This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Here is everything you need to know about winged beans! Learn how to pick the freshest beans, how to prepare them, and how to cook them. This uncommon vegetable is delicious, crunchy, rich in nutrients, and super versatile!

Winged beans on a plate.

Have you ever heard about winged beans? This strange-looking vegetable is popular overseas but still highly underappreciated in many countries. Let’s be honest; it’s a shame because winged beans are a fantastic vegetable! It’s fresh, crunchy, and healthy and can be used in many dishes, from soups to salads and stir-fries. Here is everything you need to know about it.

📘 What Are Winged Beans

The Winged bean, also known as dragon bean, goa bean, or manila bean, is a tropical plant that is widely used in Asia (especially Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) and Latin America. It grows well in hot and humid climates.

Surprisingly, all the parts, from the leaves to the tubers and seeds, are edible! In this article, we will focus on the pods.

How to Pick Winged Beans

Picking the freshest ones is essential to get the best flavor; think fresh and subtly sweet. Here is what to look for:

  • Check the color: fresh winged beans should have a bright green color. Stay away from beans that have a yellowish hue; these are usually not fresh.
  • Check the texture: they should be firm and have a smooth surface.
  • Make sure there are no brown or black spots: while they usually tend to have subtle brown spots on the edges (it can be hard to find extra fresh ones), there shouldn’t be too much. The less, the better.

🔪 How to Prepare It

Clean them

  1. Cover the winged beans with cold water and let them soak for about 5 minutes.
  2. Next, drain and rinse the beans 2-3 times under cold water. You may have to slightly rub the beans with your hands to remove any remaining dirt.
  3. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper towels to dry them.

After cleaning the beans, take a closer look at each one and cut off the parts that may have some holes.

Soaking winged beans in water.

Slice them

Cut off the stems and slice the pods diagonally into ½-inch thick slices. The way you slice them doesn’t really matter. You can slice them straight or even make slightly larger slices.

🥣 How to Cook It

Sauté

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Next, add the sliced winged beans and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze the skillet with a couple of tablespoons of water and cook one more minute. This step will also steam the beans.

Season with salt and pepper, and serve!

Check out this recipe: Garlic Winged Beans.

Quick Tip: Avoid overcooking

To keep their bright color and crunchiness, you do not want to overcook them. Sautéing for just 2-3 minutes is largely enough. If you sauté them for too long, they will develop a slightly bitter flavor.

Steam

Arrange the sliced winged beans in a steamer basket and steam for 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Boil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the sliced winged beans and let simmer for about 2 minutes. Drain and season with a pinch of salt.

Bake

Slice them into 1-inch thick slices and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with oil and season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Stir to coat and bake for about 10 minutes at 400°F (200°C).

Seasoning Winged Beans

Winged beans will taste bland without the proper seasoning, so make sure to always season your beans generously with the following:

  • Salt and pepper: These are mandatory! Taste and adjust the saltiness to your liking.
  • Sugar: Optional. A pinch of sugar helps balance the saltiness.
  • Lemon juice: While optional too, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of finely chopped lemon zest take the beans to another level! It’s fresh and citrusy!
Sautéed winged beans in a skillet.

If you are unsure about how to serve winged beans, think of these as an alternative to green beans or asparagus. You can use them in the following:

  • Stir-fries: Simply add these to your favorite veggie stir-fries. You can also stir winged beans into stir-fried noodles or simply serve them as a topping or a side with steamed white rice.
  • Soups: Add the winged beans near the end of cooking and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Salads: Raw. These will bring a crunchy texture and bright green color to your salads. Check out the FAQ section to learn how to prepare raw ones.

