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Fresh Green Bean Casserole covered in french fried onions is a creamy, crunchy, classic Thanksgiving side dish that nobody seems able to resist despite full plates and full bellies!
We love serving this fresh green bean casserole with a bacon roasted turkey, my easy homemade cranberry sauce, this sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans, and our favorite southern cornbread dressing. Be sure not to miss any recipes in our classic Thanksgiving menu!
This is fresh green bean casserole from scratch. Or at least mostly from scratch. There are no cans of cream of mushroom soup or canned green beans here. My one exception is the french fried onions.
Honestly, there is so much going on at Thanksgiving that even the most dedicated cooks are looking for ways to eliminate stress and ease the burden of pulling together the big feast. And when picking and choosing battles for where to invest my time prepping for Thanksgiving Day, french frying onions is not one that I’m going to bother with. And I’m okay with that. But if you have the energy, these crispy fried onions are a family favorite!
Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables (right up there with brussels sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, and bell peppers, which round out my top 5).
We love these green beans with bacon & pine nuts that my friend Lisa shared with me years ago when she brought them to us for dinner after our oldest daughter was born, and they are another fantastic option for Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you have anyone coming who adheres to a gluten-free diet.
But there is something so comforting about the classics like this savory, creamy & crunchy green bean casserole!
I love the crisp-tender green beans instead of mushy canned green beans in this homemade version. And the easy, from-scratch sauce tastes lighter and silkier than the sometimes gloopy green bean casseroles made with cans of cream of mushroom soup.
Yes, it’s a time-saver to use canned ingredients, but it’s so easy and so much tastier to make green bean casserole without mushroom soup or canned green beans.
We all have our tried and true recipes for Thanksgiving sides, and yes, there are a few more steps here than the classic Campbell’s green bean casserole recipe, but I promise that this Fresh Green Bean Casserole recipe is worth a try. I’m pretty sure your family will notice a difference, but only in the best way possible!
How to Make Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- Start your green bean casserole by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove to blanch the beans. A good rule of thumb for salting water is to use 2 tablespoons of salt to about a gallon of water. The fresh green beans need to be partially cooked before adding them to the sauce or they won’t soften enough in the oven, but you also don’t want to overcook them. Once the water is boiling, dump in the beans and let them cook for 5 minutes (set a timer!). Then drain and immediately douse with very cold water or dump the green beans into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. They will finish cooking in the oven.
- Make the sauce by sauteing onions and garlic in a little melted butter until they soften. If you plan to use mushrooms, now is the time to add them for another minute or two of cooking just to soften.
- Then sprinkle with flour and cook for a couple of minutes before whisking in chicken broth and half-and-half. The sauce needs to simmer gently for 5-6 minutes to thicken just a bit, then it gets added to the green beans and they get tossed to coat everything.
- Dump the green beans and sauce into a serving dish and sprinkle the french fried onions over the top, then bake for 20 minutes in a 375 degree F oven until hot and bubbly.
Can I Make Green Beans Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can make most of this fresh green bean casserole recipe up to a day in advance.
Just follow all of the steps up to topping with the breadcrumbs and fried onions, since those will get soggy in the fridge overnight. Cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap before refrigerating.
Make-ahead green bean casserole is an easy way to save yourself some of the stress on Thanksgiving Day since all you need to do is heat it in the oven and top with French’s fried onions right before sticking it in the oven to bake.
Can Green Bean Casserole be made in the Slow Cooker?
Yes, you can make this in the slow cooker! If you are tight on oven space, sometimes it makes sense to use another appliance!
To make this green bean casserole recipe in the slow cooker, just skip the step where you blanch the green beans and instead just throw them in the slow cooker after washing and trimming first. Then make the sauce as directed and pour that over the beans.
Mix everything together and cook on LOW for 2 hours, then stir well and top with the french fried onions. Cook for another 30-60 minutes before serving.
It won’t crisp up as much as it does in the oven, but it’s still delicious and will save you space!
Tips for Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- I’ve already harped on this, but it’s worth repeating that fresh green beans are going to make a big difference in this dish. Yes, it’s kind of a bother to blanch them, but it’s worth it.
- You could skip the french fried onions and just use all panko bread crumbs instead if fried onions aren’t your thing.
- Chop your beans in half or in thirds for easier eating or leave them whole. Either approach works.
- Even though I’m a HUGE fan of mushrooms, I actually prefer green bean casserole without them so the fresh, bright green bean flavor can come to the forefront without being muted by the mushrooms. But there is a note at the end of the recipe with instructions on when and how to add the mushrooms to this dish if you prefer it that way.
Yes, you can make and assemble your green bean casserole, but hold off on topping it with the french fried onions. Cover and freeze until you are ready to bake. You can bake start from frozen without adding the onions until the casserole has already baked for about 20 minutes.
More Thanksgiving Dishes to Complete Your Holiday Menu
- Garlic Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Lion House Dinner Rolls
- Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
- How to Make a Brined & Smoked Turkey
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows & Pecans
- Fall Panzanella Salad
- Cranberry Jello Salad with Cream Cheese Topping
- The BEST Homemade Mashed Potatoes!
- Soft Homemade Potato Rolls
Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- 2 pounds fresh green beans rinsed and ends trimmed, then chopped in half
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 6 ounces [french fried onions] storebought or homemade
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. I aim for about 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt in a gallon of water, but usually just eyeball it. Prepare a large bowl with an ice bath for blanching the beans.
- Blanch the beans by adding them to the boiling water and cooking for 5 minutes. Then drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking process so the beans don't turn mushy. Drain and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, sauteing for 4 to 5 minutes until the onions start to soften. Add the mushrooms, if using (see note), salt and pepper and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour over the softened onions and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, then whisk in the chicken broth to make sure there are no lumps, then the half and half. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until it has thickened, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
- Pour the sauce over the beans and stir to combine, then transfer to a large 9x13-inch casserole dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and french fried onions.
- Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Cover the dish with foil if the onions start to brown too quickly.
- Make-Ahead Instructions: You can make most of this fresh green bean casserole up to a day in advance by assembling all through adding the breadcrumb and fried onion topping. Then cover and refrigerate overnight and top and bake as directed the next day.
- Mushroom Option: If you want mushrooms in your green bean casserole, chop about 8 ounces of button mushrooms or 2 portobello mushrooms and add once the onions and garlic have been sauteed, before adding the flour.
- Slow Cooker Option: If you are tight on oven space and need to make this casserole in the slow cooker, skip the step where you blanch the green beans and just throw them in the slow cooker after washing and trimming first. Then make the sauce as directed and pour that over the beans. Mix everything together and cook on LOW for 2 hours, then stir well and top with the french fried onions. Cook for another 30-60 minutes before serving. It won't crisp up as much as it does in the oven, but it's still delicious and will save you space!
Recipe adapted slightly from The Novice Chef.