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

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

Desirae

This was incredible. =] My boyfriend was craving green bean casserole but knew I couldn’t eat it with him if it wasn’t vegan. So he chose to not eat it (how sweet!) Thankfully found this in time to make some together & it was a big hit! The only thing we tweaked was needing 2 onions instead of one, and using ALL of the sauce! We are excited to incorporate it into our meal plan as a soup, gravy, or as a replacement inside a broccoli and cheese casserole. Next time we will want to double it — it’s THAT good!

Kim

I made this today for thanksgiving and it was delicious. The sauce is genius, great idea. So tasty, thank you! Will make again I’m sure!

Shanel

In the oven now! I’ve never had parsnips before so I wasnt sure what to expect. Can’t wait to have try it all together.

Kelly

Okay, so… it did not look great… It was however, so amazingly delicious and I will probably make it once a week now. Way to go on the amazing recipe!

Alli

used 3.5 10 oz bags of green beans, only one large onion, 5 cloves of garlic(glad i double go double and a half with the onion, 1 was way more than enough), and recipe amount of coconut milk with 2 parnips, but needed to cook at least an hour to thicken properly, non paleo people enjoyed it and did not question the ingredients! way better once it had time to really thicken.

Kristen

I really liked this recipe except for the high salt content. I put in the salt without really thinking about it, and it completely overpowered the dish. I love the taste of parsnips as they are without the extra salt. I made it for thanksgiving and we ended up throwing it mostly out 🙁 I will make it again, but with just a pinch or no salt.

Diana

We live in Costa Rica & they don’t grow parsnips … recommend a substitute?

    ek

    You could try substituting the parsnips for cauliflower.

Lourdes

Hi! is not thx giving but i have a bunch of green beans and want to make this recipe. Just one question to whoever can answer it. Does nutritional yeast affect candida? I don’t have candida anymore but always stay away from sugar, cabs an foods that trigger candida. Yeast is a must no while dealing with candida but t the same time ive heard a lot that nutritional yeast doesn’t feed candida. Any thoughts anyone?
Also since I’ve never use nutritional yeast before I don’t know how it taste like, is it being used in this recipe for pure flavor? ( cheese flavor) cos other wise I don’t mind using raw cheese instead.
Big thank you ladies! <3

    Crissy

    I’ve done lots of research on this as well, since I am also recovering from gut/candida issues. Nutritional Yeast does not feed Candida. There are good yeasts and bad yeasts just like there’s good bacteria and bad bacteria. It has tons of B-vitamins and is super good for you. The texture is quite different from cheese, so I don’t think you’d yield the same results if you replaced it.

Gia

Megan, I love you, lol. It’s the first week of October and I was totally burned out with chicken and salads, so decided to roast a simply turkey breast with this amazing side dish attached! And yes, that gross traditional version never appealed to me much but I did love the crunchy onions on top too! I really really appreciate the fact that you share childhood food memories in your blog even though they no longer fit your mold- it really humanizes you and touches readers!❤️ Very inspiring to not feel like I was the only one who o.d.ed on Soft Batch cookies, etc. there’s a whole new way to indulge- cheers to health!

S. Smith

I don’t have any nutritional yeast, and saw some on Amazon. They had “nutritional yeast seasoning” and “nutritional yeast flakes”. Which one should I use when the recipe calls for just “nutritional yeast”? Thank you!

    Crissy

    Nutritional Yeast Flakes 🙂

Merrinda

Swapping cauliflower for the parsnips….if you had to guess how much cauliflower would be needed to substitute the 2cups? Or just run with 2 cups of cauliflower? Thanks!

    Megan Gilmore

    You might need a little more cauliflower than parsnips, since I feel like cauliflower shrinks more when cooked. (It also will depend on how finely you chop the cauliflower to measure.) Maybe 2 cups of cauliflower rice or 3 cups of chopped florets? Let us know what works for you!

