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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving menu: money-saving trick for the green bean casserole

Green bean casserole -- it's a family favorite on the holiday table. When I ask my family what they'd like to go with the turkey, this is one of a couple of dishes that "has" to be there. But it's really not all that healthy. It's high in sodium, fat and calories.

About 10 years ago, I searched for a healthier version of this favorite dish. I began making a substitute for the French fried onion rings that are added to the casserole. This is what I came across. 

It's not a deep fried onion, but the taste is close enough that we all enjoy them when added to green bean casserole. Plus, I have all the ingredients in my kitchen -- bread crumbs, butter or margarine, and onion.

Health-wise, this is a winner. This homemade alternative has about 515 calories and 25 grams of fat. A 6 oz. can of French's French Fried Onions has 1080 calories and 72 grams of fat.

Cost-wise, it will save over $2 per casserole. The 6 oz can of French's French Fried Onions is advertised at $2.50 per can this week at a local store. My alternative costs about 30c to 40c.

Here's the recipe:

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup chopped onion
9 tablespoons dry bread crumbs or 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

In a non-stick skillet, melt butter. Cook the onion in the butter until golden brown. Stir in crumbs and cook another minute. Use in green bean casserole recipe, using 2/3 of finished onions and crumbs with the green beans and mushroom soup, and 1/3 of the finished crumbs for topping the casserole.


  1. Good recipe, I will have to try it soon.

    1. Hi Lois,
      If you just want a casserole topper, and not all the onions for the mix of casserole, you can make a 1/3 batch, with 2 teaspoons butter, 1/3 cup chopped onion, and 3 tablespoons dry, or 1/4 cup fresh, bread crumbs. This will make the topping contain about 170 calories and just over 8 grams of fat, for the whole casserole.

  2. Sounds like a good alternative. However, I already got my French fried onions (our sale price was not as good) and I'll be traveling to my parents house where there won't be time or space to do something extra like making the onion topping. However, we might eat this casserole more than once a year with this healthier alternative. Gonna to try it soon.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      yes, you never know how much space you'll be alloted when you're using someone else's kitchen. It would be kind of awkward to need to take up the stove, the food processor (for crumbs), a cutting board and part of the counter space, all in someone else's kitchen. So bringing the ready-made item is a better choice, I think. Have a good Thanksgiving!


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