"World's Best Green Bean Casserole". What a lofty name! Still, I just might call this updated green bean casserole the World's Best Casserole, bar none. Old-fashioned comfort food? You bet, just fresher, the way green bean casserole should be. Here's what makes it different:
No more canned green beans. Instead, fresh green beans are cooked using a technique which draws out all their flavor. This casserole is all about the beans!
No more canned mushroom soup. Instead, fresh mushrooms are sautéed and tucked into a creamy sauce made extra delicious with a splash of sherry.
And what about the canned onion rings on top? Well, the inspiring recipe keeps their familiar zing, but blends them with fresh bread crumbs. I love that topping but other cooks have shared their ideas for cooking fresh onions.
If you want to be a star at Thanksgiving, volunteer to make this. Would you believe that some times I'm called the "green bean casserole lady"? I'm here to tell you, a fresh green bean casserole can change your life!
STEP-BY-STEP PHOTOS Now there are step-by-step photos for how to make a green bean casserole with fresh green beans and fresh mushrooms, revealing all the tips and tricks behind this amazing casserole. I'm on a mission here, I call it, For Green Bean Casserole, Just Say NO! to Canned Green Beans & Mushroom Soup.
THANKSGIVING's TOP-TWELVE VEGETABLES The World's Best Green Bean Casserole was the first recipe published in a collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipes back in 2006. It remains the all-time favorite among readers and visitors but is just one recipe in an amazing many-year collection of 100+ special Thanksgiving vegetable recipes, see Favorite Recipes for Thanksgiving's Top-Twelve Favorite Vegetables.
MAKE-AHEAD GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE Published in my food column called "Kitchen Parade", another fresh green bean casserole, a Make-Ahead Fresh Green Bean Casserole, aka, the World's Most Convenient Green Bean Casserole thanks to two techniques:
The beans aren't cooked beforehand, saving a step. Yes, they start off raw but cook up just fine.
The casserole is frozen, so can be made well ahead of time.
PIONEER WOMAN'S GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE This latest fresh green bean casserole is especially for bacon lovers and mushroom haters. It's Pioneer Woman's Green Bean Casserole and is:
Made without mushroom soup and without mushrooms!
Made with bacon and cheese, worthy additions!
"... beyond incredible! It truly was the best green bean casserole I've ever had." ~ Susan
"... totally the hit of my dinner last night." ~ Laural
"... what a great dish!" ~ Dave
"... it was a big hit." ~ Anonymous
"I doubled the recipe and it turned out really great." ~ Steve
"... it was delish! I will NEVER make the canned soup version again." ~ OhSteph
"It was fabulous and I HATE the canned soup version! It was a huge hit with everyone. It has now become a must for every holiday feast!" ~ Susan
"... excellent! I had to make a second batch ... didn't realize how good it would be." ~
"... this recipe is fabulous! The richness of the baby bellas coupled with the fresh green beans make this outstanding!" ~ Anonymous
"... it was so yummy! And simple! I couldn't believe what a cinch it was to cook." ~ Zarah
"The smell of the green beans reminded me of earth, and harvest, and all that Thanksgiving should really be about. I'll never do the canned version again!" ~ momof3
"... so incredible that it even converted a lifelong green bean casserole hater!" ~ Julie
"Oh my goodness, but this is fabulous!" ~ Elizabeth
"I followed your recipe to the letter except that I kept adding more sherry, because I liked the flavor it added so much!" ~ Sandra
"... this new recipe now has as a permanent place on my Thanksgiving (and year-round?) table." ~ Karen M
"... it was an incredible hit." ~ Sally
"I am so glad to say goodbye to mushroom soup!" ~ Beth
"I've been using this recipe for the past 3 Thanksgivings and everyone loves it! ... This truly is the world's best green bean casserole." ~ JoshC
"It was sublime!" ~ Trish
"This is an excellent recipe." ~ Chellini
"To make this dairy-free, I replace the half&half with tahini. The result – insanely decadent delicious heart attack food." ~ Tayarrow on Delicious
"Made with half brussels sprouts. Delish." ~ CoffeeShakti on Delicious
"Tonight, my wife and I ate eight servings of World's Greatest Green Bean Casserole for dinner. Bravo!" ~ Jim
"I've been known to make it just because green beans are in season, when it's not even a holiday, I like it that much." ~ Talula Fairie
"I can't tell you how many times I've passed on the recipe because everyone demands to know!" ~ Coleen
