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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk | Design: The Kitchn
Recipe Review

We Tested 4 Famous Green Bean Casserole Recipes and Found a Clear Winner

updated Jun 21, 2021
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For me, it’s not Thanksgiving without a green bean casserole on the table. The comforting combination of cream of mushroom soup, snappy green beans, and crunchy fried onions is pure nostalgia — and I’m not alone. It was estimated that 20 million families would make green bean casserole for Thanksgiving last year!

The last thing I want (for those families and myself!) is a bland casserole that gets overshadowed by the stuffing, so I was determined to find the very best recipe — one that could really steal the show. I grew up with the classic made from cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup (and I honestly think it’s delicious), but other “homemade” versions claim to be even better. Some make every component (including the crispy onions) from scratch, while others use a combination of store-bought ingredients and homemade ones. Some are even filled with cheese! I was excited to see just how different they would taste, and which one would ultimately reign supreme.

After a very rich but very fun taste test, I found a green bean casserole that I can confidently say is the best. It was creamy and flavorful and definitely a showstopper — and it’s the one I plan to make every year from now on.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Meet Our 4 Green Bean Casserole Contenders

To keep things fair, I only tested green bean casserole recipes that didn’t stray too far from what I considered “classic.” (Yes, recipes layered with mashed potatoes, cornbread, and other add-ins looked delicious, but would be too difficult to accurately compare). From there, I searched the internet to find the most popular recipes, looking for casseroles with plenty of positive comments and reviews. This led me to four recipes that each had a devoted following and took a unique approach: from Smitten Kitchen, Serious Eats, Chrissy Teigen, and (of course) the French’s recipe I grew up eating.

Smitten Kitchen’s recipe is completely homemade and is topped with a generous amount of crispy fried onions that are breaded in both flour and breadcrumbs. It’s prepared entirely in a skillet and looks beautifully rustic. Serious Eats’ recipe is a bit of a project, made with a homemade mushroom filling and topped with homemade crispy shallots. Chrissy Teigen’s recipe uses canned cream of mushroom soup and jazzes it up with diced ham and shredded cheese. French’s classic recipe is made with condensed cream of mushroom soup, store-bought crispy onions, and canned green beans. I loved this recipe growing up, so I treated it as the standard to judge the rest of the recipes off of.

How I Tested the Green Bean Casserole Recipes

Each green bean casserole recipe was baked on the same day, in the same oven, and tasted at the same time. I prepared each recipe exactly as written and kept all outside factors to a minimum. I wanted this to be a fair test, so I didn’t take any creative liberties with the casseroles. I also had two colleagues taste them as well, and at the end of the day all three of us picked the same recipe as the winner.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk | Design: The Kitchn

1. The Most Underwhelming: Serious Eats’ Green Bean Casserole

This recipe was a delicious homemade version of the classic, but the texture of the sauce was way too liquidy. It was more of a cream soup consistency compared to the thick and luscious mushroom base I was looking for. If I were to make this again I would definitely cut back on the amount of liquid used — had the casserole been a tad thicker, it could have been a winner. The crispy shallots were delicious, though, and they gave the casserole a nice pop of texture and flavor.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk | Design: The Kitchn

2. The Most Creative: Chrissy Teigen’s Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

This recipe is made with ham and cheese — so there was nothing to dislike about it. It was flavorful and well-seasoned, and the fresh green beans gave the casserole a nice texture. It was made with canned cream of mushroom soup, so whipping it up was a breeze. But while I do think this recipe tastes delicious, it’s not exactly what I think of when I imagine green bean casserole. The cheese gave it a different texture and flavor that I don’t necessarily associate with the classic. If you’re looking for a new take that pushes green bean casserole to new places, this recipe is perfect for you. But if you’re searching for a nostalgic side dish that’s familiar, this isn’t it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk | Design: The Kitchn

3. The Beloved Classic: French’s Green Bean Casserole

This recipe was just as delicious as I remember. It was hearty, rich, and comforting. The mushroom soup gave it a luscious texture and bold savory flavor that helped tie the whole thing together. The fried onions were also nice, and provided a crunchy texture that was a welcomed contrast to the creamy base.

The only thing I didn’t like was the green beans themselves. I wanted to mimic what I ate growing up, so I used canned green beans. This resulted in a casserole that was a bit soggy, lacking the crunchy snap that fresh green beans would have given it. But overall this was a winner. If you’re looking for a classic side dish, this is it. I would happily eat it any night.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk | Design: The Kitchn

4. The Clear Winner: Smitten Kitchen’s Green Bean Casserole

This recipe was a perfect homemade version of the classic. It had everything I love about the old-school French’s recipe presented in an entirely homemade package. The homemade crispy onions were delicious and reminded me of something you would get at a diner served alongside a burger. I could barely stop myself from snacking on them!

The casserole itself was also delicious, and I appreciated how many mushrooms were in the homemade base. It was creamy, well-seasoned, and intensely savory. The casserole also looked beautiful. It’s cooked entirely in one skillet, making cleanup a breeze. I would happily make this again without changing a thing.

Do you have a favorite green bean casserole recipe? Let us know in the comments!