French Green Beans and Shallots Recipe (2024)

By Jacques Pepin

Updated Oct. 12, 2023

French Green Beans and Shallots Recipe (1)

Total Time
20 minutes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
16 minutes
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These are perfect green beans: simple and elegant. They go with almost anything, and are delicious with roast chicken.

Featured in: The Chicken Dinner, Both Humble and Noble

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Yield:4 servings

  • 4cups water
  • 1pound very small, firm green beans, cleaned
  • 3tablespoons butter
  • 3tablespoons peeled and chopped shallots
  • ¼teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1teaspoon lemon juice

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

118 calories; 9 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 3 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams sugars; 2 grams protein; 164 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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French Green Beans and Shallots Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Bring the water to a boil. Add the beans and cover the pot. Continue cooking the beans, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes until tender but firm. Drain and rinse under cold water.

  2. At serving time, heat the butter in a skillet, add the shallots and saute for about 1 minute, until the shallots start to brown.

  3. Step


    Add the beans, salt and pepper, and saute briefly. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with the chicken.



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Cooking Notes


What sets the chlorophyll (the bright green) is a quick burst of +200 degree heat. The best way to return the temperature of the water to a boil after adding the cold beans is to cover the pot. Over-cooking is what will dull the color. The beans should be "tender but firm" in no more than 2 1/2 minutes of covered boiling. Then it is essential to "shock" the beans and drop their temperature rapidly below 45 degrees in an ice water bath.


Years ago I learned, from somewhere, that just putting a little salt in the boiling water before adding greens, beans, etc. keeps the bright green color. Has worked for me for forty or fifty years :-)


I have gloriously prolific bean vines this year and have been enjoying all kinds of dishes using the tender green beans. I make something very much like this, but I just steam the beans in the microwave for a few minutes--depends on how many and how large they are, but usually about 3 minutes is plenty.

I don't understand why so many are reluctant to use the microwave for steaming vegetables. Much less water and time, so more nutrients, flavor, and color retained. Try it!


I have made this many times. All of the prep can be done the morning of your dinner. Just heat the shallots and toss in the bans and saute briefly right before serving. The more you caramelize the shallots, the better the flavor will be!


I've made these dozens of times and love them hot or cold. I always add fresh or dried Tarragon to make them perfect.

Sarah Rusby

I make these all the time, though I double or triple the amount of shallots and carmelize them. If I'm having company or bringing this side dish I'll do both the beans and the shallots a day ahead and do a quick stir fry just to heat them up. As long as you do a cold water plunge and cook them al dente they're perfect the next day


I never boil green beans, they turn out rubbery. Why not saute them, I get much better results w/ that method.


Made this for Thanksgiving with the addition of sliced almonds to the shallots. It was crunchy and flavorful! I've since made it for weeknight dinners. Easy and tasty.


Cooking time depends entirely on the size and age of the beans. The cooking times given in the recipe and in comments should be viewed as rough guidelines only. Giving exact numbers for fresh produce is always folly.

Raul del Toro

I'd suggest that you don't cover the pot while the beans cook, else they will lose some of their brightness.

Robert Laflèche

Tasted divine to me. With a slight crunch. One should likely check the beans for doneness, as individual taste may vary. Will repeat for sure.
Oops! Forgot the lemon. But then again, I always seem to forget something. I just get too excited when cooking.


I do the very same thing. Never boil first... just get them into a pan with a combination of butter and olive oil, garlic and shallots. Add some sea salt. DELICIOUS.


I added the zest of one lemon along with the lemon juice at the end of cooking--this is really what makes the brightness and flavor come alive. Also blanched them in the morning and finished the cooking right before we sat down--10 minutes max to finish. Great side dish for Thanksgiving.


This was easy and delicious. Don't worry about getting the amount of butter or shallots to be exact. Just put some in the pan and it will be good. The recipe is good the way it is, but I think next time I might grate some parmesan cheese on the beans just before I serve them. Will make this again and again.

Margaux Laskey, Staff Editor

You could certainly try it, but it would have a very different flavor.


Nice technique that will use again, but with much less butter.

Scott M.

Would have been better to salt the water.


Kudos to the rater who mentioned that all of this meal can be made ahead and then reheated. I did just that: green beans under-boiled and shocked in an ice bath, onions and garlic (together, an adequate substitute for shallots) gently caramelized, and then all burners off, to attend to other things. A few hours later, it all came together!


Easy and delicious. The shallots are fantastic, super flavorful. I honestly want to make this with JUST shallots. The green bean flavor does remain with this method and is refreshing.


This was wonderful! I forgot the lemon juice and didn't even miss it. I made this with our Thanksgiving turkey and it was just the best. It will definitely become part of my rotation.


Delicious! I fried thinly sliced shallots as a topping. Would definitely make again.


Wonder how this would do with asparagus instead of green beans?

Cyndee Snider

No need for shallots. Use Bordo pan to boil/steam.


Comment from my 12 year old nephew at Christmas dinner: "What's on the beans? They're sooo good." He rated them 11 out of 10, an unprecedented vegetable endorsem*nt from this 12 yo. Success!


made this for the second year running, big hit last year although I forgot the lemon juice. Used it this year and the beans slowly turned a dull unsavoury grey-green. What did I do wrong ?!?


I didn't have lemon so I used a squeeze of lime juice and some honey, and it turned out perfectly! I'll definitely make this recipe again.


My family has been making green beans this way for 3 generations. We always chop a good amount of herb or herb blend (oregano, basil, tarragon, etc.) into the beans just at the end while giving the beans a brief sauté....or at the beginning if only dried herbs are available (Heres de Provence). Bring the beans to room temp prior to sauté when blanching beans ahead. --This. is a vegetable-gateway for children who are not normally vegetable lovers!


I agree with hl. Less water, more nutrients. Boiling is for potatoes. Beans, spinach, peas, broccoli, kale contain water soluble vitamins that can be lost in boiling; steaming or sautéing is better. Microwave is fast.I find 5 min on high plus a few minutes rest to be best, but depends on microwave power, bean thickness & how cut, and possibly how fresh. I get my beans from green market or grocer, so maybe not as fresh as direct from garden. Figure out the timing empirically.


How does this dish work with regular beans?? It’s hard to find fresh french beans.

Mike N

Can add sliced almonds with the green beans to the skillet with shallots and butter.

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French Green Beans and Shallots Recipe (2024)
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