French Green Beans with Shallots

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These simple French green beans make an easy and elegant side dish.

These easy and elegant French green beans go with just about everything. And the nice thing about the recipe is that it requires only pan. You gently cook the shallots with oil or butter in a large skillet, then simmer the beans in a bit of water in the same pan.

Note that the recipe calls for French green beans, which are thinner, sweeter and more tender than most American varieties. They are usually labeled haricot verts — haricot meaning beans and vert meaning green — and you can usually find them bagged and pre-trimmed at the supermarket.

How to make French Green Beans with Shallots

adding shallots to oil in skillet

Begin by thinly slicing the shallots into rings and cooking them slowly in olive oil until soft, sweet and mellow.

cooked shallots

Next, add the beans, salt, pepper and water.

adding the beans, salt, pepper, and water

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, for about 8 minutes.

simmered beans

Remove the cover and continue cooking until the pan is completely dry, the shallots are jammy, and the beans are tender, about 6 minutes.

cooked beans

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar.

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French String Beans with Shallots

These simple French green beans make an easy and elegant side dish.

Servings: 4
Total Time: 20 Minutes


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 pound (12 ounces) French string beans (haricots verts), trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch sugar


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not brown.
  2. Add the beans, salt, pepper and water; bring to a boil. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 8 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is evaporated, the beans are tender, and the shallots are jammy, about 6 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Serve warm.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • While I did try the beans first (and they were great!) I whisked in some unsalted butter at the end, because, butter. Rave reviews. Served topped with pan-fried salmon filet and jasmine rice on the side. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Happy I bought two packages of green beans as there were no leftovers 🙂

    • — Cheryl H on February 15, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is a very delicious recipe. I added a bit more salt, but I use Diamond Crystal, so that’s probably why. Plus, I am a salt addict.

    Thanks for sharing! Probably would be delicious too with a little dash of some acid 🙂

    Erika from Maryland 🙂

    • — Erika on January 29, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made these for a big dinner party at my house and I doubled the recipe. The Q&A was really helpful as I cooked the beans first in salted water and quick chilled then in ice water, sauteed the shallots in butter and oil (yes, both), and then added the beans for a short while 3-4 min so that they were partially warmed in the shallots but I didn’t want them to resume cooking. I transferred them all to a covered casserole dish and rewarmed them in a 200 degree oven prior to serving. They were delicious and I got to enjoy conversations with my guests.

    • — Ronda Dever on December 15, 2019
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  • I doubled the recipe and it seemed like too much water as the beans were done before all the water was evaporated. Should I have kept the water the same?

    • — Ann J Conroy on November 29, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, This is one of those recipes that doesn’t well because of the cooking technique. To make a larger quantity, I would blanch all the beans in boiling salted water and then shock in ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cool, drain the beans. Heat the oil/butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat and cook the shallots until soft. Then add the drained beans and seasoning to the pan and cook a few minutes more. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 30, 2019
      • Reply
  • Jenn, this looks amazing! And green beans are my favorite 😉 I’m just wondering if I could make them a day in advance and then reheat in a crockpot versus the microwave? It would serve the dual purpose of being able to make ahead (important during the holidays) and keeping the beans warm throughout the meal. What do you think?
    Love all your recipes!!

    • — GirlAlex on November 24, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Alex, Glad you like the recipes! I’ve never reheated these in a crockpot but suspect it should work. Happy Thanksgiving!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2019
      • Reply
  • made last night. Great and simple recipe. Like a little sweetness at the end. turned out great in non stick pan . Thanks for your lessons. Always wanted to make vegetables in a quick and tasty way. do you think zucchini will turn out the same way? love peas and asparagus recipe from your book.

    • — Edith on November 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked these. Yes, I do think this could work for zucchini too. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 8, 2019
      • Reply
  • These tasted great! I love shallots. My shallots didn’t caramelize as nice as yours in the picture, but they still tasted good. I used a stainless steel pan. Should I cook them longer in the beginning?

