Healthy Green Bean Casserole made from scratch with fresh string beans and mushrooms, creamy sauce and Parmesan pecan onion topping. Low calorie, low sodium, and a light alternative without canned anything and perfect for Thanksgiving!
Healthy green bean casserole from scratch. Without canned green beans, canned cream of mushroom soup, and canned french onions. Ick. If you grew up with traditional green bean casserole on the Thanksgiving table, this is the best alternative. Perfect for serving alongside roasted parmesan cauliflower, steamed veggies, and Instant Pot mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes). Not to mention roast turkey breast (or Instant Pot turkey breast).
And I cook everything in one skillet. Which means fewer steps and dirty dishes for you. Not even an ice water bath. And this healthy green bean casserole recipe is gluten-free because it doesn’t use flour or breadcrumbs.
Ingredients for Healthy Green Bean Casserole
- Green beans: We are using fresh string or French green beans. You can use thawed previously frozen green beans too.
- Milk: Using 3.25% whole milk makes the most creamy sauce. 2% works as well but I wouldn’t recommend less than that.
- Onions and Mushrooms: Slowly cooked onions, almost caramelized, add that classic French onion taste. We do not spend 30 minutes on caramelizing onions, just enough to bring out their best flavours. Use brown mushrooms or also known as “Baby Bella” as they pack more flavor. Please skip white mushrooms.
- Oil: Any oil you use for frying like olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil.
- Pecans: I use crumbled pecans in place of breadcrumbs.
- Dried herbs, red pepper flakes and cornstarch: Dried oregano, basil, and thyme add another layer of flavour. Red pepper flakes are added for a little heat kick. Cornstarch thickens the sauce.
- Parmesan cheese: Parmesan adds major umami flavor, nuttiness and saltiness when combined with fried onions and roasted pecans. It goes in the topping and in the sauce as well.
How to Make Healthy Green Bean Casserole
- Start onion topping: Roast pecans in a hot skillet until fragrant, stirring often cause nuts burn quickly. Transfer to a large bowl and then cook onions with oil for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown/almost charred, stirring occasionally.
- Cook string beans and mushrooms: Return skillet to the stove. Add green beans, oil, a splash of water and cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring once. Transfer to a large bowl and then sauté mushrooms until golden brown.
- Make creamy sauce and add green beans: While mushrooms are cooking, whisk milk, Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, pepper and cornstarch. Add to the skillet with mushrooms, bring to a boil and cook until thickened a bit. Turn off heat, add previously cooked green beans and stir.
- Finish onion topping: To the bowl with fried onions and pecans, add Parmesan, oregano, salt and stir well.
- Assemble and bake: Spray large baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer green beans and mushroom mixture and sprinkle with onion topping. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes in preheated oven at 375 degrees F oven.
Substitutions and Variations
- Dairy free: You can use any non-dairy milk like unsweetened almond milk. Please keep in mind the sauce will be not as creamy as with dairy milk. But if you want to do that, you are probably used to a bit different texture and taste.
- Breadcrumbs: If you would like a very traditional taste, feel free to use whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs.
- Vegan: I have not tried vegan version but if I were, I would skip Parmesan and use a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast with a bit of lemon juice in both topping and sauce. Please let me know if you try!
How to Make Ahead and Reheat
Make ahead: Everything can be done the day before except assembling and refrigerating pecan or breadcrumb topping. Pecans or breadcrumbs will get soggy in the fridge. Instead, roast pecans and store covered in a cool dry place. Also cook onions and mix with cheese, spices and refrigerate. When ready to bake, just mix pecans with onions, top casserole and bake.
Reheat leftovers: To reheat, place in a 350 degrees F oven until warmed through. Honestly, I don’t even preheat the oven. It doesn’t matter. Or utilize the microwave if you have transferred leftovers into a container. Easy-peasy.
More Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes
- Cauliflower mashed potatoes
- Spaghetti squash casserole
- Healthy sweet potato casserole
- Brussels sprouts salad or beet salad
- Healthy cranberry sauce and gravy
You can also browse through this list of 50 healthy Thanksgiving recipes!
Healthy Green Bean Casserole
Healthy Green Bean Casserole:
- 2 lbs green string beans trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
- 10 brown mushrooms, sliced ~8 oz
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp oil for frying
- Cooking spray I use Misto
Pecan Onion Topping:
- 1 cup pecans finely chopped or crushed
- 2 large onions thinly sliced in half moon shapes
- 1/2 tsp oregano dried
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
Healthy Creamy Sauce:
- 2 1/2 cups 3.25% whole milk
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/2 tsp oregano dried
- 1/2 tsp basil dried
- 1/4 tsp thyme dried
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- Pecan Onion Topping: Preheat large non-stick skillet on medium heat and add pecans. Cook until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Return skillet to the stove and swirl 1 tbsp oil to coat. Add onions and cook for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown/almost charred, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl with pecans.
- Green beans and Mushrooms: Return skillet to the stove and swirl 1 tsp oil. Add green beans and a splash of water, stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once. Transfer to another large bowl.
- Return skillet to the stove and swirl remaining 1 tsp oil. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
- Creamy Sauce: While mushrooms are cooking, in a medium bowl add milk, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, pepper and cornstarch. Whisk together.
- Add to the skillet with mushrooms. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened a bit, about 4-5 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spray medium baking dish with cooking spray.
- Turn off the heat, add green beans and stir to coat. In a bowl with onions and pecans, add remaining Pecan Onion Topping ingredients: salt, oregano and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Stir well.
- Transfer green beans to previously prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with the topping. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Serve hot.
- You can substitute regular milk with almond milk etc., just be prepared for a slight change in taste, if you don't mind.
- Make Ahead: Follow the recipe and assemble the casserole. Allow it to cool. Don't bake. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate until next day. Bake as per recipe.
- Store: Refrigerate leftovers tightly wrapped for up to 3 days.
- Reheat: To reheat, place in a 350 degrees F oven until warmed through. Honestly I don't even preheat the oven. It doesn't matter. Or utilize the microwave if you have transferred leftovers into a container. Easy-peasy.
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