I am so excited about Thanksgiving that I could just screeeeeam.

Lightened Up Fresh Green Bean Casserole I howsweeteats.com

I mean, what’s not to love about a holiday that’s totally centered around food? And not only food, but comfort food. OMG yes… it’s like my life inside a holiday. Family, giving thanks, food, sweat pants. Otherwise known as… heaven. Cut me a slice of heaven please.

Last year I made an awesome lightened up sweet potato casserole that to this day is still probably one of my favorite dishes on the site. Why do we only make that sort of stuff around the holidays? How annoying. I’m stopping that right now.

And that’s sort of why I made this casserole. It’s definitely geared towards more of a weeknight side dish or even a weekend dish. Well, what I’m really trying to say is that it’s perfect for a meal that doesn’t involve cooking six or seven other dishes to be on the table at one time. Like Thanksgiving. HOWEVER. It is still totally doable on Thanksgiving, especially if you are serving a smaller group or making just a handful of dishes. You can make it for a large group if you prepare it ahead of time and the good news is, large group or not, aside from boiling the green beans this dish is made in ONE SKILLET. Boom.

Lightened Up Fresh Green Bean Casserole I howsweeteats.com

While it is contained to one skillet, it still takes some prep time and chopping and work as any homemade-from-scratch dish does. Which I will be the first to admit, can be sort of annoying on a day when your kitchen looks like a tornado tore through. Okay whatever, that’s my kitchen everyday, but still. Thanksgiving can be a teeny bit stressful soooo… you know. It also should be noted that the cream of mushroom soup/canned beans/french fried onion version of this is like, comfort food at it’s finest and is a totally acceptable side dish for, well, life. But… but in case you want something a little lighter, a little fresher, a tiny bit healthier and still just as delicious, I got your back.

This casserole is topped with some caramelized onions and whole wheat herbed panko, but I’ve definitely spied some crunchy onions at Trader Joe’s and they would work just as well, maybe even better. Because you know, if it comes from Trader Joe’s it has to be healthy. Or you could always make your own

Lightened Up Fresh Green Bean Casserole I howsweeteats.com

Anyhoo, let’s talk about the FOOD. What are you making? What are you bringing? Are you traditional or trendy? Most importantly, WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR DESSERT next Thursday?

I can get a little passionate about the topic. And nosy. My opinion? Pumpkin chocolate chip cookie pie and bourbon pumpkin pie milkshakes are the clear winners.

I’m pretty traditional in the fact that I want all of the “normal” Turkey Day foods, but I also want a whole slew of new stuff to try. Just don’t even think about swapping out my favorite dish for something else, k? We can make it in addition to everything else. (funny haha.)

Lightened Up Fresh Green Bean Casserole I howsweeteats.com

In a few days I will tell you about some non-traditional mashed potatoes I made a few weeks ago, but in the meantime you can make some brown butter mashed potatoes (!!!!) or yes, even some oatmeal cookie crumble topped sweet potatoes if you have the patience.

I highly recommend these buttery cloverleaf rolls and sweet potato and honey dinner rolls, but if you crave something different, cranberry buttermilk biscuits are your friend.

Double bread stuffing with brown butter, bacon and sage should be what you live on for the next two weeks… just saying.

Lightened Up Fresh Green Bean Casserole I howsweeteats.com

If you want something green, brown butter brussels, shredded bacon + asiago brussels or toasted coconut brussels work. You didn’t really expect a lot from me in this category, did you?

Oomph. I’m tired already.

And since every party needs some cocktails, you should probablymostdefinitelymaybe whip up some pomegranate vanilla winter sangria, apple cider margaritas, apple cider sangria or… pomegranate margaritas. Maybe next year I’ll make a margarita flavored sangria. Sheesh. I guess I like what I like.

Lightened Up Fresh Green Bean Casserole I howsweeteats.com

Lightened Up Fresh Green Bean Casserole

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  • 2 pounds fresh trimmed green beans, snapped in half
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 16 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup low-fat half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons freshly gated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Heat a large oven-safe skillet oven low heat and add olive oil, onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir well to coat, then cover and cook onions until caramely, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. While onions are caramelizing, boil a large pot of water. Once boiling, add green beans and cook for 5 minutes, then drain and run cold water over top, letting sit in the sink to air dry and until you’re ready to use.
  • In a separate small bowl, combine panko with thyme and oregano. Set aside.
  • Once onions are caramelized, remove with kitchen tongs and set aside in a bowl. Add butter to skillet, then add chopped mushrooms and toss well to coat. Cook for 6-8 minutes until juicy and and soft, then add in half of the onions and the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high and sprinkle flour over top. Stir well to coat and distribute, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and half and half. Stirring constantly, let mixture come to a bubble, then let cook for 2-3 minutes until just slightly thickened. You don’t want it TOO thick since it will also cook in the oven. Season with remaining salt, pepper, nutmeg and then stir in 1 tablespoon of parmigiano reggiano. Add green beans and toss well to coat.
  • Cover the top with remaining caramelized onions, seasoned panko and the remaining tablespoon of cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and bread crumbs are golden. Serve immediately!


[If you want to double this recipe or prepare it ahead of time, I suggest making the mixture in a large stock pot then transferring it to a large baking dish or pan (13×9 or larger) and baking it as directed. If making ahead, stor in the fridge without the breadcrumbs and cheese on top, remove from the fridge and let come to room temp for 30 minutes or so. Add the breadcrumbs and cheese then bake as directed. You may want to add an additional splash of stock or milk before heating if the mixture seems slightly thick.]
[adapted from alton brown]

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Oh P.S. last year I shared a list of 101 recipes for Thanksgiving. You… should probably see that.