📙 Nutritional Value

Winged beans are low-calorie, high in fiber, and quite rich in protein compared to other vegetables. Per 100g (3.5 ounces) of winged beans:

  • 49 calories
  • 0.8g of fat
  • 4.3g of carbohydrates
  • 8g of fiber
  • 6.9g of protein

🩺 Health Benefits

  • Rich in vitamins A and C: With over 18 mg of vitamin C per 100g, fresh winged beans are a natural antioxidant. Research has shown that a diet rich in vitamin C can help reduce aging, protect the skin, and prevent certain types of cancers.
  • Contains folate (66 µg/100g): Folate, a natural form of vitamin B9, is said to help maintain good brain health, lower the risk of stroke, and improve blood sugar regulation. It is also an essential nutrients needed during pregnancy.
  • Rich in Tryptophan (0.25 g/100g): Which helps reduce headaches and lower stress levels.

💬 FAQ

Can you eat winged beans raw?

Yes, they can be eaten raw. They are particularly delicious served in salads, bringing crunchiness and freshness. Simply soak them in lightly salted water for 10-15 minutes and rinse them a few times before using. Note: I recommend slicing the beans very thinly if used in salads.

What do winged beans taste like?

They have a very mild flavor with a subtle sweetness.

Where to buy winged beans?

Most Asian supermarkets have them either in the produce aisle or the refrigerated section.

What is the best way to store winged beans?

Once your beans are clean and completely dry, transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. You can then keep them for up to 2 days.

❄️ How to Freeze It

  1. Clean and slice your winged beans.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice-cold water.
  3. Blanch them in boiling water for about 2 minutes.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beans to the bowl of ice-cold water immediately. Let them soak for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Transfer the beans to a plate lined with a clean kitchen towel to drain. Pat them dry before arranging them on a clean baking sheet.
  6. Freeze until firm before transferring to a freezer bag or container.

While winged beans may seem intimidating initially, I highly recommend giving them a try! It’s a delicious, healthy, and versatile vegetable!

⭐️ Did you like this guide? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Winged beans on a wooden board.
full of plants in envelope

Want to Save This Recipe?

Enter your email below & we’ll send it straight to your inbox! Plus, you will receive new recipes every week!

Save Recipe

I’d like to receive more tips & recipes from Full of Plants.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recipe

How to Cook Winged Beans

5 from 2 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
Learn how to pick winged beans, how to prepare them, and how to cook them. This uncommon vegetable is deliciouscrunchyrich in nutrients, and super versatile!
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cook Time : 10 minutes
Total Time : 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 49 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 10 medium winged beans pods
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

Clean the beans

  • Soak the winged beans in cold water for about 10 minutes. Next, drain and rinse the beans 2-3 times under cold water. You may have to slightly rub the beans with your hands to remove any remaining dirt.
  • Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper towels to dry them.

Slice the beans

  • Cut off the stems. Then, slice the winged beans diagonally into ½-inch thick slices.

Sauté

  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  • Add the sliced winged beans to the skillet and sauté for 1 minute over medium heat. Next, add the water and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately!

Notes

How to pick winged beans:
  • Check the color: fresh winged beans should have a bright green color. Stay away from beans that have a yellowish hue, these are usually not fresh.
  • Check the texture: they should be firm and have a smooth surface.
  • Make sure there are no brown or black spots: while winged beans usually tend to have subtle brown spots on the edges (it can be hard to find extra fresh ones), there shouldn’t be too much. The less, the better.

Nutrition

Serving: 100 g | Calories: 49 kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.3 g | Protein: 6.9 g | Fat: 0.8 g | Sodium: 4 mg | Potassium: 240 mg | Fiber: 8 g | Vitamin A: 128 IU | Vitamin C: 18.3 mg | Calcium: 84 mg | Iron: 1.5 mg
Course : Side Dish
Cuisine : Asian
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
Share this recipe!

About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

Leave a Comment

Subscribe
Notify of
Did you make this recipe? Rate it!




5 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

5 stars
Thank you for sharing with us!!! This article was so informative. My mom sometimes buys this “mystery” vegetable to cook for us, but I have to admit that I didn’t know much about it until I read your article today.

Please give us some less exotic dishes you seem to have gone all out Asian and some of us can’t get these ingredients.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kathryn Gannon

5 stars
This is a good help for me. I don’t how to prepare winged beans but like to eat it. Thank you for sharing Thomas.