Green bean salad is a tasty, refreshing side dish with tender-crisp green beans, sweet cherry tomatoes, and a tangy lip-smacking mustard dressing.
It’s excellent for picnics, barbecues, and cozy holiday meals with friends and family. Its fresh and bold flavors will make everyone ask for seconds.
Table of Contents
Do you know the biggest problem with green bean salads? They are bland because the dressing doesn’t hold onto the green beans.
This recipe solves this problem with a thick and creamy mustard dressing that coats the green beans to perfection.
You’ll love this green bean salad recipe because it has a bold and tangy flavor, and it’s refreshing, with a juicy and tender-crisp texture.
It’s also straightforward, and you can make it with simple ingredients.
First, boil the fresh green beans in salted water for 6 minutes.
Second, cool them down fast in ice-cold water.
Third, toss them with the creamy dressing, crumbled feta (optional), halved cherry tomatoes, and basil leaves.
In about 20 minutes, you’ll have a delicious side dish everyone will love.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Find the complete recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
Fresh green beans (also known as snap beans, string beans, French beans, or haricot verts) are the main ingredient in this recipe.
Ensure you get the freshest you can find so they’ll stay nice and crisp once cooked. The freshest green beans snap easily as you bend them.
You can get already trimmed beans to save time when making this recipe. They are available in most supermarkets but often cost a little more.
We usually trim the beans ourselves; it only takes 5 minutes if you follow our method on a cutting board with a knife. We’ll explain it later.
If you want to make this recipe in winter, you can use frozen green beans or canned green beans, although they won’t be as crisp.
We add cherry tomatoes for color, juiciness, and sweetness.
Substitute plum tomatoes, vine tomatoes, other small tomatoes, or diced red bell peppers for cherry tomatoes.
Feta cheese or non-dairy feta adds flavor and creaminess to the dish.
You could substitute mozzarella pearls or parmesan cheese, but feta is more suitable for this recipe because it adds creaminess and sticks to the green beans.
Alternatively, you can substitute Kalamata olives, chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or marinated artichoke hearts for the feta.
Fresh basil is the cherry on top. It tastes delicious with the beans and the dressing.
Substitute other fresh herbs like mint, parsley, or dill for fresh basil.
Thicker, creamier, bolder, tangier, and tastier than your usual mustard dressing, it holds onto the beans. To make it, you’ll need:
- Mustard: you can use yellow mustard or Dijon mustard.
- Vinegar: you can use red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
We don’t recommend balsamic vinegar for the dressing; it’s not acidic enough. However, we have a green bean salad recipe with balsamic vinegar in the variation chapter below.
- Olive oil: extra virgin olive oil is best, but regular olive oil works too.
- Shallots: chopped shallots add extra tanginess to the dressing and are delicious with green beans. Substitute red onion or green onions for the shallots.
- Red pepper flakes are optional, but add them if you like some heat.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper: to add taste.
By the way, this dressing is also delicious with asparagus.
For special occasions, we like to sprinkle the green bean salad with toasted nuts, such as toasted slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, or hazelnuts.
They add a nice crunch and nutty flavor that is excellent with the beans’ natural sweetness.
How to make green bean salad
Cook the green beans
Take a handful of green beans, align them on a cutting board, and chop their tip off with a chef’s knife. Then turn them around, realign them, and cut the end off.
Another method is to hold a bunch of green beans in one hand and cut off the tip with scissors.
Rinse them with water, then boil them for 4 to 6 minutes in a large pot of salted water.
Drain them and plunge them into a large bowl with iced water.
Alternatively, you can cool them under cold running water.
Note: blanching will keep the green beans tender-crisp and bright green. If you like softer green beans, boil them for longer. However, they’ll lose their bright green color and become dull dark green.
Make the mustard dressing
To a large mixing bowl, add mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, black pepper, finely chopped shallots, and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine.
Note: the dressing should look thicker than a standard mustard vinaigrette.
Drain the green beans, shake the water off, and add them to the bowl with the dressing.
Add halved cherry tomatoes and chopped basil and toss well until the beans are fully coated in the dressing.
