Creamy Green String Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions

My grandmother used to make this for special occasions. She grabbed a can opener, and set about tipping the contents of tins, condensed cream of mushroom soup, Blue Lake tinned beans, and vacuum packed crispy onions, into an oven-proof dish. Then she cranked up the oven and baked it until it bubbled, and a thick skin wrapped across the surface like a tarpaulin. We loved it, although I can’t fathom why.

This version tastes better, and has fewer chemicals, a fraction of the salt, and nothing beats freshly cooked green beans. Tinned green beans make me gag. This recipe will not make you gag. I promise. Admittedly, it’s more labour intensive than opening a few tins.

Creamy Green String Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions


Crispy Onions
: (or just buy them!)
2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (32 grams)
(optional) 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or other high-heat oil for deep-frying

Mushroom Sauce
3 tablespoons butter (35 grams)
Large pkg closed cap mushrooms, thinly sliced and/or coarsely chopped
Few gratings fresh nutmeg (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 garlic cloves, pressed/minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups chicken broth (340ml)
a splash of double cream or a dollop of crème fraîche

1 to 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved

Onions: Toss the onion slices with flour, optional breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Heat a 1/2-inch of oil in a large skillet until a drop of water flicked into it sputters. Add the onions, just a handful at a time in a single layer, and fry until a light golden brown (they’ll get more colour in the oven; do not overcook). Remove with a large slotted spoon, let oil drip off a little, then spread onions out on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining onions. Set aside until needed.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F

Green Beans: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook beans for 5 minutes (for standard green beans) until just tender. Don’t overcook. Drain beans, then plunge them into ice water to stop them from cooking. Drain again, and set aside.

Mushroom Sauce: Over medium-high heat, melt butter in an over-proof skillet. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté them until they start releasing their liquid, approx 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté one more minute. Add the flour and stir it until it fully coats the mushrooms. Add the broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring the whole time until the flour is mixed into the liquid. Simmer for 1 minute, then add cream and bring back to a simmer, cooking until the sauce thickens a bit, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stirring frequently.

Add the greens beans to sauce and toss lightly until they are coated. Sprinkle crispy onions over the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and onions are a shade darker. Eat at once.

You can also assemble this in an ovenproof dish by placing the beans first, add mushroom sauce, toss to coat completely, sprinkle over with crispy onion, and bake for 15-minutes, or until bubbling hot.

Make It Ahead: Onions can be made long in advance (up to a day) and keep at room temperature, loosely wrapped (not in an airtight container as they’ll go soft). Green beans can be cooked and kept in fridge until needed, approx one day. Green beans can also be combined with mushroom sauce and kept refrigerated for up to a day. Add onions and bake shortly before serving.

This is a tweaked version of a recipe from The Joy of Cooking (1980 edition).

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen says:

    Every year we go to a friend’s home for Thanksgiving and they serve the casserole that you grew up with. I don’t care for it…it is too mushy for my taste. Now your version looks and sounds wonderful. 🙂

    1. Misky says:

      There’s no mush anything in this one, Karen. 😀


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