Next in our series of lighter, fresher versions of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes: Healthy Green Bean Casserole!
Despite its OG status in today’s Thanksgiving spread, green bean casserole is one of those recipes I forget about every year until it’s in front of me in its French-onion-crowned glory.
Holiday mealtime is sacred, and plate (and stomach) space is a premium. Every side should shine.
Thus, I set out to create a green bean casserole from scratch that would be remembered and (this is the ultimate test) re-requested for years to come.
5 Star Review
“This was fantastic, and I was so proud of myself for making this dish from scratch! Wonderful recipe!”— Daria —
The Very Best Green Bean Casserole
Creamy, crispy, and deeply comforting, this recipe is as much about what it is as what it isn’t.
What it is:
- Luscious, velvety, and rich in the center (just like my Homemade Scalloped Potatoes).
- Golden, crispy, and addictive on top (just like my Butternut Squash Casserole).
- Complex enough to keep you interested.
- Classic enough to feel traditional.
What it is not:
- Cream of anything soup-ed. (If you came looking for a healthy green bean casserole without mushroom soup, this is it!)
- Canned. No canned green beans. No canned soup (see above). No canned onions. I promise you won’t miss them!
This casserole is so delicious, I even used it as the inspiration for my healthy Asparagus Casserole.
How to Make This Recipe
This is a skinny green bean casserole that tastes anything but lightened up!
- Green Beans. A Thanksgiving classic for a reason! Green beans are both delicious and highly nutritious. They’re a great source of fiber, vitamin-C, and folate.
- Breadcrumb Topping. The combo of whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan is delightful. I love the extra nuttiness and saltiness of the Parm. The crisp of the breadcrumbs makes the casserole feel complete. As an added bonus, skipping the fried stuff makes for a more heart-healthy green bean casserole too.
- Onion + Mushrooms. To ensure the filling didn’t taste too “light,” I started it with a base of caramelized onions and mushrooms. The caramelized onions give the casserole its signature French onion flavor, and the mushrooms play off of the whole classic cream of mushroom soup thing without actually adding it.
Do not use plain white mushrooms, as they do not have much flavor. Cremini mushrooms (also called “Baby Bella”) are the right choice.
- All-Purpose Flour. To help thicken our scrumptious, creamy sauce.
- Milk. 2% milk adds just the right amount of richness.
- Greek Yogurt. To enrich the filling without adding unnecessary fat, I made the healthy green bean casserole with Greek yogurt. It’s just as thick and tangy as sour cream but is low in fat and high in protein.
- Stir the Panko, Parmesan, parsley, and olive oil together for the topping.
- Blanch the green beans, then pat dry.
- Saute the onion and mushrooms in oil. Add the flour and stir.
- Pour in the milk a little at a time, stirring consistently. Add the spices. Stir, then let the sauce reduce. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the yogurt.
- Spread half of the green beans into a baking dish, then layer half of the sauce on top. Finish with the remaining green beans and sauce. Top with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Broil for 1 to 3 minutes, until just browned. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then ENJOY!
Healthy Green Bean Casserole Storage Tips
- To Store. Refrigerate casserole in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through.
- I do not recommend freezing this dish, as the green beans and breadcrumbs will become mushy once thawed.
Meal Plan Tips
- Green beans can be blanched 1 day in advance and the sauce prepared 1 day in advance. Store them separately in the refrigerator, then gently reheat the sauce on the stove until steaming before combining with the green beans. If the mixture becomes too thick, thin it out with a splash or two of milk.
- I haven’t tested assembling the entire casserole in advance, but I think that you could layer the sauce and beans together in the baking dish, cover the dish with foil, and refrigerate it for up to 1 day. When getting ready to serve, let the dish come to room temperature, then heat it (covered) in a 350 degree F oven until hot. From there, uncover, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and broil just before serving.
Recommended Tools to Make Healthy Green Bean Casserole
- Baking Dish. A worthy investment piece for your kitchen.
- Cheese Grater. You can use a box grater or a microplane grater for this recipe.
- Saucepan. An essential kitchen tool that you’ll use frequently.
Healthy Green Bean Casserole
- ½ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley plus additional for garnish
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 2 ½ pounds green beans trimmed
- 1 medium onion very thinly sliced
- 8 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms sliced (do not use plain white mushrooms, as they do not have much flavor)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 7 ounces 2% Greek yogurt
- Position a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat to broil. Lightly coat a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish with nonstick spray.
- In a small bowl, stir together the Panko, Parmesan, parsley, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.
- Blanch the green beans: Bring a very large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath and set out a large, clean kitchen towel. Place the beans in the water and cook just until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking, then drain and transfer to the towel. Lightly pat dry.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, wide saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and golden and the mushrooms brown and have given up their liquid, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle the flour over the top. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes more, until all of the flour turns golden and no white bits remain.
- Slowly add the milk a few splashes at a time, stirring between each addition to prevent lumps from forming. Increase the heat to medium high. Stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook and stir, allowing the sauce to bubble, running a wooden spoon or spatula along the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking and stirring until the sauce reduces and thickens to resemble a creamy gravy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Greek yogurt.
- Transfer half the green beans to the prepared baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the green beans. Add the remaining green beans and top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top.
- Broil, watching closely, until the casserole is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes prior to serving. Garnish with additional fresh parsley.
- Green beans can be blanched 1 day in advance and the sauce prepared 1 day in advance. Store separately in the refrigerator, then gently reheat the sauce on the stove until steaming before combining with the green beans. If the mixture becomes too thick, thin it out with a splash or two of milk. I haven’t tested assembling the entire casserole in advance, but I think that you could layer together the sauce and beans in the baking dish, cover the dish with foil, then heat it (covered) in a 350 degree F oven until hot. From there, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and broil closer to serving.
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