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What Is The Difference Between Green Beans And String Beans

green purple beans, wax beans and green beans on wooden background

Photo: Helen Norman/Meredith

The term “mung bean” encompasses so much more than you’ll find in your typical produce department. While most varieties can be used interchangeably, some do different cooking methods better than others. Let’s dive into the most common types of green beans.


Bush beans versus pole beans

There are many varieties of green beans, but all can be classified in one of two ways: bush or stake. These two categories refer to the way the beans were grown. Green beans grow on a low, bushy plant, while string beans (also known as runner beans) grow as climbing vines that require a trellis or staking. Several of the common types of green beans below are available in both bush and stake form.


Common types of green beans

There are countless varieties among each of these broad categories, but for culinary purposes, these are the different types of green beans to know about. The differences between them are minimal, and all beans are more or less interchangeable in recipes, but cooking times may vary for different sizes and shapes.

Green beans (green beans or green beans)

green beans on the green surface
Jason Donnelly/Meredith

Often referred to only as green beans, this type also goes by the name green beans and green beans. Historically these beans have tough, fibrous strings that run the length of the pod, hence the name “string”. However, the strings have been selected from the most modern varieties, including those available in supermarkets. They also get the name “snap beans” because they can easily be snapped in half when fresh.

Green beans can grow as string beans or string beans, depending on the breed. Like all types of green beans, they are fine steamed, sautéed, roasted, or even pickled.

Popular green bean recipes:

  • Crispy green beans in brine
  • Fresh Green Beans Sauteed In The Garden
  • Roasted Green Beans

French beans (Haricots Verts or Filet Beans)

green beans in pile on burlap
Andy Lyons/Meredith

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a standard mung bean and a french bean, but it’s there nonetheless. French green beans, also called Haricots Verts, tend to be smaller, more tender, and quicker to cook. Their seeds are so small that they are almost undetectable. For these reasons, French beans are generally considered the best green beans to buy and are priced accordingly. They are well suited to quick cooking methods such as blanching or sautéing.

French Bean Recipes:

  • Haricots Verts Lyonnaise
  • Pesto Green Beans and Potatoes

Fagioli Romani (Italian Beans or Flat Beans)

hand holding green beans flat on the dirt
Scott Little/Meredith

These broad, flat green beans go by many names and are in a different family from the common green bean plant. They have a satisfying crunch when eaten raw, similar to that of a sweet pea. Romans can handle longer cooking times than other types of green beans, whether you choose to steam, boil or stew them.

Roman Bean Recipes:

  • Roman Bean Salad
  • Weeble Pasta and Beans
  • Fasolakia (Greek green beans)

Long beans (long beans or asparagus)

long green beans in bundles with rubber bands
Mawardi Bahar/EyeEm/Getty Images

Originating in China, these beans grow to about 18 inches long. They can stretch even more, but we do not recommend buying longer grains, otherwise they will turn out to be too hard. Aside from the fact that they reduce them in size, meter-long beans taste similar to your standard green beans. But be careful when cooking these extra-long beans: They can become waterlogged when cooked in water, so they’re best sauteed or stir-fried (or eaten raw!).

Try this recipe: Chinese Peppered Green Beans

Purple green beans

purple green beans on a gray and brown background
Andy Lyons/Meredith

These eye-catching beans are simply a purple version of your standard mung bean and come in many different varieties. They get their color from anthocyanin, an antioxidant also responsible for purple cauliflower and purple potatoes. Beneath that purple exterior is the same juicy green flesh. Unfortunately they lose their purple color when cooked, so if you want to show off their amazing hue, consider serving them raw or lightly steamed. (Although they can still be used like a regular mung bean.)

Wax Beans

yellow wax beans in crate
Mint Images / Tim Pannell / Getty Images

Wax beans are the same type as mung beans, except they’re yellow—that’s really the only difference. They have been selected not to contain chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green color of green beans. And the name is a bit misleading, it comes from their color which resembles beeswax, Not because they have a waxy texture. They are just as sharp as their green counterparts and can be used in the same way. Still, it’s fun to combine them with green beans in a salad for a colorful result, like in this classic three-bean salad.

Wax Bean Recipes:

  • Slow Cooker BBQ Beans
  • Great-grandmother’s pan-fried green beans

Related:

  • 15 fresh green bean recipes for mixing dinner side dishes
  • 30 recipes that make canned green beans taste good
  • Browse our entire collection of green bean recipes.


The term “mung bean” encompasses so much more than you’ll find in your typical produce department. While most varieties can be used interchangeably, some do different cooking methods better than others. Let’s dive into the most common types of green beans.