      Merrinda

      So I substituted the cauliflower for parsnips & it was amazing! I did 3 cups of cauliflower florets cut up pretty small, 2 cups cut up that way probably would have been plenty. Thanks for a great alternative to my holiday favorite.

Sandra

My first green bean casserole and i loved it. The parsnips are a great idea. I tolerate cheese well so i used 2oz grated raw hard cheese + 2 Tbsp of organic whole cream instead of the nutritional yeast and it turned out great!!

Daisy

I thought this turned out pretty good. I had a little more parsnip chunks than what was called for and my son isn’t a mushroom fan, so I added all the mushrooms to the sauce, these small changes made it a bit thicker than it was intended. Next time I make this I’ll just use half the amount of mushrooms and no extra parsnips. Actually, I will probably use the suggestion of cauliflower, in place of the parsnips, because the parsnip taste was the only thing I really didn’t care for.

Sarah

Hi! I just love this recipe! When you say add 1 1/2 cups water to blender with the parsnips, could I use milk of choice or even vegetable broth?

Elizabeth

We never ate green bean casserole growing up, but I had a ton of CSA veggies that I needed to figure out how to use, and this recipe did the trick! I used a pound of green beans, 2 bunches of collards, 2 large onions, and 1.5 pounds of potatoes in lieu of the parsnips.

I was a little worried about things when I added the yeast to the potatoes as the sauce became extremely sticky, but…Nope. Fears unfounded. It was a big hit. Everyone loved it!!

I added a tablespoon of vermouth to the sauce to dial up the flavor (if you have it and can tolerate it, please try it! Just use a little less if you are making the original amounts) and it was just wonderful. I also dusted the top of the dish with almond flour and it gave it that same texture of topping as with the original.

Thank you for a wonderful recipe. Everyone is begging me to make it again!

Drew

Hello!
I headed to the store expecting to buy parsnips, but could not find any in good condition. So I opted for cauliflower. I definitely needed a little more than 2 cups to thicken the sauce (maybe 2 and a half?), but it still worked out great!

Also, I did use frozen vegetables (organic frozen cauliflower/green beans) and there was still a ton of crunch and it tasted fantastic! Also, I used earth balance butter to caramelize the onions and they tasted amazing. 🙂

Thank you for this super tasty recipe, without all the animal products and gluten! My tummy is happy :+)

Dena Kraft

Can you freeze the left over sauce to use the next time you make the green bean casserole?

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, I think the sauce would freeze just fine!

Jan

Question: The instructions say to sauté the onions for 45 minutes. This seems like a long time. Is that correct? Thank you!

    Megan Gilmore

    You’re caramelizing the onions, which does take about 45 minutes. During that time, it’s on pretty low heat and you add a splash of water from time to time to make sure the onions aren’t sticking. That’s how they get really soft and golden in color, with a really sweet and rich flavor.

Monica

I made this for Thanksgiving. It was phenomenal! You really know how to make old classics healthy and tasty. Thank you so much for all the wonderful recipes you share.

Greg smith

Hi Megan – we have some folks who either don’t like mushrooms or are allergic to them. Any suggestions on a suitable alternative?

Shirley Spencer

This is not the message I clicked on ??????

    Megan Gilmore

    Can you tell me what message you did try to click on? I heard someone else tell me they were directed to my Green Bean Casserole recipe, and I have no idea how that would happen! I’m curious to know who is sending people here.

Meredith

I just made this for Thanksgiving and it looks delicious! I do have a lot of the cream sauce left over – any suggestions of other recipes it can be used for other than more green bean casserole? Thanks!

    Julie

    I stirred my extra sauce into two servings of veggie bone broth which I made the same day, and served it for a quick (“What can I make in 5 minutes or less?”) supper. My husband loved it, and he typically doesn’t like anything that purports to be healthy.

Andy

The yeast is trouble for a lot of people who are worried about their health.

