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Air Fryer Green Beans | Healthy Nibbles by Lisa Lin

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One of my favorite vegetable side dishes is Chinese garlic green beans, which I learned to cook from Mama Lin. The beauty of that dish is the irresistibly soft texture and vibrant green color of the beans. The green beans are flash fried in oil for a few minutes, which tenderizes the center and lightly wrinkles the skin.

Ever since I published the garlic green beans recipe in 2019, I have received many questions about how to prepare the dish with less oil. In fact, one of the most common questions in recent years is whether the green beans can be air fried. After many rounds of testing, I finally developed an air fryer green beans recipe that actually replicates the texture of my Chinese garlic green beans!

GETTING THE TEXTURE RIGHT

Chinese Green Beans

I wanted to achieve two things with this recipe: (1) mimic the soft texture of flash-fried green beans; (2) make sure the color of the beans still look green and not overly browned after air frying. In other words, I wanted them to look as close as possible to the green beans in the photo above.

During my recipe testing, I tried various cooking methods with the air fryer. First, I tried cooking them at a higher heat of 400ºF. Although this cooking method wrinkled the skin of the beans, they were too browned and I wanted green beans with a more vibrant color. Moreover, the edges of the green beans were a little crisp and tough. 

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Recipe Testing Green BeansGreen beans cooked at 350ºF

Next, I tried cooking the green beans at 320ºF and 350ºF for longer periods. Although the green beans looked greener, the beans weren’t as soft and tender as I wanted. Also, the outer skin didn’t quite wrinkle the way I wanted to.

After testing several more times, it suddenly dawned on me: why not try blanching the green beans before air frying? This turned out to be the key! Blanching the green beans first softens the beans on the inside, so you don’t need to cook them as long in the air fryer. The air frying finishes the cooking and lightly wrinkles the skin, yielding perfectly tender green beans.

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One thing to note: these green beans are slightly less vibrant compared to the beans in my original recipe, but they still look very good!

HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER GREEN BEANS

PREPARE GREEN BEANS

Snap off the tiny stem of the green beans (if it’s still there). Then, snap the green beans in half. Rinse the beans thoroughly.

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SAUTÉ GARLIC

Mince several cloves of garlic, until you get about 2 1/2 tablespoons of minced garlic. Sauté the garlic with a tablespoon of oil for 1 to 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.

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Blanching Green Beans

BLANCH GREEN BEANS

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the green beans to the boiling water and blanch them for 90 seconds. Using a spider spatula or skimmer, remove the green beans and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Blanching the green beans is critical to getting the inner flesh and seeds of the green beans soft. The air frying step that follows will finish cooking the green beans and lightly blister the skin so they look like Chinese restaurant style green beans.

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Transfer the blanched green beans to a bowl and toss them with 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt or sea salt. 

Green Beans in air fryer basket

AIR FRY GREEN BEANS

Preheat the air fryer to 350ºF (175ºC). I use this air fryer from Cosori (affiliate link). Transfer half of the green beans to the basket of your air fryer and spread them out to a single layer. Cook the beans for 5 minutes. I like to pause the air fryer after 3 minutes and give the beans a shake to ensure that they cook evenly.

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Air-fried green beansThe green beans should look wrinkled like this after they’ve been air fried.

After 5 minutes of cooking, check to see if the skins of the green beans are slightly wrinkled. If the skins don’t look wrinkled at all, cook the beans for another minute.

Transfer the first batch of green beans to a bowl or large plate. Finish air frying the second batch of green beans. Combine the two batches of green beans together. Scatter the sautéed garlic over the beans and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds, chili flakes, and a small pinch of salt (if desired) for garnish. Finally, give everything a quick toss.

CAN I SKIP THE BLANCHING STEP?

If you want them to look and taste like my Chinese garlic green beans, no, you can’t skip the blanching step. However, if you are short on time, you can skip the blanching. Air fry the green beans in 2 batches at 350ºF for 7 to 8 minutes.

Air Fryer Green Beans

WHAT TO SERVE WITH AIR FRYER GREEN BEANS

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Vegetable Protein

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Air Fryer Green Beans

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Servings: 3

Author: Lisa Lin

Air Fryer Green Beans

Air Fryer Green Beans that look and taste just like my Chinese garlic green beans! They are soft and tender with a lightly blistered skin and don’t require much oil to prepare. Serve with a side of jasmine rice, brown rice, mapo tofu, or teriyaki tofu for a complete meal. You can easily double the recipe to serve a larger party.

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time15 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (455g) green beans
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (19g) minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt or sea salt, plus more to taste
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Garnish

  • toasted sesame seeds
  • chili flakes

Instructions

  • Snap off the tiny stem of the green beans (if it’s still there). Then, snap the green beans in half. Rinse the beans thoroughly and drain them.

  • In a pan over medium heat, sauté the minced garlic with 1 tablespoon of oil for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir frequently to keep the garlic from burning. Then, transfer the garlic to a bowl.

  • Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the green beans to the boiling water and blanch the beans for 90 seconds. Using a spider spatula or skimmer, remove the green beans from the water. You can also drain the green beans through a colander. (See note for the reasoning behind blanching the green beans.)

  • Transfer the blanched green beans to a bowl and toss them with 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

  • Preheat the air fryer to 350ºF (175ºC). Transfer half of the green beans to the basket of your air fryer and spread them out to a single layer. If you can’t spread out the green beans into a single layer, cook them in smaller batches. (See note 2)

  • Cook the beans for 5 minutes. I like to pause the air fryer after 3 minutes and give the beans a shake to ensure that they cook evenly.

  • After 5 minutes of cooking, check to see if the skins of the green beans are slightly wrinkled. If the skins don’t look wrinkled at all, cook the beans for another minute. Transfer the first batch of green beans to a serving bowl or large plate.

  • Finish air frying the second batch of green beans. Transfer them to the serving bowl or plate. Scatter the sautéed garlic over the beans and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds, chili flakes, and a small pinch of salt (if desired). Lightly toss everything together. Serve with rice or noodles and your favorite protein! See headnote or blog post for suggested pairings.

Notes

  1. Blanching the green beans is critical to getting the inner flesh and seeds of the green beans soft. The air frying step that follows will finish cooking the green beans and lightly blister the skin so they look like Chinese restaurant style green beans.
  2. Cooking the green beans in a single layer ensures even cooking. That’s why you don’t want to overcrowd the green beans.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 157kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.9g | Protein: 3.2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 1.7g | Sodium: 110mg | Fiber: 4.2g | Sugar: 5g

Did you make this recipe?Tag @hellolisalin or leave a star rating and comment on the blog!

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