Exploring the World of Green Beans: Understanding the Differences Between Favorite Types

Green beans, a versatile and beloved vegetable, come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, each with its unique characteristics and culinary applications. Understanding the differences between popular types of green beans, such as wax beans and haricots verts, can help you choose the right variety for your next culinary creation.

Green Beans: The All-Encompassing Term

The term “green beans” encompasses a wide range of long, tender beans known as Phaseolus vulgaris. These beans derive their vibrant green color from chlorophyll, a pigment essential for photosynthesis. Green beans can be eaten raw or cooked and enjoyed whole, unlike shelling beans or shelled English peas, which have a tough outer shell that is inedible.

When shopping for green beans, look for ones that are firm, free from brown spots, and snap when broken. These characteristics indicate freshness and good quality. Green beans are often labeled as string beans or snap beans, but these are simply different names for the same vegetable.

Green beans are a versatile ingredient that shines in various dishes, from simple side dishes like Lemon-Pepper Green Beans to Mediterranean Three-Bean Salad and stir-fries like Spicy Pork-and-Pineapple Stir-Fry.

Wax Beans: The Yellow Alternative

Wax beans, also known as yellow beans, are a type of green bean that lacks chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for the green color. This absence of chlorophyll gives wax beans their pale yellow hue. Despite their different appearance, wax beans taste remarkably similar to regular green beans, offering a slightly sweeter flavor profile.

Wax beans retain their vibrant yellow color even after cooking, unlike green beans, which tend to lose some of their verdant hue when blanched or boiled. This color retention makes wax beans a visually appealing addition to salads and other dishes where color plays a significant role.

Wax beans are a delicious ingredient in dishes like Tomato and Wax-Bean Salad with Olive-Oil Croutons, summertime Succotash Salad, and Dry-Fried Green Beans, where they can be enjoyed alongside their green counterparts.

Haricots Verts: The French Green Bean

Haricots verts, meaning “French green beans,” are a variety of green beans characterized by their long, thin shape and more pronounced flavor compared to regular green beans. They are typically harvested earlier in the year than other green bean varieties, contributing to their distinct taste.

Haricots verts are often labeled as “French green beans” in grocery stores. They are a popular choice for French-inspired dishes like Roasted Carrot Nicoise and crowd-pleasing Crudites with Herbed Ricotta.

Pole Versus Bush Green Beans: A Matter of Growth Habit

Green beans can grow in two distinct ways: vertically on poles or in bushes close to the ground. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice often depends on personal preference and the specific variety of green beans being grown.

For example, certain wax bean varieties thrive on poles, while others grow best in bushes. On the other hand, most haricots verts are bush beans.

Green beans offer a diverse range of options, each with its unique characteristics and culinary applications. Understanding the differences between popular types like wax beans and haricots verts allows you to make informed choices when selecting the perfect green bean for your next culinary creation. Whether you prefer the classic flavor of regular green beans, the sweetness of wax beans, or the pronounced taste of haricots verts, there’s a green bean variety to suit every palate and cooking style. So, explore the world of green beans and discover the endless possibilities they offer in your kitchen.


Start by trimming the bean ends.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

When boiling, cook the wax beans for an additional two minutes. Using a handheld strainer, remove the beans and place them in a large bowl filled with ice water.

Once the beans are taken out of the boiling water, this technique, known as blanching, helps to quickly stop the cooking process.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil (butter, ghee, or even leftover bacon grease are great cooking fats for the beans). Once fragrant, sauté the garlic for a minute and then incorporate the blanched yellow beans into the skillet.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss to coat in the garlic mixture. Garnish with thinly sliced fresh basil and serve.

do wax beans taste different than green beans


Before using, the beans can be kept for three to four days in the refrigerator (a vegetable crisper drawer works best).

Before cooking, give the beans a quick rinse in cold water and cut off the ends.

How to safely can fresh picked green beans & wax beans


Can you substitute wax beans for green beans?

Wax beans are interchangeable with green beans and are thus just as versatile. You can steam, boil, roast, sauté, grill, or sear them. Each cooking method will alter the texture and flavor of wax beans. Boiling and steaming them will result in a chewy, moist pod with a juicy interior and a mild flavor.

Are wax beans healthier than green beans?

The only difference between them is that wax beans do not contain chlorophyll, the compound that gives green beans their green color. Otherwise, wax beans and green beans provide the same nutrients (especially calcium and vitamin A) and can be cooked interchangeably.

What are wax beans good for?

Wax beans are a great low calorie food and a good source of fiber for heart and digestive health. When selecting wax beans, choose beans that have good color, are fresh and snap easily. You can also find these beans in the canned vegetable aisle near other green beans.

What are the best tasting green beans?

Maxibel ~ If you only get one bush bean variety, make it Maxibel. This is a full-size (7-inch pods) French filet bean that has straight, dark green pods. A very gourmet-type bean, Maxibel has a flavor that can’t be beat.

What is the difference between wax beans and green beans?

In terms of their flavor, purple beans tend to be a bit sweeter than regular green beans. Also known as yellow beans, wax beans look different than the usual green beans but taste remarkably similar. The only difference between wax beans and green beans is that wax beans do not contain chlorophyll, which is what gives green beans their verdant hue.

What is the difference between yellow beans and split mung beans?

The yellow beans has grains in a rounded shape and of different shades of yellow. It is a very traditional bean and appreciated by Brazilian cuisine in the south and southeast regions. Mung bean is a typical food of Hindu and Asian uisine. It is characterized by having a dark green color on the inside. In addition, it has a slightly sweet taste, a soft consistency and a freshness similar to that of lentils.

What do wax beans taste like?

Closely related to green beans, wax beans differ in their color, which can be vibrant yellow or dark purple and, as their name suggests, in that their texture is slightly waxier. Like green beans, wax beans are enjoyed whole with pod and seeds, and they taste mild and fresh with sweet, grassy overtones.

Are wax beans a good substitute for green beans?

Also like green beans, wax beans appear at markets during the early to mid-summer. Wax beans make a colorful side dish steamed or sautéed with butter or olive oil. They are ideal in vegetable salads, pairing well with potatoes, beets, corn, and peas. They can be added to, or substituted for, green beans in recipes.

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