Irresistibly Creamy Green Bean Casserole From Scratch
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A creamy and comforting green bean casserole made entirely from scratch. Topped with shoe-string onions and the best part is, my green bean casserole requires no time in the oven!
I’m going to tell you a big secret. And you might need to sit down for this one. Green bean casserole was never really on the top of hubby’s (or my own, come to think of it) Thanksgiving food list.
Are you still breathing? The majority of green bean casseroles the both of us had experienced in the past, usually consisted of a casserole dish filled with beans that once used to be green, perhaps lifetimes ago, stirred into a gelatinous cream of mushroom soup. Yeah, it’s not a pretty picture; I know. A pretty forgettable side dish!
Needless to say, I really didn’t have much hope for my green bean casserole recipe when I started recipe testing it. I knew I wanted to use fresh beans, swap the can of mush for real ingredients but I didn’t expect to LOVE what came out of my casserole dish! I liked it so much that I made it again with homemade golden brown fried shoestring onions and eventually decided I needed to share this with you guys.
TBH, you really haven’t lived until you’ve tried a classic green bean casserole made entirely from scratch. It’s life-changing; the taste is truly indescribable. What makes it extra special is the layers and layers of flavor in this recipe. We season everything as we go, so the result is perfection in a baking dish.
Thanksgiving food is my jam. But I also know that when it’s showtime, there are a few different things that require the oven (other than the turkey, that is) so my recipe for green bean casserole is a stove-top version where you don’t need the oven at all! That means you can save the oven space for my garlic and herb one-hour dinner rolls. And hey, don’t forget to make my slow cooker cranberry sauce!
You need homemade fried onion strings for our green bean casserole.
Okay, need is a strong word. But I’m not kidding when I say; I NEED these fried crispy onion strings on my casserole. You have to try them; they’re just amazing. And I always have to make extra because Anees and I are snackers, we clean out a majority of the fried onion strings before it even makes its way onto the casserole.
You’ll need a few simple ingredients to make the French fried onions.
- thinly sliced onions
- buttermilk (or regular milk with a tablespoon of vinegar)
- onion powder + smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
- oil, for frying
We’ll start by soaking the onions in buttermilk in a large bowl. The soaking process takes away the harsh bite from the onions and mellows out the flavor. Then, we’ll dredge the onion strings in a combination of flour, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. I know what you’re thinking, onion powder, with fresh onions? YES. Because it really just intensifies the flavor of these crispy fried onions that much more. You can leave it out if you don’t have any on hand, but know that you should make this at least once with the onion powder, so much better that way!
What ingredients do you need to make the green bean mixture?
- fresh green beans: Remember, we talked about this! Thou shalt not use frozen green beans! The texture of fresh green beans is so much better in this casserole. Crisp and tender green beans that have a bright green color just makes this so much more delicious to look at!
- Butter: Can’t make a casserole without it! You can use unsalted butter or salted butter for this recipe.
- All-purpose flour: We’ll need a few basic ingredients like the flour and kosher salt too. When you add flour to butter in a warm pan, you essentially create a roux which will help thicken our cream of mushroom soup mixture.
- Chopped onions: We’ll saute them in butter to soften them as the base of our homemade cream of mushroom soup.
- Garlic: Use as little or as much as you would like. I suggest somewhere between 3-6 cloves.
- Sliced mushrooms: I prefer just sliced baby bella mushrooms for our creamy mushroom sauce. However, there are plenty of other varieties that can also work for this casserole. More on that below. Prep the mushrooms by wiping them down with a wet paper towel.
- Fresh thyme: to help flavor the homemade Campbell soup. Feel free to substitute with half the quantity if you happen to have dried thyme on hand.
- Low sodium chicken broth of stock: Helps create the mushroom base along with the half and half.
- Half and half: Half and half is a 50:50 ratio of whole milk and heavy cream. We’ll use it to give the cream of mushroom sauce a lovely flavor.
What kind of mushrooms work best?
I like to use baby Bella mushrooms here, but you can certainly swap those for button mushrooms or even shiitake. Shiitake mushrooms add a wonderful umami flavor to the overall casserole. You can also use a combination of the above three if you’d like!
Can I skip the half and half or use something lighter?
