Today’s dairy free green bean casserole is guaranteed to become a star of your Thanksgiving table, vegan or not. It’s made with healthy-ish whole food ingredients, yet tastes totally decadent. Make this vegan, gluten free, soy free, and kosher plant-based holiday side dish for special occasions, or any time you crave comfort foods.
I’ve searched for the perfect vegan green bean casserole recipe for years. It never sounded super appealing to me before I went vegan, but after I did, I wanted to make sure that our vegan Thanksgiving table was just as robust every year as it was before.
Since green bean casserole is such a big Thanksgiving dinner staple, I started searching for the best vegan recipe for this dish.
I tried at least four or five over the years. Most of them were pretty good, but I still felt like something was missing.
So this year, I decided to put my own spin on the classic green bean casserole recipe, making it with no milk, cream, or gluten.
I wanted my dairy free green bean casserole to retain a toothsome texture, making sure that the green beans retained some of their crunch (ain’t nobody got time for another mushy Thanksgiving side dish).
The result? Deliciously smooth, custard-like dairy free gravy envelopes chunky bits of mushrooms and slightly crunchy green beans, covered under a blanket of crispy fried onions. Give it a try, and you’ll never need another green bean casserole recipe!
For more vegan holiday inspiration, be sure to check my post with 75+ vegan Thanksgiving dinner recipes for all courses, from starters to desserts.
How to Make a Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole without Canned Cream of Mushroom Soup
Your grandma might have relied on the classic Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup for decades to make her green bean casserole. But it doesn’t mean that you have to follow in her footsteps.
Easpecially if you’re trying to make your green bean casserole dairy free, gluten free, and – who are we fooling? – tastier AND healthier.
If you scour the internet, you’ll see that there are two ways to make this happen:
1. Make a standalone plant-based cream of mushroom soup, and use it to replace the soup from the can.
Depending on the recipe you find, the creamy part of the soup may come from:
- Unsweetened non-dairy coffee creamer or half and half;
- Cashew cream (raw cashews blended with water);
- Coconut cream (be aware that it will add a hint of coconut to your soup – not always ideal);
- A combination of flour and fat similar to a roux (use gluten free flour if needed).
2. Make a creamy gravy based on the ingredients from above, and cook mushrooms separately. This is the method I’m using in my vegan green bean casserole recipe.
Vegan Green Bean Casserole Ingredients
Green beans. I’m using regular fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into two pieces of equal length. It’s OK if some pieces are a bit shorter than others: in my experience they all cook pretty evenly.
Onion or shallot. Regular yellow onions work well, but if you want to get an even deeper, fancier flavor, I recommend using shallots. Slice them thinly for sautéing.
Cremini mushrooms. White button mushrooms can be used too. Most recipes for this dish want the mushrooms to be sliced, but I decided to cut mine into coarse chunks (see step-by-step pictures below) for more texture.
Dried thyme and sage. The traditional herbs of Thanksgiving recipes (and a lot of comfort foods in general). Thyme and sage infuse this casserole with unmistakable, comforting flavor and aroma.
Sherry. This is optional, but nice to have for extra fanciness.
French fried onions*. Whichever way you slice it, green bean casserole just isn’t the same without them. To keep things a bit healthier (and gluten free), use an organic variety like this one. Or, if you want to go all out (and if you’re OK with gluten), get the regular fried onions in a red can at the grocery store.
*If fried onions aren’t your style, skip them and top the casserole with panko breadcrumbs. It won’t taste as rich but will still be quite good. Make sure to use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs if necessary.
Raw cashews**. The must-have component of the creamy gravy. A lot of vegan green bean casserole recipes recommend using non-dairy creamer, but I decided against it because not all stores carry 100% unsweetened, plain vegan creamers. You definitely don’t want to end up with vanilla-flavored green bean casserole 🙂
**For a nut-free version, try using sunflower seeds instead. They are plain enough in flavor to make a good substitution.
Cornstarch. The secret ingredient that gets the gravy to thicken beautifully. A lot of recipes call for regular flour, but cornstarch works just as well. Plus, it’s gluten free.
Granulated onion and garlic. These add a lovely flavor to the cashew cream gravy. Onion and garlic powder will probably work too, but I prefer the granules.
Nutritional yeast. Leave it to this classic vegan ingredient with cheese-like flavor to add a touch of umami to the gravy.
Other ingredients: water, salt, black pepper, and oil (or veggie broth/water for a lower-fat version).
How to Make Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole
STEP 1. Prep the vegetables. Trim green beans and cut each in half. Peel and quarter the onion (cut a shallot in half), slice thinly. Chop the mushrooms into coarse chunks.
STEP 2. Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to a boil. Add cut green beans. Boil for 3 minutes until bright green but with some crunch left. Drain and put into a large bowl of iced water.
STEP 3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil (or water/veggie broth for lower fat) in a large skillet. Add sliced onions, cook 3-5 minutes until they start turning golden. Sprinkle with thyme and sage.
Add coarsely chopped mushrooms, mix well and cover with a lid to let them “sweat”, about 3 minutes. Pour in sherry (if using), stir until the liquid is mostly evaporated.
STEP 4. While the vegetables are cooking, add raw cashews*, cornstarch, granulated onion and garlic, nutritional yeast, water, salt and black pepper into the bowl of a blender.
Blend at high speed until creamy, scraping down the sides if necessary.
*Soak the cashews for at least 2 hours or overnight if using a standard blender. No need to soak if using a high-speed blender.
STEP 5. Pour the cashew cream mixture into the skillet with mushrooms and onions. Stir to incorporate. It will look quite watery at first.
Within a minute or two, the sauce will start thickening. Continue stirring it with a rubber spatula until it thickens up into a thick, custard-like gravy. This will take about 3 minutes.
Pictured below: this is what the thickened gravy is going to look like.
STEP 6. Drain green beans and add them to the skillet with the mushroom gravy. Sprinkle in 1/2 cup fried onions (skip if using panko breadcrumbs instead of fried onions – see the note in the recipe card).
Stir well to incorporate everything into the gravy. Let heat through gently, about 1 minute. No need to bring the mixture to a boil.
STEP 7. Pour the veggie and gravy mixture into a lightly greased 9″ x 13″ casserole. Top evenly with the remaining fried onions.
Pictured below: the casserole just before going into the oven.
STEP 8. Bake the casserole in the oven at 375°F (190°C) until bubbly around the edges, and the fried onions are golden brown, about 22-25 minutes.
Take out of the oven. Let cool slightly on a cooling rack before serving. Enjoy!
How to Store Vegan Green Bean Casserole
This vegan, gluten free green bean casserole keeps well refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Let the casserole cool completely before putting it into the fridge. Cover its top surface tightly with plastic wrap, or use a lid if your casserole dish has one.
To reheat this casserole, scoop the amount you’d like to eat onto a plate or in a bowl. Cover loosely with a paper towel, and microwave on high for 35-45 seconds.
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If you’ve tried this recipe, I’d love to hear how it turned out! Give it a star rating below, pin it to Pinterest, tag @vegan_runner_eats on Instagram, or leave a comment.
I hope you enjoy my dairy free green bean casserole as much as my family does this holiday season!
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