Green Bean Casserole (The Real Food Way)

Green Bean Casserole (The Real Food Way)

Green Bean Casserole is a staple side dish for many holiday dinners. Tasty green beans, creamy white sauce, and a crunchy topping, make it a well-loved family favorite.

Unfortunately, many recipes include canned condensed soup, bacon bits, and French fried onions (also in a can); enough to make a real foodie cringe!

Most of these undesirable ingredients can be completely avoided by using homemade alternatives such as made-from scratch sauce and home cooked bacon. Simply replacing these in your family favorite recipe will give it that real food touch.

Today I’m going to share my family’s favorite recipe for Green Bean Casserole. It is extremely rich, including a decent amount of delicious butter. We save it for special occasions, breaking it out once or twice a year, including Christmas.

Green Bean Casserole (the real food way)

Green Bean Casserole (The Real Food Way)

I adapted this recipe from Stephanie Kimmel’s delicious Green Bean Casserole, eliminating the white flour and substituting coconut oil for the olive (since it is stable at high temperatures) among other things.

Green Bean Casserole (The Real Food Way)
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5 from 2 votes

Green Bean Casserole Recipe

Course: Side Dish
Author: Ann Timm


For the Beans:

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or ¾ tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Optional: Add crumbled home-cooked bacon to suit your taste

For the Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour OR 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp. salt

For the Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat or sourdough bread crumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

(This provides a light topping. I frequently double this amount since I love it! The topping is doubled in the picture above.)

Shallots give the topping a special, delicate flavor. They would be the "secret" ingredient, if there was one!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Step One: Prepare Beans and Mushrooms

    • Fill a large pot with water and sprinkle with a little salt. Bring to boil and add green beans. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until they are crisp tender. Drain and set aside.
    • While beans are cooking, melt the butter in a large pan. Turn to medium-low and sauté onion and garlic in the butter until soft.
    • Add mushrooms and thyme. Stir and sauté until the mushrooms release their juices. Continue cooking until the juices are reduced.
    • Season with salt and pepper.

    Step Two: Make SauceHere are two methods for making the sauce: one uses whole wheat flour, the other uses arrowroot powder.

      Method 1: Using Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

      • Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two (this will reduce the “floury” taste).
      • Add milk to saucepan, pouring in slowly while whisking continually. Add salt and stir to distribute throughout. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens to the point where it will coat a spoon.

      Method 2: Using Arrowroot Powder

      • Mix arrowroot powder and cold milk together until smooth.
      • Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Pour in the arrowroot/milk mixture and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens to the point where it will coat a spoon.

      Step Three: Combine Sauce, Beans, and Mushrooms

      • Combine cooked green beans and mushroom/thyme mixture in a large bowl. Gently stir until mixed. Pour the sauce over the top and stir until evenly distributed.
      • Pour into a well greased 9 by 11 inch baking dish.

      Step Four: Make ToppingAs noted in the ingredients, I often double the recipe for the topping since I like there to be a lot of it. You can also double all of the ingredients except the shallots and increase those as you desire.

      • In a skillet or sauté pan, melt butter and coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced shallots, cooking about 3 to 4 minutes until soft and turning golden.
      • Add the bread crumbs and stir to coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper.
      • Sprinkle topping over casserole.
      • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the bread crumbs are golden brown and the cream sauce is bubbling.

      Is Green Bean Casserole a favorite in your home?

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      1. I LOVE green bean casserole! Will definitely try this…I`ve been making my own “cream of whatever” soups for some time and it`s so much better, both nutritionally and taste-wise. This recipe looks so yummy, thanks for sharing!

      2. yum! i haven’t made this since i’ve “known better,” and i’m excited to find a whole-foods recipe. bookmarking:)

        (and stephanie, i am so excited to hear from your at relevant next year!)

      3. What a wonderful recipe!! Can’t wait to try it.
        I always cringe when I go to someone’s house and they are serving conventional green bean casserole as the “vegetable”…. yikes. 🙂

      4. I’ve never even heard of green bean casserole before 🙂

        Its really interesting though how many typical recipes can be adapated to be real food. I recently did that with pumpkin pie. My husband LOVES it but I couldn’t figure how to do it with the ingredients. I knew the basics- I changed the all purpose flour to whole grain, changed the brown sugar to sucanat, etc. but what to do with the condensed milk? A friend told me to double the milk and then bring to a gentle boil (watch carefully, it burns and boils over easily) and then simmer until the milk “condenses”. It took me about 25 min, I think, to make 2 cups of milk into 1 cup. Then I used that in place of one of those cans of 1 cup of evaporated milk…cause when I read the ingredients on the can I never wanted to make the pie. My husband said it tasted great (in fact he used the word normal, LOL) and I’ve made it many more times since then. A little creativity and thinking outside the box and help from others who cook with better ingredients really helps!

        1. @Nola, we have used canned coconut milk in place of the condensed milk, and it turns out delicious. It’s an easy replacement if you don’t have time to boil down the milk.

      5. I have been making my own homemade green bean casserole for a few years now. As a side note, I now have a great homemade cream of mushroom soup recipe that is the yummy sauce that goes over the green beans (nutmeg is the secret) It tastes so much better than ANY canned cream soup and makes the casserole a huge hit. I always double the batch and there are never any leftovers! Real food is so tasty!

      6. I do a similar version but I do the mushrooms separately add caramelized onions just under the topping. I’ve also used whole wheat flour to dust raw onions and then pan fried them in coconut oil. It is an extra step but it really adds that fried onion taste and since my husband doesn’t really care for mushrooms I tend to go heavy on the onion and light on the mushroom.

      7. What a healthy recipe!! I will definitely try this one during the holiday. I’m sure my kids will love it as they like to eat green beans. Thanks for this very nutritious and delicious recipe.:-)

      8. OMG! This is what I was looking for. I have never liked the way green beans were made at our home (indian curry-style).. I am so going to try this out. Thank You!!

      9. So we live overseas in Japan and it is darn near immpossible to get fresh green beans here. When they do have them they sell them in these teeny tiny little bundles for an arm and leg.

        So my question would be could I use frozen green beans? They are already cut into approximately 1 inch pieces, is that ok?

      10. I wish I had made this for Christmas dinner. I ended up making the Campbells soup recipe. Next year I plan to use all real food recipes. I did raise the turkey we had for dinner this year. That was a big step for me. Thanks for the recipe.

      11. Yum! We made this last weekend. It was awesome! I added a pound of natural sausage to make it more of a main dish and it was perfect! Thanks!

      12. I can’t wait to try this recipe! I want to take it to our family Thanksgiving, but we have to travel. Have you ever made it in advance and rewarmed it?

      13. 5 stars
        This is an excellent list! I will be making a lot of these ? I’ve done some already! Homemade always tastes better.

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