This classic Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole marks the official commencement of Thanksgiving 2019 here on RecipeTin Eats!! Tender green beans smothered in a homemade creamy mushroom sauce topped with crispy golden brown onions, it’s a wickedly addictive combination of flavours and textures.
PLUS my tried and tested for the BEST way to make green bean casserole ahead of time!
Green Bean Casserole
I have some opinions about Thanksgiving food.
Firstly, I’m of the view that marshmallow has no place in anything that appears before dessert. (yes, I’m glaring at you Mr Sweet Potato Casserole topped with marshmallows!!).
Secondly, I believe that everyone should get to eat what they want they want on Thanksgiving, traditional or otherwise. Which totally contradicts #1 above. But hey – I said I have opinions. I didn’t say I had logical reason!
Thirdly, there shalt never be any canned soup near my green beans*. Not at Thanksgiving, not at Christmas, not ever. The creamy mushroom sauce is simple to make, tastes better and for the cherry on top – it’s completely devoid of all things artificial.
* To the doe-eyed innocents reading this, there are many quick ‘n easy recipes “out there” involving not much more than dumping canned mushroom soup, canned green beans and canned fried onions into a baking dish.
What goes in Green Bean Casserole
For such a highly coveted classic Thanksgiving dish, there’s actually not that many ingredients required!
My one tip is to use Panko breadcrumbs instead of normal breadcrumbs. Larger crumbs = superior onion crunch.
How to make Green Bean Casserole
And here’s a summarised visual and description of how to make it. The short recipe video above the recipe card is also useful for this recipe!
- Onions – tossed in flour and panko then deep fried just until light golden and quite crispy (but not fully crispy, will become fully crispy in oven);
- Blanch beans to your taste, then pat dry (otherwise creamy sauce goes watery);
- Creamy mushroom sauce – starts by cooking the mushrooms, then add flour which will thicken the broth/stock and cream. TIP: When you can draw a path across the back of the spoon, the sauce is the right thickness; and
- Assemble & bake! Toss the beans in the mushroom sauce, top with onions then bake until bubbly and onions are crisp!
Those crispy onions!!! They’re everything!
(PS this recipe makes extra onion. Buffer for frying practice runs + snacking. You’ll thank me later)
Some Practical Tips
- Best way to make Green Bean Casserole ahead of time – blanch the beans, make the sauce, store these in the fridge for 2 – 3 days (possibly longer, I just did 3 days). Fry the onions the day before, let them cool 100% completely before placing in a container. Do not refrigerate! Then on the day of, mix the beans with sauce, place in baking dish, COVER then bake to heat up. Remove cover, top with onions then bake for 20 minutes to crisp the onions up and make them golden!
- Freezing – not recommended for this one, sorry to say! Sauce will split, onions will be dismal when it defrosts and gets watery.
- Don’t want to fry? Buy ready made Crispy Fried Onions (French’s in the US, Asian aisle in Australia). No one is allowed to judge – frying is not for everyone!
- NEWBIES: Plan for extra onions – Frying the onions is the hardest part. Not because frying itself is hard, it’s just that if you don’t fry regularly, you might struggle to get the oil temp right or pull the onions out at the right time, or you try to cook too much in one go etc etc. Preparing the onions for frying is super simple – so if you really want to be the Green Bean Casserole Queen (or King), just make extra onion then use the best ones for the casserole! (Leftovers make great snacking)
- Frying FAIL?! It’s the big day, and you’ve had a frying disaster…. Don’t fret! Melt some butter and mix into 3/4 cup panko with 1/4 cup parmesan and pinch of salt. Taste (more salt? Add it!), sprinkle and bake 20 minutes or until golden. Been there, done that, SO GOOD!
- Don’t stress about the creamy mushroom sauce – it’s so easy to salvage / adjust. Lumps can be whisked out, if it gets too thick you can thin it, if it’s too thin just keep cooking. If it’s a bit too brown who cares – the most important thing is does it taste delish, and if you follow the recipe quantities, IT WILL!!!
And that, my friends, is all I have to say about Green Bean Casserole! This recipe has been a long time coming, probably since my early 20’s when I had it at one of the very first Thanksgiving celebrations I attended here in Sydney (and I will never reveal how long ago that was, a woman’s age should remain a mystery, always!).
Ahh, memories of the turkey not fitting into the tiny apartment oven, the weird lumpy textured pumpkin pie and the dry homemade bread rolls that were my offering to the feast. We spatchcocked the turkey, bought bread rolls and salvaged the pie by chopping it up and serving it as a sundae with cream and ice cream (deeeelish!).
And really, so much wine had flowed by 5pm, we would’ve eaten anything.
Thankfully, my cooking skills have somewhat improved since then! – Nagi x
PS All my Thanksgiving-centric recipes here. I plan to do some Thanksgiving housekeeping in the coming days, will let you know when I do!
Watch how to make it
Green Bean Casserole
Recipe video above. The most amazing creamy mushroom sauce smothering tender green beans, topped with crispy fried onions! The perfect green bean casserole with the right ratio of sauce to beans, well flavoured silky, creamy sauce with the perfect thickness and the perfect delicately crunchy onions! See notes for best way to MAKE AHEAD!