Dana

I made this clean green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. It was absolutely delicious and tasted positively decadent. It turned out perfectly from your directions. Thanks for the great recipes.

PAT SMEJEK

I loved the flavor BUT my gravy did not thicken. What did I do wrong? I had no parsnips so I used carrots. That is the only thing I switched out. Any suggestions? I would like to continue using this recipe.

    Julie

    You might need to undercook the carrots and use less water (leave off at least 1/2 cup, add back as necessary for proper consistency). The regular recipe does yield extra sauce, so these changes may give you just the right amount.

Julie

Thaaaank you!!! for the recipe! Dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, excellent texture! Unfortunately, it was my first time with parsnips, and I found them a little overpowering.

Next time, I’ll experiment with maybe half parsnips and half celeriac, or half parsnips and a quarter of slightly undercooked celeriac and quarter barely cooked zucchini. Hmmm.

Amanda

Hoping you can help me out. Making this for easter right now and the sauce is super chunky. Hoping you can give me a suggestion so I can save this dish. Thanks!

Mary

I like this dish. I was wondering if it would freeze well for when I don’t have time to cook?

Lucy L.

O wow would love to try this dish. I can’t have nutritional yeast unfortunately but maybe it will work without..

Jenn

I’m not sure about this recipe…maybe you can help! The flavor is just really, really different for me. Is that typical of parsnips? It’s a very strong flavor and i’m worried my guests won’t love this. Maybe my parsnips were too strong. I was reading that many recommend cutting the core out. The only thing I can liken it to is that really distinct flavor that fennel has. Different flavor but potent like that. But I love the texture and combination, I just wonder if I should have used white sweet potatoes instead. Any thoughts?

StAcey

Will this recipe work with olive oil instead of coconut oil or butter?

Heather

Turned out well..great flavors.. Made it for thanksgiving..we have gluten wheat issues and wanted more nutrient dense veggies in our meal

Laurie Bell

This was the hit of our thanksgiving meal. Especially those who like the ones who are die hard traditional green bean casserole fans. (Yuck) The parsnip cream is amazingly brilliant. I like it much better than a cashew cream for several reasons. Calories, nutrition and taste. I am going to try using it to create a tuna casserole.
This had more steps than I prefer but in the end it’s easy and worth it. I have enough cream left over to put it with another meal. Might try adding wild mushrooms next time just to punch it up
Even more, but it stands on its own and needs nothing. Brilliant! Thank you for this great recipe!

    Megan Gilmore

    Tuna noodle casserole with this cream sauce is BRILLIANT! Glad this was a hit at Thanksgiving, and thank you SO MUCH for leaving a comment to let me know. I really appreciate it.

TINA

I love this recipe and make it every year!! I have left over sauce in the freezer. Any suggestions for recipes to make with the sauce?

Sherry

This recipe is outstanding! I wanted to eat the sauce all by itself, it so delicious. I’ve made this for past holidays. The family voted it better than the traditional recipe.

Amy Angelo

Any alternative for the parsnips? Cashews maybe? Thanks!!!

Annette

This was pretty good. I think it could have used a little bit more salt or seasonings. Next time I’ll just add some to taste. I’ll definitely make this again though! I made crispy fried shallots to top it with. Yum!

JT

This is an amazing recipe! I’ve made it twice so far, without the parsnips only because I didn’t have any on hand. I will have to try with. Thanks so much for all you do! My foods are limited right now due to health issues and I can find delicious recipes on your site that meet my requirements.

JT

I forgot to rate it!

Erin

Yum!!! I love it. Accidentally overcooked the beans, but the delicious sauce makes up for it. As a die hard fan of “regular” green bean casserole, I wasn’t sure I’d love this, but I think it is even better this way! I didn’t have parsnips, so I used a small potato and a carrot. Delicious! I didn’t even need to bake it because the sauce was hot and the beans were cooked; I just put it all together, and it was delicious. Toasted almond slivers were a fantastic idea. 😊 Thank you!

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