Healthier Green Bean Casserole

Healthier Green Bean Casserole | #thanksgiving

Hey hey!  Guess who’s finally getting on board with the Thanksgiving recipe train?

This food blogger, that’s who.

I’ve been a little slow getting to all of the classic holiday recipes this year, partly because there are already lots of Thanksgiving recipes on the site, and partly because — ehh — sometimes even a food blogger doesn’t really want to eat lots of holiday food until closer to the holiday too.  But I cooked up a huge pre-Thanksgiving feast last week and have all sorts of good recipes ready to share with you over the next few weeks.  So get hungry, because it’s going to be a feast!  

First up this year is my take on classic green bean casserole.  It tastes decadently creamy, it’s chocked full of fresh green beans, it’s topped with a crispy onion topping that everyone will love — oh, and it’s totally lightened up!  Yep, no processed cans of creamy soup or deep-fried canned onions in this one.  Just a decadent, delicious casserole that your guests will probably never guess is better for them than the original.  Shall we?

Healthier Green Bean Casserole | #thanksgiving

I have to admit that I was a little late to the liking-green-beans party in life.  But my gateway into trying them was always classic green bean casserole on Thanksgiving.  Yes, I was totally “that kid” who would sit there and pick off the French’s fried onions to eat.  And then maybe choke down a green bean or two when Mom was watching.  But over the years, the beans somehow started to grow on me Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving.  And then once I learned how to roast them — which is basically how I learned to like every vegetable — I was hooked.

Nowadays I’m a big fan of all green beans.  But I still have a soft spot for the casserole that started it all many Thanksgivings ago.  I just like to make it my way now.  And my way is generally lighter, fresher, and more seasoned — which works out great for this casserole!

Healthier Green Bean Casserole 8

To make the recipe, we actually begin with the end in mind — the crispy onion topping.

Now I love those canned onions just as much as anyone else, but the fact that they come from a can has always kind of weirded me out.  And, well, let’s just say they’re not the best for you.

So instead, simply saute up an onion until it’s nice and browned (you can use butter or olive oil), and then transfer the onions to a separate bowl with a slotted spoon.  Then add some Panko breadcrumbs to the pan, and saute them a bit more until they are nice and browned and extra crispy.  Transfer the Panko to the bowl with the onions and toss them all together with some grated Parmesan and salt, and you’ve got your topping.  Set it aside.

(If you would like more of an Italian twist to this dish, I also recommend adding 1 teaspoon of Italian seasonings to the onion topping.)

Gluten Free Alfredo Sauce 11

Next, you get to make the creamy mushroom sauce.  As I mentioned, it is based off of my favorite Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo recipe.  (I forgot to take a photo of the mushroom sauce, so here’s a pic of the alfredo.)   It is garlicky, it’s Parmesan-y, and it’s thick and creamy but made with regular milk instead of heavy cream.  Readers always give it great reviews, and I’m a big fan.

Simple saute up some fresh mushrooms until they are cooked.  And in the same saute pan, make your creamy alfredo sauce.Healthier Green Bean Casserole | #thanksgiving

Meanwhile, prepare your beans.  I like mine in bite-sized pieces with the ends snipped off, but you can prepare them however you want.  Simply place them in boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until they are cooked and bright green but still have a “bite” (or you can cook them to be as soft as you’d like).  Then drain the beans, and transfer them into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Healthier Green Bean Casserole | #thanksgiving

Drain the green beans again and toss them with the creamy sauce.  Then transfer the mixture to a greased baking pan, and sprinkle the onion mixture on top.  Bake it up until it’s nice and crispy and bubbly.

Healthier Green Bean Casserole | #thanksgiving

And then dig in!

Seriously, this casserole is everything I love about the original.  But all the more enjoyable knowing that it’s made with fresher, healthier ingredients.

You still might catch me picking off that crispy onion topping every now and then, though.  ;)

Healthier Green Bean Casserole | #thanksgiving

Enjoy!  And stay tuned for more Thanksgiving recipes coming soon!

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Healthier Green Bean Casserole

This healthier green bean casserole is made with fresh and lighter ingredients, yet tastes just as comforting and decadent as the classic recipe!


