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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4.7 from 30 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



  • 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)


  • 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



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.


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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Helen Ingram

Thanks for a clean version of this family favorite. I seasoned the sauce with garlic and tripled the nutritional yeast. I used the steaming water for the water in the sauce, too. Finally, I chopped 1 c. raw almonds and sauteed in butter in the same pan as the mushrooms and onions to add a nice crunch to the top. Yummy!

Stefanie Joseph

Thank you so much for sharing your Thanksgiving recipes. I absolutely love the detail that you put in all of your posts. I recently began eating clean and it is so helpful to see step by step with pictures because I don’t cook that well. Thank you again!


can I make it without the parsnip? don’t like it….


I made this for my work potluck and it was a hit. I had plenty of sauce left over that I saved, and I think I may even just use it as a sauce with rice or veggies. It is a pretty versatile sauce.


This recipe looks fanstastic. I look forward to trying this for Thanksgiving. I bought all the ingredients. However, I have two questions.

1) I just realized that I got turnips instead of parsnips. Will it still work?

2) Also, I got the white button mushrooms – will that be OK?


Indirect Libre

This looks amazing! Having a big holiday party. How well would this double and what size pan should I use?


Holy moses this is good, no, great, no awesome!!


Hi, Can I sub Asparagus for green beans in this recipe? Also, I do not have parsnips. Will this work?

Thank you & Happy Thanksgiving 🙂


Made it for TG dinner tonight at a potluck dinner 3 # of green beans!!. It was a hit!! Tastes just like the real thing! THANK YOU!! Now, I am wondering what to do with the leftover gravy, I had about 2 cups left. Any ideas??


Forgot to rate it…definitely 5 stars!!


Well, my family loved it! Thanks again!

Indirect Libre

Girrrlll, this is amaaazing. I just doubled it for a gigantic feast I’m throwing for all my friends (I’m an expat in Canada so missing traditional American Thanksgiving this year) and I could not help tasting immediately after it came out of the oven. Stellar. Simply delish.


Everyone (including those without a dairy intolerance) absolutely loved this! I didn’t change a thing and it was perfect. I also used the leftover sauce over roasted squash and it was delicious


This wasn’t as good as I thought it was gonna be. The portions were kinda off in my opinion, I think it should call for 2 onions. I made this for Thanksgiving and I thought it was ok. I ended up just mixing it with my stuffing and mashed potatos to make it taste better.


I suppose I did not steam the parsnips long enough. The sauce which I have so much of really tastes like raw parsnips. Not a fan of the sauce at all but I like the idea of it and I think it would work with cauliflower and greek yogurt instead of parsnips.


Great post! Your blogs are so informative. Keep the posts coming 🙂

Chris Zaccharia

Wow, this looks so good and I believe this is very delicious! 🙂


Can I freeze this recipe? I also am wondering if I can use frozen green beans instead of fresh? I am trying to use what I have on hand! Thanks!


    I’ve never tried freezing it or using frozen green beans, so it will be an experiment. I assume frozen beans should work fine if you thaw them first, and I can’t imagine why the casserole wouldn’t freeze well, but please let us know if you try it so we can be sure!


I made this last night and my picky and carnivore husband loved it!!
Thank you for your delicious recipes!
I have some leftover sauce, do you think I can freeze it?
Thank you!


Hi there,
This looks really yummy! I’m unable to eat gluten and dairy, nuts, and several other things, so this should work for me 🙂 I was wondering if there was another veggie I could use in place of parsnips? Unfortunately, I really don’t care for them. I’m thinking a more savory and mellow veggie. Any ideas? Does the parsnip serve a purpose aside from flavor, or might I just leave it out? I assume it thickens the sauce. Thanks!


    Yes, the parsnips help thicken the sauce. Maybe cauliflower would work as a substitute? Let us know how it turns out for you!


      I have made sauces with carrots, too, though the sauce would be orange unless you use yellow carrots. You might want to try that…
      Last year I made a slow-cooker version that was really good, but it used pretty much the traditional ingredients (I always add sliced water chestnuts as well — really good). I think I will try this one this year, as I am always looking for the cleaner option…
      Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda Welter

Trying this is a must for Thanksgiving….can’t wait to taste it with a trial run this week.


I’m short on oven space for thanksgiving. Do you think this could be made in the crock pot and still taste as yummy?


Made this for my thanksgiving (we are doing ours a little early) and it came out great! thanks for the recipe!


Has anyone tried adding bacon to this?? I think it would be AMAZING. I will be trying this recipe with bacon for Thanksgiving this week 🙂


What can I substitute for parsnips? I am on a no starch diet, and parsnips are very starchy. Would turnips and/or carrots work the same?


    Maybe cauliflower would work?


    Carrots, yes… will affect the color unless you use yellow carrots. Definitely a good option.


    I used a potato and a carrot instead of parsnips, and it was super delicious!


Oooooo I was thinking turnips but cauliflower might be better! Thank you!!!


Hi Megan,
I couldn’t find nutrional yeast at store. Is there something else I could use instead? Is it just a thickener? Corn starch?



this is very very good. I am making now and it is hard not want to keep eating the whole thing. I think this would also be good for other casseroles instead of a cream soup base. Thank you so much for the yummy recipe, that is good to gobble up.


I just made this. It isn’t out of the oven yet, but I had to comment. The sauce is sooooo good! I can hardly wait to eat it!


DELICIOUS! THANK YOU! I made this recipe last year. I’m making it again this year. Thank you so much for this post. My husband and I are always on the look out for healthier alternatives to our favorite foods. If I may make a few suggestions to those who would here them: I cooked more mushrooms than were required in the recipe and pureed about a cup of them along with the parsnips to make the sauce. It adds a nice color and flavor. Also, I doubled the amount of onion. To make assembly easier, I just mix everything together in a separate bowl before pouring it into a casserole. Then, to give a little crunch, I sprinkle on faux Parmesan. It’s made with equal parts raw cashews and nutritional yeast. Just grind them together in a food blender (such as a Magic Bullet). Yes, it adds a bit of fat due to the nuts, but it’s well worth it. Thank you again so much! This is my new go to recipe for green bean casserole.

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