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How Many Green Beans Should You Cook for 20 People?

Food Guide

Green beans are a classic side dish for big gatherings and parties. Their crisp, fresh flavor pairs well with everything from grilled meats to roasted veggies.

When cooking for a crowd, it’s important to prepare the right amount so there are leftovers rather than running short. For a group of 20, how many green beans should you make?

In this guide, we’ll recommend the ideal serving size and quantity of green beans for 20 guests. You’ll also find tips for purchasing, preparing, seasoning, and serving green beans to feed a party of 20.

Recommended Serving Size Per Person

So how much of this healthy veggie should each of your 20 guests get? Here are some serving size guidelines for green beans:

  • As a side dish – 1⁄2 cup per person
  • As a main dish or entree – 1 cup per person
  • At a buffet with multiple sides – 1⁄3 cup per person
  • For big eaters – 3⁄4 cup per person
  • For kids – 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup per person

A 1⁄2 cup portion provides a nice balance when paired with other sides like mashed potatoes or rolls. Adjust up or down depending on your menu.

For 20 people, plan for 10 cups total if serving green beans as a side. Bump to 15-20 cups total if they are a main dish or if you have extra hearty eaters.

Calculating Quantity Needed

Let’s look at how to calculate the amount of fresh, frozen, and canned green beans needed for your 20 guests:

Fresh Green Beans

  • 1 pound of fresh green bean pods = 3 to 4 cups cooked beans
  • For 20 people at 1⁄2 cup servings, you’ll need 10 cups
  • So purchase 2.5 to 3.5 pounds of fresh green beans
  • Allow a bit extra for any vegetable trimming or spoiled beans

Frozen Green Beans

  • 1 (16 ounce) bag of frozen cut green beans = 4 cups cooked
  • For 20 people at 1⁄2 cup servings, you’ll need 10 cups
  • So purchase 2 to 3 (16 ounce) bags of frozen green beans

Canned Green Beans

  • 1 (15 ounce) can = around 1 3⁄4 to 2 cups beans
  • For 20 people at 1⁄2 cup servings, you’ll need 10 cups
  • So purchase 6 to 8 (15 ounce) cans of green beans

No matter which type you cook, plan for 10-15 cups of prepared beans for 20 portions. Buy fresh, frozen, or canned beans based on the conversions above.

Tips for Cooking Green Beans

To cook fresh green beans:

  • Wash and trim ends
  • Leave whole or cut into pieces
  • Boil, steam, or sauté until tender-crisp
  • Time will depend on thickness – 5-10 minutes generally

To cook frozen green beans:

  • No need to thaw before cooking
  • Boil, steam, microwave, or sauté from frozen
  • Cook 5-7 minutes until hot and tender-crisp

To cook canned green beans:

  • Drain liquid from cans
  • Heat beans over medium heat while stirring
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes until warmed through

Don’t overcook green beans to a mushy consistency. Cook just until they reach the tender-crisp stage with a bright green color.

Ways to Add Flavor

Plain steamed beans may seem boring. Punch up the flavor of your 20 servings with these easy additions:

  • Olive oil or butter – Toss cooked beans in a drizzle of olive oil or knob of butter. The fat helps enhance flavor.

  • Salt and pepper – Season with a bit of salt and ground black pepper. A sprinkle of garlic or onion powder also adds flavor.

  • Bacon – Chopped cooked bacon is a classic topping for green beans. The smoky saltiness pairs perfectly.

  • Toasted nuts – Chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts add crunch and richness when sprinkled on beans.

  • Acid – A splash of lemon juice or vinegar brightens up the beans’ flavor.

  • Cheese – Toss beans with shredded parmesan for a savory, salty accent.

Serving Suggestions

A few tips for serving your green beans to a party of 20:

  • Keep hot beans warm in a slow cooker or chafing dish. Use tongs for easy serving.

  • Chill beans and toss with vinaigrette for a cool side salad.

  • Scatter smaller portions in mini cups or bowls for passed appetizers.

  • Add beans toward the end of cooking mixed dishes like soups, skillets or stir fries.

  • Serve in a casserole baked with cheese, breadcrumbs and diced ham.

However you serve them, a medley of fresh green beans is sure to please a crowd!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you prepare green beans ahead of time?

Yes! Cook green beans up to 2 days in advance. Store cooked beans in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat gently before serving.

Can you freeze extra cooked green beans?

Absolutely. Allow cooked beans to cool completely, then transfer to freezer bags or containers. They’ll keep for 6-8 months in the freezer.

What kind of green beans work best for a crowd?

Choose snap or string beans for their firm, juicy crunch. Avoid thin haricots verts or mature shelling beans which get limp when cooked.

How long does it take to cook frozen green beans?

Plan for 5-7 minutes to steam or sauté frozen beans until they are hot and tender-crisp. No need to thaw first.

What herbs pair well with green beans?

Try dill, basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, sage, or chives. Herbes de Provence also adds great flavor.

Can you eat raw green beans?

Absolutely! Raw green beans have a very crunchy texture. They work great for dipping or in fresh salads and slaws.

Are canned green beans healthy?

Yes, canned beans offer a similar nutrition profile to fresh when rinsed to remove excess sodium. Choose low sodium canned options when possible.

How long do fresh green beans last?

Store fresh unwashed beans in the fridge for 3-5 days in a perforated plastic bag. Wash right before cooking.

How can you tell if green beans are bad?

Discard beans that are very limp, dry or mushy.Trim any brown, slimy or moldy portions before cooking.

What’s the difference between snap beans and string beans?

They are the same – the term “snap” refers to the snapping sound the beans make when broken. String refers to the fibrous string that runs along the seam.

Get Creative with Green Beans

Looking for even more green bean inspiration for your party? Here are some delicious, crowd-pleasing options:

  • Sesame green beans – Toss with toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, and soy sauce

  • Green bean fritters – Mix mashed beans into veggie patties or fritters

  • Green bean stir fry – Stir fry with sliced garlic, ginger, and peppers

  • Green bean casserole – The classic, with mushroom soup and fried onions

  • Green bean salad – Toss raw beans with vinaigrette, tomatoes, and feta

  • Green bean fries – Bread raw beans in seasoned flour and fry until crispy

With the right amount of fresh green beans, you can please a party of 20 in so many delicious ways. Cook up a big batch and get creative with spices, sauces, and toppings to bring this veggie side to life.


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