Can You Eat Bean Sprouts Raw?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding bean sprouts and whether or not you should eat them raw. This is because there can be problems with these types of foods carrying foodborne illnesses such as e-coli and other types of harmful bacteria. This is because the methods used to grow sprouts happens to also be the perfect method for growing bacteria!

If the bean sprouts are not adequately cleaned and processed before being sold then these harmful bacterias are still present. If you eat the bean sprouts raw then you are also consuming the bacteria and may get sick.

This being said, aside from the bacteria, the bean sprouts themselves are actually edible. So whether or not you can eat the raw bean sprouts will depend entirely on the producers and where you bought them from.

The Quick Answer

Can You Eat Bean Sprouts Raw?

This isn’t a case of whether or not bean sprouts raw are edible. It’s about how those bean sprouts have been treated and packaged. You must refer to the packaging of your bean sprouts to determine if they can be consumed raw. If you’re unsure, then a quick fry for a few minutes in a hot pan is the safest approach to take.

You can use the links below to jump through this article to the section you’re most interested in:

What Do Bean Sprouts Raw Taste Like?

Bean sprouts are commonly used in stir-fries and warm salads and are often fairly lightly cooked. This is so that you can keep the slight crunch to the texture and it is this texture that adds most to the dish rather than the flavour. The flavour could be described as fresh and clean with a hint of nuttiness but it’s hard to describe it outside of that. These tend to have a taste all of their own.

How to Eat Bean Sprouts Raw

If you have checked the packaging and are sure that you can eat the bean sprouts raw then you can just eat them as a snack or pop them into a salad. This adds a mixture of delicious flavour and wonderful crunch to any salad!

Create an Asian-Inspired Slaw

Your traditional slaw is red cabbage, carrot and onion mixed with a mayo-based dressing. But this isn’t a rule. Why not try to create an Asian-inspired slaw by combining bean sprouts, spring onions, carrots, mooli and cabbage with a spicy, lime-spiked dressing?

Bean Sprout Slaw Asian

Add Crunch to Stir-Fries

If you like your stir-fries on the crunchy side then you can throw a few in at the last minute and very lightly fry them or heat them through. This won’t be enough cooking time to kill off any bacteria but if the bean sprouts are labelled as safe to eat this way then you should be fine

These dishes also all work perfectly well with lightly cooked bean sprouts. Bean sprouts only need a flash fry in a pan to kill off any bacteria. You can then allow them to cool to use them in the same way you might use raw bean sprouts. The dish will taste exactly the same, you’ll get that crunchy texture but there will little to no risk to your health.

Benefits of Eating Bean Sprouts Raw

Bean sprouts are packed full of goodness. They are nutrient-dense, are full of fibre and they could even help with any blood sugar issues. As if this wasn’t enough then they also contain protein, folate and magnesium!

The problem with this is that many raw bean sprouts cannot be eaten raw because they are linked to lots of cases of food poisoning. You should only eat raw bean sprouts if the packaging specifically says that you can and the bean sprouts have been thoroughly processed and cleaned the ensure there is no bacteria remaining on the sprouts.

What Countries Eat Bean Sprouts Raw?

Bean sprouts are most commonly added to food in Asian countries and this counts for both raw and cooked beansprouts. In East Asia, specifically, you can often find lots of salads that contain these bean sprouts and other micronutrients.

Cooked beansprouts are eaten all over the world and have become increasingly popular in Western countries in recent years.

Should You Eat Bean Sprouts Raw?

Ethically there is no reason not to eat your bean sprouts raw. However, from a safety perspective, there is every reason you should be extra careful!

There have been lots of cases where raw bean sprouts have been linked to food poisoning. Food poisoning isn’t pleasant and it can be fatal so this is something you should definitely be aware of and take care with.

The reason bean sprouts are not recommended to eat raw in most cases is because of the bacteria that is often on the sprouts. Bean sprouts are grown in damp and warm areas and this is the perfect environment for harmful bacterias to grow. Bean sprouts are also very fiddly to wash well which means that even once they have been washed there could be plenty of bacteria left on the sprouts which could make you sick.

You can occasionally find packets of bean sprouts that have been carefully grown and washed in a way where they can be more confident this bacteria isn’t present. These are raw bean sprouts you can eat. But, if in doubt you should avoid eating your bean sprouts raw. Don’t be tempted to wash bean sprouts and assume they are safe to eat raw. Washing on its own isn’t adequate to remove all of the harmful bacteria from the sprouts and it isn’t worth getting sick for.

What to Do If You Eat Raw Bean Sprouts?

If you have eaten raw bean sprouts and are experiencing any nausea, vomiting or pain then you should call your local health phone line immediately for advice.

Other Questions about Eating Bean Sprouts Raw

Below are some other questions people often ask when it comes to eating bean sprouts raw. If you do find yourself with further questions, however, then please do ask in the comments area at the bottom of this page:

Are Raw Bean Sprouts Dangerous?

Like most foods – they can be. If you follow all of the guidance within this article then you should be safe. We would also recommend erring on the side of caution. If you’re unsure, then try not to consume the bean sprouts raw and instead spend a few minutes cooking them through.

Can You Eat Out of Date Bean Sprouts

This is one where common sense must prevail. If your bean sprouts have lost their texture, smell or have changed colour then discard them and avoid eating them. If they are only a day or two past their use-by date then there is a chance they will be perfectly fine to eat.