Is there any differences between fresh green beans and yellow beans besides the color? We compare the two snap beans in this new blog post.
In the summer time there is nothing like getting fresh beans (phaseolus vulgaris if you like scentific names) from the farmer's market or your own garden.
In our modern grocery stores we can get them any time of the year, but in the summer, they are at their best.
Do you have preference between green beans and yellow or wax beans? And why are they even called wax beans? We are going to tell you all you need to know about these different colored beans. Is the only difference color or is there more?
🕯️ Why Are They Called Wax Beans?
I did some research and I couldn't really find much about the origin of the name "wax beans". The best guess I can give is that there is/was a yellow bean variety that had a waxy feel to it. Or they are the color of beeswax.
That name has been applied to every fresh bean that was yellow in color. On occasion I have heard a purple bean being labelled as a wax bean but it's not common.
👅 Do They Taste Different?
At most there is a slight taste difference, I am not even sure how to describe it. When you eat them side by side you can tell one is different than the other. Wax beans are lacking the chlorophyll that green beans have, so that is reflected a bit in the flavor.
I know some people just don't like wax beans. Most time it's a texture issue. Often times you find wax beans that have been allowed to grow for too long, so they get tougher and the actual beans are beginning to form on the inside of the pod.
💡 Tip - To find the best yellow or wax beans, look for pods that are bright yellow in color. The lighter colored pods are often "beanier" inside and not as tender.
⏲️ Are Cooking Times Different?
Not necessarily. But it could be. It depends on the size and thickness of the beans. You can cook green and yellow beans together as long as they are roughly the same size and thickness. If they aren't, you might end up with one that is undercooked or one that is overcooked.
🛒 Where to Buy Yellow Beans?
Most grocery stores you will be able to buy them at least in the frozen section, often mixed with green beans and sometimes baby carrots (we call that the Prince Edward Medley). Finding them fresh is more difficult.
A farmer's market is going to always be your best chance when in season in your area. You definitely could grow some yourself. I like to because their yellow color makes them stand out when picking them from the plants so it's easy to not miss harvesting any.
Trader Joe's has sold them in the past. They even had "Haricot Jaune" or yellow French beans, which are thinner than standard beans.
The Whole Foods Market that I once worked at got yellow beans, but those were always from a local source, so they wouldn't necessarily be at all Whole Foods stores.
Sprouts stores have carried bags of medley of fresh beans in different colors.
The picture you see above with all the different types of beans is from a Central Market store in Texas. They even had the Dragon's Tongue bean which is a thick, flat yellow bean with streaks of purple in it - a really beautiful bean.
👩⚕️ Vitamin C
According to the USDA, wax beans contain 17.6mg of vitamin C while green beans contain 16.3mg of vitamin C, giving a slight edge to the wax beans. Beans also contain protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamin A. Check with a nutritionist to learn more about the health benefits of green and wax beans and whether one is truly better than the other.
🚜 Growing Beans
Any time I have a garden you better believe that I will be growing beans. They are one of the easiest things to grow and they don't taste any better than ones you just picked yourself.
I love to grow as many varieties as I can including both bush beans and pole beans (these ones climb). The big advantage to growing wax beans is that they are easier to harvest. Since the yellow color contrasts with the green leaves it's easier to pick them out and not miss any. When bean plants are healthy and conditions are right, they produce beans pretty quickly, so it helps if you can easily see what's ready. Purple beans stand out as well just not as much as the wax beans.
If you are looking through a seed catalog here are some of the varieties of green beans, wax beans, and purple beans I have tried and would recommend in your home garden.
- Cantare (Green, Bush)
- Purple Podded Pole
- Marvel of Venice (Wax, Pole)
- Fortex (Green, Pole)
- Pencil Pod (Wax, Bush)
- Cherokee Trail of Tears (Green, Pole, Black Beans when dried)
- Rattlesnake Snap (Green with Purple Stripes, Bush)
- Tavera (Haricots Verts Green, Bush)
🇮🇹 Romano Beans
Romano beans are an Italian style bean that grows large, flat pods that are tender when picked young. You can find the in both green and wax/yellow versions. My favorite to grow is the Roma II, which is a green Romano bean that is very prolific.
🧈 Butter Beans
Do butter beans or lima beans come in green and yellow wax? All the varieties I have seen have green pods when they are fresh. If you have encountered any that have yellow pods, let me know and what variety it's called. All the fresh Fava beans pods, broad beans, and runner beans I have only seen as green.
📏 Chinese Long Beans
These beans also called yardlong beans are really fun as they grow super long. I have grown them myself to limited success, but they look really cool growing in my garden. I have not seen yellow ones before, but have found them in the colors - green, red, and purple.
Learn more about Chinese Long Beans including the best way to cook them.
👀 More Posts on Beans
Here are some other things we have written about beans including how Haricot Verts or French green beans compare to regular green beans.
- Air Fried Green Beans recipe
- What to Serve with Green Beans
- How to Season Frozen Green Beans
- How to Tell if Green Bad are Bad
Which type of bean do you like better - green or yellow wax beans? Leave a comment below. Also share your favorite way to eat them.
I love to cook a medley of green beans, wax beans, and baby carrots. They are easier to find in most stores frozen departments. My favorite way to cook them is via sous vide in butter. Get the recipe below.
If you don't have a sous vide machine. you can steam all of these together or try them in your air fryer.
Sous Vide Frozen Beans and Carrots
- immersion circulator (sous vide machine or Instant Pot with sous vide function)
- 10-12 ounce bag frozen beans & carrots
- 4 tbsp butter
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- ¼ tsp dill seed optional
- ¼ tsp fennel seed optional
- Start your water bath. Set it to 183 degrees for 30 minutes or 45 minutes if you want softer vegetables.
- Add veggies and cold butter to a sous vide bag. Add salt and pepper to taste. If using dill or fennel seed add that now too.
- Try to get the vegetables as flat as you can in a single layer and then seal with a vacuum sealer. If you don't have one use the water displacement method.
- Add to water bath once it has recached temperature. If the bag floats, use something heavy like a small pot to keep it submerged. Make sure you don't pass the max fill line for your sous vide machine.
- Remove veggies from water bath when done with a pair of tongs. Serve immediately.