When I think of must-have Thanksgiving recipes, green bean casserole—the kind made almost entirely with canned ingredients—is one of the first that comes to mind. The thing is, I love it mostly for the gloopy cream of mushroom soup and the crispy fried onions; the bland, mushy green beans are the least important part.
No disrespect to the casserole I grew up on, but this year I'm going to try to prepare green beans in a way that highlights their flavor rather than covering it up. I could cryo-blanch them to preserve their crunch, braise them until tender, sauté them with mushrooms and onions, or even broil them and serve with a Sichuan sauce. Or, more likely, I'll stick with the casserole but make it with fresh beans and other minimally processed ingredients. Whichever way you want to go, keep reading to find out how to prepare green beans for Thanksgiving without opening up a can of soup.
The Ultimate Homemade Green Bean Casserole
Upgrading green bean casserole means starting with fresh ingredients—we ditch the canned or frozen green beans in favor of tender-crisp blanched fresh ones and make an earthy homemade mushroom sauce to use instead of cream of mushroom soup. You can also fry up shallots to top the casserole, but to be honest I love French's fried onions too much to not use them.
Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole
Another reason to skip the canned cream of mushroom soup is that people with gluten intolerance can't eat it. This totally gluten-free green bean casserole replaces the soup with a white sauce made with milk and sautéed button mushrooms and thickened with cornstarch. Finish the casserole with Parmesan and fried onions for extra flavor and some crunch.
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
This vegan green bean casserole is no less rich or delicious than its cream-based cousin. Cauliflower purée stands in for the typical can of mushroom soup. You can assemble this a day ahead and bake just before serving.
Sautéed Green Beans With Mushrooms and Caramelized Cipollini Onions
With all the heavy dishes on the typical Thanksgiving table, a creamy green bean casserole might feel like overkill. This recipe takes the same flavors and transforms them into a lighter, fresher side dish by mixing together caramelized cipollini onions, browned mushrooms, and blanched green beans.
Haricots Verts Amandine (French-Style Green Beans With Almonds)
This classic French side deserves a place on your table—it looks and sounds fancy enough to impress, but comes together in just 20 minutes. To make it, we blanch green beans and mix them with toasted almonds and a browned butter sauce flavored with garlic and shallots.
Cryo-Blanched Green Beans
Fans of our gazpacho recipe already know that cryo-blanching—rapidly freezing and thawing—is a great way to bring out the fresh flavor of vegetables. Here we use the technique on green beans before quickly sautéing them so that they come out perfectly green, brightly flavored, and just crunchy enough.
"Dry-Fried" Green Beans With Romesco Sauce
This quick and easy green bean side dish comes together in just minutes with the help of your broiler and some Spanish romesco sauce.
Bacon-Braised Green Beans
Despite what current trends might lead you to believe, vegetables don't have to be served crisp-tender. This recipe takes green beans and braises them in stock and vinegar until they're practically melting. We flavor the beans with bacon, but for a vegetarian alternative, use olive oil and mushrooms instead.
Easy Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans (Gan Bian Si Ji Dou)
Thanksgiving dinner only needs to be as traditional as you want it to be—I like using the holiday to introduce my friends and family to flavors they might not be used to. This not-so-classic side gives Thanksgiving some Sichuan flair by coating blistered green beans in a fiery, peppercorn-infused oil.
Green Bean Salad With Pickled Peppers and Anchovy Dressing
There's a time and place for complicated salads, but you can do very well by sticking to just one main ingredient and a few assertive secondary ones. Here that means blanching green beans and tossing them with pine nuts, shallots, and peperoncini, plus a creamy Caesar-style dressing.