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Typical green bean casseroles bathe ingredients in a heavy cream sauce. Our healthy version has fewer calories and fat, thanks to a homemade roux.

EatingWell Magazine, November/December 2011; updated December 2022

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Recipe Summary

active:
20 mins
total:
1 hr
Servings:
8
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Why Is This Green Bean Casserole Healthier than Others?

Typical green bean casseroles call for canned green beans, which can be high in sodium. Fresh green beans are a better option to reduce the sodium content, and they hold their texture better than canned. We skip the canned soup too, which is can be high in sodium, fat and calories. Instead, we thicken the casserole with a roux made from extra-virgin olive oil and flour, with low-fat milk added to make the creamy base.

What Should You Serve with This Casserole?

This simple side dish can be prepared for a holiday meal or a weeknight dinner. It pairs well with many main dishes, including Beef Tenderloin with Cabernet-Mushroom Sauce, Roast Turkey with White Wine Gravy, Roasted Leg of Lamb with Red Wine-Shallot Sauce, Fish Amandine and Crispy Roast Chicken.

Healthy green bean casserole can also be the main course when paired with Wild Rice Salad with Arugula Pesto, Herbed Lemon Orzo or Winter Kale & Quinoa Salad with Avocado.

Additional reporting by Jan Valdez

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425 degrees F.

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  • Toss green beans in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil until well coated. Divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, stirring once and rotating the baking sheets top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add milk and continue to stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. (See Tips)

  • When the green beans are done, remove from the oven. Preheat the broiler.

  • Transfer half the green beans to a 2-quart broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the green beans. Add the remaining green beans and top with the remaining sauce.

  • Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl (skip this step if you are topping with cheese).

  • Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture (or cheese) over the gratin. Place under the broiler and broil, watching closely, until the gratin is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Equipment

Large rimmed baking sheets, 2-quart broiler-safe baking dish

Tips

To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs.

Variation: to add extra flavor to the cream sauce, at the end of Step 3 stir in 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage or parsley. Or make it cheesy by stirring in 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese, such as Gruyère, Swiss, Cheddar or blue cheese.

To make ahead

Roast green beans (Step 2) up to 30 minutes ahead. Prepare the sauce (Step 3), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; gently reheat until steaming before combining with the green beans.

Nutrition Facts

about 1 cup
188 calories; protein 8g; carbohydrates 25.4g; dietary fiber 5.3g; sugars 9.9g; fat 7g; saturated fat 1.4g; cholesterol 3.8mg; vitamin a iu 1128.4IU; vitamin c 18.3mg; folate 69.8mcg; calcium 182.5mg; iron 2.1mg; magnesium 60.3mg; potassium 485.4mg; sodium 347.8mg; thiamin 0.2mg.

1/2 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 1 fat

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