    I’d like to make this for Thanksgiving. I was thinking on Wednesday I would quickly blanch the green beans and then shock them in ice water to keep them bright green. If I do that, how can I adapt the recipe?

    Thank you so much!

    • — Ell on November 6, 2019
    • Reply
    • Yes, Ell, I’d cook the shallots a bit longer if you’d like them a little more caramelized. And if you want to retain that green color, blanching sounds like a good way to go. If you do that, when you’re ready serve them, I’d fully cook the shallots and then add the green beans, salt, pepper, and sugar at the very end to warm them through. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 8, 2019
      • Reply
  • I prepared these in a nonstick pan. No issue with the browning and no major issue water evaporation. I cannot say if it took longer than it should have as I was quite busy with the chicken and mashed potatoes. I also turned up the heat to get the water finish evaporating at the end.

    • — Chantel on October 14, 2019
    • Reply
  • What brand/type of saute pan did you use? I cooked this in a non-stick saute pan and the shallots did not brown and the water did not evaporate.

    • — Lisa W. on August 6, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, I think the issue may be the nonstick pan. I use stainless steel, which is not nonstick. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 6, 2019
      • Reply
    • I used a 10” skillet from a Rachael Ray™ Hard Anodized Nonstick 14-Piece Cookware Set.

      • — Chantel on October 16, 2019
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  • So I did the “unthinkable” – I used frozen haricots verts in place of fresh beans. THEY WERE DELICIOUS! I simply put the frozen green beans in with the shallots at the point in the recipe where you add the fresh beans, then cooked them on low until they were thawed. I then added the water and cooked on low until the water evaporated. It definitely took longer than the description in the recipe, but the beans turned out perfect – not soggy, and not squeaky. Even my daughter, who hates green beans, liked this recipe.

    • — Andy on March 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • I have made these several times and every time I need to cook MUCH longer than the recipe suggests. Any idea why? I’ve read the other reviews and no one else seems to have this problem. I always use haricots verts, also. Never thick green beans.

    • — D. Foster on March 6, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hmmm… that’s a bit of a head scratcher…are you cooking them over medium-low heat and using a large saute pan? If your pan is not large enough and the beans are crowded, it could take longer. Also, perhaps you cooktop runs a little cooler than most. While they take longer to cook, do they turn out okay?

      • — Jenn on March 6, 2019
      • Reply
  • This is my “go-to” favorite recipe for cooking French Green Beans! Cook plenty because they keep well to serve later.

    • — Margie on February 23, 2019
    • Reply
  • Thought I had pressed 5 stars!! YES, I loved it!! Never thought I could get addicted to green beans!! LOL!!

    • — Wendy Schoenburg on December 24, 2018
    • Reply
  • So very easy and delicious……I just made a pound to try the recipe and ate the whole thing!! Luckily I have enough French green beans left for Christmas dinner….hands down this is now my favorite green bean recipe….My family and guests also love the curried carrots…can never make too many of those!! Thanks again, Jen!!

    • — Wendy Schoenburg on December 23, 2018
    • Reply
  • Is it possible to use frozen French beans for this recipe? If so, would I need to precook or at least defrost the beans? Thanks so much!

    • — Jamie on December 11, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Jamie, Unfortunately, I don’t think this will work very well with frozen green beans – sorry!

      • — Jenn on December 11, 2018
      • Reply
  • These green beans are wonderful!

    • — Sheila on September 1, 2018
    • Reply
  • Stunningly simple and delicious.

    • — Leanne on August 7, 2018
    • Reply
  • Can this be made ahead in the day and reheated?

    • — Kathy Franzel on July 7, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Kathy. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 7, 2018
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn, if I make a day ahead, what instructions would you give for reheating in the microwave? Covered or not? How long? Other tips? Thanks!

        • — Gwen on August 30, 2018
        • Reply
        • Hi Gwen, I’d partially cover the green beans and check them after 60 – 90 seconds. If they still need time, I’d continue in 30-second increments. Hope that helps!

          • — Jenn on August 31, 2018
          • Reply
  • I made these tonight and I love them! This is my new favorite way to cook green beans. Thank you!

