Real Food Green Bean Casserole (a Make-Ahead Dish)


If I had to choose a favorite holiday dish, it would have to be Green Bean Casserole. It’s not something I remember eating when I was growing up. I discovered it sometime after Matt and I got married. So yum.

The recipe I learned to make? It was the one with canned cream of mushroom and french fried onions. Man, I loved that stuff.

Once I learned more about cooking with real food ingredients, I knew that the canned cream of mushroom soup and French fried onions didn’t make the cut. But this casserollllllle! How to make a real food version?


I learned long ago how to make cream soups. French fried onions had me stumped though – mostly because of the time I felt it would take to create them. Then all my plans to keep my real food kitchen simple would be out the window.

Finally I figured out how I could make this casserole without mushroom soup or French fried onions. It goes without saying, then, that this casserole is very easy to make. Just wait until you see how easy!

Green Bean Casserole


5.0 from 1 reviews
Real Food Green Bean Casserole (a Make-Ahead Dish)
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen green beans
  • 2 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 3 Tablespoons butter (if needed)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Sea salt
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  1. Steam green beans until tender. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, saute onion and butter together until the minced onion is lightly toasted.
  3. Turn heat down to low.
  4. Stir in cornstarch, then add milk.
  5. Turn heat up to thicken cream sauce, stirring constantly until sauce is thick and bubbly.
  6. Stir in cooked green beans, salting liberally.
  7. Pour the mixture into a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
  8. Top with grated cheese.
  9. Cover and bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes.
  10. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more.
  11. Serve.

To Freeze Green Bean Casserole:

Make the casserole as directed in the recipe above. All it to cool completely. Cover and freeze for up to three months.

To bake and serve, thaw casserole in the refrigerator and bake as directed. OR, cover the frozen dish with foil. Place it in a cold oven*. Turn the oven on to 250° and bake for 2 hours. Turn the oven up to 350° to continue baking to heat through.

*Be sure your oven is cold when you put in the frozen dish! Otherwise, the pan will crack because of the extreme temperature change.

Real Food Green Bean Casserole ~ a Make-Ahead Dish!

There is a One-Dish Meal version of this casserole in my Oh, For Real Cookbook called Hearty Green Bean Casserole. It includes hamburger and it is awesome.

Note that if you use corn starch instead of wheat flour to make the sauce for this recipe, it will be completely gluten free.

I think this will soon become one of your favorite holiday dishes! Then, of course, you will find yourself making it many times all year round. No need to wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas for this one!

Here are the quick links to all the recipes we covered in this series:

Getting Ahead for the Holidays


Simple Meals is here! It’s saving my brain (and many of yours too!). If you haven’t joined yet, now’s the time. Get all the details here!



  1. R says

    I never liked green bean casserole because of the cream of mushroom soup or the fried onions, but this I would like! Do you use fresh or dried onions?


    Laura Reply:

    I use dried. It’s so easy that way! :)


  2. Heather says

    I love this too! We do add mushrooms most years too, so it is a bit more like the ‘original’. I’ve also though that if I was really gung-ho I could make homemade onion rings, then cut them up for the top. Would be yummy for sure! Otherwise adding some sliced almonds gives back some crunch too. But homemade is the way to go! And your version looks delicious!


  3. Rhonda says

    The French fries onions are my favorite part of the casserole. Here is my real food version:

    1/2 cup cornstarch
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    1 onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
    2 tbsp butter

    Mix cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a bag or bowl with a lid. Add onions (if using the bowl, put he kid on at this point) and shake until the onion is covered with cornstarch mixture. More cornstarch may need to be added to ensure all onions are covered. (If there is extra cornstarch, pull onions out of the mixture and leave excess cornstarch in the container.) Heat butter in pan until warm, place onions in pan (this may need to be done in two batches) and cook until crispy and brown. At this time, flip the onions over and add 1 tbsp of butter if the pan is dry. Cook until crispy and brown.


    Marie B. Reply:

    Oooh! I might eat these fried onions plain! Yummy!


    Sheila Reply:

    Have you ever tried these on burgers? Red Robin has a burger that which has onion straws on it and I think your recipe would help me make something similar at home. Yum!


