Holiday Recipe Makeover: Green Bean Casserole

Oh, it’s happening. I’m gong to create an unprocessed, super-fresh version of this holiday favorite.

In my opinion, there’s nothing sadder than taking a perfectly good vegetable, cooking the snot out of it, then covering it in fake cream.

HOWEVER. Y’all love this dish, and my makeover is going to stay true to the original vibe – creamy, mushroom-y, even the fried onions. I’ll also give you a few options to make it less labor-intensive.

First, let’s talk about Campbell’s Condensed “Cream” of Mushroom Soup. I did some research, and guess what? There’s no milk or cream in this can. The soup is thickened with modified food starch, and the third ingredient is MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE – that’s MSG, if you don’t know.

Upgrading traditional dishes doesn’t have mean no butter, no cream, no sugar. It means (to me, at least), swapping out processed food for real food. a) The final dish will TASTE BETTER. b) Your body will feel better eating clean ingredients.

For this dish, fresh beans are best. But you can use frozen green beans (no cans) to save some prep time.

Without further ado, here is my Real Food Green Bean Casserole, adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Serves 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, but you can multi-task a lot of it, or do some ahead of time.


  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut on a diagonal
  • 3/4 lb. fresh  mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 4 T butter (organic/pastured if possible)
  • 4 T whole wheat flour*
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash of grated nutmeg
  • 1.5 C chicken stock
  • 1/2 C heavy cream (again, organic/grassfed if possible)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced into half moons and separated
  • 2 T Whole wheat flour*
  • 1 T Panko breadcrumbs*
  • 1/2 t Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Safflower or other high-heat oil

*You can easily make this dish gluten-free by using an all-purpose gluten-free flour. For the onions, just leave the breadcrumbs out. They’ll still fry up nicely, they just won’t be quite as crispy.


Crispy onions: Fill a deep skillet with 1/2 an inch of safflower or other high-heat oil.Turn heat to med-high.

Combine flour, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper in the bottom of a large bowl. Add onions and toss to coat. When the oil is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles, gently add onions to the skillet (you may have to do this in batches). Toss a few times until onions are a light golden brown. Remove from pan, and let some oil drip back into the skillet before spreading on a paper towel to drain. Set aside.

*Time saving tip: You can forego the crispy onions and substitute toasted almonds instead. Place 3/4 C slivered almonds and a pinch of salt in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toast for 7-9 minutes, tossing frequently. As soon as you see some color, remove from heat – they will continue to toast in the hot pan.

Preheat oven to 400°. (If you’re making the components ahead of time, skip this step.)

Green beans: Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add green beans and cook for five minutes, until bright green with a little crunch. Immediately submerge in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking process. Strain and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

Mushroom sauce: Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté about five minutes, or until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add flour and stir continuously, until all the mushrooms are coated and you have a thick roux.

Add stock in four batches, stirring continuously. Once all the stock is incorporated, simmer gently for two minutes. Add cream, return to simmer, and cook about 6 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Make the casserole: Preheat oven to 400°. Combine green beans and mushroom sauce in a casserole dish (I like to mix them together in a bowl first, then transfer to the casserole). Top with crispy onions and bake for 15 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and onions are brown. Serve immediately.

If you use toasted almonds instead of onions, leave them aside while the casserole bakes, and sprinkle on top just before serving.

Make ahead: All the components can be made a day in advance. Store the mushroom sauce in an airtight glass container in the fridge. Wrap the onions in a brown paper bag and leave at room temperature. Reheat the mushroom sauce before assembling the casserole. You can also combine the beans and sauce, bring them to your destination and add the onions just before baking.

BOOM. What else should make over?

Written by Sam

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