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french's green bean substitute

An Overseas Thanksgiving: French’s Green Bean Casserole

How To Create French’s Green Bean Casserole Without the French’s


french's green bean substitute

{Recipe Redux} Recreating Memories of a Thanksgiving Meal

Ya’all know, those that follow the blog here at BrightonYourHealth that we live in France. And while there are a lot of food topped holidays and delicious foodie adventures here, there is one big food holiday that is typically (and only) American.

That is Thanksgiving.

This treasured day, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November, is my favorite holiday, because it mixes American history, feeling grateful, family and friends with an absolute favorite meal. My mom (and then grandma when she was alive) used to go all out and make Thanksgiving a special holiday.

And here in France I will feel far away next Thursday, on Thanksgiving day, c’est comme ça, (it is just the way it is). I will miss family and friends there, the conviviality, and of course the food.

Perhaps you are thinking I could celebrate Thanksgiving in France. It is not easy, you can read why here, and while I do try to imitate an American Thanksgiving, it is not the same as actually being there, partially because it is not possible to authentically make one of my all-time favorite and memorable Thanksgiving side dishes called French’s Green Bean Casserole.

But thanks to this month’s Recipe Redux theme, A Food Memory For Which You Are Thankful, I adapted this famous Thanksgiving casserole by substituting French’s Fried Onions and Campbell’s Soup ingredients with my own homemade version!

A Challenge: Making French’s Green Bean Casserole Without French’s Fried Onions or Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

This year I was determined. Determined to make an (almost) authentic and healthier French’s Green Bean Casserole. The challenge? It is not possible to buy French’s Fried Onions or Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup in SW France. And no other brand exists either. I had to recreate my own version.

As a substitute for French’s Fried Onions I made lightly fried shallots.

I adapted the idea from this website.

Here is my version, lighter on the oil.

Crispy Lightly Fried Shallots

Crispy Shallots


  • 6 Shallots (Peeled and sliced lengthwise into strips)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil for lightly frying (Or use a light flavored, heat stable oil)
  • dash sea salt


Step 1
Peel and slice the shallots lengthwise into stripes.
Step 2
Heat up oil in a sautée pan. Do not allow oil to burn. When oil is hot, place in the shallots so they are all flat.
Step 3
Lightly fry the shallots until they are cooked throughly, brown and crispy. You will need to mix up the shallots and watch them carefully. This will not take a long time, approximately 7-10 minutes.
Step 4
french's fried onions substitute
When shallots are finished cooking, turn off the heat and with a strainer, remove the shallots from the pan. Place them onto a plate that is lined with a paper towel to catch the grease.
Step 5
Keep the oil in the pan to cook diced mushrooms (if you are making your own mushroom soup).
Step 6
After the shallots have cooled, sprinkle them lightly with sea salt and set aside to use in the main recipe.

It came out better than I thought. I will make these again. Topped on mashed potatoes. Topped on salad. Topped on soup. They were addicting.

As a substitute for Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup I made my own condensed soup. Here is my recipe:

Creamy Condensed Mushroom Soup

Homemade Creamy Condensed Mushroom Soup


  • 6 mushrooms (cleaned with a paper towel and diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 6oz creme fraiche or substitute (substitute: sour cream, yogurt, or heavy cream)
  • 1/2 cube vegetable boullion (some bouillons contain gluten. if you need gluten-free, check labeling)
  • 6oz water (to dilute boullion)


Step 1
Clean and dice mushrooms.
Step 2
If you made the crispy shallots, use the leftover oil in pan to sautée mushrooms. If you didn't make crispy shallots, heat up small amount of olive oil and sautée mushrooms and minced garlic in oil for approximately 5 minutes.
Step 3
In the mushroom mixture, add in creme fraiche (or substitute) and vegetable broth (bouillon diluted in water). Mix well and let soup start to get warm.
Step 4
After the condensed soup is mixed and heated thru, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.

And then I put everything together as it is written here in this healthier version:

An Overseas Thanksgiving: Healthier French’s Green Bean Casserole


  • 6 cups cooked frozen or fresh green beans (do not overcook green beans)
  • 1 1/2 cup crispy shallots (see recipe above) (1 cup for mixing inside the casserole, 1/2 cup for topping)
  • 10oz creamy condensed mushroom soup (see recipe or use a substitute of Campbell's mushroom soup)
  • 3/4 cups lowfat milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated pepper


Step 1
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
Step 2
Cook frozen or fresh green beans until just done.
Step 3
Place the cooked green beans In a large oven ready casserole dish.
Step 4
Add the mushroom soup, milk and 1 cup of onions into the green beans mixture. Mix everything well so the green beans are coated with the creamy soup, milk and onions.
Step 5
Cook green beans casserole in oven for 30 minutes.
Step 6
Remove casserole and sprinkle with remaining crispy shallots. Place casserole back in oven and cook for additional five minutes.
Step 7
Serve immediately.

My Made in France, French’s Homemade Version: healthier, lighter, gluten-free, vegetarian, lower sodium, less artificial

Thanksgiving is not a day to think about calories, fat, or being too full.  I think anything goes for food on this day, as long as it is enjoyed. French’s Green Bean Casserole is no exception. This side dish has a wonderfully warm and delicious taste and mouth feel, but a portion of 3/4 cup contains a whopping 50% calories from fat (mostly saturated fat), and 25% of the recommended sodium daily.

Additionally, both Campbell’s condensed soup and French’s Onions contain gluten. Although I do not follow a gluten-free diet, this adapted homemade version is gluten-free (and vegetarian).

Gluten plays a ‘skeleton’ role in food, if I had to say anything that was very different from the original French’s Green Bean Casserole, it would be that this homemade side dish version lacked some of the structure that you find in the original version. Solution? You could adapt the recipe again, making it with Campbell’s soup and the homemade crispy shallots. Or use the French’s fried onions and make the homemade soup.

Yum. Thanksgiving. Enjoy it! Treasure these joyous times with those around the table. Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

I hope you enjoy this gluten free and vegetarian French’s Green Bean Casserole recipe.  Have you reached the end and want to see more recipes like this? Why not subscribe to the BrightonYourHealth monthly newsletter and article updates.  Click on the link below. Your email will always remain private.

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Warmly, Mary

Here are my fellow Recipe Reduxers memory dishes!

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5 Responses to An Overseas Thanksgiving: French’s Green Bean Casserole

  1. Deanna Segrave-Daly (@tspbasil) November 24, 2014 at 18:46 #

    Dare I say your version sounds much more appealing than the original! Happy Thanksgiving to our favorite French ReDux expat 🙂

  2. genevieve @ gratitude & greens November 24, 2014 at 14:52 #

    I’ve never had green bean casserole, but my boyfriend’s sister is making spinach casserole with the exact same ingredients this Thanksgiving!
    genevieve @ gratitude & greens recently posted..Recipe Redux: Gluten-Free Spiced Caramel Apple + Pear Crêpe Cake

    • mbrighton November 24, 2014 at 15:41 #

      Hi Genevieve! Is this ‘famous’ green bean casserole a New Jersey thing ? 🙂 We love it in NJ, and I miss it for Thanksgiving !

  3. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine November 24, 2014 at 14:38 #

    I’ve never had any type of green bean casserole! Ah!

    • mbrighton November 24, 2014 at 15:42 #

      Hi Rebecca! Green bean casserole is yum. 🙂 !

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