Green Bean Casserole is a Thanksgiving classic, but one that originated in the mid-20th century, when recipes were rife with canned goods and other processed food products. Now, more than 50 years later, tastes have shifted back toward fresh and from-scratch cooking, which I am not sad about. So I’ve taken this traditional Thanksgiving Classic dish, eliminated the condensed canned soup, and created my own super creamy mushroom sauce. I still have those tasty fried onions on top, but hey, I’ll make an exception for those. ;)
Want more Thanksgiving classics? Check out our Holiday Recipes category.
The Creamiest Homemade Green Bean Casserole
How to Make Green Bean Casserole without Canned Soup
For this ultimate creamiest green bean casserole I whipped up a simple white sauce flavored with sautéed mushrooms and garlic, then added the secret ingredient that makes it wonderfully thick and creamier than creamy—cream cheese! Yeah, sounds weird, but when I tell you I was licking the pan after transferring everything to the casserole dish to bake, I’m not kidding. This mushroom cream sauce was soooo good and seriously tasted just like store bought cream-of-mushroom soup (except better, of course).
Can This Green Bean Casserole Be Frozen?
I wouldn’t suggest freezing this Green Bean Casserole. Sauces thickened with flour do not tend to hold up well to freezing and thawing. This is one of the few disadvantages of not using condensed canned soups, which contain stabilizers.
Can I Make this Green Bean Casserole Ahead?
It is possible to assemble this Green Bean Casserole a day ahead of time (minus the onion topping), refrigerate it, then add the onions and baking the next day. The baking time may be slightly longer when preparing ahead, since the dish will be chilled instead of warm going into the oven. I do not suggest making this dish anymore than one day ahead of time before baking.
Should I Use Fresh or Frozen Green Beans in My Green Bean Casserole?
I really like whole green beans for this Green Bean Casserole because I think it the dish at least a little prettier, but you can use cut or French-cut green beans if you’d like. Whichever shape you use, I suggest using either frozen or fresh, but not canned beans. Canned green beans tend to be much too soft in both texture and flavor, and over salted. If using fresh green beans, just blanch them in boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, or just until they turn bright green and lose their raw edge (they should still be firm), before adding them to the casserole.
Love casseroles? Check out these other canned-soup-free casseroles: King Ranch Chicken Casserole, Cheesy Chicken Vegetable and Rice Casserole, Wild Rice and Vegetable Casserole, and Cheesy Cottage Pie.
Creamiest Green Bean Casserole
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.13)
- 8 oz. button mushrooms ($1.80)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- Pinch salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 3 Tbsp butter ($0.39)
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.03)
- 1 cup vegetable broth* ($0.13)
- 1 cup whole milk ($0.31)
- 4 oz. cream cheese ($0.60)
- 20 oz frozen green beans* ($2.50)
- 3 oz. French fried onions** ($1.75)
- Wash the mushrooms then roughly chop them into small pieces. Mince the garlic. Begin preheating the oven to 350ºF.
- Heat a large skillet over medium, then add the olive oil. Swirl to coat the surface of the skillet, then add the mushrooms, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the mushrooms until they release all their moisture, the skillet dries up again, and the edges of the mushrooms begin to brown slightly (7-10 minutes).
- Add the butter and flour the skillet with the mushrooms. Continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes, or just until the flour begins to coat the bottom of the skillet and turns golden brown.
- Whisk the vegetable broth into the skillet until all of the flour has dissolved off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the broth to come to a simmer as you whisk, at which point it will thicken.
- When the liquid in the skillet has thickened, whisk in the milk. Allow the mixture to return to a simmer after adding the milk, then add the cream cheese (cut into small chunks). Continue to whisk and cook until the cream cheese has fully melted into the sauce. Taste the sauce and add another pinch of salt and pepper if needed. You want the sauce to be slightly over seasoned so the flavor doesn't get too diluted once the green beans are added.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the green beans (no need to thaw). The cold beans will thicken the sauce considerably. Transfer the beans and sauce to a 2-3 quart casserole dish. Top with the fried onions and transfer to the oven.
- Bake the Green Bean Casserole for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through and the fried onions on top have browned slightly. Serve warm.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Green Bean Casserole – Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Wash 8oz. button mushrooms and roughly chopping them into small pieces. Mince two cloves of garlic. Heat a large skillet over medium, then add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Swirl to coat the skillet, then add the mushrooms, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the mushrooms until they release all their moisture, the skillet dries up, and the mushrooms begin to brown a bit on the edges.
Add 3 Tbsp butter and 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the skillet (sorry the picture shows 2 Tbsp, made a last minute decision to add more after taking the photo. 😜)
Continue to sauté the mushrooms with the butter and flour until the flour begins to coat the bottom of the skillet and turn golden brown. This toasts the flour and prevents that floury flavor.
Whisk 1 cup vegetable broth into the skillet, making sure all the flour dissolves off the bottom. Allow the broth to come up to a simmer, while whisking, at which point it will thicken.
Whisk in 1 cup whole milk and allow it to come up to a simmer again. Cut the cream cheese into chunks, add it to the sauce, and continue to heat and whisk until it has fully melted in. At this point you want to taste the sauce and add another pinch of salt and pepper. You want the sauce to be just slightly more salty than you’d think it needs because once it’s combined with the green beans the flavor will dilute slightly.
Finally, remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the frozen green beans. I had a 20 oz. bag of green beans but you could probably use up to 1.5 lbs. (24 oz.) with this amount of sauce, if needed.
Transfer the green beans and sauce to a 2-3 quart casserole dish and top with 3oz. fried onions (that’s half of 6oz. can of fried onions).
Bake the casserole in the preheated 350ºF oven for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through and the fried onions have become golden brown.
Serve the CREAMIEST Green Bean Casserole warm! Yummmmmmm.