A wooden spoon scoops some fresh green bean casserole out of a white baking dish.

Growing up, green bean casserole was so not a thing at Thanksgiving dinner in my family. In fact, I didn’t even set eyes on the stuff until the early 2000s, when we started having Thanksgiving dinner with my brother-in-law’s family.

Suddenly, a bubbly casserole dish with green beans, crispy onions, and all the cream sauce appeared on our table. I was…hesitant…to dive in. I finally did serve myself some a few years later, and my thoughts were—oh, this is interesting! It’s creamy and rich, and…I can totally make this better. Ha!

Ingredients (fresh green beans, onion, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, and more) sit in individual bowls and containers on a countertop.

Out went the canned, highly-processed, condensed soups that are a cornerstone of most green bean casserole recipes, and in came a creamy, fresh, homemade mushroom sauce. Out went the stale fried onions from the pantry, and in came fresh crispy Parmesan onions on top.

The end result? A healthy and fresh Thanksgiving green bean casserole that has all the creamy goodness of the regular recipe, but with a brighter, from-scratch, homemade flavor and a healthy dose of added nutrition. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle!

A pot of mushroom cream sauce sits next to bowls of fresh green beans and crispy Parmesan onions.

What can you use in place of cream of mushroom soup for green bean casserole?

This is the question that sparked the entire basis of me testing this recipe! I knew that canned, condensed cream of mushroom played a big role in the traditional recipe, but I long ago nixed condensed soups from my pantry. Traditional condensed soups are highly processed and lacking in many nutrients. There are some organic and natural brands of condensed soups on the market nowadays, but even those are zero-sum—they might not be bad for you, but they certainly aren’t nourishing to your body either. Plus, they be EXPENSIVE, guys. And when you’re making green bean casserole for a Thanksgiving party of 20, you don’t want to spend $50 on speciality soup, am I right?

So what do you substitute for the cream of mushroom soup instead? Easy. A simple mushroom cream sauce that you make using fresh ingredients like baby bella mushrooms and garlic. Don’t be intimidated! The mushroom cream sauce is a breeze to make, and oh mylanta, does it taste so much brighter and more flavorful than anything you can get from the can. You won’t be sorry!

Mushroom cream sauce distributed over fresh green beans in a white baking dish.

Can you mix up green bean casserole the day before? Or even freeze it uncooked?

Yes, you absolutely can make green bean casserole ahead! This green bean casserole can rest unbaked in the fridge for up to 48 hours before baking off. I love it whenever you can take shortcuts with Thanksgiving meals (like my Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes), so I’m all about prepping dishes early where I can. And this Fresh Green Bean Casserole can definitely be prepped ahead.

As far as freezing uncooked, I actually don’t recommend that, because the structure of the beans will change—they end up much mushier and release more water. You’re better off making it a day or two in advance and letting it rest covered in the fridge until it’s time to bake.

Speaking of the freezer, can you use frozen green beans instead of fresh?

Yes, but just understand that your resulting beans might be a little softer/mushier. I much prefer the crisp-tender texture you get from fresh beans here, but frozen will do in a pinch. Just make sure to completely defrost the beans before adding to the casserole mixture. I actually prefer to defrost them in a colander in the sink so some of the water from the defrosting beans can drain as well—no one wants watery green bean casserole.
A wooden spoon scoops fresh green bean casserole out of a baking dish.

How do I make this gluten-free?

It’s a BREEZE to make this gluten-free, because unlike the canned condensed soup, my mushroom cream sauce doesn’t use flour as a thickener. There is only one ingredient you need to swap if you’re wanting to make this gluten-free—Panko breadcrumbs. I’ve been able to find really high-quality gluten-free Panko at my regular supermarket, but if you’re having trouble tracking it down, you can also find them online.

What about vegan?

You can easily make this recipe vegan by leaving out the Parmesan cheese and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. I do recommend adding back in a little nutritional yeast to give the mushroom sauce and fried onions a bit of richness.

A hand sprinkles Crispy Parmesan Onions over the top of a baking dish of green beans and mushroom sauce.

How do you reheat green bean casserole? And how long does it last?

Cooked green bean casserole will easily last in the fridge for up to a week. To reheat, I suggest stepping away from the microwave—which can turn the green beans rubbery and the crispy fried onions…well…not crispy. Instead, I prefer to reheat it in the oven or toaster oven. I cover the casserole tightly with foil and bake at 350°F until warmed through, and then I remove the foil and put the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp up the onions.

More healthy Thanksgiving recipes to put on your table:

A wooden spoon scoops some fresh green bean casserole out of a white baking dish.

Fresh Green Bean Casserole (Gluten-Free/Vegan Options)

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This healthy Fresh Green Bean Casserole is just as creamy as the original, but with tons of fresh flavor and no canned soups.


For the Casserole

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and halved

For the Crispy Parmesan Onions

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly-sliced (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (see notes for vegan substitution)
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

For the Mushroom Cream Sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9" x 13” casserole dish with cooking spray, and set aside.
  2. Prepare the green beans: Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with cold water and ice. Bring a large stockpot of water to a rolling boil. Blanch the green beans in the boiling water until bright green and just barely crisp-tender—about 5 minutes. Immediately transfer the beans to the ice bath to halt cooking.
  3. Remove the beans from the ice bath and dry on a clean kitchen towel. Fill the prepared casserole dish with the beans and set aside.
  4. Make the Crispy Parmesan Onions: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and sauté until tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer the onions to a small bowl. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and salt. Toss to coat all the onions. Set aside.
  6. Make the Mushroom Cream Sauce: In the same skillet you used to sauté the onions, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add in the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms are tender and have released most of their moisture—about 7 minutes.
  7. In a small measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the arrowroot and broth until smooth, and then pour into the mushroom mixture in the skillet. Add the non-dairy milk, grated Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, pepper, and coconut aminos. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.
  8. Assemble the casserole: Pour the mushroom cream sauce mixture over the green beans in the casserole dish, stirring gently to combine. Sprinkle the onions over top of the mixture evenly. 
  9. Bake the casserole: Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the fried onions are golden brown and crisp. 


  • A mandolin can make quick work of thinly slicing the onions. 
  • Vegan substitutions: In the Crispy Parmesan Onions, replace the cheese with nutritional yeast. Use vegetable broth and replace the Parmesan with 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast in the Mushroom Cream Sauce.
  • Depending on the broth you use, you may or may not need to add salt to the final mushroom cream sauce. Make sure to taste before adding salt.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 290Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 828mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 11g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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