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The Best Green Bean Casserole — A healthier, modern, fresher take on classic green bean casserole! No processed soups nor canned ingredients and instead made with fresh green beans, mushrooms, red onions, and a cheesy crispy breadcrumb topping that will have the whole family going back for seconds! Put this on your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and holiday entertaining menus!
The BEST Green Bean Casserole Recipe
I will admit I have never been a fan of green bean casseroles that are made with canned processed soups. The resulting casserole is just way too thick and gloppy for me.
However, my rendition of homemade green bean casserole is nothing like that. Namely, there are no processed “cream of” soups used.
It’s the best green bean casserole for me becase it’s healthier than its counterparts and retains some of the traditional aspects of green bean casserole but there’s a modern spin to it.
The subtle flavor of fresh thyme and robust flavor of the sautéed fresh mushrooms sends this predictable and common dish to the next level with delighted surprise.
The shining star for me, apart from the creamy white cheddar cheese sauce, is the crispy bread crumb and Parmesan cheese topping. I love the texture the topping adds, not to mention flavor galore. You can’t go wrong with fresh Parmesan, ever!
For those of you who love green bean casseroles or want to make it in your slow cooker, be sure to check out my Slow Cooker Cheesy Green Bean Casserole recipe.
Homemade Green Bean Casserole Ingredients
For a side dish that I know your friends and family are going to rave about, you’ll need the following easy-to-find fridge and pantry ingredients:
- Green beans, fresh,
- Baby bella mushrooms and/or sliced white mushrooms, or a combo of the two
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Chicken broth, low-salt
- Fresh thyme
- Ground black pepper
- White cheddar cheese
- Fresh parsley
- Panko bread crumbs
- Red onion
- Parmesan cheese
How to Make Green Bean Casserole
This green bean mushroom casserole recipe isn’t hard, but there are a few separate pans going at the same time.
Make sure you read the recipe in entirety in the recipe card below before beginning it so you know what you’re doing and what you’re doing next.
Keep reading for an overview of how green bean casserole with fresh green beans is prepared.
Step 1: To make this healthier spin on a comfort food holiday side dish, begin by blanching fresh green beans in boiling water and then plunging them in an ice bath.
Step2: In a large skillet, sauté red onions in butter until softened and set them aside.
Step 3: Separately, sauté the mushrooms in butter until they’ve softened before adding in garlic. Sprinkle a bit of all-purpose flour over the mushrooms and cook it momentarily making sure you cook it sufficiently so you don’t end up with any raw flour taste in your finished side dish.
Step4: Slowly pour in the milk and cook patiently until the sauce begins to thicken and is smooth.
Step 5: Then, add the broth, thyme, salt, pepper, white cheddar, and stir until the cheese melts.
Step 6: Place the blanched green beans in a 2 to 3-quart casserole dish or 9×13-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray and add the white sauce over the beans.
Step 7: Then layer with the red onions.
Step 8: Finally add the panko, sprinkle with parmesan, and bake for 20 minutes.
Step 9: Garnish with fresh parsley and dig in!
How Long to Cook Green Bean Casserole?
The homemade green bean casserole will need to bake for roughly 20 minutes at at 375F.
You want the casserole to be bubbling around the edges and for the breadcrumb topping to be golden brown.
Do You Have to Use Fresh Green Beans?
I strongly recommend that you use fresh green beans for a green bean casserole. After all, the beans are the star of this dish!
If for some reason you can’t find fresh green beans, you could use frozen. You can skip the blanching and ice bath process if you’re going with frozen green beans.
I really don’t recommend canned green beans. I am not a fan of them in general, and even less so when they play such an integral and dominant role in a recipe.
How to Prepare Fresh Green Beans for a Casserole
You will need to trim them, halve them, and then boil them, or blanch them, for 3 to 4 minutes in boiling water, and then add them to an ice bath.
Shocking them in ice water stops the cooking process so that they don’t get mushy. Plus, it helps preserve a brighter green color in the final green bean casserole.
What Kind of Cheese Is Best for Green Bean Casserole?
In this traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole recipe, there are two types of cheese used.
First, shredded white cheddar cheese is melted with milk and broth to make a sauce.
If you can’t find white cheddar, you can use regular cheddar. Although I do highly recommend searching for white cheddar cheese. The flavor is more unique and if you have extra, make my 20-Minute White Cheddar Mac & Cheese.
Secondly, you’ll need fresh, shredded Parmesan cheese. This is not the time for the green can of “Parmesan” cheese! Look in the more gourmet cheese section of your grocery store.
Often you can buy small amounts of cheese from the deli or gourmet cheese area and since all you need is a half cup, that’s a good trick.
Protein Add-In Ideas for Green Bean Casserole
For those among us who want to work in some protein into this beloved holiday side dish, feel free to incorporate:
- Cooked ham, cubed, or deli sliced
- Cooked turkey, shredded or cubed
- Cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
- Cooked bacon, crumbled
What Kind of Bread Crumbs Are Best?
