A staple in our house is green beans. It's not uncommon that I'll buy 5-10 lbs and blanch or cook them all in one session, to reheat or eat cold in lunches all week. I also buy fresh beans in bulk when in season, and trim/blanch before freezing.

For a pound, trimming the ends off the beans is no big deal, but when we're talking 5 or more pounds, I find the trimming process extremely tedious and more importantly, time consuming.

Similar to this question, I'm looking for some kind of trick or tool that may help with this preparation.

Right now, here is how I do it:

  1. Hold chefs knife in right hand, blade flat on surface of cutting board
  2. Grab 5-10 beans and press them against the blade of the knife so they line up flush
  3. Chop ends
  4. Turn beans, press against blade again to line up other side
  5. Chop again

This method isn't terrible, but it can be tedious trying to get the ends to line up for chopping. If I grab 10 beans, I feel like I'm spending too much time lining things up because they're different sizes and curvatures. If I grab 5 beans, I feel like I'm not doing as much as I can at once.

I've also tried pinching the ends off by hand, using my thumbnail as a sort of mini knife. However, going one at a time like this feels very inefficient as well.

So...Is there a more effective way to trim the ends green beans than what I'm currently doing, and are there any tips or tools that will make my job more efficient?

  • That's exactly how I do it. And I agree, finding the right number of beans is part of the zen mastery. (Another option is to use steel green beans and then you can line them up magnetically.) Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 4:22
  • Alternatively, buy yardlong beans instead ... or forgo lining them up and trade time for waste... Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 12:27

4 Answers 4


I have found that scissors is the answer to this particular problem. Simply grab a few bean, snip the ends and then turn the hand over and snip again. This doesn't wield beans that are uniform in length though, so if you need that, you will still have to do some cutting. I would say that you could blow through a batch of five pounds in a few minutes once you get the rhythm.

P.S. I say scissors but what I really use is tin snips a la Alton Brown.

  • oh and do it over the trashcan or garbage disposal or you will be pulling ends out for days. Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 17:58
  • My german shepherd actually LOVES green bean ends, so I tend to trim over a bowl and make her work for them :) Scissors sound great, I have a pair of kitchen shears I use for various things and can't believe I never considered them for this application. I'm also a fan of anything that allows me to get a rhythm going, that's my main problem with the knife method, I constantly feel like I'm stopping to line things up. I'll be sure to try this over the weekend when we hit the local market, thanks! Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 19:10
  • Last night I tried this method on about 2 lbs of green beans. I forgot to time myself, so I'm not sure if it was actually faster than the method in my question, but it sure felt faster once I got a rhythm going (which was about 10 beans in). It was definitely a little less frustrating than trying to line them all up perfectly, that's for sure. Next time I buy a large batch, I'll do half one way and half the other, time myself, and post the results. Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 17:24
  • @stephennmcdonald : see my description of 'jogging' in my answer. It could likely be used to get better alignment of the handful you're trimming w/ scissors, as well. You'll either need to use both hands, or take a slightly smaller handful, as you have to loosen your grip, though.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 12:28

This seems like the easiest way. You could also go old school and just tear off the ends with a snap. I don't know if it would be any faster but you could grab a bunch and just run it along a slicer to chop of the ends.


You'll have to test to see if this technique is faster for you or not. (I've never timed a comparison myself). It tends to work best with longer beans (but not 'yard long beans'), though:

  1. Grab a lot of beans, using two hands.**
  2. Drop the beans onto your work surface, and line them up. (pull out any that aren't well-aligned with the others, then drop back on top)
  3. Gather the beans up into a tight bundle (requires both hands), then turn it vertical.
  4. Loosen your grip on the beans, and jog (shake slightly back and forth) until the bottom of the beans all touch the work surface.
  5. Tighten up your grip, then turn the whole bunch sideways, with the aligned ends towards your knife hand.
  6. Use your non-knife hand to keep the beans from moving.
  7. Grab your knife (which you needed to have in easy reach before you started), and cut the aligned ends.
  8. Put down the knife
  9. Pick up the beans, and jog them in the other direction.
  10. Place them down again with the uncut ends towards your knife hand.
  11. Trim the second set of ends.
  12. Place the beans into wherever they're going.

  13. If any beans fell out of the bundle, deal with them separately.

** You can also grab smaller handfuls and accumulate, but you'll need to know what your maximum capacity is (which is based on how large your hands are). I'd estimate I process 25-40 at a time, depending on how wide they are, but I also have rather small hands. (men's small, women's medium in gloves)


I use the thumb-nail method. If you're (almost) touching each bean individually anyway, I find it the fastest. I want to inspect my beans anyway, so I do this at the same time.

YMMV, of course.

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