- 750g/ 1.5lb green beans (, trimmed and halved)
Crispy Fried Onions:
- 2 large yellow onions (, peeled, halved and thinly sliced (or 3 medium))
- 1/4 cup (35g) flour ((plain/all purpose))
- 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs ((Note 1))
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 4 cups / 1 litre (approx) vegetable oil (, for deep-frying (or peanut, canola oil Note 2))
Creamy Mushroom Sauce:
- 3 tbsp (50g) butter (, unsalted)
- 360g /12 oz mushrooms (, chopped 1cm / 1/3" pieces)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves (, minced)
- 3 tbsp (35g) flour ((plain/all purpose))
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) vegetable or chicken broth/stock (, low sodium)
- 1/2 cup (125ml) cream (, heavy/thickened)
- Pinch nutmeg ((or sprinkle of freshly grated))
- Boil the green beans for 3 minutes until just tender (or to your taste), then drain and run under cold tap water (to stop cooking further). You could also steam.
- Transfer to clean tea towel and pat dry. Set aside.
- Line tray with 3 – 4 layers paper towels.
- Toss onions with flour, panko, salt and pepper.
- Heat about 2cm / 3/4″ oil in a heavy based skillet over medium high heat. Dip the end of one onion in – it should sizzle satisfyingly immediately.
- Add some onions, not too many (see video), then fry for 1 1/2 minutes or until LIGHT golden brown.
- Transfer to tray, spreading out (don’t pile up). (Note 3)
- Repeat with remaining onion (5-6 batches). Set aside to cool, DO NOT cover.
Creamy Mushroom Sauce:
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.
- Add salt and pepper, cook until mushroom starts to soften (1.5 minutes) then add garlic and cook for 1 minute until garlic is golden.
- Turn heat down to medium, add flour and mix until you can’t see flour anymore.
- While stirring constantly, gradually pour in half the broth. When flour lumps are dissolved, pour in remaining broth and cream, stir.
Add nutmeg, stir.
Cook for 5 minutes, stirring casually at first then regularly as it thickens, until sauce thickly coats back of wooden spoon and you can draw a path across it (see video). Sauce will not thicken further in oven.
Assemble & bake:
Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C (160°C fan).
- Pour beans into pot they were boiled in (or use bowl). Pour over Mushroom Sauce, stir.
- Pour into 2.5 quart / 2.5 ltr casserole dish (Note 4), smooth surface.
Sprinkle with onions (might not use all!), then bake for 15 minutes until bubbling on the edges and the onions are deep golden. CHECK at 10 minutes to ensure onions are not burning (Note 5).
Serve immediately! (See notes for make ahead)
1. Panko breadcrumbs – larger pieces than normal breadcrumbs so you get much more satisfying CRUNCH! Asian aisle of most supermarkets nowadays, though cheaper in Asian stores.
2. Oil – any high heat neutral flavoured oil fine here. Do not use olive oil (low smoke point).
3. Onion frying
- Will crisp bit more when cool, and fully crisp and brown in oven. Important to drain excess oil to ensure oven crisping (if soggy with oil, may not crisp).
- Store bought French Fried Onions or Crispy Fried Onions (Asian aisle) – for an easy way out, use store bought onions. Sprinkle on dish then bake!
- Makes more than you need – some practice runs plus snacking!
- Alternative topping – Frying FAIL?! It’s the big day, and you’ve had a frying disaster…. Don’t fret! Melt some butter and mix into 3/4 cup panko with 1/4 cup parmesan and pinch of salt. Sprinkle and bake 20 minutes or until golden. SO GOOD!
4. Dish shape – better to use one that is flatter rather than deep, so you can maximise surface area for crunchy onions! Large skillet ideal, 9×13″ / 23 x 33″ glass pan is too large.
5. Onions browning too quickly – turn oven down, cover loosely with foil for remaining bake time. Then remove foil for last few minutes to crisp onions. This is why it’s important to only fry onions until LIGHT golden – so they are deep golden and crispy once baked!
6. Make ahead – best way: cook beans and make sauce per recipe. Cover sauce immediately, cool, then store both in fridge up to 3 days (possibly longer, I just did 3 days). Fry onions the day before, cool completely before placing in a container. Do not refrigerate! On the day of, mix the beans with sauce, place in baking dish, COVER then bake 10 to 15 minutes to heat up. Remove cover, top with onions then bake for 10 minutes to crisp the onions up and make them golden!
8. Serving size – really depends on how many other sides you have! Conservatively, this will easily serve 8 – 12 with say 3 or 4 other side options (ie one big scoop per person). If this was the only vegetable side, I would say it serves 5 people (150g/5oz beans per person).
Nutrition is for 8 people, assumes onions that are used for topping has 2 tbsp oil which I think is a reasonable estimate (given onions don’t absorb oil).
Life of Dozer
Gazes longingly at a raw green bean like it’s a juicy streak…. then…