Casserole Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • mushroom sauce (see below)
  • crispy onion topping (see below)

Crispy Onion Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil or butter, divided
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mushroom Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 8 ounces white button or baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (or cornstarch, if gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%, but any milk will work)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (not packed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


To Make The Casserole:

Begin by preparing the onion topping.  Then make the mushroom sauce.

While those are cooking, preheat oven to 375 degrees and bring a large stockpot of water to a boil.  Add the green beans and boil for 3-5 minutes, or until they reach your desired level of doneness.  (I like mine cooked but still slightly crispy.)  Drain the green beans, then transfer them to the bowl of ice water and stir them in.  This will stop them from cooking more.

When the mushroom sauce is ready, transfer the green beans into the pan with the sauce and toss until combined.  Pour the green bean mixture into a baking dish that has been greased with cooking spray.  Then sprinkle the onion topping evenly on top.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Serve warm.

To Make The Crispy Onion Topping:

Heat half of the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until melted.  (Or if using olive oil, heat until it is shimmering.)  Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until they are soft and starting to brown around the edges.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onions to a separate mixing bowl.

Add the remaining half tablespoon of butter (or oil) to the pan and heat until melted.  Add in the Panko breadcrumbs and stir until combined.  Cook, stirring once every 30 seconds or so, for about 3-5 minutes until the Panko is toasted and lightly golden.  Remove from heat and transfer the Panko to the bowl with the onions.  Stir in the Parmesan and salt, and toss the mixture until combined.  Set aside.

To Make The Mushroom Sauce:

In the same saute pan that you used to cook the onion and Panko, heat butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until melted.  (Or if using olive oil, heat until it is shimmering.)  Add mushrooms and saute for 3-5 minutes until they are soft and cooked, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine. Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.

Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese is melted. Reduce heat to low until the sauce is ready to be tossed with the green beans.

(*If the sauce seems too thick, you can add in an extra 1/2 cup of milk.  If the sauce is too thin, you can add in an extra 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.)


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If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

Healthier Green Bean Casserole | #thanksgiving

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67 comments on “Healthier Green Bean Casserole”

  1. Yum! This looks delicious, though I do have a soft spot for those French’s crispy onions. Question–I’m not a huge mushroom fan. What would you recommend substituting? Or should I just leave the mushrooms out and make the Alfredo? Thank you!

  2. Hey, better late than me. Since I grew up in Canada, I totally forgot about Thanksgiving and made no recipes for it. Whomp Whomp.
    I am so in love with you because you made this crunchy classic better for me! Time to eat the whole pan! Pinned!

  3. I’m all about trying to “healthify” some classics! I’m going to add this to my list for this year. I love greenbean casserole but do not dig the proccessed ingredients. Thanks! (Also, that crispy onion topping should go on everything…)

  4. Yum…. Love me some green bean casserole :) I’m happy to see a version that doesn’t use cream of liquified mushroom soup!

  5. I’m not much of a green bean casserole person, but your version looks fantastic!

  6. This has always been my favorite. LOVE your rendition!! :)

  7. Oh yes, you are rocking my world with this recipe right now. Here I am at work and my team and I are trying to decide where we are going to eat lunch when I just want to jump into my computer screen and gobble (get it? GOBBLE) up all of this casserole.

  8. You’re officially in charge of green bean casserole this year. yum!

  9. My hubby can’t do mushrooms is there something else you recommend for the sauce? Thanks!

  10. Ohh I love this thank you! I always want to make the ever so comforting green been casserole for Thanksgiving but bulk at the idea of that many calories in a vegetable dish. Thank you for sharing!

    xo Rachel

  11. This casserole looks so yummy! I too have never been a big fan of green beans, but somehow I’d always end up with a scoop of this casserole on my plate at Thanksgiving. I think you just get the feeling you must try EVERYTHING on Turkey Day! lol. I love this healthier version you’ve made! And homemade fried onions to put on top?!?!?! … Forget about it! Ha! Thanks for the recipe :)


  12. I would eat this green been casserole:) 

  13. Done and done.  This is instantly being added to my menu for Thanksgiving!

  14. Looks amazing Ali! I made green bean casserole the other day and it’s no where near as lightened up as this. I have to try your recipe! Maybe Kevin won’t notice the switch lol. 

