I made Alex Guarnaschelli, Alton Brown, and Ree Drummond's green-bean casseroles.
Guarnaschelli's casserole tasted like something from a high-end steak house.
Drummond's version was the least traditional, and Brown's was the closest to my go-to recipe.
Green-bean casserole is a nonnegotiable Thanksgiving side for me.
My go-to is the standard recipe made with canned green beans, condensed cream-of-mushroom soup, and French's fried onions.
But to make sure I'm not missing out on something better, I followed recipes from three celebrity chefs: Alton Brown, Ree Drummond, and Alex Guarnaschelli.
Here's how the green-bean casseroles stacked up.
Each chef called for the green beans to be blanched in advance, so I started there.
Each recipe called for trimmed, fresh green beans that had been blanched in boiling water for a few minutes and cooled in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
The boiling times varied between two and five minutes. But since I like my green beans extra smooshy in the casserole, I blanched all the beans for five minutes before moving them to an ice bath.
Brown’s ingredients seemed the most traditional.
Brown's green-bean casserole most closely resembled the dish I've been making my entire adult life.
The ingredients included breaded onions, green beans, and a mushroom sauce. Everything was pretty simple and straightforward.
The sauce was basically homemade mushroom soup.
Brown's recipe involved creating a sauce that seemed a lot like cream-of-mushroom soup to me. It included chopped mushrooms, butter, chicken broth, and half-and-half.
The sauce was simple to make and tasted amazing. I immediately knew it would be similar to the canned version I typically use, but fresher and more flavorful.
I followed the chef's precise instructions for the onions.
For the crunchy garnish, Brown called for yellow onions, halved and sliced thin.
I coated the slices in flour, panko, and salt and baked them until they were nice and crispy.
I combined all the separate parts to bake the casserole.
After all the components were ready, I started assembling the casserole by combining the green beans, mushroom sauce, and ¼ of the onions.
I topped everything with the rest of the crispy onions and baked it for 15 minutes at 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
As I expected, Brown’s recipe tasted the most like traditional versions of the dish.
It was obvious from looks alone that Brown's casserole was the most traditional of the three. It looked like the green-bean casseroles I've made for years, and it had the same flavor profile.
But Brown's version was better than mine. It was an elevated, fresher, more flavorful version of what I've been serving for years.
I just might start making it for future Thanksgiving dinners.
Guarnaschelli’s recipe called for Dijon mustard and pan-fried red onion.
There were lots of familiar ingredients in Guarnaschelli's casserole recipe, like mushrooms, green beans, and onion.
But the chef called for a red onion, and the sauce for the casserole contained tangy Dijon mustard.
The onions were the star of Guarnaschelli’s casserole.
Like Brown, Guarnaschelli had specific instructions for preparing the onion in her recipe. It was to be sliced into super-thin rounds before coating and frying.
I was more than a little nervous to fry the rings of red onion in several cups of canola oil, but the process was easier than I anticipated.
After tossing the onions in flour, I fried them in batches, allowing them to drain on paper towels before salting them.
Of all three casserole toppings, these were the crispiest, tastiest, and most flavorful.
I then started on the sauce, which was fairly straightforward.
Other than the addition of Dijon, Guarnaschelli's sauce was familiar and straightforward to make.
Once I had everything ready, I garnished the top with the crispy onions and baked everything for about 10 minutes at 350 F.
The recipe was an elevated version of the classic dish.
I may save traditional green-bean casseroles, like Brown's, for Thanksgiving dinner. But I'd make Guarnaschelli's version as a side dish for any elevated meal at home.
The tanginess of the Dijon mustard combined with the salty crispiness of the fried red onion would make this a perfect side for everything from grilled steaks to barbecued meats.
Drummond’s green-bean casserole was completely different from what I was used to.
Drummond's casserole abandoned traditional inclusions like crispy onion and mushrooms, and instead called for bacon, diced red bell pepper, and a creamy cheddar-cheese sauce.
I was immediately intrigued by how it would turn out.
Drummond’s cheese sauce and bold red bell pepper seemed strange to me.
I followed the recipe to a T, but I couldn't help but wonder how it would compare to my traditional and beloved green-bean casserole.
Most of the steps involved mixing the ingredients for the cheesy sauce in a pan on the stove before adding in the cooked bacon and blanched green beans.
Instead of crispy onions, I topped the casserole with breadcrumbs before baking it for 30 minutes at 350 F.
I enjoyed her take on the dish, but I'd make one tweak next time.
The bacon-y, cheesy dish was surprisingly delicious, although it tasted nothing like any green-bean casserole I've had before.
Next time, I'd add a few pats of butter to the breadcrumb topping to get it a bit more golden brown.
I particularly liked the flavors brought into the dish by the sharp cheddar cheese and red bell pepper — I could see this being a fun side dish to serve at a summer barbecue.
My husband preferred this one and said if you're trying to take a standout dish to a Thanksgiving potluck, this would turn heads.
Straight from the oven, there was a clear winner, but a different dish made the best leftovers.
Right out of the oven, Guarnaschelli's crispy, salty, oniony dish was my absolute favorite. The creamy mustard sauce gave it an elevated and decadent vibe, and the onions were packed with flavor.
But I think the best part of any holiday meal is the leftovers. The following day, Brown's green-bean casserole emerged as the best of the three.
As the traditional creamy, mushroom-laden sauce sat with the green beans, the flavors got even better. For Thanksgiving, I think Brown's recipe is the winner here.
Drummond's recipe was delicious, but it just didn't seem like a green-bean casserole to me. If I make it again, it'll likely be at other times of the year.
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