There are some classic dishes that are passed down through generations and enjoyed during special holiday feasts. And one of the most moreish has to be green bean casserole. The creamy sauce, crunchy green beans, and crispy fried onion topping make an incredibly tasty combination. Easy to make, there are so many variations and ways you can elevate this simple side. You might enjoy a traditional green bean casserole with a touch of nutmeg made with fresh mushrooms. Or, have you ever considered making a slow cooker green bean casserole with evaporated milk?
Before you start flicking through old family recipe books, why not take a few tips gathered from foodies on TikTok on how to elevate this dish? They might show and tell, but it's you who has to try these ideas out and do the tasting. There are so many easy ways to upgrade your green bean casserole so that everyone will be begging for more.
Use Fresh Green Beans
Green bean casserole that tastes too soft isn't that delectable. Unfortunately, canned green beans don't always keep any bite in them after they've been submerged in a creamy sauce and baked in a casserole dish in the oven. The simplest way to remedy this and upgrade this popular side, is to always use fresh green beans. If you can't find any in the fresh-food aisle or at a grocery store, then look out for frozen green beans. They'll also keep their firmness and crunch.
To cook the beans, plunge them in boiling water. Leave them for a few minutes, then immediately put them in a bowl of iced water. This way, they won't continue cooking, and they will keep their vibrant green color and won't turn into mush. The idea is to mix the beans into the creamy sauce when they aren't fully cooked. Really, you're just blanching them. Remember, they will be bubbling away in the oven, and they can only withstand so much heat. You'll notice that uncut fresh beans have a little tail on one end, and you'll need to remove this stringy bit. Doing this bean by bean could be time-consuming if you're making a big casserole. Gather the green beans together into a bundle, and you can do this while they are still half poking out of the bag, and chop all the ends off at the same time.
Add Onion Rings
Fried onions are a classic topping for green bean casserole. Of course, you can scatter these on from a packet, or you can fry up your own crunchy morsels. One of the best ways to upgrade your green bean casserole so everyone will be begging for more is to add onion rings on top. What's great about this idea is that it's actually simpler than cutting onions and frying them yourself. Once you've added your green bean mixture to a casserole dish, add a layer of frozen onion rings. Bake in the oven and then fill the gaps with some regular fried onion bits before baking once again.
Check out some onion hacks and learn how to stop the breadcrumbs from slipping off. Or make your own onion rings using panko for a crispy coating. To make your own chunky breaded onion pieces, cut an onion into large pieces, dredge in flour, dip in whisked-up egg wash, and coat in breadcrumbs. Lay the onions on a lined baking tray in a single layer and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes. Top your casserole with these before baking the whole dish for around 15-20 minutes.
Use Smoked Cheese
Add cheese to a lot of dishes, and you get an instant upgrade in texture and flavor. There are so many recipes elevated by Parmesan cheese, for example, because of the sharp, salty, tangy taste it adds to other ingredients. Part of the reason that green bean casserole is so good is because it's cheesy, and this dairy goodness gives the dish a melt-in-the-mouth moreish quality. However, quite often, a regular, mild-tasting variety is shredded and added into the mix, and it doesn't do a whole lot for the taste.
To highlight cheese as a star ingredient, add a more powerful tasting one that complements the other ingredients. A perfect choice is smoked gouda. It doesn't overpower, yet it promises a gorgeously creamy taste with nutty, sweet, and salty notes. And, of course, it gives any dish a splendid smokiness. Talk about giving this classic fall and winter comfort food a wonderfully warm flavor profile. If you want to increase the usual amount of cheese you add, grate in sharp cheddar and cheddar jack, as well as the smoked gouda. Experiment with different combinations to get the right level of cheesiness that you like.
Throw In Bacon
A bacon-wrapped grilled cheese is so outrageously divine because the salty, crunchy flavor of the meat complements the gooey center. Bacon is a great ingredient to add to established dishes that instantly perks up the taste without much extra effort. Add some cooked bacon pieces to a green bean casserole, and there's no doubt that anyone digging in will be begging for more. With this in mind, your only real potential mistake to avoid is not making enough.
Sprinkle cooked bacon bits into a bowl with boiled green beans, fried onions, and cheese. Mix in a can of mushroom soup and some crispy onion bits and bake in the oven. Once ready, sprinkle on more of the onions and bacon. That way, there'll be a meaty surprise in every serving, if not every bite. If you prefer a meat-free dish, then why not fry up some chunks of vegan bacon or homemade carrot bacon? You can skip adding cream of mushroom soup and cheese for this version as well, keeping it plant-based. Instead, fry the bacon substitute with onions and mushrooms and add these to green beans sautéed with dried herbs. Add chopped nuts for a crunchy topping.