    • — Jan Cooper on May 28, 2018
    • Reply
  • I made this using pearl onion rather than shallots. Delicious and makes a beautiful presentation.
    Wish there was a way to post photos.

    • — Louise Kilbreth on April 3, 2018
    • Reply
  • I am not a fan of green beans and only cooked them because I had leftover beans from the chickpea soup (also yours, Jenn). And they turned out great! 2 shallots is exactly perfect. I put three the first time and the beans were a bit too sweet

  • This dish is soooo delicious, good grief. I have made this so many times- it is one of my twins’ favorites… in fact, they have cheekily labeled this dish, “The Good Beans.”
    That speaks volumes. Scrumptious.

  • This is my “go-to” recipe for french green beans. I’ve made it multiple times. It’s easy and tastes great!

  • We love this recipe for French Green beans!

  • I tried this for our family’s birthday month, January. Most of my family won’t eat green beans, so I was stunned that there we no left overs. Definitely a go to recipe. I did add the juice of 1/2 lemon to the recipe.

  • Jen, I made these lovely green beans for lunch today with steamed Pecorino Romano rice and BBQ chicken thighs.
    The cooking technique was wonderful… I deglazed the pan with 1/4 C of Marsala wine, let is simmer off and added 1/2 C of water…cooked until tender.
    Absolutely delicious and tender.
    Thank you! Love your site!

  • This was served for Christmas dinner yesterday and was a big hit. I can’t seem to get beans to stay warm for more than 12 seconds after they come out of the pan but they were tender and tasty! Great recipe!

  • I had to cook this for about twice as long as the recipe suggested, but the end result is fantastic and looks beautiful plated.

  • Can I possibly cook the shallots in advance and then mix and reheat both the pre-cooked beans and the shallots for serving?

    • Sure, Karen, that should work. Enjoy!

  • This recipe is so quick, easy, and delicious! I followed the instructions as written and they turned out perfect. My family has given me permission to make them again:)

  • I love this recipe – so easy to throw together and so flavorful! Trader Joe’s now carries a 2lb bag of haricot verts which is convenient for making huge batches.

  • Quick, easy, and tasty solution to change string beans from plain to interesting.

  • Will this work if I blanch them for 5 minutes and put in ice water bath the day before then cook as instructed the next day?

    • Yes that should work, Phyllis. Enjoy!

  • Quick and tasty veggie standard. Great base if you want to start experimenting with adding any of your our flavors. I’ve taken the shallot cooking method shown here and applied it to other dishes.

  • These recipes are so dependable, and they’ve never failed me. These green beans are no exception. I’ve never been able to cook green beans properly until now (important to cook them through). Thanks for making me a better cook, Jenn!

  • I usually roast green beans but it’s 90 degrees here and I don’t want to turn on my oven. This was delicious! Thanks for another great recipe!

  • Made these today. Husband loved them. I loved them. Will for sure make them again! They turned out delicious.

  • Are shallots the same as onions? I don’t have any shallots at this time, can I use a red onion or sweet onion?

    • Hi Barbara, Yes, you could get away with using a red or sweet onion here.

  • Very easy and delicious!!

  • If I make ahead of time as suggested should I undercook them so they don’t overcook when reheating?

    • Jennifer, I wouldn’t undercook them too much, but you could cook them until slightly less tender than you’d typically serve them and then reheat them in the microwave when you’re ready to serve. They’ll cook a tiny bit more in there.

  • I am excited to try these. I need to triple the recipe. Do I triple the water too, or should I do three separate batches?

    • Hi Pam, You should be able to make it all at once, but you may need to add more or less water; just keep adding it gradually until the beans are cooked through.

  • I am always looking for easy and minimal ingredients. This is just that! These green beans are so amazing even the kids ate them including the baby!

  • Love, love. love this recipe. I make more than I need and snack on them the next day. I don’t know what it is, but they are really full of flavor and yet so simple.

  • I love this recipe and made it many times over the summer with fresh green (and sometimes yellow) beans from the local farmer’s market. I live in upstate New York, and the fresh green beans are not so great right now. Thoughts on using frozen?

