I Tried Our 5 Most Popular Green Bean Casseroles and the Winner Took Me By Surprise

I’d never had anything like it.

<p>Dotdash Meredith Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Studios

If you grew up with green bean casserole, it’s likely a must-have at your Thanksgiving spread. And if it’s not a dish you’re used to, we bet you have a little FOMO. That’s because this 1950s side dish is the epitome of comfort: Creamy beans topped with crunchy onions will never not be good.

But while grandma’s recipe will certainly suffice, I wanted to know if there was a new trick or two worth trying. Are fresh green beans superior, or would frozen reign supreme? Is there an easy way to replicate the canned cream of mushroom soup? I tried the five most popular green bean casserole recipes on Allrecipes.com in search of those answers (and a new favorite for my holiday table).

What Makes a Perfect Green Bean Casserole? 

The very best green bean casserole features tender–not mushy–green beans, a savory cream sauce, and a topping of crunchy onions. It should taste nostalgic and comforting but not too rich, considering it might be the only green vegetable on your plate.

Which Green Bean Casserole Recipes Did I Test?

I tested the five most highly-rated green bean casseroles on Allrecipes.com, which varied greatly from one another. There was an updated take on a classic, one made in the slow cooker, one with only four ingredients, one that didn’t skimp on the topping, and one that blew me away. Here’s what I found.

<p>Dotdash Meredith Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Studios

Most Nostalgic: Vintage Green Bean Casserole (circa 1956)

  • Fast facts: Developed by jwhall, has 23 reviews with a 5.0-star rating

This 5-star casserole is packed with old-school vibes, from the can of cream of mushroom soup to the French’s fried onions. But using fresh green beans gives it a totally modern spin, resulting in all the same salty, cheesy goodness with a hint of sweetness from the beans.

Though the recipe calls for four pounds of beans, I found three to be just right: They all fit into the baking dish and still yield enough to feed a crowd. To prevent over-browning and ensure the beans are warmed through, cover the casserole dish with foil for the last few minutes of baking.

Get the recipe: Vintage Fresh Green Bean Casserole (circa 1956)

<p>Dotdash Meredith Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Studios

Most Hands-Off: Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole

  • Fast facts: Developed by Hollus2@gmailcom, has 126 reviews with a 4.6-star rating

This dish is salty, soupy, and packed with classic flavor: pretty much exactly what you expect when you think of green bean casserole. The thickened cheesy sauce generously coats the tender beans, and the whole thing is topped with crunchy fried onions.

It’s also easy to make. Starting with frozen green beans and canned soup eliminates any prep, and you can set it and forget while you tend to other tasks. It does benefit from being stirred after three hours, and then again one time each hour until you’re ready to serve.

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole

<p>Dotdash Meredith Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Studios

Absolute Easiest: Best Green Bean Casserole

  • Fast facts: Developed by Jan, has 726 reviews with a 4.7-star rating

Salty, cheesy, and exceptionally easy: This 4-ingredient casserole gets rave reviews for a reason. I was surprised by how much I liked the canned green beans, and the use of shredded yellow cheddar cheese makes it all look just as good as it tastes.

Get the recipe: Best Green Bean Casserole

<p>Dotdash Meredith Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Studios

Canned Bean Upgrade: Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole

  • Fast facts: Developed by Amy, has 2,267 reviews with a 4.5-star rating

If green bean casserole and funeral potatoes had a baby, this would be it. Instead of a can of store-bought soup, you’ll make a simple sour cream sauce that’s bolstered with white onion.

The cheesy, buttery cracker topping, which is nearly as thick as the green bean layer beneath it, adds salty pops of flavor to each and every spoonful. To cut down on day-of prep, make the green bean portion in advance, then sprinkle on the topping just before baking.

Get the recipe: Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole

<p>Dotdash Meredith Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Studios

Best Overall: French Onion Green Bean Casserole 

  • Fast facts: Developed by Chef John, has 141 reviews with a 4.6-star rating

This slight deviation from the classic is worth it: Who can resist caramelized onions, a creamy bechamel, and a crunchy, cheesy topping? French onion soup fans will be absolutely delighted—and no one will miss the canned fried onions.

I also love the way this dish is layered and seasoned at every step. In go caramelized onions, the green beans, salt and pepper, and the white sauce. Then you’ve got shredded Gruyère, more onions, buttered bread crumbs, and more cheese. If you think there’s a better recipe, I dare you to find it: This is one heck of a side dish.

Get the recipe: French Onion Green Bean Casserole 

Read the original article on All Recipes.