Make Your Own Mushroom Sauce
If you're looking for one of the most delicious ways to upgrade your green bean casserole so everyone will be begging for more, then transform the soup part. Traditionally, this dish represents American, home-cooking-style cuisine. It's honest fare, but you can make it fancier. Forget adding a can of cream of mushroom soup and make your own creamy sauce instead. Sauté sliced mushrooms in olive oil and add dried thyme and butter. In a clean pan, make a roux by mixing flour into melted butter, and from here, create a creamy sauce with garlic and Parmesan. Layer green beans and the cooked mushrooms in a casserole dish, cover with the sauce, and add crispy onion bits before baking.
You can also make your own mushroom soup. Fry chopped mushrooms and garlic in butter. Stir in flour, pour in chicken stock, and mix in heavy cream. Season with salt and ground black pepper and sprinkle in onion powder. You've then got a flavorful, creamy mushroom base that's thick like a condensed soup and is ready to add to your green beans and other ingredients. Instead of a casserole, cover boiled green beans in a luxury mushroom sauce. Sauté thinly sliced chestnut mushrooms with the stalks removed and chopped oyster mushrooms in olive oil with garlic and shallots. Add butter and white wine and let the liquid reduce. Add fresh thyme and heavy cream, and mix in crispy onion bits. Spoon the elevated sauce over green beans.
Create Color With Extra Veggies
If you're making green bean casserole for a family feast during the holidays, then you'll want to make sure there's enough to go around. You'll also want it to taste yummy and look good in the middle of the table as well. During the Christmas holidays, you can add some festive flair to this classic dish by adding some seasonal red to the green beans and the white creamy sauce. This color enhancer will make the whole dish stand out and look way more cheerful.
Use packets of Steamfresh beans rather than canned ones so that you don't lose the vibrancy of the green. Sauté slices of red bell pepper and add these to the beans, along with grated sharp cheddar, mushroom soup, melted butter, and crispy onion pieces. For the topping, toast fresh breadcrumbs in melted butter in a skillet. Add melted butter, the toasted breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese to thin slices of red onion and mix together before scattering over the top of the casserole. Bake in the oven and serve with some potatoes and a slice of meat.
Mix In Cream Cheese
When you're next making a green bean casserole, why not try swapping out your usual choice of shredded cheese for some super velvety cream cheese? There's no doubt this is an upgrade that is going to have anyone tasting this dish begging for one more spoonful. Mix whipped cream cheese with green beans and the other ingredients. If it's a little too solid, then give the cheese a quick ten-second blast in the microwave so it's easier to work with. You won't need mushroom soup for this recipe, but onion soup powder adds flavor. And since cheese and crackers go so well together, bash up some Ritz crackers for a topping, along with crispy fried onions.
Another option is to use Velveeta along with cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. You won't get a super-cheesy taste, but what you'll definitely have is a super-creamy casserole. If you need more cheese in the mix, then add shredded cheddar on top before baking. You could also make your own cheese sauce using chive and onion cream cheese and chicken stock. You won't need mushroom soup, so add fried mushrooms, bacon, shallots, and garlic into the sauce along with the green beans.
Make A Mediterranean Version
Most Thanksgiving green bean casseroles are a variation on a theme. However, if you're interested in trying totally new ways to upgrade your green bean casserole, then give this all-American dish a Mediterranean twist. What you'll be left with is a quiche-style result that you can serve by the slice rather than by the spoonful. The extra ingredients to use that you wouldn't usually see in a more traditional version are tomatoes, eggs, and yogurt.
Add crushed garlic and dill to fresh tomato sauce. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt with eggs and feta cheese, plus more herbs. Add boiled green beans to a greased casserole dish and dot with spoonfuls of the herby tomato sauce before covering with more of the beans. Pour the creamy mixture over the top and bake in the oven. The casserole makes for a fabulous green bean dish to serve as a light lunch with a salad or as a summer dish fit for an al fresco party. You could even serve it as an appetizer or supper at any time of the year.
Stir In Some Heat And Yogurt
You don't have any mushroom soup in, and you've run out of cheese, so a classic green bean casserole is out of the question, right? It doesn't have to be. In fact, forget these two ingredients, and you've got the makings of a fantastically upgraded version that's not only deliciously creamy but has also got a little kick behind it. Add ½ a cup of Greek yogurt to cooked green beans along with a tablespoon of horseradish mustard and one minced shallot. That's all there is to it.
The sauce will taste nice and light because there isn't any heavy cream, cheese, or thick canned soup. The yogurt adds a deliciously tangy taste and is way less calorie-laden as well. The spice of the added condiment gives the sauce flavor, meaning there's no need for any mushrooms to be added. The shallot brings some sweetness that contrasts with the heat. Spread the mixture evenly in a casserole dish and cover with crispy fried onions. Bake in the oven and serve.
