Can You Make Green Bean Casserole Ahead of Time?

Refrigerate? Yes. Freeze? Not so much.

It is a sure bet that green bean casseroles will be on dinner tables across the South this holiday season. As each hostess makes her potluck sign-up sheet, she will have two or three entries for this dish. Whether it is made using canned, convenience products or straight from scratch, the green bean casserole is always one of the most popular casseroles at the party. It is also one of the easiest to prepare and, to make it even more attractive, it can be made in advance.

The classic Green Bean Casserole using canned mushroom soup and canned beans was developed in 1955 by Campbell Test Kitchen Manager Dorcas Reilly. Yes, it has been around that long. With just six (or less, depending on which recipe you follow) ingredients and 10 minutes of prep time, this recipe has been a holiday favorite for over 60 years. If you want to get a jump start on holiday cooking and make this a day ahead, assemble the casserole but leave the onions off the top. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Set the baking dish out as you preheat your oven. Remove the foil and add the remaining onions before baking.

Playing around with a favorite holiday dish can be almost dangerous in some families, but it can also be fun to tweak a classic. For starters, skip the canned green beans and choose frozen. Blanched and flash-frozen, usually within a few hours of picking, frozen green beans retain their peak-season flavor and don't require any additional cooking before going into the casserole. Thaw and drain the green beans before adding to the casserole, or else their excess moisture may thin the sauce.

If you want to change up your routine but don't want to venture off course to far, this made from scratch Old-School Green Bean Casserole is a tasty nod to the classic recipe. With frozen French-cut green beans, a homemade mushroom cream sauce and crispy fried shallots, you may never go back to the canned version. Parmesan cheese adds some depth to the sauce, while water chestnuts lends a crunchy texture to the bean mixture. Like the classic, this recipe can be made ahead of time. Prepare as instructed but wait to add the toppings and bake it until you are ready to serve.

Are you the type that has always picked the mushrooms out of the green bean casserole? You may want to try this creative Lemon-Almond Green Bean Casserole, sans mushrooms. The fried onions have been replaced with the panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs) and sliced almonds for a crispy topping. The fresh addition of lemon adds a bright, light feel without sacrificing any of the satisfying, hearty taste. This casserole can also be made in advance (hold the topping) and refrigerated until you are ready to serve.

So, by now you get it – it is perfectly fine to make a green bean casserole in advance of your dinner. Freezing one, however is another matter. Whether you make it from scratch or use canned soup, the sauce will likely break, separate, and be a watery mess. You wouldn't want that to happen to a casserole you serve at a party.

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