flavor of both olive oil and butter while increasing the smoke point of the butter.
- Garlic: I always use fresh garlic for this recipe, but granulated garlic or garlic powder are suitable substitutes. Use ½ to ¾ teaspoons in place of the fresh garlic.
- Chili Flakes or Whole dried red peppers: This is an optional ingredient. The amount you use is up to you, but this is what balances the sweetness of the honey.
- Honey: I use Louisiana honey. Again, the amount you use is up to you. Cane Syrup is a good substitute, but add a little at a time because the flavor is more intense.
Here’s What You Do
First...you have a beer. This is such a simple dish that it doesn't take long to get everything ready. Grab a beer, sit down, and read the recipe all the way through to learn what you need and what you’ll do with each ingredient. Perform a little mise en place and you are ready to throw this together like a boss.
Mise en place
The key to no-angst cooking is to prepare all of your ingredients before you start to cook. Once you've done your mise en place, most of the work is done and the fun begins.
For the Green Beans:
- Fresh Green Beans: snip off the ends, set them in a steamer for about three minutes of steam, then a quick dunk in an ice bath.
- Frozen Green Beans: The best kind are the ones that can be steamed right in their bag in the microwave. If you can't steam them in the bag, microwave them according to the instructions, but for only about half the time it calls for.
- Canned Green Beans: Drain and rinse them thoroughly to remove any unneeded sodium. No need to par-cook the canned beans any further.
The remaining ingredients:
- Measure the butter and olive oil. Chop the garlic and get the peppers or pepper flakes ready and handy.
Start by sauteing the garlic and chile peppers
What happens in this step? The butter, garlic, and hot peppers are the first layer of flavor for this recipe.
- Add the butter and olive oil to a large saute pan over high heat. Heat until the butter starts to foam.
- Add the garlic and chili peppers (if using). Saute for about 30 seconds getting the butter full of garlic flavor.
Lagniappe Tip: We don't want the butter to burn. Once the butter just starts to brown, go to the next step of adding the green beans. A little brown will add a nutty flavor, but burning the butter will make everything bitter.
Add the Green Beans, then finish with Honey
What happens in this step? The dish is finished when the green beans have a slight char and the honey is incorporated throughout.
- Keeping a high heat, when the butter starts to brown, add the green beans. Saute, keeping the beans moving in the pan until they start to wilt and char slightly on the edges. This should take 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, then pour the honey over the beans. Stir and shake the pan to mix the honey through all the beans.
- Continue to shake the pan for another 1 or 2 minutes until everything is thoroughly combined and the beans are slightly charred and wilted.
At this point, remove the pan from the heat, discard the chili peppers, and serve immediately.
Hints and Tips (FAQ)
Leftovers should be held in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days in an air-tight container.
You can substitute about 2 tablespoons of white, brown sugar or cane syrup for the honey.
Green beans, snap beans and string beans are the same thing, just referred to differently. There are over 130 varieties of green beans, but the Blue Lake variety is the most common and available.
Green beans contain vitamins A, C, and K and are a good source of folic acid and fiber. A diet that includes plant foods like green beans can help reduce obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Fresh green beans or fresh-frozen green beans are the most nutritious. If you use canned beans, make sure to rinse them thoroughly because the packing liquid can contain sodium. The canned beans aren't as high in vitamins as the fresh variety, but they still taste good in this recipe.
Honey ain't exactly bad for you either, although it is high in sugar. Honey contains some antioxidants that provide lots of health benefits.
The char makes a difference in the taste of this dish. Full disclosure, I learned about that by nearly burning them once, but I found out that it opened up a great flavor dimension. Just don’t go crazy! I’ve found that a wok works great for this, but any heavy-bottom saute pan will do nicely.
The chile peppers are optional, but they add such a great flavor dimension. Control the heat by choosing the type and quantity of the pepper. Real hot ones are Thai chiles and cayenne peppers. In the medium range are guajillo and Fresnos. Keep it mild with pasillas, anchos and Anaheim chiles.
Serve Sweet 'n Savory Green Beans alongside any meat (beef, pork, or chicken) entree as well as many seafood dishes. It is my go-to side dish with Crawfish Etouffee. You can also serve Sweet 'n Savory Green Beans over rice as a meatless main dish.
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Yeah You Right!
Sweet n' Savory Green Beans
Here's What You Need
- 1 pound whole green beans stems clipped
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic-chopped
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 3 dried red chili peppers optional
- To taste kosher salt and ground black pepper
Here's What You Do
- Clean the beans and steam for 5 minutes (until just getting supple). Set aside.
- In a wok or other large saute pan, heat the butter and olive oil over high heat, until butter is starting to foam.
- Add the garlic and chili peppers (if using). Saute about 30 second getting the butter full of garlic flavor but, not letting the garlic burn.
- Keeping a high heat, add the green beans and saute by keeping the beans moving in the pan until they are starting to wilt and char a little on the edges, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the honey over the beans and continue to shake the pan until all the beans are coated.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Discard the chili pepper and serve immediately.
I originally published this recipe in August 2017. This revision includes updated instructions and process photos for greater clairity and improved Hints and Tips.