Create A Spicy Crunch
Covering a green bean casserole with French's Crispy Fried Onions is a tradition in plenty of households over Thanksgiving, the festive season, and other times of the year. The texture of these crunchy bits contrasts amazingly well with the creamy sauce and al dente beans. It makes perfect culinary sense. What about turning that crispy topping into a spicy crunch? In place of fried onions, whether packet or homemade, sprinkle on crispy jalapeños instead. Add some bite to the green beans by drizzling on olive oil and seasoning before broiling them. These go into a homemade mushroom, bacon, and cheese sauce and top with more bacon, shredded cheese, and peppers.
If you don't want to forgo onions, then you could combine these with the peppers. Or what about experimenting with your own recipe by sticking with the onions on top and adding a spicy ingredient in the sauce instead? That way, you still get the heat without losing the traditional crunchy topping.
Change Up The Topping
The reason why green bean casserole tastes so mouthwatering is that it's made traditionally with vegetables, a sauce, and a crunchy topping. An instant, easy upgrade you can do without messing around too much with the main ingredients in the dish is to change up the topping. Keep it nice and crispy by sprinkling on a solid layer of Frosted Flakes. They are light, crispy, and sugary, which definitely elevates the texture and the taste. You don't want them to go super-soggy, so make this version without mushroom soup so that it's less liquidy.
Instead of only adding crispy onions on top, mix these into the casserole with the rest of the ingredients. On top, add shredded cheese, even though there's some in the mix, and some broken-up bits of the onion-flavored corn snack, Funyuns. Or choose the Flamin' Hot variety for a kick. Throw crispy fried onions over the whole dish, too. If you're making this for a dinner party or a family meal, see who can guess what you've used. It's not the most obvious recipe ingredient. An alternative is to add crushed Parmesan crisps to the top with grated cheese for a crunchy, melt-in-the-mouth topping.
Make It Meaty
One of the best ways to elevate a veggie side is to put some meaty flavors into the mix. This has to be one of the tastiest ways to upgrade your green bean casserole so that everyone will be begging for more. Since the ingredients to make this classic dish are pretty straightforward, keep the added meat the same. You don't have to use the highest-quality steak. What really gives a flavorful, savory boost is some chopped-up hamburger.
Fry the meat in a skillet with some onion before draining. Next, season with salt, black pepper, onion powder, and minced garlic. This is going to be your first layer in the casserole dish. Add green beans on top, creating a second layer. For the third one, add pieces of cream cheese and grated Italian cheese. All that's left is to pop it in the oven and bake for at least 25 minutes. The longer you cook it, the more the beans will soften, so think about what texture you want. What is a must is that all the layers are nice and hot, and the cheese has melted on top. You can use whatever ground meat you like, such as ground turkey, which is fitting for Thanksgiving and the festive season, for sure. Try mixing cream cheese, shaved Parmesan, and heavy whipping cream with the cooked meat, season, and add the green beans before baking the creamy, meaty mixture in the oven with a crunchy topping.
Cook It On A Smoker
While the ingredients may vary, most green bean casseroles are made in a baking dish and cooked in an oven. After all, a casserole is a dish that's baked in this way. However, if you're yearning for this dish and are hosting a cookout, then why not turn it into a meal that you can heat up using your smoker? And remember, it's not just summertime that you can light up the grill, as there's something warming about food cooked al fresco when it's cold outside, too. Aside from the unique flavor that it adds, this might be a practical solution if your oven is jampacked with other dishes. Green bean casserole might be delicious, but it is still usually served as a side.
The cooking time is the same, around 25 minutes. Make sure you add the ingredients, minus crispy onions on top, to a dish that you can add to your smoker. Once the casserole is pretty much ready, scatter on homemade baked onion rings and smoke for another five minutes.
Elevate To A Gourmet Dish
Green bean casserole can look pretty sloppy. It's the type of dish that's a hearty side that you dig a big spoon into. It's far from haute cuisine, in other words. To upgrade the taste and the visual look of this family favorite, start by roasting fresh green beans and sliced mushrooms in olive oil. For a finer quality to your dish, use haricot verts instead of thicker green beans. Make a classic white sauce using a homemade roux and milk. Add goat cheese and let that dissolve into the sauce. Add a spoonful of the sauce to a dish and put the roasted veggies onto it. Top with crispy onions and crumble on more of the cheese.
Another gourmet version of this holiday culinary staple is to use fresh mushrooms, heavy cream, and grated Parmesan cheese to make the sauce. By leaving out the mushroom soup and regular shredded cheese, you immediately elevate the taste to a more luxurious one. You could try using wild mushrooms for a fancier dish, too, and make sure you use real Parmesan rather than a copy version so that the salty tang really hits. There's no need to bake this again with fried onion rings; just scatter those on top and serve.
Read the original article on Mashed.