Bush beans versus pole beans

There are many varieties of green beans, but all can be classified in one of two ways: bush or stake. These two categories refer to the way the beans were grown. Green beans grow on a low, bushy plant, while string beans (also known as runner beans) grow as climbing vines that require a trellis or staking. Several of the common types of green beans below are available in both bush and stake form.


Common types of green beans

There are countless varieties among each of these broad categories, but for culinary purposes, these are the different types of green beans to know about. The differences between them are minimal, and all beans are more or less interchangeable in recipes, but cooking times may vary for different sizes and shapes.

Green beans (green beans or green beans)

green beans on the green surface
Jason Donnelly/Meredith

Often referred to only as green beans, this type also goes by the name green beans and green beans. Historically these beans have tough, fibrous strings that run the length of the pod, hence the name “string”. However, the strings have been selected from the most modern varieties, including those available in supermarkets. They also get the name “snap beans” because they can easily be snapped in half when fresh.

Green beans can grow as string beans or string beans, depending on the breed. Like all types of green beans, they are fine steamed, sautéed, roasted, or even pickled.

Popular green bean recipes:

  • Crispy green beans in brine
  • Fresh Green Beans Sauteed In The Garden
  • Roasted Green Beans

French beans (Haricots Verts or Filet Beans)

green beans in pile on burlap
Andy Lyons/Meredith

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a standard mung bean and a french bean, but it’s there nonetheless. French green beans, also called Haricots Verts, tend to be smaller, more tender, and quicker to cook. Their seeds are so small that they are almost undetectable. For these reasons, French beans are generally considered the best green beans to buy and are priced accordingly. They are well suited to quick cooking methods such as blanching or sautéing.

French Bean Recipes:

  • Haricots Verts Lyonnaise
  • Pesto Green Beans and Potatoes

Fagioli Romani (Italian Beans or Flat Beans)

hand holding green beans flat on the dirt
Scott Little/Meredith

These broad, flat green beans go by many names and are in a different family from the common green bean plant. They have a satisfying crunch when eaten raw, similar to that of a sweet pea. Romans can handle longer cooking times than other types of green beans, whether you choose to steam, boil or stew them.

Roman Bean Recipes:

  • Roman Bean Salad
  • Weeble Pasta and Beans
  • Fasolakia (Greek green beans)

Long beans (long beans or asparagus)

long green beans in bundles with rubber bands
Mawardi Bahar/EyeEm/Getty Images

Originating in China, these beans grow to about 18 inches long. They can stretch even more, but we don’t recommend buying longer grains, otherwise they will turn out to be too hard. Aside from the fact that they reduce them in size, meter-long beans taste similar to your standard green beans. But be careful when cooking these extra-long beans: They can become waterlogged when cooked in water, so they’re best sauteed or stir-fried (or eaten raw!).

Try this recipe: Chinese Peppered Green Beans

Purple green beans

purple green beans on a gray and brown background
Andy Lyons/Meredith

These eye-catching beans are simply a purple version of your standard mung bean and come in many different varieties. They get their color from anthocyanin, an antioxidant also responsible for purple cauliflower and purple potatoes. Beneath that purple exterior is the same juicy green flesh. Unfortunately they lose their purple color when cooked, so if you want to show off their amazing hue, consider serving them raw or lightly steamed. (Although they can still be used like a regular mung bean.)

Wax Beans

yellow wax beans in crate
Mint Images / Tim Pannell / Getty Images

Wax beans are the same type as mung beans, except they’re yellow—that’s really the only difference. They have been selected not to contain chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green color of green beans. And the name is a bit misleading, it comes from their color which resembles beeswax, Not because they have a waxy texture. They are just as sharp as their green counterparts and can be used in the same way. Still, it’s fun to combine them with green beans in a salad for a colorful result, like in this classic three-bean salad.

Wax Bean Recipes:

  • Slow Cooker BBQ Beans
  • Great-grandmother’s pan-fried green beans

Related:

  • 15 fresh green bean recipes for mixing dinner side dishes
  • 30 recipes that make canned green beans taste good
  • Browse our entire collection of green bean recipes.


Video about What Is The Difference Between Green Beans And String Beans

Differences Between String Beans and Green Beans

String, green and snap beans are different names for the same vegetables, based on how they were once prepared for cooking. Grow one, and you grow them all.

Table of contents Differences Between String Beans and Green Beans
Snapped and Unstrung 00:46
A Snap to Grow 01:22
The Planting Site 01:40
Things You’ll Need 02:03
Step 1 02:20
Step 2 02:34
Step 3 02:46
The Planting Process 02:57
Ongoing Care 03:22
Fertilizer 03:41
Water 04:09

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