Homemade green bean casserole with bacon, fresh mushrooms, and sharp cheddar cheese is deliciously creamy without canned soup.
Why you’ll love it: This green bean casserole is definitely a step above the traditional version made with canned soup.
How long it takes: 30 minutes to prep, 20 minutes in the oven
Equipment you’ll need: large skillet, 9×13 inch baking dish
Kick the cans to the curb and make your green bean casserole from scratch this year. With a creamy sauce flavored with bacon, fresh mushrooms, and cheddar cheese, and topped with crunchy onions, these green beans will be the star of your dinner.
True of many of my recipes, this recipe still has a few shortcuts. Because when you’re prepping a thousand things for Thanksgiving dinner, a couple shortcuts are okay. They’re actually a really, really good idea.
About This Recipe
The first shortcut I take for this recipe? Using frozen green beans. Of course, you can use fresh green beans. Personally, I think green beans are one vegetable that tastes great frozen. I mean, not eaten while they’re still frozen. You know what I mean.
The second shortcut: For those lovely golden brown onions on top, I use French’s crispy fried onions (NOT sponsored!). I love them, what can I say? There’s really no substitute for them unless you want to fry up some onions or shallots.
A shortcut I don’t take: Cream of mushroom soup. This is a no soup recipe and it’s not filled with heavy cream either. A lovely, but simple white sauce takes the place of cream soup which is loaded with sodium (843 mg per serving!), fat, and weird ingredients like modified food starch, soy protein concentrate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and yeast extract,
I’ll walk you through the recipe here to get you started and you’ll find a bunch of extra helpful tips, too. As always, the printable recipe card can be found near the end of the post. It has complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- French-Cut Frozen Green Beans: Really, you can use whatever type of green beans you prefer. Fresh green beans are crisper and fresher tasting; frozen or canned green beans are super fast. They don’t have to be french-cut either, but that’s what we prefer.
- Bacon: Many green bean casseroles are not made with bacon but green beans and bacon are a perfect match and you won’t be sorry you added it.
- Mushrooms: You won’t be using cream of mushroom soup with its rubbery little mushroom pieces. Your casserole will feature plenty of fresh, delicious, real mushrooms.
- Onion: A regular yellow cooking onion, finely diced, flavors the casserole with subtle savory flavor, along with a couple of garlic cloves.
- Butter, Flour, Milk: This simple trio makes a white sauce to take the place of cream of mushroom soup.
- Fresh Thyme: Thyme is a woody herb with very small leaves that complements green beans perfectly. If you don’t have fresh, dried thyme is a good substitute. Dry herbs are more potent than fresh herbs so use much less.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: You’ll love the cheesy sauce! It’s good on everything. I like to use white cheddar because it doesn’t give the casserole an orangey hue.
- French Fried Onions: The crispy onions are a must on this traditional green bean casserole. I use a LOT! You may add as many or as little as you prefer. I probably get a little carried away.
How To Make This Recipe
Although it is a bit more work than opening up a few cans and mixing everything together, this green bean casserole recipe isn’t difficult. The end result is worth the extra labor, trust me!
First off, prep the green beans. If you’re using fresh beans, they need to be snipped, washed, cooked lightly, and drained. An ice bath isn’t necessary because they’ll continue to cook in the casserole when it’s heated. Frozen beans need to be cooked and drained. Canned beans simply need to be drained.
Next, chop up the bacon. I like to use thick slices of center cut bacon so there are more substantial pieces of bacon. In a large skillet, fry the bacon until it’s crisp. Take it out of the pan to drain on paper towels. Leave the grease in the pan.
Add the chopped onions to the pan and cook them for a few minutes, and then add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the mushrooms lose their liquid and begin to brown. Remove the onions and mushrooms with a slotted spoon and add them to a large mixing bowl with the green beans.
Next, using the same skillet with any remaining juices, melt the butter with the garlic. Add the flour and cook it for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring the sauce to a boil. You should have a creamy white sauce.
Stir the shredded cheese and fresh thyme into the sauce. Does your sauce remind you of anything? It’s the replacement for the canned cream of mushroom soup but so much better, especially once you add the mushrooms.
Stir the creamy sauce into the bowl with the green beans, onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
Add the bacon, and stir until everything is coated with sauce. Pour it all into a greased baking dish.
