Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole

Um, hello. A make-ahead version of the much loved green bean casserole? Sign me up, baby.

I happen to love green bean casserole, even the popular recipes made with my arch-nemesis: cream of mushroom soup. But I have to say, this recipe made me realize how much more delicious the old standby casserole can taste when made with vibrant green beans, fresh mushrooms, a delicious and simple creamy homemade sauce and still topped with the ever popular fried onions.

And what a time-saving miracle that this recipe can be made weeks ahead of time and frozen. The baked dish is hearty and tasty and absolutely what green bean casserole should taste like!

Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole

One Year Ago: Thanksgiving Dinner: The Pie
Two Years Ago: Coconut Chicken Curry

Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole

Yield: Serves 10 to 12 as a side dish (can be easily halved and baked in a smaller dish)

Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole

Note: The topping and casserole can be frozen separately for up to 2 months. Hallelujah!


  • 2 slices hearty sandwich bread, white or wheat, torn into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups canned fried onions
  • Casserole:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms , sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch


  1. For the topping: Pulse bread, butter, and salt in food processor until coarsely ground. Combine bread mixture and canned fried onions in a bowl, transfer to a zipper-lock freezer bag, and freeze. (I placed the topping bag right on top of the casserole in the freezer so I could keep track of both.)
  2. For the casserole: Melt the butter in a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook until golden, stirring, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth and cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the green beans with the cornstarch until the beans are evenly coated. Transfer the beans to a 9X13-inch baking dish. Pour the warm mushroom mixture evenly over the beans. Let the casserole cool completely on the counter. Once cooled, cover with a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 2 months.
  4. When ready to bake, adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the layer of plastic wrap from the baking dish and replace the foil. Bake, covered, until the sauce is bubbling and the beans are tender, about 80 minutes, stirring the beans thoroughly after 50 minutes. Remove the foil and spread the frozen topping mixture over the beans. Bake until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Serve.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Cook’s Country

72 Responses to Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole

  1. Amanda says:

    Mel, do you think it would be possible to sub half and half for the heavy cream in this recipe?

  2. Katie says:

    Hi Mel,
    any ideas/insight that you can give about my panko bread question that I posted above? My biggest concern is measurement for the panko vs. bread slices.

  3. Brooke says:

    Mel, I have never purchased “Canned fried onions” — what are these? I’m guessing this is different from the “French Fried Onions” that I have purchased previously for green bean casserole.

    I love your site, have been making “Mel’s Dinners” for a couple years now and we all love everything we have made from here.

  4. Nancy says:

    Mel – Just realized that this dish (which is in my freezer) won’t work with my stuffing and sweet potato casserole that have to bake at 350Β° after the turkey. Also, 80 minutes is too long with the turkey sitting out. (My oven won’t fit a big turkey plus another dish.). Do you think I could bake it a day ahead and reheat on Thursday?

  5. Katie says:

    Mel- making this for thanksgiving this year. Could I sub pano bread crumbs for the slices of bread? If so, what measurement would u use? 1 cup of crumbs?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Katie – I’m receiving tons of recipe questions this week so I’m just barely getting to all of them (hence the delay in responding). Yes, I think you could sub Panko bread crumbs – I haven’t tried it so I don’t know an exact measurement, but I’d suggest 1/2 to 3/4 cup.

  6. Tabitha says:

    What kind of pan does this need to go in? I have a beautiful ceramic pan that I’d love to use, but I’m worried it may crack from heating up too quickly. Can you please give me advice? Thanks! p.s. this looks AMAZING and I am over the moon that I can prep this dish EARLY! πŸ™‚

    • Tabitha says:

      …oops! I was wrong. I guess it says it’s a porcelain baking dish. But I also have a stoneware dish and pyrex. I do not have an aluminum pan.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Your recipe has become a family favorite! I always make two batches. That way there’s one ready for the next occasion! Thank you for sharing this!

  8. Lisa says:

    I made this last year and want to try it again this year – had an amazing flavor, but when I made it last year the beans were super crunchy. Is this normal or should I have baked it longer?

  9. meg says:

    Sorry to add yet another comment right after my last one, but I just wanted to report that I made this again tonight for a church Christmas party and used 2 lbs of frozen green beans and, because I ran out of my chicken better-than-bouillion, I used the beef flavor for the broth and it still turned out fabulous! 45 minutes in the oven was just right for the frozen green beans. This recipe is great even when you have to tweak it a little:)

  10. meg says:

    I made this last night for our thanksgiving feast today and it was a total hit!!! The flavor is fabulous, and the amount of sauce was perfect. I used your crock pot turkey recipe as well as your thanksgiving stuffing, and it was honestly one of the yummiest thanksgiving meals I remember. Thanks for all your hard work, Mel!! I am thankful for what you do:) happy Thanksgiving!!

  11. Ashley Monson says:

    Hi, sorry if this question is already answered, but I want to make this for Thanksgiving this year and so if I make it ahead and freeze it, do I put it in the oven frozen or do I let it thaw? It seems from the cooking time and other comments maybe you put it in frozen?

