Healthy Green Bean Casserole

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This Healthy Green Bean Casserole has an unbelievably creamy texture, considering it’s made entirely out of vegetables! It’s ultra-flavorful, and will be a hit at your next holiday meal.

spoonful of healthy green bean casserole

An Alternative to Fried Onions

Instead of topping this healthy green bean casserole with traditional fried onions, this one is topped with caramelized onions. They have all the flavor, without the deep-fried flour!

Since onions can take some time to caramelize, I recommend starting this step first. You can use a separate pan, and just stir the onions every now and then, as they get golden and tender.

caramelized onions in pan

I like to add a splash of water when I see any brown developing on the bottom of the pan. When you add water and stir, the brown should lift up, and give the onions a deep, caramel color. Keep this on low heat while you cook the green beans and mushroom mixture.

Tip: If you miss the crunch that comes from the fried onions, feel free to also sprinkle some sliced almonds over the top.

What’s the Healthiest Way to Cook Green Beans?

Steaming is the best way to preserve nutrients in your green beans, without adding any extra oil. If you’re starting with fresh green beans for this recipe, you’ll want to steam them until they’re fork-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Green beans don’t get significantly softer when you bake them in a casserole, so make sure they are as tender as you want them to be before moving onto the next step.

fresh green beans steamed in white pot

Pro Tip: Use a bag of frozen trimmed green beans if you want to save yourself some time and effort! You’ll still need to cook the beans until they are tender, but they will soften faster than fresh ones.

How to Make Healthy Cream of Mushroom Soup

Traditional green bean casserole recipes call for a can of cream of mushroom soup, but if you’re serving guests who are gluten-free or dairy-free, that won’t work for them. Luckily, you can make your own “cream of mushroom” soup at home!

Sauté the mushrooms and garlic together, until they start to soften, then you’ll add in the parsnips and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and cover to let the parsnips cook until they’re fork-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

If you’d like some whole mushrooms in your final green bean casserole, you can scoop some out now and place them along the bottom of the baking dish. Pile the cooked green beans in there, too!

If you don’t like the texture of mushrooms, transfer them all to the blender, along with the parsnips and cooking water. Add salt and lemon juice, and blend until very creamy.

blended mushroom sauce poured over beans

Pour the creamy “gravy” over the cooked green beans, and toss well to coat. Top the casserole with caramelized onions, then bake until bubbly hot, about 30 minutes.

Make Ahead Tips

This is one of the more labor-intensive recipes on my website, but you can make your life easier by prepping these veggies ahead of time!

Here’s what you can do in advance:

  • Steam the green beans
  • Make the mushroom & parsnip sauce
  • Caramelize the onions

You can store these 3 things separately in the fridge, and on the day of your holiday meal, simply stir the green beans and sauce together, then top with the caramelized onions. Bake at 350ºF until everything is heated through, about 30 to 40 minutes, for a much easier holiday side dish.

healthy green bean casserole with caramelized onions

spoonful of healthy green bean casserole
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4.68 from 28 votes

Healthy Green Bean Casserole (Vegan & Paleo)

This Healthy Green Bean Casserole is an easy recipe made entirely out of vegetables! It's gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and totally delicious. Perfect for those on special diets, like vegan & Paleo protocols.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword healthy green bean casserole
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 9
Calories 73kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion , sliced thinly (269 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (10 grams)
  • 1 pound trimmed green beans (fresh or frozen, 16 ounces)
  • 8 oz . mushrooms , chopped (226 grams)
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced (10 grams)
  • 1 cup parsnips , chopped (133 grams)
  • 1 cup water (6 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (4 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (6 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional; 8 grams)

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and stir until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat, and keep an eye on the onions, stirring every few minutes or so. When you see brown develop on the bottom of the pan, add a splash of water and stir well, so the onions will take on a deeper, caramelized color. You can watch the onions while you prepare the green beans on a separate stove burner.
  • To cook the green beans, fill a pot with 1 inch of water and arrange a steamer basket over that. Pour the green beans into the basket, bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and lower the heat, allowing the beans to steam until fork-tender, about 10 minutes.
    green beans cooking in pot
  • When the beans are done, drain and set them aside. Check on the onions, and give them a stir. In the same pot you cooked the beans in, add in the other tablespoon of olive oil, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.
    mushrooms cooking in pot
  • To the mushrooms, add in the parsnips and water. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and lower the heat, allowing the parsnips to cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes. At this point, you can also preheat your oven to 350ºF and have an 8- or 9-inch square dish ready.
    parsnips and mushrooms cooking in pot
  • If you'd like some whole mushrooms in the green bean casserole, use a slotted spoon to scoop up several cooked mushrooms and transfer them to the square dish. Add the cooked green beans to the dish, too.
    green beans in casserole dish
  • Transfer the rest of the cooked mushrooms, parsnips, and their cooking liquid to a blender. Add in the lemon juice, salt, and nutritional yeast, if using. (I don't think the yeast is necessary, but it does add extra flavor if you like it.) Blend until smooth.
    mushroom mixture in blender pureed
  • Pour the blended sauce over the green beans in the dish, then stir well to combine. Top with the caramelized onions, which should now be done. Bake for 30 minutes at 350ºF.
    sauce and onions added to casserole
  • Remove the casserole from the oven, and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days when tightly covered.
    finished green bean casserole with spoon

Video

Notes

Nutrition information is for 1 of 9 servings. This information is just an estimate, and not a guarantee.
Make Ahead Tip: If you want to save yourself some time during a holiday meal, you can steam the green beans ahead of time, make the mushroom sauce, and caramelize the onions all in advance! On the day of serving, combine the green beans with the sauce, top with the onions, and then bake until it's heated through and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes at 350ºF.