Top with the crispy goodness of French fried onions and bake. Done!
A couple things could contribute to a watery, soupy casserole. Perhaps the beans weren’t drained well. Excess water in the beans could thin out the sauce too much. Not using enough flour to thicken the sauce could result in a more soupy casserole. Or maybe you have more sauce than you needed if you used too few beans.
This recipe has been tested several times. If you follow the instructions closely, a soupy casserole should happily be a thing of the past for you.
Choose the kind of green bean you like best. Traditionally, green bean casserole is made with canned green beans. The advantage of using canned green beans is that they don’t have to be precooked before adding them to the casserole.
However, many people prefer fresh or frozen green beans because they have superior texture, color, and taste. They do have to be blanched or cooked lightly before adding to the casserole.
Make It Your Own
- For a vegetarian or meatless casserole, omit the bacon. Use a tablespoon of olive oil to sauté the vegetables.
- Substitute fresh green beans or canned green beans for the frozen beans. Cook fresh green beans before adding; canned green beans can be drained and added without cooking.
- Not a cheddar fan? Other types of flavorful cheese can be subbed in for the cheddar. Try Parmesan, sharp provolone, Swiss, or Gruyère.
- Top the casserole with sliced almonds or buttered bread crumbs instead of French fried onions.
- Not feeling the green beans? Try one of these popular casserole recipes instead: cheesy baked corn with bacon, scalloped sweet potatoes with bacon and Gruyère, or cheesy Brussels sprouts au gratin.
Since holiday dinners can be a bit stressful with lots to do, you may want to get a little head start on this side dish. There are a couple of ways to do that.
One or two days ahead of time: Prep the beans (if using fresh), onions, and mushrooms. Wash, slice, bag and refrigerate them.
The day before: Prepare the whole casserole except for the onion topping and refrigerate it unbaked, covered well with foil or plastic wrap.
On the day of: Take the casserole out of the refrigerator to warm up a half hour while the oven preheats. Uncover, add the fried onion topping, and bake as directed, adding 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Leftover green bean casserole should be covered tightly and refrigerated within 2 hours. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days. It doesn’t freeze well.
To reheat, microwave servings at medium heat in 30 second increments or until heated through. If you prefer, reheat larger portions uncovered in the oven at 350°F for twenty minutes or until warm.
Note: The topping won’t be quite as crisp.
More Green Bean Recipes
- Roasted Green Beans
- Green Beans with Lemon and Feta
- Green Beans Almondine Recipe
- Green Beans with Bacon, Garlic, and Onion
- Mediterranean Green Bean Salad
- Pickled Green Beans – an easy quick pickle!
- Air Fryer Green Beans
- 2 bags (16 oz. each) french-cut frozen green beans, cooked according to package instructions and drained very well
- 5 to 6 slices center cut bacon, cut into ½-inch or smaller pieces
- 8 ounces white or button mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large clove garlic, minced (or 2 small cloves)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
- 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- 3 cups french fried onions, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place cooked green beans in a large bowl.
- In a deep sauté pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate, reserving the grease in the pan.
- Over medium heat, sauté the onions in the bacon grease for 2 to 3 minutes, or until starting to become translucent. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté until cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove mushrooms and onions from the pan and put them in the bowl with the green beans.
- Make sauce: Add butter and garlic to the pan (with any juices remaining in pan). Heat over medium heat until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant. Add flour and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes. While whisking, pour in milk and continue to cook, whisking nearly constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add thyme and pepper, whisk to combine. Remove pan from heat and stir in cheese until melted.
- Pour cheese sauce mixture over the green beans, mushrooms, and onions in the bowl. Add cooked bacon and stir until everything is well coated.
- Pour the green bean mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it out in an even layer. Sprinkle on french fried onions.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until casserole is heated through and onions are golden brown.
- Any type of green bean can be used, fresh or frozen. Canned green beans are fine, too, and don’t need to be precooked before adding. Drain well. Use a comparable amount.
- You may use fewer (or no) fried onions if you want.
- To prep ahead, prepare the entire casserole, omitting onions, and refrigerate unbaked. Add onions prior to baking and bake as directed, adding 10 minutes baking time.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.