    • Hi Dawn, Unfortunately, I don’t think this method will work with frozen. Sorry!

  • Shallots. Many and more. I occasionally use white wine instead of the water and occasionally add in some slivered almonds for a crunch, but this is such a standard recipe that always wins.

  • This was delicious. I followed it completely – no changes. 🙂 I served it as a side to your Peruvian Chicken and Mexican Pilaf. These are the first three recipes I have ever followed from your website, and I am bowled over by how delicious they all were! Thank you for your terrific work. Looking forward to trying some of your amazing looking desserts. 🙂 Bisous from Belgium!

    • — Hannah, an Australian in Belgium
    • Reply
  • I made this tonight for a get together with friends. It was a big hit. Someone even said it reminded him of his mother’s cooking. I thought, wow, I’ll have to remember this recipe. I don’t have a lot of time so I like to keep it simple. This was simple and delicious. I usually use onion to season cooked vegetables. I like the way the shallots broke down and became saucey. I doubled the recipe to meet tonight’s need and used more shallots than called for because I needed to use them up. Thanks for turning me on to this recipe and shallots.

  • I had never met a green bean I loved – until I tried this recipe. Ditto my partner, and even my 3-year-old enjoyed these. What an excellent recipe. Thank you for showing me the light with green beans!!!

  • Great recipe! So simple, so good, and healthy – can’t beat that. I’ve also made a “less healthy” version with some bacon I had to use up… I chopped up 6 slices of center cut bacon and sauteed it (replacing the olive oil) then followed the rest of the recipe. Also very good!

  • I love any excuse to cook with shallots! This recipe was so easy and a nice change from the plain green beans that I usually make.

  • I plan to make your recipe for thanksgiving crowd. I’ll have to do in batches. How far ahead can I prepare? and how would I reheat? Thanks

    • HI Cary, You can make a day or two ahead and reheat in the microwave.

  • Excellent. Tested this recipe out tonight for Thanksgiving. These were delicious. I think they took a bit longer to steam/sauté than indicated but if you just use a little patience you’ll be well served. Very tasty. Thank you!!!

  • How far in advance before serving can
    this be prepared?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Ellen, I’d say a day or two.

  • Makes such an elegant and delicious side dish, have made it many times. Goes with any entree.

  • Loved this recipe. Served it with the grilled pesto shrimp. So easy to grill both dishes at the same time on the grill.
    5 stars

  • This is my favorite way to have fresh beans straight from the garden. There is no taste comparison. Thanks for the recipe.

  • I made this a couple of times already. I used to just boil the beans till soft and added salt and pepper. This tastes much better.

  • Such an easy way to spruce up green beans! Worth the expense of shallots over onions.

    I’ve also added small bits of lemon zest in the past that’s gone over well, particularly in the spring time.

  • Hi – this is a staple in France and was regularly served up by by family there. Frozen beans were steamed slightly first and finished up in the frying pan with the shallots and a clove of garlic (it was France, after all!)

  • I prepared this for a dinner party and it was the talk of the table! Even the children loved them.

  • In the winter I must use frozen green beans but I can never get them to cook up well. If I were to use frozen bean in this recipe how would you suggest cooking them so that they are tender but not limp and tasteless.

    • Hi Faye, To be honest, I haven’t had much luck with frozen green beans either. The problem is that they are typically cooked before being frozen, so they don’t work well in recipes like this one. I’m usually able to find fresh haricot verts, bagged and trimmed, year round in my regular supermarket. That said, I’ve heard from several readers that the Trader Joes frozen haricots verts are very good, but I haven’t tried them myself.

  • This is a great way to cook green beans!

  • Sounds good – I usually buy frozen Haricot Verts from Trader Joes – How would you modify this using frozen beans?

    • Hi Amanda, I am not familiar with Trader Joe’s brand. Are they fully cooked?

  • Those do not look like shalotts to me, they look like a red onion. Which are they?

    • Hi Barbara, They are shallots…sometimes they are more purple in color.

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