"I wasn't expecting such a delicious result; the recipe is awesome, and everyone loves it! Now I'm always asked to bring the green bean casserole to Thanksgiving ..." ~ Alexis
"The highlight of Thanksgiving dinner! ... DELICIOUS!" ~ Joy
"... made this twice (Thanksgiving and again at Christmas) because it's SO DARN GOOD!" ~ Jennifer
"I love, love, LOVE this recipe!" ~ LJT
"My son won the Green Bean Casserole cook off with your recipe!" ~ Mary
"I've made this casserole ... Veganized and the family loved it." ~ Year of Dangerous Thinking
"...the foundation for my green beans every year. Delicious and very adaptable." ~ Beki
WORLD'S BEST GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Printer Friendly Recipe
Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 8 in small-ish servings for a big dinner like Thanksgiving
TO MAKE AHEAD The day before, cook the beans, make the sauce and combine. Mix the topping but don't add it yet. Before dinner, bring the beans back to room temperature, allowing plenty of time, especially for a double or triple batch. Bake at 425F/220C for 10 - 40 minutes until bubbly. Apply the topping and bake for another 15 minutes.
PREP, COOK, DRAIN & DRY the GREEN BEANS
Step-by-Step Photos: How to Cook the Green Beans
If doubling or tripling the recipe means cooking the beans in batches, start each batch with fresh water; at minimum, re-salt the water with each new batch. Also, don't skip the drying process.
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 tablespoon table salt
1 pound fresh green beans, ends snapped, snapped into bite-size pieces
Bring the water to boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. While it comes to a boil, prep the beans. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the salt and beans to the boiling water. Cover and cook for 6 minutes or until crisp-tender and still bright green. (Be sure to cook the beans to your desired level of doneness; from here on, they will reheat but won't cook more.) Drain beans in a colander, then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain a bit in the colander again. Place a double layer of paper towels on a baking sheet, arrange beans in single layer to dry, top with a double layer of towels and pat to dry. Let continue to dry while finishing.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
Salt is key to the flavor so don't skimp. If you don't have table salt, use twice as much as the relatively less salty kosher salt or sea salt.
COOK the MUSHROOMS & MAKE the SAUCE
Step-by-Step Photos: How to Cook the Mushroom Sauce
If this looks a lot like a thick, homemade mushroom soup, that's because it is!
8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
Generous grind of fresh pepper or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon dry sherry
3/4 cup half & half or heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Clean the mushrooms; break off and discard the stems. Break the mushroom tops into pieces. Melt the butter in a skillet til shimmery. Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Stirring often, cook til mushrooms begin to soften and exude their liquid, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook a minute. A tablespoon at a time at first, add the chicken stock and sherry; bring to a simmer. Add the half & half, simmer til sauce thickens, about 10 - 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir in the cooked beans til they're evenly distributed throughout the sauce.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
To save a dish, I always use the same pot to cook the beans and the mushrooms.
I like the color of the brown portabella but taste-wise, they're the same as white button mushrooms.
If you like, use the stems to make a night-before-Thanksgiving mushroom soup.
Breaking the mushroom tops into irregular pieces is important to the texture of this sauce. Why? It's turns out that sliced mushrooms have a "canned soup" texture. I use this technique in other recipes too, it's a game changer!
Do not substitute fat-free half-n-half for the cream or the half 'n' half, it has no thickening properties so the sauce will stay way too thin, no matter how long you cook it.
MIX the TOPPING
Step-by-Step Photos: How to Mix the Topping and Bake
Note: The quantity below is "half" that used by the inspiring recipe from Cook's Illustrated; the full amount seemed way over the top to me. Half is plenty and hardly skimpy for the shallow quiche dish I use to bake this in. I use the quantity below even when doubling the beans and the mushroom sauce; how much is needed seems to be a function of the size of the serving dish; "half" is perfect for that shallow quiche dish.
