Chinese green beans with chili garlic sauce

Are you looking for a tasty vegan side dish to liven up your dinner spread? Then you absolutely need to try these Chinese-inspired green beans! These green beans are first steamed to make them nice and juicy then sautéed in a sweet chili garlic sauce to crisp up the outer skin. In addition to being tasty and easy to make, this recipe for Chinese green beans with chili garlic sauce is gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, egg free, and dairy free. 

Chinese green beans

How to make crispy recipes

The best part about green beans is the nice crunch you get when you bite into a well prepared green bean. I often get asked how I prepare my green beans so that they are tender and juicy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside. Do I steam them? Do I sauté them? Bake them in the oven? The answer to this question is that I use a combination of cooking methods. 

The best way to make nice and crispy green beans is to steam them until they are most of the way done then finish them with a short sauté. The initial steaming step cooks the insides of the green beans and gets them nice and tender. The final sauté serves to crispy up the skin and develop the flavor of the sauce.  

How to steam green beans

You have a few options for steaming green beans depending on what kinds of kitchen appliances you have in your house. If you have a rice cooker with a steamer basket, I would recommend using the rice cooker to steam your green beans. If you do not have a rice cooker, you could use a regular pot with a steamer basket (which is a little metal stand that keeps the vegetables out of the water). 

If you are steaming your green beans in a pot you should first fill your pot with half an inch of water. Make sure that the top of the water is lower than the floor of the steamer basket so that food in the steamer basket does not touch the water directly. Next heat the water to a boil and add the green beans to steam. Make sure that you put a lid on the pot when the green beans steam!

No matter what appliance you use to steam your green beans, you should leave the green beans to steam for about 7 minutes. This gets the green beans to the point where they are almost done cooking and just need a little extra time to finish them off. 

Chinese green beans

Should you trim green beans before cooking

Depending on the consistency you are looking for in your green beans you may or may not want to trim the edges off before cooking them. If you are looking for fresh, crispy green beans I recommend not trimming the edges off of the green beans. If you are looking for softer, more tender green beans then you should trim both edges off of your green beans before cooking them. Trimming the edges off of the green beans allows the steam to get inside the skin of the green beans and cook the skin of the green beans from the inside out.  

Can you use canned green beans for this recipe

I would advise against using canned green beans for this recipe. Canned green beans are tender at best and soggy at worst. Canned green beans work in dishes like casseroles where you want your vegetables to be soft and tender. For this dish, you want your green beans to be fresh and crispy. For this reason, I would recommend using fresh green beans. 

How to reheat green beans

One of my favorite things about this dish is that these green beans taste even better the next day! This is because the sauce sinks into the skin of the green beans and adds even more flavor. The main decision you have to make when reheating this dish is whether you should reheat it in the microwave or in a pan on your stovetop. If you reheat your green beans in the microwave they will be a little more tender and less crispy than they would be if you reheated them on the stove. 

I generally reheat these green beans in the microwave by cooking them on full power for 60-90 seconds. I do love crispy green beans but my reasoning for reheating the green beans in the microwave is that the green beans will already be a little less crispy now that the sauce has had time to soak into the skin. I figure that I might as well just use the easier, faster cooking method. If you want to reheat the green beans on the stove you should sauté them in 1 tsp of vegetable oil for 5-7 minutes over medium heat.

Chinese green beans

Chinese green beans with chili garlic sauce

These Chinese-inspired green beans are crispy and packed with flavor!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Lactose, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: dairy free, egg free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Sweet chili garlic sauce

  • 2 1/2 tbsp gluten free tamari (or gluten free soy sauce)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce (I used Huy Fong Foods brand)
  • 2 tsp white sugar


  • Add an inch of water to a pot then put a steamer basket in the pot. Boil the water over medium heat then add the green beans to the steamer basket. Put a lid on the pot and steam the green beans for 7 minutes.
    While the green beans are steaming you can go on to the next step.
  • Chop the clove of garlic and mix sauce ingredients.
  • Saute green beans for 5 minutes in the vegetable oil and sesame oil on medium high heat.
  • Add the sweet chili garlic sauce to the pan and lower the heat to low. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Substitutions for Chinese green beans

If you do not stick to a vegan diet you can replace the 2 tsp of sugar in this recipe with 2 tsp of honey. I often use honey when I make this recipe but I used sugar this time so that the base recipe would be vegan friendly. 

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honey garlic roasted Brussels sprouts

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roasted asparagus

This roasted asparagus is another one of our favorite vegetable sides. This recipe for roasted asparagus is served with a green goddess sauce, but you could also cover this roasted asparagus in the sweet chili garlic sauce we use for our string beans!

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