Nutrition

Calories: 73kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 266mg | Potassium: 297mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 348IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg

This recipe was originally posted in 2012, but has been updated in Novebember 2020 to make a more reasonable amount of gravy for the green beans. (The original made twice what you need!) Here are the original ingredient amounts if you need them:

1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups parsnips, chopped
10 oz. mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 lb. fresh green beans

If you follow the ingredients listed above, you’ll have twice the amount of sauce you need for the green beans, so only use half of it! I think the updated recipe is better, with less of a “parsnip” flavor, but I wanted to make this available, in case it’s been a family favorite for years.

More Healthy Holiday Side Dishes

If you need more healthy holiday recipes, be sure to try these other fan favorites!

When you try this healthy green bean casserole, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it! And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too. We can all benefit from your experience.

Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite holiday side dish?

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Comments

janet @ the taste space

I have never had the traditional green bean casserole but this looks veggielicious!! I even appreciate that you used parsnips instead of cashews to make the cream sauce. Booyah! 🙂

Vicky (Sweet and Healthy Living)

Wow, this looks so good! What a great idea to put parsnips in the sauce! They have such a great flavor.

kaity @ kaityscooking

this looks so good! i never liked them because i never was a fan of mushrooms until now but never would still have it because its all soup based like you said but i am 100% making this this weekend if i had parsnips at home i would be making it now lol

Maria (skinwellness.ca)

GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!! THank you!!! Exactly what I needed! I’ve been trying to find a holiday dish that I can make “clean” to bring. This is PERFECT! Exactly what I had in mind. THANKS!! 🙂

karen

I WILL be making this for Thanksgiving!

Cadie

That looks amazing!

Lauren

Hahaha, I posted the same thing yesterday! Yours looks great though! 🙂

Amanda Jewell

YES! I was never usually a fan (I always preferred fresh green beans, even as a kid!), but I’m definitely making this paleo & IQS friendly recipe!

jamie

what is a good substitute for nutritional yeast? I am allergic. thank you! ~JLH

    AshleyL

    I agree. I came looking through the comments for a sub. I’m not allergic but I’m not a fan for many reasons.

      AshleyL

      Could you use goat/sheep cheese?

    Megan

    Yes, you could definitely use goat or sheep cheese, if you prefer! I’m not sure if there are any other vegan substitutes for nutritional yeast, but you could probably leave it out and season the sauce to your taste.

    Rick

    I have found that a good substitute for Yeast flakes to make a cheesy flavor is Red Bell Pepper, salt and a couple of Garlic Cloves, blended with a handful of cashews will make a thick cheesy sauce!

maryrose

lovely recipe

tereza

this is my perfect type of dish!! love it! I am making this for Thanksgiving.

Laura

Looks interesting!! I am not fond of root vegetables so I was wondering if you knew of an alternative. I do have a plethora of zucchini from my CSA-could this possibly work?

eat2evolve ~ diana allen, ms, cns

Megan, this looks SO amazing! Thank you for taking the time to figure out how to do this. My kids love green bean casserole more than any other holiday dish, and this year, I’ll be eating it too! So thrilled, and can’t wait to try.

Jen

I am sooo excited to make this! I’m going to my parents for Thanksgiving, but showing up with my own food. I’m bringing plenty for everyone else to and hopefully they will indulge in the healthy versions of everything! I will also be bringing a batch of the ginger cookies – delicious!

Emmalydia

Is there a nutritional breakdown anywhere? This look so good!

    Megan

    You can use a free website, like Fitday.com, to calculate the nutrition info that you need.

Leann

I have been searching for a healthier green bean casserole & have found a couple, but your recipe looks the best. Will try it for Thanksgiving. I don’t have the yeast & saw your answer about that it could be omitted. My question is what is it & what is the benefit of using nutritional yeast? Just found your site, so will be interested to look around.

Joe

Do you have any suggestions on a potential substitute for mushrooms?

    Megan

    Sauteed onions might add a nice flavor. I would use whichever flavors you enjoy, and tweak it to your taste!

Jackie

OH…….MY…..WORD….this is unbelievable!!! The sauce is genius and so tasty. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it tonight as a trial run before bringing it to the family’s on Thanksgiving. It IS WORTHY!!! I even think my non-Paleo family members will love it. The only thing I had to change was I needed 2 onions. Delicious!