For this rendition of homemade green bean casserole, you will need to use panko bread crumbs. They are Japanese-style bread crumbs and are easily found where you will find normal bread crumbs in any well-stocked supermarket.
Do not use regular bread crumbs as they will not give you that crispy crunchy deliciousness that panko will. They unfortunately will turn soggier and not desirable.
Can You Make Green Bean Casserole Ahead of Time?
Yes! You can prepare classic green bean casserole up to 24 hours in advance and then bake it for 20 minutes on the day you plan to serve it.
Therefore, it makes for a great side dish that you can transport to an event or gathering.
Plus, if you’re making it for a holiday meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas, doing as much as you can a day in advance is always nice to save on kitchen time and that rushed feeling on the big day.
You can also actually make the fresh green bean casserole in advance up to when you bake it, then freeze it for up to 3 to 4 months. Allow it to thaw and come to room temp before baking it off.
How to Store Green Bean Casserole
For anyone who finds themselves with way too many Thanksgiving leftovers on their hands, not to worry. Healthier classic green bean casserole will keep airtight in the fridge for up to a week
Can You Freeze Green Bean Casserole?
Yes, it can be frozen for up to 3 months. It should be noted that the topping will not be crunchy when it comes to leftovers.
Additionally, if you do freeze the casserole, the texture of the green beans will inevitably change and I always find that anything frozen takes on a mushier texture but as long as you know that going in, the casserole can be frozen.
Tips for the Best Green Bean Casserole
With regard to sautéing the red onions, rather than doing this on the stove with butter, you can do it in the oven.
Drizzle the onions generously with olive oil and bake them at 400F for about 10 minutes. This method creates crispier onions with more of a browned texture and darker color.
When you’re making the sauce with the milk that’s added to the sautéed mushrooms, have patience here and don’t rush it because you don’t want to create any lumps! That can happen if you do this over too high of a heat and don’t have patience when stirring.
If you’re baking the green bean casserole with other items in the oven that need a higher oven temp, that’s fine. Cover it with foil and in the final 5 minutes of baking, take the foil off so the topping crisps up and the cheese lightly browns.
What to Serve with Green Bean Casserole
Here are some of my favorite holiday recipes that pair perfectly with this homemade green bean mushroom casserole:
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed and halved* (See Notes)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup red onions, thinly sliced vertically (loosely laid into the measuring cup)
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thin sliced (white button mushrooms may be substituted or use a combo of the two)
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk (2% or whole strongly recommend)** (See Notes)
- 1 cup chicken broth (I use low or reduced sodium)
- ½ teaspoon thyme, finely minced (fresh strongly recommended as opposed to dried thyme)
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or black pepper
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded*** (See Notes)
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs (not regular bread crumbs)
- ½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, finely shredded**** (See Notes)
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 375F (unless you are making this in advance, then don’t) and spray a 2 to 3-quart casserole dish or 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray; set aside.
- Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. After it’s boiling, add the green beans and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes (this is known as blanching). Get a large bowl of ice and water waiting (ice bath).
- Drain the beans with a colander and immediately transfer them into the ice bath. Let them rest there while you move on making the sauce.
- To a large sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons butter, red onions, and sauté them over medium to medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften; stir frequently. Take care not to overcook them so they don’t lose their pretty red color; set aside.
- To a separate large sauté pan or Dutch oven, add the mushrooms, remaining 4 tablespoons butter, and sauté over medium-high for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened; stir frequently.
- In the final 1 minute of cooking, add the garlic, and cook until fragrant; stir constantly.
- Even sprinkle the flour over the top, and cook for about 2 minutes to ensure you don’t taste raw flour in the finished dish; stir constantly.
- Slowly add the 2 cups of milk into the mushrooms and flour, and stir nearly constantly for about 3 to 5 minutes to create a thickened gravy texture; move patiently and slowly so that lumps are not created and the sauce stays smooth and creamy.
- Add the chicken broth, thyme, salt, pepper, and stir frequently until the sauce thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- After it has thickened, add the shredded white cheddar cheese, and stir until the cheese has completely melted and the sauce is smooth and of uniform texture; take it off the heat and set it aside.
- Take the green beans from the ice bath, transfer them into your casserole dish, and if you’d like blot them off with paper towels after they’re in the baking dish.
- Evenly drizzle the cheese sauce with the mushrooms over the green beans; smooth it as necessary with a spatula.
- Evenly top with the red onions.
- Evenly sprinkle the panko bread crumbs over the top.
- Evenly sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top. Tip – If you’re making this dish in advance, stop here. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. You could also freeze it for up to 3 months although finding that much freezer space for that long could be tricky. When you’re ready to bake it, thaw at room temp on the counter and then bake as directed in step 16.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until bread crumbs and Parmesan are lightly golden browned; start checking at 15 minutes and rotate pan midway through if your oven doesn’t bake evenly so the topping doesn’t burn. Tip – If you’re baking this with other items in the oven that need a higher oven temp, that’s fine. Cover it with foil and in the final 5 minutes of baking, take the foil off so the topping crisps up and the cheese lightly browns.
