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Traditional Green Bean Casserole Recipe for Christmas or Thanksgiving

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In so many homes the classic green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup is a tradition to serve for both Thanksgiving & Christmas. Creamy crunchy and full of green bean flavor. So simple to mix together it can be prepared the day ahead.

However, this quick & easy casserole is perfect for any family gathering as it is loved by young & old alike. Make this recipe the night before and kept refrigerated to be baked on the day of your dinner.

Another family tradition in our home is a relatively new classic casserole:
Quick & Easy Corn Bake Casserole

Holiday Memories

Memories of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are the strongest memories that I have of my childhood. One of my strongest memories at the dinner table for Thanksgiving is all the wonderful side dishes.

My beloved Aunt Lois made a fabulous baked sweet potato casserole. My mom made fluffy mashed potatoes and always the traditional green bean casserole recipe.  I don’t think I remember a Thanksgiving or Christmas where either my Mother or Aunt did not make this traditional dish.

I have discovered over the years that this is one of the recipes you can make the day before, put aluminum foil on the top, and put it in the refrigerator ready to go on Thanksgiving Day. It is also an easy recipe to put together right after you put the Thanksgiving turkey in the oven as it is a dump, stir, and go recipe.

Most Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner was at Aunt Lois’s house, my mother’s sister. My maternal grandmother lived with Aunt Lois so it was a natural choice for all of us to travel to where my Grandmother lived.

Most of my Grandmother’s antiques and serving dishes and along with family nicknacks and pictures were there for all of us kids to admire and learn all the stories that go with family memorability. This is where I learned so many of our family recipes and my love of cooking for family and friends.

Aunt Lois always told me that if you have a pot of coffee and a box of cake mix you can make a party and entertain. While we love to try new dishes and have everything fancy, hospitality and entertainment are about people not how much money you spend on the food. Such great advice she gave me as a young wife, that you do not have to have a lot, to have a lot of family and friends over to your home.

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I think for most of our family members the crunchy French Fried Onion topping is what everybody loves. Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn’t be right without this traditional side dish.  It has been a tradition to make this recipe with Cambell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and French’s French Fried Onions. You can not have too many French Fried Onions in this recipe. No matter what else you add to this dish the fried onions make the side dish.

History of Green Bean Casserole using Cream of Mushroom Soup

Campbell’s tell is that this recipe was developed by Campbells in the 1950s for a newspaper article by Dorcas Reilly.  Dorcas Reilly who is credited with this recipe submitted an original yellowed recipe card to the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame in Akron Ohio in 2002. We all have a great debt of appreciation to Ms. Reilly for a tradition that will live on for years.

No matter where the recipe was created families have been serving up this side dish for years and will for years to come.

How to Make Green Bean Casserole with French Fried Onions

I would recommend making this with frozen green beans as they are freshly picked by the manufacturer before freezing.  You can be put in the refrigerator to thaw the night before.

If I am making this dish for Thanksgiving, on the day before Thanksgiving, I mix all the ingredients together and put it in a casserole. (leave off the topping until you are ready to bake) This way I  have the side dish prepared early in the morning to be put in the oven an hour and a half before Thanksgiving dinner needs to be done.

Traditional Green Bean Casserole with cream of mushroom soup

This classic side dish is super easy and we make it year round. So yummy with any chicken dish perfect to take along for a summer picnic or backyard barbecue. For any events, you also can make it the day before and pop it in the oven an hour and a half before you leave. When I make the recipe the day before I do not put the crispy fried onions on top until I am ready to cook.

Traditional Green Bean Casserole Recipe Christmas Thanksgiving ingredients on a counter with glass turkey salt and pepper shakers in the forground

The basic time for cooking is about 25 minutes, however, if you have a lot of dishes in the oven and the casserole is cold from the refrigerator I put it in for one hour. Β Watch that the topping does not get too brown.

Start by defrosting the green beans, they can be put in the refrigerator the day before or defrosted in the microwave.  I microwave them just enough to make sure they are not frozen.  I have tried to mix the casserole when the green beans are too cold and it starts to freeze the cream of mushroom soup. The green beans are very hard to mix and look like a mess, so make sure they are not frozen when you begin to mix.

Remember this is just 5 ingredients.  The holidays are the perfect time to get the younger generation interested in cooking the family traditions. So get the kids in the kitchen and use this recipe as a good starter for your little ones who want to cook with you.

Traditional Green Bean Casserole Recipe Christmas Thanksgiving with lots of fried onions on top glass turkey salt and pepper shakers

In a large bowl mix the cream of mushroom soup, soy sauce, milk, and pepper to make a creamy sauce. Add the defrosted green beans and stir.

Now is the time when you can change up the recipe as your family likes by adding in the french fried onion. Add a little or a lot (our family likes a lot added in).

Spray your baking dish and add the green bean mixture. Top with as many french fried onions. The traditional recipe has you only topping with one-third cup on top, but as you can see we cover the casserole with the crunchy goodness.  Pop in a preheated onion and bake.

Christmas & Thanksgiving Traditions

Jim and I both love the Christmas season, the sounds, the smells, and the decorations.  In our family, Christmas preparation starts the week of Thanksgiving. We also tend to overdo it with the decorations and the presents.  But that is the way we like it. It just would not be Christmas if we did not have that wow factor.

We love to share old Christmas movies with our children and discover new movies. Each year as the kids were young the Chruch Christmas Pageant was the main event.  Joey and Katies always enjoyed participating and Christene enjoyed the crafting fun, the Youth Director would have each year.

In our early married life, we would have Christmas morning in our home with the children, and my dad, Jim Kirchner, would stop at about 9:00 am to enjoy the opening of presents.  We all then would go to my husband’s parents for dinner and more presents as my dad was always invited.  

As our parents got older my dad would come to our house for a noon meal and present and then go home for a rest.  Then Jim, the kids, and I would stop in on Grace and Guerin, at Jim’s family home he grew up in,  for presents and conversation.  

Now as our family has expanded to Christene’s in-laws, we have a big three-day event here at our home and it is more lively and exciting than ever before.  No matter how our family changes and grows, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions.  



Classic green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions.


Units Scale
  • 2 Cans Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup.
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 Tsp Soy Sauce
  • Dash of Pepper
  • 2 Bags of frozen Green Beans 16 oz bags thawed (about 8 cups)
  • 1 large container 6 oz of French’s French Fried Onions. (2 1/23 cups)
  • dash of pepper


  1. Mix together the soup, milk, and soy sauce & pepper. Mix this into the Green beans. Add about 1 cup of the French Fried Onion to this mixture, and make sure to leave a lot for the top.
  2. Put the mixture in a large casserole dish and top with the remaining Onions.
  3. Heat the oven to 350Β° and bake for 45 min if warm or 90 min if you make ahead and it is cold from the refrigerator.


  1. Update for 2021: This recipe tastes the best if made the night before and refrigerated. Make the recipe as above but leave the topping off until ready to cook on Thanksgiving day.Β 
  2. The recipe is for a 13×9 large casserole dish. Cut the recipe in half for the smaller dish.


  • Serving Size: 8

Keywords: classic green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup

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Traditional Green Bean Casserole Recipe Christmas Thanksgiving

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One Comment

  1. Charlotte Burkholder says:

    Thank you for sharing this at Family Joy Blog Linkup. Must have delicious vegetables for the holidays!

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