It begins with the hum of an electric can opener, followed by the breaking of the foil seal on a container of French’s French Fried Onions. You know where I’m going with this …

My family’s Thanksgiving meal, though delicious, features nothing fancy – just a traditional turkey dinner with all of the basic trimmings. Yet – I am almost embarrassed to admit – failure to serve a green bean casserole at any holiday table where my family is seated is tantamount to sacrilege.

I get that there is nothing high-end about this dish. It is usually a concoction of canned and processed foods, layered in a casserole dish and then 350-degreed into a bubbling mass of goodness. But there’s just something about the way this oft-traduced dish seems to elevate everything else on the plate around it that keeps us coming back for more.

I always “volunteer” to make this dish for our family feasts as a defensive move, lest we end up with a “fat-free” or “lower sodium” version laden with chemicals and lacking in flavor.

Years ago, a distant relative hosted the holiday meal and served her version of green bean casserole. Her recipe included canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese and … nothing else! Where were the requisite crispy fried onions and other embellishments?

Horrified looks were exchanged at the table, followed by an awkward silence. To avoid insulting our hostess, I took the smallest possible serving of her casserole and swallowed it like a champ, trying not to react like I was a contestant in some horrific food challenge on “Survivor.”

But I made an inner vow that day (cue scene of Scarlet O’Hara, fist raised in the glow of a burning Atlanta): Never again would I silently stand by while someone ruined Thanksgiving for our family!

OK … so it’s just a green bean casserole, but I do have standards. My recipe includes fresh steamed green beans, homemade cream of mushroom soup, Cooper Sharp American cheese and the aforementioned crispy fried onions. It’s a little more work, but totally worth the effort.




6 tablespoons butter

1 medium-sized sweet onion, chopped fine

11/2 cups white button mushrooms, chopped fine

6 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups vegetable or beef broth

2 cups whole milk


3 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

10-12 slices Cooper’s Sharp American cheese

1 (6-ounce) container French’s French Fried Onions

To make the cream of mushroom soup, melt the butter in large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and seasonings, stirring constantly. Cook 2 minutes. Gradually pour in the broth, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add the milk, whisking until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook, 10 more minutes. The soup will be very thick.

To make the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Steam the green beans until tender, about 10 minutes. Put the beans in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Pour the soup over the beans, adding more milk to thin it as needed. Top with cheese slices.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes or until bubbly. Top with fried onions and return to oven, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes.