Healthier Green Bean Casserole (Dairy-Free)

This Green Bean Casserole is a lightened up, but just as delicious, version of a classic Thanksgiving side dish. It’s made up of crisp-tender, fresh green beans baked in a makeshift dairy-free cream of mushroom soup! It’s rich, creamy, perfectly seasoned, and topped with homemade healthier crispy fried onions!

Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole - Lexi's Clean Kitchen

The Best Green Bean Casserole From Scratch

Believe it or not, I didn’t grow up eating green bean casserole during the holidays. We usually had these Garlicky Blistered Green Beans, which I love and serve often, but now that I’ve had a lightened up green bean casserole for the holidays, I’m never going back. 

Classic green bean casserole consists of green beans tossed in cream of mushroom soup and topped with melty cheese and fried onions. My version of green bean casserole has all of the delicious flavors and textures of traditional green bean casserole, but it’s healthier, dairy-free, and made without any soup mix!

It’s a lightened up version of a classic holiday side dish that no one will know isn’t the real thing. Trust me. It’s just that good!

Ingredients Needed

This green bean casserole is completely made from scratch, from the makeshift cream of mushroom soup to the healthy fried onions! See the recipe below for the full details.

  • Butter: I use grass-fed butter but you can use oil to keep this recipe dairy-free if desired.
  • Green Beans: definitely use fresh green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces, for the best texture and flavor.
  • Mushrooms and Onions: both sliced thinly.
  • Garlic: use fresh garlic for the best flavor. Pre-minced garlic will work as well if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Coconut Aminos, Cashew Cream, and Vegetable Broth: the base for our healthier alternative to the cream of mushroom soup mix that is used in classic green bean casserole. Coconut aminos is a soy sauce alternative. Note: You can use store-bought cashew cream or easily make your own. I always make my own! It’s super easy.
  • Seasonings: you’ll use a simple blend of sea salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  • Bacon: this is a totally optional addition if you want to keep your green bean casserole vegetarian, but it does add a delicious smoky flavor.
  • Crispy Onions: I include a homemade, healthier recipe for crispy onions but you can use store-bought if preferred.

Cashew cream for the dairy-free win!

Meet my favorite dairy replacement that mimics heavy cream: Cashew Cream! It as a neutral flavor that compliments most anything it is used with and truly hresults in making a dish creamy without adding any dairy.

It’s compliant with many diets including Keto, Paleo, Whole30 and we guarantee it’s going to be your new favorite dairy-free swap.

Want to swap out the cashew cream? I haven’t made this recipe with heavy cream, but I am betting it will work just fine here. Coconut cream may work well, but you will taste the coconut flavor.

Healthier green bean casserole recipe ready to eat

How to Make This Green Bean Casserole

This easy green bean casserole recipe takes a total of 10 minutes to prep! 

  1. Make the crispy onions: Combine the egg and arrowroot, then dip the onion into the mixture. Cook in hot avocado oil until browned. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Blanch the green beans: Add the green beans to a large pot of salted boiling water and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
  3. Make the cream sauce: Melt butter in a cast-iron skillet and cook the mushrooms. Add in the onion, garlic, and coconut aminos then mix in the cashew cream and broth. Decrease the heat and add salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Cover and cook until thickened.
  4. Combine green beans and sauce: Season the green beans then mix them into the skillet with the sauce.
  5. Bake and serve: Transfer the mixture to a 9×9” baking dish and bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes. Remove, top with the crispy onions and bacon, then bake for another 15-20 minutes. Serve warm!

Let’s Talk About Healthier Crispy Fried Onions

How we’re making these fried onions healthier! We are using avocado oil (tasteless and great for high heat cooking) instead of canola oil, and arrowroot flour instead of white flour. We also aren’t deep frying and wasting tons of oil, rather we are pan frying. We’ll still get those crispy onions we want, but a little bit lighter!

  • Heat avocado oil until hot.
  • Whisk the egg and arrowroot mixture.
  • In batches, dip the onion into the egg/arrowroot mixture and then place into the hot oil.
  • Cook on each side until a nice golden or dark brown.
  • Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Voila! Crispy fried onions.

How Long to Cook Green Bean Casserole

You’ll quickly cook the green bean casserole ingredients on the stove, then you’ll bake for 30 minutes, then you’ll top it off with the crispy onions and bake for another 15-20 minutes. You’ll know it’s done cooking when the green beans are tender and the casserole is bubbly!

If the fried onions are getting too brown but the casserole isn’t quite cooked all the way through, just cover the baking dish with foil and continue to cook.

Can You Use Frozen or Canned Green Beans?

In theory, yes, but I definitely think fresh green beans are the way to go! They have the best flavor and a firmer texture which holds up nicely in the creamy casserole.

If you do decide to use frozen or canned, keep in mind that for starters, we haven’t tested it with frozen or canned, but also that their textures will likely be mushier and require less cook time. If you use canned, be sure to drain and rinse them before proceeding with the recipe.

how to make healthier green bean casserole

Tips for Making the Best Green Bean Casserole

  • Blanch the beans. Blanching the green beans gives them that perfect crisp-tender texture. After you boil them, make sure you plunge them into a cold water bath right away to stop the cooking process, otherwise they could become mushy.
  • Dry the green beans. After you wash the gree beans, be sure to drain and dry them to remove any excess moisture. If they’re too wet, the casserole can become watery.
  • Wait to add the crispy onions. You want the onions to be crispy, not burnt! Make sure you bake the casserole without the onions at first, then add them when it’s closer to being done.
  • You can roast the green beans, instead of blanch them if you like. Just toss with some oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 375ºF for 20-30 minutes. If you do roast and season the green beans, be careful not to add too much salt later on.