  12. Michelle says:

    This was an excellent casserole and everyone loved it – I will be placing this in my holiday meal rotation from now on – one less thing to do when preparing a large meal means more time to spend time with my guests! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  13. […] for our annual Saturday-Before-Thanksgiving dinner. I was asked to make the same as last year: Green Bean Casserole and Triple-berry Pie! The whole family was able to make it, as well as Don, Darla (Shelia’s […]

  14. Cindy says:

    Just made this dish for my sister in law’s “pre-Thanksgiving.” It was such a hit. EVERYONE loved it and was uttering rave reviews. Thanks Mel!!

  15. Melissa says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I love that you always try to find a way to omit the cream of whatever soups! I am not a huge fan of “traditional” green bean casserole for that very reason. This year I am going to make THIS recipe, it sounds amazing πŸ™‚

  16. Kari H. says:

    For anyone who didn’t ABSOLUTELY love this dish, please have your tastebuds checked!! Seriously. These green beans were eaten more than any other dish at the table this Thanksgiving, and the first leftover to vanish. Honestly, I have never tasted anything so scrumptious!
    Made this the day of (because I forgot to prepare ahead), and used fresh, all-organic ingredients. THANK YOU for this recipe, it was superb!

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  20. Mel says:

    Hi Kylene – I’ve never made this in a crockpot so I don’t dare tell you how it would work. You might try looking at the recipe you have to see how it converts (cooking time, liquid amount, etc.). I know Cook’s Country posted a slow-cooker green bean casserole a while ago in their magazine. Try googling it and see if there’s a recipe online – it is probably awesome!

  21. Kylene says:

    Hi Mel,
    I have to say I LOVE your blog. Everything I have made has been absolutely fantastic. I am a green bean casserole lover too, and would love to try your recipe. The one I have uses a slow cooker so you can do the turkey, stuffing, rolls, etc in the oven and not have to worry about the gb casserole. Do you have any suggestions for how to convert this recipe to be cooked in a crock pot? Thanks!

  22. JenH says:

    I was begged to make your green bean casserole this year again! Everyone loves it! Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  23. JJ says:

    This was a hit last year, just wanted to let you know I will be using it again this year along with your celery herb stuffing recipe. I was told last year that one was “like Stouffer’s on steroids” LOL!

  24. Robert gore says:

    Mel , just wanted to say thanks I personally don’t like green bean casserole but I can say I have followed this recipe and I always get huge compliments for it. Thanks

  25. Courtney Taylor says:

    I prepared this tonight and froze it for Thanksgiving. It didn’t seem like there was enough sauce and I followed the recipe exactly. Is that normal? Will the juice from the raw green beans make it just right when I cook it? I’m a little nervous because Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I’ve never tried this recipe before.

    • Mel says:

      Courtney – I think it will be fine, especially if you made it according to the recipe. It’s not an overly sauce recipe like the traditional recipes made with cream of mushroom soup but the frozen dish bakes up with plenty of sauce, in my opinion. Good luck!

  26. […] Dish: Green Bean Casserole Mashed Potatoes Sweet Potato Casserole Rolls or Bread Macaroni and Cheese Applesauce Twice Baked […]

  27. Jena says:

    I have to say this was the best green bean casserole i have ever ever made!I took it to a dinner party and everyone LOVED it! Especially since it didnt have any canned products in it! Very simple and amazing recipe! Thank you!

  28. atlantagator says:

    No worries, and I really appreciate the effort you put into the site. Obviously a labor of love! needed some inspiration for dinners and this is just the place.

  29. atlantagator says:

    thanks for contributing…but in the south this was not well-received despite cooking the green beans for a bit. too crunchy and frankly not full of great taste, but with a few variations i’m sure can be a great make-ahead dish.

  30. Liz says:

    I prepped this today and I can hardly wait to put it in the oven tomorrow — the mushroom sauce tasted divine when I licked the spoon!

  31. Patty K says:

    Mel, thanks for the great recipe. I’ll try it this year, and will use your tip for baking the green bean casserole at 350 with the turkey. That was my only concern when I read your recipe.

  32. Kathy says:

    Hi Mel,
    I love the sound of your recipe. My only concern is the cooking time. Since I only have one oven, how can I time this with the turkey and the stuffing? Any thoughts?

    • Mel says:

      Kathy – great question! I usually accomplish this by roasting my turkey on the lower oven rack which leaves me room to still sit a rack in the upper level of my oven and I bake the green bean casserole simultaneously with the turkey. Because the green bean casserole recipe temp is 400 degrees and the turkey roasts for most of the time (at least my recipe) at 350, I just bake the frozen green bean casserole at 350 with the turkey and add about 20 minutes onto the cooking time. I hope that helps!

      • LNS says:

        How about if I am half of the recipe and baking at 350? Would an hour be sufficient? Thanks!

        • Mel says:

          I’ve never tried that, so you’ll have to keep checking the time to make sure. The recipe says to bake at 400 degrees for 80 minutes, so I think you might need a little more than an hour, even with a half batch.