  15. Those Crispy Onions look perfect. 

  16. Wow, this looks amazing. You got me at Parmesan and mushroom! I’m gonna make it next week to “test” before the real holiday dinner! I can’t wait to taste it.

  17. These looks oh so scrumptious Ali!! Adore!

  18. What an excellent recipe, and timely!! I just came back from a major food store with 10 lbs of green beans, a few starting to brown a bit, for .48 cents! Made this recipe immediately, and we both loved it! No condensed soup to deal with, just an excellent healthy recipe. Thank you. Will now have a new dish for next years bean season.

  19. That’s a great recipe. I can almost smell it :)) It’s great for the season too. With all the red meat during the winter, a nice light recipe like that will ease my diet during the spring so i can look good on the beach in 2015 :) Wish you post more recipes like that and less “seductive” ones :)  

  20. Looks BEAUTIFUL, Ali. This is the only dish my husband requests for Thanksgiving. It comes even before the turkey! Love your healthier rendition.

  21. This is so the color and flavors :)

  22. I had saved two recipes for green bean casserole and my husband chose yours.  It turned out very nicely, so it is definitely a keeper.  I never liked the one with canned soup, so it’s nice to have a green bean casserole that I do like.

    I need to say that the way the directions were written (the order they were in) was a bit hard for me to follow.  I understand why you wrote them the way you did, but I would have had an easier time following them had they just been written in the order in which the steps needed to be completed.

    Thank you for a great recipe, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  23. Green bean casserole is one of my favorite dishes every Thanksgiving, but my family and friends are never fond of the can version. I made your recipe this year and it was a HUGE hit! Everyone, including myself, loved it! I can’t wait to make it again! I would agree that the order of the instructions leaves you scrolling back and forth many times to see amount for each ingredient. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  24. going to make this today for Easter tomorrow. Really excited about doing it from scratch! Will take photo good or bad lol!

  25. Hi there! I was just wondering if there is a make ahead option for this dish? Thanks!

    • Hi Nellie! We think you could assemble this the day before. Just assemble entirely, let it cool (leave off the topping until right before you bake), cover and refrigerate, then top and bake when you’re ready! We hope this helps, and that you enjoy!

  26. I hope you see/answer soon….. do you know if this reheats well so I can make it ahead of time? I’m excited to try this and not sabotage my healthy eating.

    • Hi Amber, you can definitely make this ahead of time (we just wouldn’t make the topping ahead of time, as it will get soggy and lose its crispness. You could try making the topping in advance, just not putting it on the casserole until right before baking. We hope this helps, and that you enjoy!

  27. Can you make this in advance? As in the morning of, or dare I say it, the night before and reheat before dinner? I don’t want to make it in the morning and end up with soggy beans at night, I know recipes with fresh ingredients are generally best served fresh.

    • Hi there! You can definitely do that, we just wouldn’t do the topping in advance (will most likely get soggy and lose its crispness). We hope you enjoy! :)

  28. I’d like to make this for Thanksgiving – sounds wonderful!  Can the mushroom Alfredo sauce be made the day before, so that assembling is less time consuming on Thanksgiving?

    • Hi Francesca, we’re sorry we’re just now getting to your comment. The sauce can definitely be made the day before. We hope you enjoy/enjoyed this!

  29. Would it be ok to make this the night before? Or will it go bad before.

    • Hi Jen, you could definitely make this the night before, just don’t put the topping on it until right before you bake (otherwise it will get soggy). Also, if there’s any way you can make the topping closer to the time you’re going to bake, that would be ideal (the more advance you make the topping, the less crispy it will be/stay). We hope you enjoy this!

  30. This was seriously DELICIOUS!!! I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit with my family and my in-laws. So good. 

  31. I never even tried green bean casserole before, but with this being the only dish my boyfriend requested for our first Thanksgiving together (and him living away from his family) I knew I had to make it. When he walked into the kitchen to find me cooking this on Thanksgiving morning his first reaction was “Do you know how that’s normally made, with cans?” I laughed because the idea of cooking with canned veggies just doesn’t sit well with me. Thank you for giving me a great fresh recipe that gave me the title of “Awesome Girlfriend” this Thanksgiving! 