Can You Make This Dish Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! Prepping green bean casserole ahead of time is a great way to get ahead on holiday cooking.

To prepare ahead of time and refrigerate, simply assemble as directed up until you place the casserole mixture into the baking dish. Instead of baking, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to a day. When you’re ready to bake, bring the casserole to room temperature and bake as directed.

To prepare ahead of time and freeze, assemble as instructed, wrap tightly, and store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. When you’re ready to bake, thaw in the fridge, bring to room temperature, and bake as directed. 

How to Store It

After it’s baked, the green bean casserole is best served right away for the best texture. However, if you do have leftovers they will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. I don’t recommend freezing it after baking because the texture can become watery.

To reheat, bake at 350ºF for 10 minutes or until warmed through. You can also microwave leftovers but the onions won’t be as crunchy.

More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes You’ll Love:

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Green Bean Casserole

Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole - Lexi's Clean Kitchen

This Green Bean Casserole is a lightened up, but just as delicious, version of a classic Thanksgiving side dish. It’s made up of crisp-tender, fresh green beans baked in a makeshift dairy-free cream of mushroom soup! It’s rich, creamy, perfectly seasoned, and topped with homemade healthy crispy fried onions!

  • Author: Lexi
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons butter, use oil for dairy-free
  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into pieces
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
  • Optional: 4 strips bacon, cooked crispy and broken into pieces

Crispy Onions:

  • 1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot flour
  • Avocado oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×9 inch baking dish with butter or oil and set aside.
  2. Make The Crispy Onions:
    1. Slice the onion into thin rings.
    2. In a small skillet, heat avocado oil until hot.
    3. While waiting for the oil to heat up, whisk the egg and arrowroot together in a medium mixing bowl.
    4. Working in batches, dip the onion into the egg/arrowroot mixture and then place into the hot oil. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until a dark brown.
    5. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
  3. Blanch The Green Beans:
    1. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan.
    2. Add the green beans and blanch for 5 minutes.
    3. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
    4. Drain and set aside. See notes for recipe steps if you would rather roast the green beans.
  4. Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the onion, garlic, and coconut aminos and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the cashew cream and mix well.
  8. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute.
  9. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  10. Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
  11. Season green beans with salt and pepper. Add green beans to skillet with the sauce and mix until the green beans are well covered. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  12. Pour the green beans and sauce into the 9 x 9 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes.
  13. While baking, make the bacon if using.
  14. Remove from the oven and top with crispy onions and optional bacon, if adding.
  15. Bake for an addition 15-20 minutes, or until green beans are tender and bubbly.
  16. Serve warm!

Notes

  1. See post: How to Make Cashew Cream
  2. Roasting Instead of Blanching: you can roast the green beans, instead of blanch them if you like. Just toss with some oil and roast at 375ºF for 20-30 minutes. If you do roast the green beans, do not salt them!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 153
  • Sugar: 4.4g
  • Sodium: 497mg
  • Fat: 7.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 17.2g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Protein: 7.3g
  • Cholesterol: 56mg

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39 comments
November 15, 2021

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39 Responses

  1. I didn’t grow up with green bean casserole, either. And I’ve had a hard time getting behind the traditional versions with all the soup mix, etc. But I’m TOTALLY down for this lightened up dish! I need to try it ASAP! Also, I just want to pick off all those crispy onions!

  2. Am I reading the instructions correctly?— use one onion to make the crispy topping and another onion gets cooked into the sauce?

  3. So excited to make this! Do you think I can prepare everything other than the Green Beans tonight (night before) and then in the am roast the green beans and mix with the sauce before cooking? Thank you!!

  4. This looks amazing!! One question when you go to make the cashew cream..do the cashews have to be raw or roasted?

    Thanks!

  5. Hi
    This looks great. But it says to mix onions with garlic and coconut aminos. Then later it says to top with crispy shallots. I don’t see shallots listed in ingredients. Are onions used twice?

  6. Is there an easier replacement for Cashew Cream?

    Can’t wait to try it! We’re having a Lexi’s Clean Kitchen Thanksgiving!

    Thank you!

  7. I was raised with some sort of green bean casserole so it’s a must at my Thanksgiving table! I just wanted to say that I tried this recipe last week to give it a test run, and let me tell you, this recipe is AWESOME!!! Everyone at my table raved over it and wanted seconds and thirds. And the recipe! Lexi, thank you for such delicious recipes to make our Paleo journey that much better!!! You’re one of my all time favorites!!!!!

    5.0 rating

  8. These look great! I was reading the recipe and it says to review the notes for roasting the beans instead of blanching them but there wasn’t anything in the notes for roasting. Do you have tips for roasting them? Thanks!

  9. Recommendations for substituting the cashew cream if someone has a nut allergy? Could I just use a gluten free cream of mushrooms soup instead (albeit not as healthy…haha)?

    1. Hi Lindsay! Some options might be to use heavy cream and/or possible cream cheese? Obviously that’s if you can tolerate dairy. We haven’t tried the substitutes but just trying to help you troubleshoot what could work!

  10. I was asked to bring Green bean casserole for Easter and I found this recipe. THANK YOU so much. I did a test run and it’s AMAZING!!! So much better than the traditional recipe too. I’m new to clean eating and I’m even more excited to find cashew butter and cream. It’s so good!!! Now I have a go to for all cream sauces and mushroom soup casseroles. Plus it’s easy to make!! I couldn’t be more thrilled. YUMMO!!!

  11. Hi Lexi- Can I prepare this the day before and bake the day of or will that change the quality of the dish? Thanks!

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