Optionally, you can crumble in half of the feta cheese and give it another quick toss.
Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining feta.
This green bean salad is a great side dish for multiple occasions.
For example, you can serve it as a side dish for a summer dinner with:
- Rosemary focaccia, Pita bread, Crostini, or Bruschetta
- Hummus or Eggplant dip
- Zucchini fritters or zucchini boats
- Stuffed eggplant or eggplant parmigiana
They are also great as a side dish for Thanksgiving or other celebrations. Try them with:
Vegan green bean salad
To make a vegan green bean salad, keep out the feta and add toasted pine nuts or almonds instead, about 2 to 3 tablespoons.
The toasted pine nuts add flavor and crunch to the salad, making it super yummy.
Italian green bean salad
Italian green beans salad is a simple, light side dish with boiled green beans seasoned in crushed garlic, mint, and balsamic vinegar.
To make it, boil trimmed fresh green beans in salted water for 13 minutes or until soft.
Drain them and transfer them onto a mixing bowl.
Add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a crushed garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a few twists of freshly ground black pepper, and a handful of fresh chopped mint (or mentuccia) leaves.
Toss them around and let them sit at room temperature for 15 – 30 minutes before serving. Optionally you can add a squeeze of lemon juice on top and some grated lemon zest if you like.
The warm green beans absorb the flavor of the garlic and mint, and you’ll have a delicious Italian green bean salad.
Note: the Italians like their green beans soft, not tender-crisp. If you don’t like soft green beans, follow the blanching method described in our recipe to get a crisp-tender texture.
Boiled or blanched green beans tend to have little flavor.
The best way to add flavor is to toss them in a thick mustard dressing that sticks to their surface, making them super delicious.
Adding crumbled feta cheese helps, too, as well as Kalamata olives, sun-dried cherry tomatoes, and marinated artichoke hearts.
Check out our recipe below for ingredients.
Yes, you can serve green beans cold in a salad.
No, it’s best to blanch green beans in a large pot of salted water before adding them to salads.
Blanched green beans should be cooled quickly to stay crisp and keep their bright green color.
The best way to cool them is with an ice bath. However, you can rinse them under cold water for a few seconds and achieve similar results.
Make ahead: you can make this recipe up to 4 hours ahead, after which the green beans soften due to the dressing.
Refrigerator: store green bean salad leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. The next day their texture will change slightly, and they’ll be less crisp.
Freezer: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.
More salad recipes
If you love colorful and delicious salads, get inspiration from these easy and healthy dishes:
- Avocado salad (cherry tomato, red onion, lemon, parsley, avocado, etc.)
- Cucumber tomato salad (tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, parsley, olive oil, etc.)
- Chickpea salad (garbanzo beans, olives, cucumber, corn, parsley, mustard, lemon, etc.)
- Orzo salad (orzo pasta, cucumber, olive, cherry tomato, chickpeas, etc.)
- Greek salad (feta or dairy-free feta, tomato, olives, bell pepper, oregano, etc.)
For many more side dish ideas, check out our sides category page.
Green Bean Salad
- 1½ pounds green beans
- 15 cherry tomatoes halved
- 10 leaves fresh basil
- 3 ounces feta cheese or more to taste
For the mustard dressing
- 3 tablespoons yellow mustard or 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 large shallot finely chopped
- Trim the tips of 1½ pounds green beans with a knife or scissors.
- Rinse them, then boil them for 4 to 6 minutes in a large pot of salted water.Drain them and plunge them into a bowl with iced water or cool them under cold running water.
- To a large mixing bowl, add 3 tablespoons yellow mustard, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 large shallot (finely chopped). Whisk to combine. The dressing should be thick.
- Drain the green beans, shake the water off, and add them to the bowl with the dressing.Add 15 cherry tomatoes (halved) 10 leaves fresh basil (chopped) and toss well until the beans are fully coated in the dressing.
- Optionally, you can crumble in half of the 3 ounces feta cheese and give it another quick toss.Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining feta.
If you liked this green beans salad, you might also enjoy: