Healthy Green Bean Casserole
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 (the ultimate test) re-requested for years to come.
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.
- Golden, crispy, and addictive on top.
- 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!
How Do You Make Healthy Green Bean Casserole?
- 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.
- To ensure the filling didn’t taste “light,” I started it with a base of caramelized onions and mushrooms.
- I skipped the fried onions in favor of a crispy Panko Parm topping.
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.
Topping-wise, 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.
This is a skinny green bean casserole that tastes anything but lightened up!
- Healthy Green Bean Casserole, Gluten Free: Swap the all-purpose flour for a 1:1 baking blend like this one. (Not yet tested, but I think this would work nicely; I’ve had good results in other recipes with this product.) Use gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Healthy Green Bean Casserole, Vegan: Replace the milk with unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk. Use a nondairy yogurt. Swap the Parmesan for a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast and add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice. (Also not yet tested, but I think this would be delicious! If you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes.)
More Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
- Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash
If you’re looking for even more holiday side dishes, this dish is just one of the many healthy Thanksgiving sides on my site.
Healthy Green Bean Casserole
- 1/2 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley - plus additional for garnish
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - divided
- 2 1/2 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
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 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.
This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.