Green bean casserole has a bad rep and it’s not unfair – canned soup and canned beans, yech. But it’s an umami bomb of a dish that was invented long before the word umami came to the English language and stood the test of time and food trends. This is a modernized, updated, scratch version that’s as comforting as it is good for you.
In its original form it’s a pretty processed dish that we can definitely improve on. This version is so much more mushroom-y, so much more flavorful, and still only about 10 minutes of extra work. This newly updated recipe is enhanced with the combined umami powers of caramelized onions, double the mushrooms, soy sauce, fish sauce, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. It’s so much better than condensed soup and canned green beans.
Who invented green bean casserole?
Dorcas Reilly–a recipe developer for Campbell’s–invented green bean casserole back in 1955. She wanted it to be a few simple and affordable ingredients and as little prep as possible while still tasting great – and using at least one Campbell’s product. She did an absolutely iconic job that’s even crazier when you realize it’s basically vegetarian.
How to make green bean casserole
Green bean casserole is super easy to make. No matter what version or recipe, the process is the same:
- Prepare your mushroom soup, add fried onions and soy sauce.
- Blanch your fresh green beans (or open your can of green beans, you monster).
- Assemble and bake until bubbling and toasty.
- Top with fried onions and bake a little longer until onions are warmed and extra crispy.
The classic campbells green bean casserole
I made a tiny tiny example of the original recipe (pictured above) to refresh my memory and it blew my mind. If you are feeling lazy, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the original recipe as written.
If you want to make the classic version: it’s 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1 can of milk, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1lb green beans, and a 6oz package of french fried onions. Combine the soup, milk, soy sauce, green beans, salt and pepper, and half the onions. Bake for 25-30 minutes, then top with the remaining onions, and bake another 5 minutes.
Why make green bean casserole from scratch then?
Our grocery stores have better than canned green beans now. And we can do better than super processed cream of mushroom soup too. You don’t have to invest a lot of extra time (just an extra 5-10 minutes of work and another 10 minutes of simmering) and you can have yourself the most amazing, truly beautiful cream of mushroom soup to use as a base for the best green bean casserole ever.
This green bean casserole recipe
Why choose this recipe over the hundreds of others on the Internet and TV? Because it’s simple, pared down, and refined, while still being no-holds barred on taste and umami factor, using every tool at our disposal: parmigiano-reggiano cheese, fish sauce, soy sauce, and many mushrooms.
I’ve replaced every component of the classic dish with an upgrade:
- Mushroom soup + milk: make our own, even more mushroom-y. Mushroom++
- Soy sauce: I recommend a 1-2 punch of dark mushroom soy sauce + fish sauce.
- Canned green beans: switch out for very briefly blanched farm fresh green beans.
- French’s fried onions: Actually you can’t improve this, more on this later down.
Fresh vs canned vs frozen green beans
But what if you somehow can’t get fresh green beans, like if there was a pandemic and supply lines collapsed? Hopefully that never happens, but if it does, you’re better off with frozen than canned. Frozen vegetables are flash frozen and retain all their nutrients, taste, and most of their texture when cooked properly.
Pictured: hand chosen, hand sliced. Not pictured: 20 minutes of life, lost.
Soy sauce vs fish sauce
Believe it or not, soy sauce was integral to this recipe right when it was invented in the 50s. I’m personally in shock that it was a popular enough ingredient back then that they included it, but it definitely adds a deep layer of flavor you can’t get otherwise. Dorcas was so far ahead of her time with her use of soy sauce, which she chose over celery salt.
If you are really well stocked (or just shopping for a fresh bottle), mushroom dark soy sauce is a great choice for extra mushroom flavor. It goes great with anything you’d ever want to use soy sauce for.
Although everything else in this recipe is scratch made, you shouldn’t go homemade just for homemade’s sake. Unless you own tens of thousands of dollars of commercial dehydration and deep fry equipment, you likely can’t match the quality of commercially fried onions.
If you don’t live in a place where they sell fried onions, almost all asian supermarkets sell fried onions or shallots. So does IKEA, although both of these are unseasoned fried onions compared to classic supermarket fried onions. And of course, Amazon.
Really, you can’t beat commercial french fried onions. Especially considering how many of them you’ll use, and how many more you’ll snack on.
How long to bake green bean casserole
Green bean casserole is completely cooked before it ever goes into the oven, so how long it stays in there is up to you too. The reason we bake it is to meld all the flavors together and caramelize the mushrooms and onions in the soup. Although it says 30 minutes here, you can easily go as little as 15 minutes.
Make ahead green bean casserole
Can you make this ahead? Yes! If you want zero stress and you’re making it within 24 hours, you can put the entire thing together, cover it, and store it in the fridge. Just add 10-20 minutes cooking time and you’re as good as gold. The best version though, or if you want to make it ahead beyond 24 hours, trim the green beans and make the mushroom stock, but don’t blanch the beans until you are ready to assemble.
Green Bean Casserole Recipe
A super mushroom-y, freshly made update on classic green bean casserole
- Melt the butter over medium heat, being careful not to burn it. Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are toasty brown, about 7 minutes. Add flour, salt, and pepper, and stir for another 2 minutes until the flour is thoroughly incorporated.
- Add wine and reduce by half, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, then add cream, soy sauce, fish sauce, milk (If using) and fried onions. Stir, season, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- While you are waiting for your sauce to thicken, blanch your green beans in boiling salted water for 3 minutes, then drain and cool. If you like your green beans on the squeaky crunchy side, use an ice bath. Preheat your oven to 375ºF too.
- To assemble: make a bed of green beans in a large oven proof dish. Ladle the mushroom sauce over top of that, and top with parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes at 375ºF.
- Remove from oven, carefully toss the green beans a little, then top with more onions. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until onions are crispy.
Add milk if you prefer your casserole on the saucier side, leave out if you prefer your casserole thicker. Pictured with no milk added.
Green Bean Casserole Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 513 Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 15.8g99%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.