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How do you get salt out of green beans?

Green beans are a tasty and nutritious vegetable that can be prepared in many ways. However, sometimes green beans can become too salty, either from being canned or cooked in broth or seasoning. Luckily, there are a few methods you can use to remove excess salt from green beans.

Soaking in Water

One of the simplest ways to remove salt from canned or cooked green beans is to soak them in plain water. The water helps draw out and dilute the extra salt from the beans.

To soak green beans:

  1. Drain the green beans and place them in a bowl.
  2. Cover the beans with cool, fresh water. Use at least twice as much water as beans.
  3. Allow the beans to soak for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Longer soaking times result in more salt removal.
  4. Drain the water and taste a bean. If still too salty, repeat soaking with fresh water.

The soaking water may become cloudy as the salt is drawn out. Drain and discard the water whenever you change the soaking water to keep removing more salt.

Boiling in Water

Boiling green beans in fresh water can also help eliminate excess saltiness. The boiling further removes salty fluids from the beans.

To boil green beans:

  1. Place green beans in a pot and cover with at least 2 inches of cool, fresh water.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 2-5 minutes.
  3. Drain beans and taste. If still too salty, repeat boiling with fresh water.

Make sure not to overcook the beans during boiling or they may become mushy. Boil just until tender-crisp.

Rinsing Under Running Water

Rinsing green beans thoroughly under running tap water can wash away some excess surface salt.

To rinse beans:

  1. Place drained green beans in a colander or mesh strainer.
  2. Run cool water over the beans for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  3. Taste a bean. If still too salty, repeat rinsing as needed.

Rinsing works best for canned beans or after boiling. The running water carries away dissociated salt on the surface of the beans.

Adding Acidic Ingredients

You can mask and balance some of the saltiness in green beans by adding acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar. The acidity counters the salt, improving the overall flavor.

Options for acidic ingredients include:

  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • White wine vinegar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar

Start by adding 1 teaspoon of acidic ingredient per 1 pound of drained green beans. Toss or stir to coat the beans. Taste and add more as needed, a little at a time. Let sit 5-10 minutes for flavors to blend before serving.

Adding Sweet Ingredients

Sweet ingredients, such as sugar or honey, can also help neutralize and balance excess salt in beans. The sweetness rounds out the salty taste.

Options for sweet ingredients include:

  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Agave nectar

Start with a small amount of sweetener, such as 1/2 teaspoon per pound of beans. Mix in the sweetener, then taste and gradually add more if needed. Too much added sweetness can make the beans taste candy-like.

Adding Starchy Liquid

Adding starchy liquids to green beans can help dilute saltiness for a milder flavor. Good options include potato water, pasta water or rice water.

To use starchy liquid:

  1. Cook potatoes, pasta or rice as normal, saving the cooking water.
  2. Drain the green beans if canned or cooked in broth.
  3. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of starchy liquid over the beans.
  4. Toss gently to coat. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

The starch and liquid in these cooking waters grab onto some of the salt, diluting the flavor of the beans.

Changing Cooking Method

How you cook green beans can also impact their saltiness. Try preparing them in a different way next time for less salty results.

  • Roasting – Toss raw beans in olive oil and roast uncovered at 425°F until browned and tender.
  • Sauteing – Cook sliced raw beans in a pan with a small amount of oil over medium-high heat.
  • Steaming – Place in a steamer basket and steam until tender-crisp, 5-10 minutes.
  • Microwaving – Microwave raw or frozen beans with a little water in a covered dish for 4-6 minutes.

Cooking methods without salt or salty liquids allow you to control the amount of seasoning on the beans.

Adjusting Added Seasonings

When cooking green beans yourself, control the amount of salt and salty seasonings used:

  • Use fresh or low-sodium broths and stocks.
  • Skip added salt or reduce to a pinch.
  • Use salt-free seasoning mixes or blends.
  • Flavor with herbs, pepper, garlic, etc. instead of salt.
  • Use low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos instead of regular soy sauce.

Adding plenty of other flavorings means you can use less or no salt for maximum flavor with less sodium.

Buying Less Salty Options

You can avoid overly salty beans by being choosy when shopping:

  • Canned – Choose low-sodium or no salt added canned green beans.
  • Frozen – Use plain frozen green beans without sauce or seasoning.
  • Fresh – Buy fresh green beans and cook them yourself.

Check ingredient lists and nutrition labels to compare salt content. Canned and frozen vegetables often vary widely in sodium levels.


Enjoying green beans while avoiding excess salt is totally possible. Soaking, boiling, rinsing, diluting, changing cooking methods and adjusting seasonings can all help reduce salty flavors. With a little preparation and technique, you can serve up green beans full of nutrition instead of sodium.