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Green versus Wax Beans

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2012

Can green and wax beans be used interchangeably?

Green beans get their color from chlorophyll, and yellow wax beans are simply green beans that have been bred to have none of this pigment. So the questions are, does chlorophyll contribute to the flavor of green beans and will you miss it if it’s not there?

We tasted green and wax beans steamed until crisp-tender and braised in our Mediterranean Braised Green Beans recipe (see related content). In both applications, tasters found very little difference in the flavors of the two beans, calling both sweet and “grassy.” But wax beans did have one advantage over green: Because they have little color to lose during prolonged braising, their appearance changes less than that of green beans, which tend to turn a drab olive. So if you’re making a long-cooked bean dish and are picky about aesthetics, go for the gold.