1 slice good whole grain bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 a 2.8 ounce can of French fried onions
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/16 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In the food processor, process the bread, butter and seasonings in about 10 quick pulses. Stir in the onions but don't process them. If making ahead, transfer to a storage container and refrigerate.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
I use this Light 'n' Fluffy Homemade Whole Grain Bread but any good whole-grain bread will work.
TO BAKE RIGHT AWAY Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Transfer hot bean mixture to a greased quiche pan or baking dish. Top the beans with the topping mixture and bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
TO BAKE LATER Transfer bean mixture to a greased quiche pan or baking dish (hold off on the topping mixture), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Return to room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Heat in 425F/220C oven uncovered for about 10 - 40 minutes until hot and bubbly. (Ten minutes is enough for a shallow dish like a quiche pan. Allow more time for a deeper dish.) Add topping and bake for another 15 minutes.
MORE TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
FROZEN BEANS What about frozen green beans? In 2007, I had no choice but to make this with frozen whole (not Frenched) beans and they worked just fine. You can can skip the ice water step but I do recommend the drying process. Still, fresh beans are much preferred.
PRE-CUT BEANS What about bags of precut (supposedly) fresh beans? These never look that fresh, need to retrimmed anyway, and pound for pound are so expensive. It takes just a few minutes to snap the beans.
CONSIDER AT LEAST A DOUBLE BATCH I nearly always make a double batch, using two pounds of green beans. This fills a shallow quiche pan that's my standard serving dish (what's pictured) that holds about five cups liquid.
TIMING for DOUBLE & TRIPLE BATCHES For larger gatherings, I've doubled and tripled this recipe. The prep is easy enough but the timing changes since it takes longer to bring the casserole to room temperature (allow 3 hours for a triple batch) and longer to heat it through (allow at least 30 - 40 minutes for a triple batch, especially one prepped in advance or not quite at room temperature).
TOPPING SUBSTITUTES I really like the topping from the original Cook's Illustrated recipe but know that not everyone can bear the idea of canned fried onions. A suitable substitute is 3/4 cups whole-grain fresh bread crumbs browned a bit in 1 tablespoon butter and seasoned generously with salt and especially pepper. Another suggestion comes from Elizabeth: "We sautéed onions in oil until they are beginning to colour and then add flour to crisp them up. They are easily as good tasting (if not better) than canned onions and WAY better for us. Because who knows how many nightmares of chemicals and preservatives are in canned onions?" If it were me, I would still toss Elizabeth's onions with good bread crumbs and plenty of salt and especially pepper. I've also had great luck with the fried onions from Trader Joe's, no ugly ingredients.
VEGAN GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE My friend Susan from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen veganized the World's Best Green Bean Casserole and reports, "... my gosh, it is good! Truly, we were scraping the little casserole dish clean."
MORE FAVORITE THANKSGIVING RECIPES~ Favorite Recipes for Thanksgiving's Top-Twelve Vegetables ~
~ Vegetarian Entrées for Thanksgiving ~
~ Slooow Country Green Beans ~
~ Sweet Potato Casserole ~
~ Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin ~
~ Honey Pumpkin Pie ~
~ more green bean recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ How to Roast a Whole Turkey (dry brine method) ~
~ Slow Cooker Turkey Breast ~
~ Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple ~
~ Six Thanksgiving Menus ~
~ more Thanksgiving recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
HISTORY of THIS RECIPE This is the green bean casserole recipe that flew across the world – and the reason why, in some special circles, I'm called the "green bean casserole lady"! It all started back in 2006 when I embarked upon a quest for extraordinary vegetable recipes perfect for Thanksgiving tables. This updated green bean casserole made with fresh green beans and mushrooms was the first recipe in a collection of seriously delicious Thanksgiving vegetables including gingery sweet potatoes, creamy carrots, bacony cabbage ... and more! The recipe was soon discovered by SlashFood, Simply Recipes, Chowhound, the Cooking Light board plus a few others. Over a few weeks, the recipe had tens of thousands of visits and was made in who-knows-how-many homes. I've served it myself to rave reviews numerous times, hence all the insider tips.
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