Wax beans, also known as yellow wax beans are an edible bean similar to green beans just lacking the chlorophyll that turns them green. They’re a great simple side dish to showcase summer produce and especially delicious when tossed with sautéed garlic and fresh basil.

Wax beans on a plate with sautéed garlic and fresh basil.
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These wax beans were a fun farm stand find this summer as they’re not typically a bean you find in a regular grocery store.

Despite their underwhelming (and let’s be honest, almost borderline gross) name, wax beans are incredibly similar to green beans both in texture and taste.

The only difference between the two in fact, is that wax beans lack the chlorophyll that green beans have to turn them green resulting in their yellow appearance.

As far as cooking methods and serving ideas, yellow wax beans can be used in any way you’d prepare green beans. For summer, we love grilling green beans. You can easily swap wax beans into that recipe.

And this simple method of quick blanching the beans then sautéing with garlic and garnishing with fresh basil is a delicious combination for summer.

Yellow wax beans in a colander.

WHAT ARE WAX BEANS?

The definition of a wax bean is a kidney bean whose pods turn a creamy yellow color when mature and can be eaten like any other snap bean. (source)

Yellow wax beans provide the same nutrition as green beans simply lacking the chlorophyll that turns the latter bean green. They’re rich in vitamin A and calcium.

They’re also sometimes called yellow beans and the two names can be used interchangeably.

CAN YOU EAT WAX BEANS RAW?

They’re great raw or cooked! If you’re a fan of raw vegetable dips, they make a great addition to that kind of spread during the summer months when they’re in season. You can also make this 4 bean salad with them either raw or cooked.

They’d be great paired with this vegan spinach artichoke dip or roasted garlic white bean dip for a lower-carb/ non-cracker option.

Our preference is to quick cook the beans but still retain a good crunch for a fun texture while eating.

This recipe blanches the yellow beans for two minutes then sautés for an additional minute just to gather flavor from the garlic. The result is a crunchy bean with lots of flavor but none of that “raw” taste.

Blanched wax beans in a metal bowl with ice water.

HOW TO MAKE THIS WAX BEAN RECIPE

Start by trimming the bean ends.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Once boiling, add the wax beans and cook for two minutes. Remove the beans with a handheld strainer and transfer to a large bowl with ice water.

This process is called blanching and helps to immediately stop the cooking process so the beans don’t continue to cook once out of the boiling water.

Place the olive oil (butter, ghee or even leftover bacon grease are also great cooking fats for the beans) in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for a minute until fragrant then add the blanched yellow beans to the skillet.

Toss to coat in the garlic mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with thinly sliced fresh basil and serve.

Cooked wax beans on a plate with sautéed garlic and fresh chopped basil with a fork on the side.

HOW TO STORE AND PREP WAX BEANS

Once purchased, the beans can be stored in the refrigerator (a vegetable crisper drawer is best) for 3-4 days before use.

When ready to cook the beans, wash them under cold water and trim the ends.

MAKING WAX BEANS IN THE MICROWAVE

If you’re looking for an even simpler preparation for these lovely summer beans, you can cook wax beans in the microwave.

Place the beans in a large microwave safe bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons of water. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap then microwave the beans on high for about 2 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap, stir the beans around in the bowl to ensure even cooking then re-affix the plastic wrap and microwave for another 1-2 minutes until the beans are tender.

You can serve the beans after they’ve been microwaved in any way you like. A squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper is easy and delicious.

Or, continue with this recipe and sauté the garlic with the olive oil then pour it on top of the beans and garnish with the fresh basil or other summer herb of your choice.

Wax bean recipe with garlic and basil on a ceramic plate with a serving fork.

WHERE AND WHEN TO BUY WAX BEANS

You can likely find yellow beans canned all year round at the grocery store but if you’re looking for fresh ones, you’ll likely have the most luck at farmer’s markets and farm stands from mid-summer to early fall.

They’re usually in season around the same time as peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and okra.

HOW TO BUY YELLOW WAX BEANS

When choosing the beans, make sure to pick crisp beans that don’t look wrinkled.

The pods should be firm and snap easily. If they’re limp looking, they’re likely old or have been picked past their prime.

Cooked yellow beans with garlic and basil on a plate with a gold fork and striped napkin.

MORE RECIPES WITH BEANS TO TRY:

Mung Bean Soup with Vegetables – this a great soup to add summer wax beans to!
Air Fryer Green Bean Fries – turn yellow beans into fries instead!
Lentil Vegetable Soup – another soup recipe that uses green beans where you can substitute wax beans.

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4.77 from 69 votes

Wax Beans with Garlic & Basil

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Wax beans with garlic and basil.
Simply prepared wax beans with sautéed garlic and fresh basil is a quick and delicious summer side dish to go with almost any meal.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound yellow wax beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the wax beans and cook for 2 minutes. Remove with a strainer and transfer to an ice bath.
  • Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Drain the blanched wax beans from the ice bath and transfer to the skillet with the garlic. Toss to coat the beans in the oil and garlic.
  • Turn off the heat, season the beans with salt and pepper and add the basil to the skillet.
  • Toss to combine and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 103kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 78mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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18 Comments

  1. Delicious! I never would have thought about combining wax beans and basil — but during the summer we have plenty of each. I used a combo of butter and olive oil, and turned the heat up to medium high when I added the beans. Cooked them about 2 min and they got a slight char from the higher heat. Really good.

  2. Easy and delicious! I steamed the beans first and then just warmed them in the garlic and basil mixture.

    Putting this in my recipe file. :)

  3. I just made these for my boyfriend he loves yellow beans but I don’t eat them and I was unsure how to cook them. Is the only cook time the 2 minutes of blanching? He seemed to think they needed to be cooked longer. He did like the flavor. Thank you.

    1. Hi Rhonda- It really depends on how tough the beans are. You can certainly blanch them a minute or two longer if they’re larger and tougher. Smaller, tender beans won’t need much past 2 minutes with a quick toss in the skillet after. That said, the recipe is definitely intended to keep some crunch to them so if he prefers them softer, definitely cook until your preference.

  4. 5 stars
    It was my first time making this wax beans with garlic and basil and guess what? It was a hit! My mother loves it and wanted to add it to our meal rotation. Must-try!

  5. I love wax beans so the second I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. It’s such a simple method, but the beans came out perfectly and the basil is the perfect complement. So light and fresh and perfect for summer!