Fresh Green Bean Casserole for a Smaller Crowd.
*post and recipe originally published on Nov. 22, 2016. Both were updated on Nov. 10, 2020.*
I originally posted this recipe four years ago for Thanksgiving, and it’s been a consistent favorite on the blog! But as I’ve furthered my food knowledge, I wanted to give this delicious Thanksgiving side dish a refresh.
While any green bean casserole is delicious, this fresh version is consistently our number one choice for Thanksgiving. This recipe was created to feed a smaller crowd, or about four people. When I originally posted this, we were living alone in Chicago, and didn’t have the time off to go home for Thanksgiving. We made due, and created “small batch” versions of our favorite Thanksgiving foods!
Ingredients for Fresh Green Bean Casserole:
- Fresh Green Beans
- Thick-cut Bacon
- White wine (or Chicken / Veggie Stock)
- Fresh Mushrooms
- Salt / Pepper (I always use Diamond Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper)
- Good Parmesan
- Fresh Lemon
- French Fried Onions (yes, the store-bought kind!)
Can I swap any of these ingredients?
Yes! Here’s what I recommend:
- Bacon Swap :: 3 strips of Turkey Bacon or 1/3 cup of chopped Pancetta
- Shallot Swap :: White Onion or Yellow Onion – 1/4 cup finely chopped
- White Wine Swap :: Chicken Stock or Veggie Stock (Broth also works!)
- Fresh Mushrooms Swap :: These can be left out if you like!
- Cream Swap :: Half & Half or Whole Milk. Or if you’re wanting to use Cream of Mushroom Soup, that totally works as a swap for this, too!
Tips for Making the Best Fresh Green Bean Casserole:
- Salt your boiling water. Salting the pot of water that you boil the green beans in is crucial. It builds flavor inside of the green beans before they even get mixed into their delicious cream sauce, and guarantees a super flavorful green bean casserole!
- Use fresh green beans. I know that may seem silly, but fresh green beans are going to make a huge difference in this recipe. If you have previously frozen green beans, that is fine too! But fresh green beans will provide the best taste and quality for this recipe.
- Don’t skip the bacon. Turkey bacon will also work, or you could use pancetta if you’re feeling fancy! But the bacon provides a layer of flavor and saltiness that really works for this green bean casserole.
- Splurge on Parmesan. You don’t need to buy a $20 giant wedge, but a small wedge of Parmesan Reggiano makes a world of difference in your cooking. Definitely avoid anything that comes in a can, and try to avoid anything that comes pre-shredded, if you can!
- Use fresh lemon juice. Similar to the Parmesan, but far cheaper. I always recommend keeping a lemon or two stocked, because the fresh juice can be a game changer in your cooking! Lemons are inexpensive, and a great tool to keep on hand.
How to Make Green Bean Casserole from Scratch:
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Have a small casserole dish or a small cast iron skillet ready near the oven.
- Prepare a large mixing bowl with three cups of ice and one cup of water. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans, and boil for 3-4 minutes until bright green. Drain the water from the green beans, and immediately transfer them to the bowl of ice water. Stir them around to cool them down and stop the cooking process. Once cooled, drain the ice water and set the beans aside until you’re ready to use them.
- Chop the bacon into small pieces. Heat a skillet over medium heat, and cook the chopped bacon until crispy. Turn the heat underneath the pan to medium-low, and use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the skillet, and transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess grease. Leave the bacon fat in the pan. (Turning the heat down prevents the fat from burning and smoking.)
- Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Stir until melted, then add the mushrooms, shallots, and a pinch of salt (about 1/4 teaspoon). Stir to coat the mushrooms and shallots in the bacon fat and butter. Let this cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender.
- Stir in the minced garlic, and cook for one minute.
- Pour in the white wine (or stock), and stir to combine. Let the wine cook for 2-3 minutes until almost completely reduced.
- Stir in the cream, and season with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. (Adding seasoning as you go helps build layers of flavors, so that’s why I like to add a little bit at a time.)
- Let the cream cook for a couple of minutes to thicken, then stir in the parmesan and fresh lemon juice. Using good parmesan is crucial here, and fresh lemon juice is also very important! Don’t cheat yourself on flavor by using either of these ingredients if they come in a plastic container.
- Add the green beans and crispy bacon to the skillet. Stir to coat them in the creamy sauce, then transfer the entire green bean mixture to your small casserole dish or cast iron skillet.
- Sprinkle the french fried onions across the top of the top of the casserole, then cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, carefully remove the foil. Pop them back into the oven for another 10 minutes, then serve hot!
Can I reheat this green bean casserole?
Absolutely! Just reheat them in the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes! You can also store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. I don’t recommend freezing it, as cream isn’t always easy to reheat after it’s been frozen.
Other Small Batch Recipes for Thanksgiving:
- Small Batch Garlic & Herb Rolls (makes 8-9 rolls)
- Small Batch Everything Seasoning Rolls (makes 8-9 rolls)
- Small Batch Spicy Chopped Brussels Sprouts (a reader FAVORITE!)
- Small Batch Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (makes two huge servings!)
- Small Batch Au Gratin Potatoes (two servings)
Small Batch Green Bean Casserole from Scratch
- 12 ounces fresh green beans ends trimmed, beans cut in half (makes about four cups)
- kosher salt
- 2 strips thick cut bacon chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil
- 1 cup mushrooms roughly chopped
- 1 small shallot finely chopped (makes about 1/4 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 cup white wine or chicken / veggie stock
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup french fried onions roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the halved green beans for 3-4 minutes, until bright green. Drain the water, and transfer the green beans to a large bowl full of ice water. Stir the beans in the water, and allow them to briefly cool. Drain the ice water after five minutes, and set the beans aside.
- Set a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper, and cook until the bacon is crispy, about 7-8 minutes.
- Turn the heat underneath the skillet to low, and use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Leave the bacon fat in the skillet, and let it cool down for a couple of minutes.
- Add a tablespoon of butter (or olive oil) to the skillet. Stir in the chopped mushrooms and shallots, and add a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the minced garlic and cook for one minute.
- Stir in the white wine, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat underneath the skillet back up to medium, and cook until the wine has reduced, about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the heavy cream, and cook the sauce for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the parmesan cheese, then the fresh lemon juice. Stir in the bacon, then taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Mix in the green beans to coat them entirely in the cream sauce.
- Transfer the entire mixture to a small, oven-safe dish. (I use a small, 2 1/2 quart casserole dish from Staub!). Sprinkle the french fried onions across the surface of the casserole, then cover the dish with foil. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
- Carefully remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot, and enjoy!