  33. Cindi says:

    I’m making this for Thanksgiving, as we don’t like canned cream soup either in the green bean casserole. One question for you….do you use ground thyme or whole thyme leaves when making this?

    Thanks for the recipe!

  34. Frances says:

    Hi! Thank you for the recipe, Mel. I am excited to make this for Thanksgiving this year.

    Just a question for Nicole if you are able to get to this before next week πŸ™‚ Did you still add the cornstarch even when using frozen green beans? I might use frozen than fresh…

    Thanks! πŸ™‚

  35. Nicole C says:

    Thank you for this delicious recipe! I brought it today to an early family Thanksgiving! a total hit and a definate replacement for standard green bean casserole! thanks for sharing! I am guessing this will be on the menu for years to come.
    also a note…..I used frozen green beans, but didn’t need to make ahead, so just used the frozen beans in the casserole and then refrigerated once made. I needed to bake it about 45 min and than added the topping.

  36. Charlotte says:

    Would you still cook for the same amount of time if you aren’t freezing it? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Charlotte – if you are only refrigerating this and not freezing it, I would cut the cooking time in half and still keep a close eye on it to make sure it isn’t burning and that everything is heating through well.

  37. Lauren says:

    Mel, I have a question. Are fresh green beans from the grocery store good at this time of year? I have only ever eaten fresh from my own garden, and usually eat canned the rest of the year. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Lauren – well, to be perfectly honest, if you love green beans from your garden, the fresh green beans at the grocery store will be hard-pressed to meet up to your expectations. There just isn’t anything like fresh garden produce. Having said that, if you look around, you can find some pretty good fresh green beans – and they’ll definitely be better in this recipe than canned.

  38. Michelle says:

    Yummy. I love that it is made w/o soup. I’m not sure why my arch nemesis is Cream of Mushroom soup too. Maybe I’m just that much of your fan girl that I hate it too? Maybe it’s the tin can, preservative taste that it gives everything.

    Do you have a standard for substituting for it? Say if I just wanted to make something that calls for a can, what would the standard procedure be?

    Thanks again, I’ll be making this dish this weekend.


    • Mel says:

      Michelle – I don’t have a standard for substitution – I kind of take it on a recipe-by-recipe basis, but usually it’s a combination of a roux (butter and flour) and chicken broth/milk for the liquid. The sauce in the Hawaiian Haystacks recipe is a classic instance where I came up with a way to get rid of the cream of chicken soup with a homemade sauce. Hope that helps!

  39. JJ says:

    Hi Mel! This looks great and wouldn’t ya know the Greenberg casserole has been my job on Thanksgiving since I was a kid. Back then I would “help” my great-grandmother make the cream of mushroom soup version. I’m not a big fan of mushrooms so I switched to cream of chicken a few years ago which is quite tasty. I’ve been looking for a recipe that omits the canned stuff altogether so I will def. try this. What do u think the cook time should be adjusted to if the casserole is just refrigerated and not frozen? And if I do w/o mushrooms should I add a cup or so more of greenbeans or leave as is?

    • Mel says:

      JJ – I think you could omit the mushrooms and be fine without subbing in another ingredient for them. If it is just refrigerated, my best guess is that it would only need to bake for 1/2 the time called for in the recipe.

  40. Norah B says:

    I’ve been tempted to give this a try but all I remember is the nasty gross ones growing up that were full of cream of yuck. However since we always seem to have the same taste in food I’ll give this dish a try. Hopefully it will wipe the memory of the gross one out of my mind.

  41. CaSaundra says:

    This is great–any time saver is welcomed in my book during the hectic holiday season!

  42. momstarr says:

    green bean casserole is one of my favorites when done right. this one sounds good. however, we have dairy allergies here, what could i sub for the heavy cream? i know it is a vital and yummy ingredient but we can’t have it. (sigh)

    • Mel says:

      momstarr – is there an ingredient you normally work with in the place of cream? Like a soy product or something similar? I think you could probably get away with using a soy milk product but I would probably double the amount of cornstarch so it thickens nicely. Good luck working around those dairy allergies!

  43. Melissa Taylor says:

    Do you thaw this before cooking or put it in the oven frozen? I plan to add this to my Thanksgiving table!

  44. ooh, I love this recipe. Thanks

  45. I just love how you don’t use any canned junk. Love this recipe!

  46. Whitney says:

    Thank you!! Just what I needed!!! Love that everything is fresh ingredients.

  47. StephenC says:

    Two green bean casseroles among the blogs I follow this morning. As I commented to the other one: our family always loved it at Thanksgiving. It may even have been made with mushroom soup – don’t remember. Peter and I have a favorite green bean recipe: slow-roasted beans tossed with tomatoes and fennel seeds. Cooks for 3 hours but does not become mushy because of the low temp.

  48. Kim in MD says:

    What a fabulous recipe! I love that you use fresh ingredients (I hate those canned soups, too)! Thanks for the tip on freezing it, too. I always wonder if dishes freeze well or not! πŸ™‚

  49. I love that this isn’t made with the soup! Awesome!

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