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Wax Beans with Garlic & Basil

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wax beans with garlic and basil.

Wax Beans with Garlic & Basil

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

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

  1. 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.
  2. Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. 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.
  4. Turn off the heat, season the beans with salt and pepper and add the basil to the skillet.
  5. Toss to combine and serve.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 103Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 78mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Please leave a comment & rating below or share a photo on Instagram and tag @runningtothekitchen

Kate

Friday 5th of August 2022

Such a simple way to make wax beans extra special!

Ieva

Friday 5th of August 2022

What a great recipe for yellow beans (didn't know they go by the name of wax beans too until I read your recipe)! We have a lovely greengrocer locally who stores these beans during the season, so I simply couldn't resist! Just the right amount of garlic for me in this recipe!

Mairead

Friday 5th of August 2022

I am always searching for recipes to introduce my family to new and exciting vegetables. This recipe fits that bill for us. I will definitely look out for wax beans next time I am at the farmers' market.

MJ

Thursday 4th of August 2022

we picked up some wax beans at the farmers market and this was a delicious way to enjoy them! Thanks for the recipe!

Beth

Thursday 4th of August 2022

A fresh and easy side dish that's perfect for any bbq or dinner party!

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