Green bean casserole was a dish it took me a while to warm up to. I mean, it has mushrooms in it, people, MUSHROOMS. (P.S. I hate mushrooms, always and forever.) At Thanksgiving, I was always first to dive into the mashed potatoes and gravy and the last to get at the stuffing and green bean casserole (stuffing is still iffy for me). After a while, I discovered that, um, this casserole has crispy fried onions on top and gets all bubbly and delicious, so let’s give it a try.
Needless to say, I ended up loving that crispy/bubbly combination, but didn’t so much love the condensed creepy mushroom soup that went into making it. Last year, I made a version of vegan green bean casserole from Fat Free Vegan that satisfied my craving, but still, it had mushrooms, so I wasn’t totally sold. I love a good caramelized onion, so I knew I wanted it to be heavy on the caramelized onion and crispy onion, super low on the mushroom part.
After tinkering and trying to get at that crispy on the top, bubbly in the middle texture, I finally landed on this vegan green bean casserole compromise. Once I figured out that I didn’t need all the extra steps of caramelizing the onions separately, making a roux before putting everything together, etc., things got a lot easier. The best thing about this casserole is that, just like its original counterpart, it’s a mix and bake kind of dish. Rather than dirtying two extra pans and waiting even longer for the casserole to be ready, just mix, bake, top, done! The filling becomes all bubbly and crispy on the edges, while the top is crunchy and beans get nice and cooked all the way through. At first, I thought I would want the green beans to stay crunchy, but it turns out I like them nice and overdone. You might think this is a crime against vegetables, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Tips on how to make this green bean casserole
This easy green bean casserole takes just 15 minutes to prepare. Because it’s such a simple dish, you want to buy all the right ingredients. To get the proper texture, I used fresh green beans instead of canned. The green beans still come out perfectly mushy, but the casserole holds together a little better and has a deeper flavor this way. The second key ingredient is smoked paprika. In a pinch, you can certainly use regular paprika, but smoked paprika adds an extra layer of flavor to this dish that’s totally unique and delicious.
And although the crispy onions on the top are technically optional, it’s Thanksgiving, so why wouldn’t you use them? Side note: I gave my dad a whole can of those crispy French fried onions as part of his birthday gift one year, because we used to have to buy two cans around Thanksgiving, one for him and one for the casserole. He doesn’t eat them straight out of the can anymore, but seeing that container always makes me think of him popping it open to swipe a couple handfuls of fried onions.