Overhead of a baking dish filled with green bean casserole, a serving scooped onto a plate beside it.

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!

A generous helping of green bean casserole garnished with crispy fried onions rests on a white plate with decorative black trim.

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 fresh Thanksgiving green bean casserole that has all the creamy goodness of the regular recipe, but with a brighter, from-scratch, homemade flavor. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle!

A spoon tucks into the corner of a white baking dish filled with a creamy vegetable casserole.

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 creamy mushroom 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!

Close view of a spoonful of classic green bean casserole.

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 (minus the crispy onions)can rest unbaked in the fridge for up to 48 hours before baking off. Just don’t forget to add the onions before baking!

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.

Close view of a serving of green bean casserole on plate topped with crispy fried onions.

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—either the fried onions (if you’re using store-bought), or the panko breadcrumbs if you are going with homemade crispy onions. I’ve been able to find really high-quality gluten-free panko bread crumbs at my regular supermarket, but if you’re having trouble tracking it down, you can also find them online.

Close view of creamy green beans on a large serving spoon resting in a baking dish.

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. 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 winning Thanksgiving recipes to put on your table:

 
Close view of crispy fried onions garnishing a creamy vegetable casserole.

Classic Green Bean Casserole Recipe

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Fresh, crisp beans and a delectable homemade mushroom cream sauce will make this Green Bean Casserole the hit of your Thanksgiving table! No canned soups needed.

Ingredients

For the Mushroom Cream Sauce:

  • 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Casserole:

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen (defrosted), trimmed and cut green beans (about 5 cups)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups crispy fried onions (store bought, or use the option in the notes), divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9" x 13” casserole dish with cooking spray, and set aside.
  2. Prepare the mushroom cream sauce: in a blender, combine all the ingredients for the mushroom cream sauce. Blend until smooth. Pour into a medium size sauce pan and heat over medium heat until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. If using fresh green beans: Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil. Add in the green beans and cook until just crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes. Drain and set aside. If using frozen, defrost fully, drain water, and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the mushroom cream sauce, green beans, cheddar cheese, and 1 cup of the crispy fried onions. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly. Top casserole with remaining crispy onions and then return to the oven for 10 minutes or until onions are brown and crispy.

Notes

  • You can use store bought crispy fried onions for a classic version, or for a from-scratch variation, you can make your own parmesan fried onions. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in 1 large yellow onion thinly sliced and sauté until tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer the onions to a small bowl. Mix in 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs, and 1/4 salt. Spread on a lined baking sheet and bake in a 425° oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Use as listed in the recipe.
  • This can be made two days ahead of time. Prepare as listed up until the baking step, just keep the reserved crispy onions aside in a separate container. Cover the casserole and pop it in the fridge. Make sure to bring it out on the counter to warm up for 60 minutes before baking.
  • We love baby Bella mushrooms for a stronger mushroom flavor, but button mushrooms are also delicious.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 900mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 4gSugar: 11gProtein: 13g

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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