This isn’t a casserole that we make more than a couple of times a year, so I usually like to splurge a little and use half and half. If you’re looking for a substitute, the lowest fat content of milk I suggest here is swapping the half and half for whole milk. Anything less than that and it just won’t have the richness that a green bean casserole deserves.
Do I have to blanch my green beans?
Yes, I suggest blanching the green beans! The beans don’t cook for too long in the casserole, so any cooking that takes place happens during the blanching process. But the good news is that you can do this a day ahead if you like. Blanch them in a large pot of boiling water, shock them in an ice-water bath, drain them well, pop them into a container, and refrigerate them until you’re ready to reheat them in the casserole.
How to make sure you make the best green bean casserole:
- Use fresh green beans. I can’t stress this one enough. I know, the person that invented the green bean casserole told all of us that canned or frozen green beans are what you need to use in this casserole. But my friends, it’s a lie. Sure you can use them, but when you take the extra bit of time it takes to clean fresh green beans and blanch them yourself, you take your green bean casserole game to a whole new level. If you still want to use cleaned green beans, I say go with the frozen kind. Just be sure to thaw, and drain all the water out of them so that your casserole doesn’t become diluted. We want every bit of flavor.
- Skip the can of mushroom soup. You don’t need all that excess sodium in your green bean casserole. Instead, grab a ½ a pound of sliced mushrooms, and let’s do this the old-fashioned way. Start with butter and onions and mushrooms and then we’ll add flour and make a basic béchamel before smothering the green beans in all that deliciousness. I’m telling you, the fresh ingredients make a world of a difference!
- Don’t bake your green bean casserole. What? Did I really say that? Yes. Once the green beans are blanched, they’re good to eat. They also get heated through in the sauce so if you were to take them from the stove and bake the casserole; you’d only be cooking them to death. I know we all run a little short on oven space on Thanksgiving and Christmas too, so why unnecessarily bake your casserole when it doesn’t need it?
- Don’t skip the fried onions. You can use store-bought fried onions if you’re in a hurry or even onion rings. Me? I always like to make shoe-string onions because they seriously make this casserole so much more delicious.
Okay. Now I want you to say it with me; fresh beans, no cans!
We do green bean casseroles right ‘round here!
fried onion strings:
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 1/4 cup EACH: buttermilk AND all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon EACH: salt AND smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Oil, for frying
green bean casserole:
- 1 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed, ends trimmed, and I cut them in half
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 3-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
- ½ cup half and half
- PREP: Place the sliced onions in a medium bowl with the buttermilk. Allow the onions to soak for 1 hour. In another medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, onion powder, and paprika. Remove 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture in a separate bowl to thicken the green bean casserole with; set aside.
- FRY THE ONIONS: Heat a Dutch oven or a heavy bottom pot with a couple inches of oil to 375ºF. Working in small batches, place some of the onions from the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, and toss with hands until coated. Fry them in the oil for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, season with a pinch of salt. Repeat until all the onions have been fried.
- BLANCH THE BEANS: Bring a large stockpot of water to boil. While the water is boiling, fill a large bowl with water and lots of ice, set aside. Season the boiling water with a tablespoon of salt and add the green beans into the boiling water and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes or until the green beans are bright green. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in ice water, set aside.
- CASSEROLE: Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter begins to crackle, add the onions and allow them to sweat for 3-4 minutes, stirring as required. Add the garlic and allow it to cook for 30 seconds before adding in the sliced mushrooms. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let the mushrooms cook for 5 minutes or until they shrink in size.
- FINISH: Add the 2 tablespoons of reserved flour to the mushroom mixture and stir until all the veggies are coated, let cook 1 minute. Sprinkle the thyme and red pepper flakes. Slowly pour in the chicken stock while using your wooden spoon to stir. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen any brown bits. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the sauce to thicken for 3-5 minutes. When the sauce has thickened a bit, add in the green beans and half and half, stir to combine. Kick the heat up to high and let casserole cook for 2-3 minutes or until it thickens to preferred consistency. Top with fried onions before serving!
- HOW TO MAKE AHEAD: The casserole portion can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Reheat by adding the ingredients to a skillet. You may need additional milk or broth to help bring it back to desired consistency. I DO NOT suggest frying the onions ahead of time. These will taste best when made the day of.
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