New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Garlicky runner beans

Updated: Mon, 19 July, 2021

Runner beans are common as muck, stringy, need to be sliced thinly on the diagonal - and utterly gorgeous with lots of garlic and butter.

buttered runner beans

I know my food, or so I like to think

Nobody likes to admit they were wrong. It’s human nature – nobody knows their stuff better than we do ours.

So naturally, I am the be all and end all of food; nothing infuriates me more than someone professing they know better about cooking, nutrition and such unless they are professionally qualified.

Well-meaning friends who inform me that sourdough is good for your gut or explain that steak should be brought to room temperature before cooking are really, trully annoying. I know all that! I knew it before they made the discovery!! I practically invented steak and sourdough!!!

Opinionated? Moi?

But if I express an opinion, it's a different story. If I say things like: ‘kale is inedible’, ‘shortcrust pastry always wins over puff’, ‘you have to separate your eggs to make a decent cake’ and ‘muffins? who cares about making muffins?’ I expect to be listened to and applauded.

I don’t like to be contradicted. I like even less to realise myself, albeit in the privacy of my own dinner plate, that I might possibly not have been entirely right.

sliced runner beans

What are runner beans good for?

And so I have been saying for what seems like centuries that runner beans are a huge misunderstanding; a stringy, fibrous and tough vegetable that is grown in England only because the English don’t know any better about haricots verts, Italian beans and so on.

I have probably had one run-in with the runners and decided for ever. Well guess what – I was completely wrong.

garlicky runner beans

Why might we dislike runner beans?

One thing in my defence is that runner beans, like a lot of vegetables in this country, are picked too late: when overgrown and over-tough. But recently I had a very cheffy dish of the runner beans raw, sliced paper thin and tossed in some supremely sophisticated dressing.

I might have ordered it by accident, thinking they were French beans, but I ended up quite impressed. I toyed with the idea of using them since then.

I’ll cut to the chase now (to the run, ha!):  they are gorgeous. I bought some with the raw cheffy thing in mind but couldn’t be bothered so I sliced them, blanched them, buttered them. Epiphany.

And the lesson from the story? It’s so good to be wrong if it means a brand new dish to be enjoyed.

runner beans

How to prepare and cook runner beans

They are still stringy, you know, so there is a little preparation involved. While topping and tailing, you need to pull off the string from both sides and both ends. So yes, turning each bean four times in your hands, but I actually find it quite satisfying, possibly therapeutic.

Give me a pound of runner beans to string and I'll contentedly shut up.

They are still tough as well, so have to be sliced and parboiled. The slicing is best done with the terrifying kitchen tool which is the mandolin (glove is a must) but it might be therapeutic again to slice them by hand, on the diagonal, using a very sharp knife.

Parboiling the beans takes about five minutes, after plunging them into boiling water and bringing to a simmer. The should retain the bite but the texture should be crunchy rather than tough. Of course, the smaller, early picked ones will taste the nicest.

Ant then it's just fun cooking: toasting the garlic slices and breadcrumbs until barely coloured, returning the beans into the butter and tossing with handfuls of Parmesan.

the best runner beans

More beans recipes

Use runner beans to prepare the two side dishes featured below: beans with tomatoes and beans with Parmesan cream.

Or use them in a salad with bulgur wheat and chorizo.

Garlicky runner beans

Servings: 4Time: 15 minutes
Rating: (8 reviews)


  • 500g (about 1 pound) runner beans
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp. dried white breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan
  • a large pinch of sea salt flakes


1. Top and tail the beans; de-string on both sides. Rinse them in cold water and cut into diamond shapes on a really long diagonal. Use a sharp knife or a mandolin on the widest setting.

2. Bring a pan of salty water to the boil; add the beans and simmer for 4-5 minutes until crunchy but not tough. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop them cooking further.

3. In the same, empty pan over medium heat melt the butter; add the garlic slices and fry gently until the butter foams and the garlic colours very slightly. Stir in the breadcrumbs.

how to cook runner beans

4. Return the beans to the pan and toss with the garlic; cook for a few minutes mainly to heat them up again. Stir in the white pepper and the Parmesan.

5. Serve immediately sprinkled with a pinch of salt flakes.

Originally published: Fri, 2 November, 2018

NEW recipe finder

Ingredients lying around and no idea what to cook with them? Then use my NEW Recipe Finder for inspiration!

Recipe Finder

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Terri - hope you enjoy them!
9 months ago
I hope to cook this runnerbean recipe tomorrow as I grew runner beans in my garden, and I have been giving them away as I did not have an recipes for them. thank you.
9 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Denise - very happy you've tried and enjoyed my recipe.
9 months ago
Denise Sweeney
Never had runner beans before.A friend gave me some off his allotment. Absolutely loved this recipe.So tasty .
9 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Trish - I'm so glad to hear it! And I didn't realise runner beans were ready yet.
10 months ago
I have a glut of runner beans at the moment. As well as freezing loads and giving some to friends and neighbours, I decided to try this recipe and it was amazing. Despite making enough for 4, I polished off the lot all to myself! I will definitely be using this recipe again and again.
10 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Louis, happy to hear!
2 years ago
Just tried this out, tastes great!
2 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Dave - I'm pleased you enjoyed them.
3 years ago
Dave Cuffe
Pretty good. Thank you.
3 years ago
Family thought it was nice. Thank you.
3 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Lynette - I'm pleased it's adaptable for vegans!
4 years ago
Lynette Basha
As a vegan, this has become a favourite. Also great with vegan cheese and butter. Thank you!
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Rob - pleased you've enjoyed them!
4 years ago
Rob Williamson
Didn't have any breadcrumbs and had to use Cheddar instead of Parmesan - but still excellent! Thanks.
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
That's great, David!
4 years ago
David Collins
Didn't have any salt free butter but even so it was really good- think it might be a regular. Thanks!
4 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi David - I think that unsalted butter is better for cooking and salt is added to taste, as much or as little as you want.
4 years ago
David Collins
what benefit do you get by having salt free butter and then add salt?
4 years ago

Cuisine Fiend's

most recent

About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


Sign up to receive the weekly recipes updates

Follow Fiend