  32. I made this recipe for my Friendsgiving (I left out the mushrooms) and it was absolutely delicious! I’ve never made the classic recipe and I had everyone cringing at the thought of green bean casserole as a dish but I only received positive feedback and am now bringing this as my dish for Christmas. I’d love to eat this for any occasion or no occasion at all IT’S THAT GOOD. Perfectly light and seasoned.

  33. Looks amazing!  Can this be made a day ahead?  I think you could leave the topping off until the day you bake it.

    • Thanks, Marisa — we hope you enjoy! And we think it would be okay if you made this a day ahead (except for the topping). :)

  34. What is the sodium content? I was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure and am trying to cut down on salt.

    • Hi Melissa! We’re sorry but we are unsure of the nutrition facts in this recipe. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate, though we would suggest consulting with your doctor or a nutritionist to make sure. We hope that helps!

  35. Just discovered your website. Looks interesting, fresh and healthy. With that in mind, do you ever post nutritional info? I have to keep track of carbs. Look forward to trying this.

    • Hi Melanie, we’re glad you enjoy the blog! We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps!

  36. Tried this out tonight but skipped all the salt. Amazing. I try to avoid using any canned soups, it’s nice to know what you’re putting into your food. Love this! 

  37. This is a great recipe – I have made it many times in the past. I plan on making it this Thanksgiving as well but I have one question…
    I have many quarts of canned green beans after the growing season. Can you make this with canned green beans? I have only used fresh in the past and I can always just go buy some at the store but would like to use what I already have on hand.

    • Thanks for sharing, Angie — we’re happy you enjoy it! And we think you could definitely use canned green beans for this!

  38. Is this the same green bean casserole you had last year?  The one I’m familiar with had a picture of the casserole in an iron skillet pan?  Did you change the photos?  Is it the same recipes?

    • Hi Liusa — this is the only green bean casserole recipe we have. We wonder if you’re thinking of a different blog?

  39. Can you make this the day before and add crispy onions the day of ? 

  40. Thank you so much for this recipe! Long story short grandmother in laws health issues were literally unknown until a few hours ago and I stayed up all night starting from scratch to prepare this dish for Thanksgiving. I used unsalted chicken stock and only put parmesan in the sauce. 45 MG per serving! Not too bad for a novice cook with no time!

  41. Made this on Thanksgiving but did it in the crockpot since the turkey took up the whole oven. I was worried the breadcrumbs would end up being mushy but since I left it alone the entire time without stirring it ended up being fine! I bet it tastes better baked, but it was sooooo delicious in the crockpot too! Thanks for this recipe, my family wants me to make it on Christmas too. 

    • Thanks for sharing with us, Jess — we’re so glad you enjoyed it and that it worked well in the crockpot! :)

  42. Hello,

    What size baking dish would be best? Can I use a 13×9?

    • Hi Kathryn! Yes, a 13×9 or something similar in size (can be a bit smaller) will work just fine. We hope you enjoy!

  43. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. It looks like a great substitute for the less healthy version. However I’m unable to locate the nutrition information. Is it possible to provide that information?

  44. This cassarole is delicious. So much better than the soup version, however I️ must confess I️ still use the crispy onions. A must have for Thanksgiving…

    Rating: 5
  45. Just wanted to let you know that I made this recipe for Xmas Eve last year and EVERYONE loved it, including a family member who owns his own restaurant! I wanted to make a healthier, less processed tasting version of the classic that would also satisfy my picky vegetarian sister, and this recipe did just that! Can’t wait to use it again this year. I am going to try adding in some turkey bacon this year and make two batches since it was all eaten last year. Thanks for a great holiday go-to!!

    Rating: 5
  46. This was such a hit at Thanksgiving I am making it again on Christmas Day! I made it as a Weight Watcher member so I had ample deliciousness, and other family members preferred it over the traditional “soupy” salty version that I also made. I’ll never make any green bean casserole again other than this one!!!

    Rating: 5
  47. Amazingly delicious – everyone at Thanksgiving loved it. I am making it again on Christmas Day. It puts the old soupy salty mushy recipe out the door forever!

    Rating: 5
  48. Amazingly tasty – it was loved by everybody at Thanks for giving. It is being made by me. It puts the soupy that is an outdated mushy recipe that is salty outside the door!

    Rating: 5