Vegan green bean casserole is a new take on a classic dish that easily rivals the original. This entirely homemade version features all of the flavors and textures of the tried-and-true favorite, but with a plant-based approach.
A Beloved Comfort Food Made Vegan
The version of green bean casserole I grew up with was the classic one that was printed on the Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup can label (did you know a Campbell’s employee created green bean casserole in the 1950s?), which called for just six ingredients: canned or fresh green beans, canned cream of mushroom soup, soy sauce, black pepper, milk, and canned French fried onions. It’s simple, good old-fashioned comfort food.
While the canned ingredient version is about as easy to make as it gets, not to mention incredibly delicious (it’s a classic for a reason), making green bean casserole from scratch is pretty easy too.
Plus, it gives me the option to switch up the ingredients, as I did to create this vegan version.
Use Coconut Milk for Richness
To make a vegan green bean casserole, I replace the traditional dairy-based mushroom sauce with a homemade plant-based one, made with coconut milk. Yes, you can taste the coconut flavor, but it’s so mild and its gentle sweetness is actually a welcome complement to the savory elements within the dish.
First, I saute shiitake mushrooms, onions, and a little garlic in olive oil until they’re deeply caramelized and flavorful. Then I mix in flour to make a roux, which thickens the sauce. Finally, everything simmers in coconut milk and vegetable broth until it becomes silky and delicious enough to serve as a standalone soup.
Fresh Green Beans Add Texture
Many recipes for green bean casserole call for canned green beans, which will work in a pinch, as will frozen but for this recipe I like to use fresh green beans. I blanch the green beans, cooking them briefly in boiling water so they remain gently crisp, then plunge them into an ice bath to retain their bright, green color.
Indulge in Crispy, Hot Fried Onions
If I’m completely honest, the primary reason why I ever make green bean casserole in the first place is to have an excuse to indulge in piles of hot, crispy fried onions. Making the onions from scratch takes a bit more effort than just cracking open the canned kind. But, trust me, that time is well spent when the best-tasting fried onion experience is what you’re after.
Many homemade green bean casserole recipes call for battered onions, dipping the onions in buttermilk and flour before frying. For this vegan version, I find that simply dredging the onions in cornstarch gives them all the crispness they need heading into the fryer, no buttermilk required.
Swaps and Substitutions
- Green beans: If you’d rather not use fresh green beans, you can swap in frozen beans or drained canned beans (no need to cook canned beans).
- Coconut milk: Coconut milk does impart a bit of coconut flavor, so if you’re not a fan of it you can always swap in another plant-based milk, with the caveat that the consistency might be a bit thinner.
- Mushrooms: Other mushrooms, such as cremini or button mushrooms, are fine to use in place of the shiitakes.
- French fried onions: You can use store-bought French fried onions in place of the homemade ones. Be sure to double-check the ingredient list to make sure there are no animal products if you’d like to keep the dish vegan.
- Make it non-vegan: If you’d like to make this recipe non-vegan, swap whole dairy milk in place of the coconut milk in the mushroom sauce. Additionally, you could use unsalted butter in place of the olive oil.
Making This Casserole in Advance
You can make the French fried onions up to 3 days ahead, storing them in an airtight container at room temperature.
Assemble the casserole 1-2 days ahead, without adding the fried onions on top, and keep it wrapped in aluminum foil in the refrigerator until you’re ready to heat it.
Store any leftovers, wrapped tightly, in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
More Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Coconut milk provides a silky, flavorful mushroom sauce base for this casserole. If you’re not a fan of the coconut flavor, you can use unsweetened almond milk or another plant-based milk, but the consistency may be a bit thinner.
2 sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced, divided
Canola oil, for frying
1/4 cup cornstarch
Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce, plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Soak half the onions:
In a medium bowl, soak half of the sliced onions in enough cold water to cover for 10 minutes.
Heat the oil:
Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot, add enough oil to fill about 1-inch deep. Heat the oil to 375°F.
Line a plate with a paper towel and set it aside.
Drain the onions and pat dry:
Drain the soaked onions and pat them dry with a paper towel.
Toss the onions with the cornstarch:
Dry the soaking bowl, return the soaked onions to the bowl, and toss with the cornstarch until they’re coated.
Fry the onions:
Working in batches, if necessary, add the coated onions to the hot oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with salt.
Blanch the green beans:
While the onions are frying, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the green beans, and cook the green beans for 5 minutes.
Drain the green beans and plunge in ice water:
While the green beans are blanching, set up a large bowl with ice water.
Drain the beans in a colander and immediately transfer them to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve their color. Drain and set aside.
Cook the aromatics and mushrooms:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and remaining raw onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are deeply browned, 12 to 14 minutes (take your time with this step, for maximum mushroom flavor).
Don’t rush the mushrooms. To coax the most flavor out of them, allow them to cook until they’re deeply browned and caramelized.
Make the mushroom sauce:
Sprinkle flour over the mixture, stir to combine, and cook for another minute. Add the broth, coconut milk, and soy sauce and bring the mixture to a simmer. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.
Finish the casserole:
Remove the skillet from the heat. Season with more soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the green beans and 1/4 of the fried onions. Pour the mixture into an 8x8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
Bake the casserole, then serve:
Bake for 10 minutes.
Give the mixture a stir, and pile the remaining fried onions on top. Continue baking until the onions are heated through, about 5 minutes.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 11g||15%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||30%|
|Total Carbohydrate 18g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 9mg||46%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|