- Evenly sprinkle with the parsley to garnish and serve. Recipe will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 3-4 months, noting that in either situation the topping will lose its crispness and if freezing, the green beans will undergo a texture change and will be mushier, which is inevitable with freezing fruits or vegetables.
*I strongly recommend that you use fresh green beans for a green bean casserole. After all, the beans are the star of this dish! You will need to trim them, halve them, and then boil them, or blanch them, for 3 to 4 minutes in boiling water, and then add them to an ice bath. Shocking them in ice water stops the cooking process so that they don’t get mushy. Plus, it helps preserve a brighter green color in the final green bean casserole. If for some reason you can’t find fresh green beans, you could use frozen. You can skip the blanching and ice bath process if you’re going with frozen green beans. I don’t recommend canned beans.
**Use 2% or whole milk for best results. Do not use skim at all costs. I have not experimented with plant-based milks and am not sure how they would work. The only one I think you may have some success with is unsweetened cashew milk (Silk brand in a refrigerated carton) although I haven’t personally tried. Do not attempt with rice milk, as it’s way too thin.
***If you can’t find white cheddar cheese (look for it in a block too and shred it yourself), you can use regular cheddar. Although I do highly recommend searching for white cheddar cheese.
**** You need fresh, shredded Parmesan cheese. This is not the time for the green can of “Parmesan” cheese. Look in the more gourmet cheese section of your grocery store. Often you can buy small amounts of cheese from the deli or gourmet cheese area and since all you need is a half cup, that’s a good trick.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 292Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 541mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 5gSugar: 9gProtein: 12g
More Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes:
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Classic Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe — Nothing frilly or trendy. Classic, amazing, easy, homemade stuffing that everyone loves!! Simple ingredients with stellar results! It’ll be your new go-to recipe!!
Easy Foolproof Roasted Turkey — Learn how to make juicy, flavorful herb-roasted turkey that’s not dry! This turkey has all the flavor that grandma’s used to have, minus the hassle.
The Best Mashed Potatoes — Buttery, creamy, PERFECT mashed potatoes that rival your favorite restaurant’s version but EASY and ready in 45 minutes!!
Easy Homemade Perfect Gravy — An EASY, foolproof recipe with lots of TIPS for PERFECT gravy that’s ready in 5 minutes!! The whole family will LOVE this gravy over their Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, or as a comfort food addition to your dinner table during other times of the year!!
Candied Bacon Sweet Potato Casserole – If you thought sweet potato casserole couldn’t get any better, wait until you taste it topped with candied bacon and pecans! The sweet potatoes are smooth and creamy and the candied bacon topping is the perfect texture and flavor contrast! A WONDERFUL family-favorite side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, holiday parties and events that’s easy to prepare with make-ahead directions!
Slow Cooker Sausage Stuffing — Easy stuffing that’s full of flavor from the sausage, onions, and more! You don’t even need to brown the sausage first and everything cooks together! A time and oven-space saver on holidays!
Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce — Make your own cranberry sauce with amazing depth of flavor in 30 minutes! The best cranberry sauce you will EVER have, guaranteed!
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts — Think you don’t like brussels sprouts? The balsamic glaze on these will change your mind! Best brussels sprouts ever! Fast, easy, and accidentally healthy!
Waldorf Salad — Classic and timeless, apple Waldorf salad is always a crowd favorite especially when apples are in season! It makes a great holiday side dish that your guests will devour thanks to a sweet and creamy dressing that coats a mixture of apples, grapes, celery, walnuts, and more! A highly flexible recipe so feel free to substitute, get creative, and make it your own.
Parker House Rolls — The BEST homemade dinner rolls because they’re so light, airy, fluffy and practically melt in your mouth! They have a wonderful buttery flavor that will make them an instant family favorite at your next holiday gathering or make them for a special meal!
Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls — Big, soft rolls brushed with honey butter are the best! Everyone loves them and they disappear so fast!
Honey Dinner Rolls – My favorite all-around dinner roll recipe (that doesn’t have pumpkin in it)!
No-Knead Make Ahead Dinner Rolls with Honey Butter – An amazingly easy dinner roll recipe that you don’t even have to knead!
Honey-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey-Cinnamon Dip — The honey glaze and the creamy cinnamon dip make these potatoes irresistible!
Parmesan and Herb Roasted Potatoes — Easiest potatoes ever and packed with so much flavor! Olive oil, herbs, and everything is better with cheese! A family favorite that everyone loves!
Sweet Potato Bites with Marshmallows and Pecans – Slices of sweet potatoes are brushed with a maple cinnamon-and-sugar mixture, baked, and then topped with marshmallows and pecans! Sweet, decadent, FAST and EASY! Great for busy weeknights especially when the weather is chilly. Or put these perfect little bites on your Thanksgiving and holiday menus!
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