Sara

I made this last night for dinner with friends and everybody loved it. I really liked the sweetness that parsnips bring to the dish. Easy to do and delicious! a big thank you from Ontario 🙂

Lawler

I am pleased with the traditional recipe but this look good. Can you make it on like Monday and cook it on the day before thanksgiving.

Geet

I just made this right now and it’s delicious! Is there a way to make low carb without parsnips?

    Jamie

    Geet, I know this is old, but what about some steamed cauliflower?

Michelle

Tried out this wonderful casserole yesterday, to serve with our Thanksgiving dinner! Thank you for the recipe, it turned out so delicious! I followed every step and it was so easy thanks to your extremely well laid-out format and the pictures help so much too! The only thing I had to change, because my one and only steamer was busy doing other things, was that I quickly sauteed the green beans in a tiny dab of extra virgin coconut oil, just for a couple of minutes, instead of steaming them, they were crisp, bright green and ready to eat. The onions on top of the entire dish, after carmelizing for 45 minutes and then baking in the oven…mmm mmm good! Can’t wait for leftovers tonight! Will reheat in the oven for another 30 min, to get that same crunch to the onions :)!

S

I was not expecting a lot and this recipe totally took me by surprise. It was delicious! My 5-year-old daughter is allergic to dairy and I wanted her to try our family staple of green bean casserole at Christmas for the first time this year. She loved it and had seconds. My husband is not usually a fan of vegan stand-ins, but this was a surprise hit with him too. I loved it because it doesn’t have all that heavy cream and who knows what from a soup can. Thanks!

taryn

I made this for christmas dinner and it was a HUGE hit– my mom liked it much better than a traditional green bean casserole and my husband enjoyed it as well– looking forward to making it a holiday staple!

kristina

I made this tonight and it was delicious!!!!! I did not expect the sauce to taste so rich and decadent! I caramelized the onions much more than what is pictured so they would taste extra sweet and earthy. My omnivore husband even went gaga for this casserole. We ate it along side the vegan mac n cheese ( https://detoxinista.com/2011/01/move-over-kraft/ ) with roasted broccoli and sauteed mushrooms and garlic mixed in to the mac n cheese before baking.

Claudine

I love this recipe! I made a few substitutions (used ghee instead of butter/coconut oil, sweet potatoes instead of parsnips, 12 oz portabello mushrooms, and 3 cups of green beans) and it turned out well. The sauce blew my mind…just soooo tasty! Like you said, I ended up with way too much sauce (about twice what I needed. Can I freeze it?

Lisa

I tried this on the weekend, but think maybe i put too many mushrooms in the sauce, it turned out pretty grey and funky looking and I think a bit too thick… I think I might need to try this one again, it was tasty but I think there is more potential 🙂

Katie

THIS IS THE BEST!!!!!!! I absolutely loved it!!! So So SO yummy and as a lactose-intolerant person I have to say the sauce was perfect!!! I’m so thankful people like you come up with these amazing recipies!

Josie

I have been getting pounds and pounds of green beans in my CSA box and finally found a yummy recipe that I could use them in. I love eating them as a raw snack or lightly steamed, but this recipe turns them into a main course. I added black pepper, cumin, parsley and a little cayenne to the sauce. It came out so creamy and so delicious!

Tammy

Thank you! I have been looking for an alternative to cream of mushroom soup and I think I have found the perfect one. Two great recipes in one. Who could ask for more?

Christina

I’m not vegan, so I used some chicken stock and cream with the parsnips sauce, but I really really liked this. Much healthier then previous versions I’ve had growing up and very tasty. I’m happy to add this to our thanksgiving list and as a more regular meal as well. Thank you for sharing.

Ashley

I am making this for Thanksgiving this year, but I am trying to go through my list of what I am making and trying to figure out what can be made a day early. Do you think this could be made a day early and still be just as delicious?

Thanks,

Ashley 🙂

Ashley

Hubby and I just made this to test it out before making it for Thanksgiving. It’s delicious. But definitely does NOT serve 9 – 12 people.

Hubby and I ate the whole thing ourselves and it was about two servings for each of us. So if one person had ONE serving, it could serve FOUR people. I have no idea how saying it serves 9 – 12 works.

We are making it for Thanksgiving, but we are doubling the onions to caramelize and the green beans. Though even doubling it, it probably will only serve 8 people if each person only had ONE serving.

Thanks for the awesome recipe. It really is delicious!

Krystal

Unreal!! This is the second year in a row that I’m using an untraditional recipe. This one is being sent to a high tennis team’s potluck Thanksgiving dinner! What a wonderful flavor!!!

char

Wow! This was soooo good!

I made a few minor changes and I feel like it tastes like the “real” (albeit fake frankenfood) thing!

I used a little goat cheese in place of the nutritional yeast as someone suggested, I used organic chicken broth instead of water, and when the mushrooms were cooking I added some chicken broth, a dash of coconut milk and a dash of arrowroot flour to thicken that up. Loved this and I think it could fool even some of the most devout green bean casserole lovers.
Looking forward to making it next week for Thanksgiving!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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