Our family, like every other family at Thanksgiving, is no stranger to green bean casserole, with its crunchy fried onion topping and rich, creamy filling. Truth be told, it’s one of my favorites, along with the jellied cranberry sauce.
But over the years, I have come to expect more from my green bean casserole than just opening up a few cans of beans, soup, and sprinkling on some prepared fried onions.
Here is my totally from-scratch version – you’ll never look at green bean casserole the same way again.
Frying your own onions gives them a crunchy texture that can’t be beat by anything from a can. The onions are soaked in buttermilk and then coated with crispy Panko crumbs, herbs, and flour before being fried to a golden crisp.
I also make my own mushroom cream sauce. Button and Crimini mushrooms are always a good choice here, but try buttery Chantrelles if you want something a little more decadent. Mixing up the mushrooms is one way to give this dish a different flavor and make it stand out.
This dish can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until ready to heat. To keep the fried onions crispy, store them separately in an airtight container on the counter. Wait to top the casserole until just before baking .
It’s hard to go back to the canned version after this!
For the fried onions:
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Panko crumbs
- 2 tablespoon mixed dried herbs – parsley, dill, thyme, whatever you want!
- Salt, for seasoning
- Vegetable oil, for frying
For the casserole:
- 2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) regular salted butter
- 1 pound crimini or button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Prepare the onions for frying: In a bowl, combine the sliced red onions and the buttermilk. Toss to coat the onions, then place them in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. In another small bowl, whisk together flour, panko, and dried mixed herbs.
2 Heat the oil for deep-frying: Fill a Dutch oven or other deep pot with about 2 inches of vegetable oil, and heat to 375F, or until shimmering but not smoking (lower the heat if you start to see wisps of smoke). To check that the oil is hot enough, toss in a pinch of panko mixture; if it starts to bubble and fry, you’re ready to go. Set a baking sheet lined with paper towels near the stove to drain the fried onions.
3 Deep-fry the onions: Working in handfuls, lift the onions from the buttermilk and toss them in the flour/panko mixture. Gently lower the coated onions into the hot oil and fry until deep golden brown. Lift the onions from the oil with a heat-proof slotted spoon or tongs, and place on the paper towels to drain.
4 Preheat the oven to 375F. Set a strainer over your sink and prepare a bowl with ice water.
5 Blanch the green beans: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and boil for 5 to 6 minutes until just tender, but still slightly crisp. Drain and then shock the green beans in the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. When cool, drain again and set aside.
6 Cook the mushrooms: Melt the butter in a large skillet and add in the mushrooms. Season with salt and cook until softened and tender. Add in the garlic and thyme.
7 Make the creamy sauce: Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms are coated. Stir in the half-and-half and the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and green beans.
8 Assemble and bake the casserole: Transfer the creamy green bean and mushroom mixture to a 3-quart or 9×13 casserole dish. Scatter the fried onions over top, and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling. Serve hot.