Like many families in America, the traditional green bean casserole was a staple at my family’s holiday dinner table as I grew up. You know the one — it uses a can of cream of mushroom soup and a container of french fried onions. It’s a classic dish, and it’s clearly as popular as ever, evidenced by grocery store displays October through December featuring the food products used to make this dish. But when you have a dairy issue or gluten intolerance, eating this holiday classic will make you sick. I got tired of passing up this favorite side dish (and I know many others with food allergies are in the same boat), so I created a remake with this Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Classic Green Bean Casserole. Whether you’re hosting or bringing a dish, you can make somebody’s holiday extra special by making this casserole! It’s also egg-free and possibly soy-free (one ingredient’s packaging doesn’t list soy as an ingredient, but it says it “may contain soy”). Always investigate — I have a friend who, like me, will get miserable but won’t need hospitalized if she ingests a little of the food she’s allergic to, yet I know others who have life-threatening food allergies. 🙁
Parents and grandparents who have hosted holiday dinners for years and are unfamiliar with food allergies may suddenly have to contend with new family members (in-laws or grandchildren, for example) who have a dairy allergy, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, egg allergy, etc. (or some or all of the above and more). I developed my dairy allergy as an adult, so even my own mom still forgets sometimes. What to do? My suggestion is to openly communicate. Whether you’re the host facing others’ food allergies you don’t normally have to navigate around, the one with the allergy, the parent of a child with a food allergy or the significant other bringing someone home for dinner, speak up. The worst option is silence and being in a position where the host had no idea and feels bad … and the guest can’t eat anything except the turkey. Almost been there, almost did that.
Even having ONE side dish or dessert is appreciated! It’s so much easier for me to host Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner than to go to someone’s house. I either have to speak up and be a pain (in my mind), bring a side dish and/or dessert (if I live close enough) or make something while I’m there (if I can pack the ingredients or have the time/means to go find them at a local store). Talk to each other. If you’re the host, ask questions. If you’re the guest with a food allergy, speak up. That’s sometimes easier said that done for some of us. The very first time I met my new mother-in-law was at Thanksgiving … across the country … at her house. Luckily, my husband (then boyfriend) had mentioned my dairy allergy to her. I was so touched after I arrived to realize that she had gone in search of a dairy-free “butter” for me earlier in the week, reading all kinds of labels. Not only was that sweet and thoughtful, but it made a huge difference for me! I can pull out potatoes, corn and/or sweet potatoes in the kitchen, before any milk or real butter gets added to them, and “doctor them up” with a dairy-free butter substitute. Extra points for her that she found Earth Balance, which is healthier than a traditional margarine … but I would have eaten any dairy-free substitute she would have found me that day!!
Making the Green Bean Casserole Dairy-Free
The main dairy-filled ingredients that need replaced in the classic green bean casserole are the can of soup and the milk. My recipe substitutes these two with one: Imagine brand Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, kosher, non-GMO … and it’s delicious! I’ve searched and searched and there’s nothing else like it. The trick can be finding it if you don’t live near a larger city. I can find it at most Kroger stores, some Albertsons, any Whole Foods, Sprouts or Central Market. Luckily, they have a store locator on their website, and you can do a search by product. You can also buy it in a 12-pack online via various sources (just google the name of the soup above).
Making the Green Bean Casserole Gluten-Free
Those french fried onions in a canister or bag are so darn convenient. Unfortunately, they’re filled with gluten. Read the labels – some have other allergens as well. The WalMart brand french fried onions, for example, have no milk or soy products listed, BUT the package notes that it may contain traces of milk or soy.
To make this recipe gluten-free, I made my own pan-fried onion strings. Yes, it takes some extra time. BUT WOW! I think I will ALWAYS make my own from now on, because they are amazing! Luckily, I made a large batch the first time (not knowing exactly how many I would need), and I ate half of them. So save the onion string recipe for any day, any time you’re craving onion rings or strings or need a gluten-free dish that will WOW!
I was surprised to find that Bisquick makes a gluten-free, dairy-free/vegan mix, and that’s what I used for the pan-fried onion strings. It’s a little pricier (and smaller), of course, than their normal mix, but you don’t need a whole lot of it for this recipe. In fact, I used the rest of the box to make pancakes (using almond milk instead of regular milk) when my daughter was home from college for a weekend, and they were the best pancakes I’ve had in a long time. A pleasant surprise!
Dairy-Free and Other Allergen-Free Holiday Recipes
If green bean casserole isn’t a favorite or you’re looking for more, check out some other holiday recipes free of various allergens:
- Dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, vegan creamy mashed potatoes
- Dairy-free, soy-free pumpkin pie
- Dairy-free pie crust (can also be made soy-free)
- Dairy-free lemon pecan pie
- Dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, vegan cherry lime cookies (aka cherry pie cookies)
- Dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free, vegan lemon almond wine cookies (a great, easy dessert for someone with a lot of allergies … or none)
- Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan swiss chard and butternut squash gratin (the colors scream Christmas side dish)!
- Dairy-free, soy-free cornbread
- Dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free french bread
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