  4. Kathy says

    Dear Laura,
    I love real butter, I love cheese, I love your blog, and I love you. BUT – my green bean casserole MUST be made with cream of mushroom soup and store bought fried onions. I’m sorry we must part on this matter, but it’s just the way it has to be. I’m sure your healthy version is simply delish, but I just don’t think I could handle making Thanksgiving Dinner if I didn’t have this good old standby to look forward to. I’ll eat extra veggies to make up for it.
    Rich blessings to you and yours!
    Mom of 8
    +1 to be adopted from China in a few months
    5 are homeschool grads
    2 of those are sons who are now lawyers after home schooling through highschool AND earning BS and BA’s online, before attending law school. It CAN be done!


  5. Marie B. says

    I love this series and I’m going to make the freezeable recipes as you post them so I have them ready to go at Thanksgiving time. Never thought about freezing the Green bean casserole. What a great idea. Will make hosting so much more enjoyable! Will also try Rhonda’s fried onions when I have the time! Thank you!!!!


  6. Anna says

    That looks delicious! Unfortunately I think my extended family is way too attached to the original recipe for me to even suggest changing it for thanksgiving, but I’ll have to try it for a regular dinner one of these days. Thanks for the recipe!


  7. Jill says

    Oooh. I’m going to respectfully push back on your cooking method for this one. I find that when I cook veggies once….then reheat them in a hot oven, they turn to mush. For a dish like this, I would either a)parboil the beans, if using fresh, the immediately drain them and cool or b) defrost the frozen beans and drain off the water. Then add them to the sauce, put toppings on and freeze. This will keep the beans from turning to army green mush when cooking.

    I’m so glad your homemade cream-of soup freezes so well! It’s been my #1 favorite whole foods recipe because it’s such a great way to convert so many favorite recipes!


  8. Robin says

    Green bean casserole had never been a favorite, but this version looks great. May have to try it this year. Thanks!


  9. Marisol says

    Please forgive my ignorance but since you have made this before … please tell me if the green beans are “mushy” upon reheating?


    Laura Reply:

    Nope! I lightly steam them before mixing them with the other ingredients (otherwise the beans are crunchy). We have not found the beans to be mushy after being baked in this casserole! :)


    Marisol Reply:

    Thank you so much!


  10. Suz says

    I do love green bean casserole… I would use this recipe any old time. I might actually even prefer it away from the distractions of the loaded Thanksgiving table, so it could really be appreciated. ..


  11. says

    Wow that looks good Laura! I will definitely be trying this one out sometime real soon. Green bean casserole is coming to Australia soon :)

    Everything is better with cheese, including chocolate, apparently… (Ask my husband, he’ll tell you…)


  12. Deb says

    Sadly, I am the only one in my household who likes green beans, so I haven’t made this the last few years, even though it is one of my very favorites. I think I would miss the crunch on top – some nuts, maybe?


  13. Allison says

    Thank you for the recipe. MSG is not my friend and just about every ingredient in the other recipe has MSG in it. I love the taste, but feel really awful afterward.


  14. Mrs L says

    Looks like one yummy casserole! This is something I love and I’m glad to see some variations that will improve my recipe. I think I’ll also try Rhonda’s fried onions with my homemade mushroom soup.


  15. Stephanie says

    We’re just beginning our real foods journey and I was wondering what I was going to do about the green bean casserole dilemma. Thanks! You’re a sanity saver ;)


  16. Donna says

    We love green bean casserole but it is not on our Thanksgiving table. We wait a day or two and make it using leftover turkey thown in to make it a one dish meal.


  17. Christa says

    This recipe is great! I halved it to try out & added panko breadcrumbs to the cheese on top during the last 15 minutes of cooking. This made for a crunchy topping & the fried onions were not missed. Trust me, you want this on your Thanksgiving table. Thank you for this one!


  18. Sarah says

    How would you adjust this to make in a crock pot, using frozen green beans? My mother-one-law never seems to have room for this in her oven. I usually make the old school recipe in the crockpot and bring along for us to enjoy. (My boys love it, but we never use the canned soup except for this dish.)
    Thanks in advance! Simply love your recipes! Especially the chicken patty one. And muffins. And probably all of them ????


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