Can you make green bean casserole ahead of time?

Can you make green bean casserole ahead of time



Can you make green bean casserole ahead of time? Absolutely! when you're done blanketing the crisp-tender green beans with a layer of mushroom sauce, allow to cool completely, then cover the top of the casserole with a plastic wrap and follow up with aluminum foil for airtight sealing. Store in the refrigerator a day before serving or freeze upto 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator at most two days before serving. If you meant completely baking the green bean casserole before refrigerating, keep in mind that the topping won’t be as crisp and the casserole wouldn't be it's sauciest. Other than that, you can assemble the green bean casserole and store in the refrigerator upto 3 days before serving.

Green bean casserole is one of the easiest and most comfort ways to cook. Having an extra batch in the freezer can be a lifesaver for days when you don't have enough time to cook or unexpected guests arrive out of the blue. Learn how to properly refrigerate, freeze, thaw and reheat your favorite casserole recipe so it tastes just as good as the first time you prepared it!

Make ahead green bean casserole:

Although green bean casserole is freshest when served first time, the slight off balance in taste and sharpness from the make ahead version isn't that striking on the whole. Don't fret over it, just take consolation form the fact that it’s saving you a whole lot of time to perfect that turkey! That said, make sure to use fresh raw green beans when refrigerating casserole to retain most structure and nutrients when cooked.

Here’s how to refrigerate green bean casserole up to three days before baking.

Uncooked green beans casserole:

  • Prepare green beans casserole upto the point where you slather that creamy mushroom sauce all over the french-style beans. Allow to completely cool.
  • Do not add the onion, crumb or whatever crispy topping you might be using - it will get soggy after refrigeration and you'll have to make another from scratch.
  • Place a plastic wrap over the top of the casserole and cover the top of the casserole dish with an aluminum foil to prevent moisture transmission.You can cover with the original airtight lid instead.
  • Refrigerate below 40°F for no more than four days.

Cooked green bean casserole:

We do not recommend refrigerating fully cooked green bean casserole days in advance, the green beans can turn soggy and loose it's structure after reheating. If you dont mind the squishiness and mushiness, follow the steps below and learn how to refrigerate a fully cooked green bean casserole:
  • Prepare the green bean casserole up till the point of adding onion or bread topping.
  • Skip the onion and bread topping and bake the casserole according to the recipe.
  • Press a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the casserole and cover the dish with an aluminum foil for air tight sealing.
  • Refrigerate below 40°F for no more than four days.
  • Alternative storage containers include, a single layer of plastic wrap followed by a standard sheet of aluminum foil, plastic, ceramic or foil container.

Toppings: 

For maximum crispness and original taste, prepare the topping on the serving day. Far from possible? here's how to make the casserole toppings ahead of time.

Onion topping: Fry onions as directed by the recipe and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no more than three days.

Bread crumb topping: Prepare bread toppings as directed by the recipe and freeze in an airtight container for no more than three days.

Freezing green bean casserole:

Use these tips to store green bean casserole for upto 3 months before serving.

Uncooked green beans casserole:

  • Prepare the recipe in a casserole dish first lined with a heavy-duty aluminum foil followed by a layer of plastic wrap. Make sure to leave enough overhang so you can use it to completely seal the food.
  • Do not add onion or bread toppings.
  • Allow the green bean casserole to completely cool: Place the casserole dish on a cooling rack to allow air to circulate all round the pan for about 20 minutes. Loosely cover the top of the dish with an extra foil and complete the cooling process in the refrigerator.
  • Remove the dish from the refrigerator and transfer to the freezer and flash freeze untill fully frozen. Take the dish out from the freezer, remove the extra foil and wrap up the casserole using the overhang.
  • Date, label, and add thawing and reheating instructions i.e "cook for 80 minutes at 350°F". Also add serving size and additional helpful instructions you find necessary.
  • Put the pan shaped casserole back into the freezer and freeze for upto 3 months. Alternatively, place the foil-wrapped casserole in a freezer bag for an even better performance against freezer burn.
  • You can freeze the food directly on the casserole dish, but the pan will be out of use untill the day you decide to eat the food. If you're still down with that, just follow the steps from the make ahead green beans casserole instructions.
  • Use a freezer proof zipper top bag or any other freezer bag if you dont have aluminum foil and cannot sacrifice your dish untill serving day. Ensure to properly press out the air while leaving a small headroom for expansion. You can also use plastic containers, glass containers, ceramics or a double layer of plastic wrap followed by a single layer of aluminum foil as the freezing container. Spoon the casserole into the containers and leave a small headroom between food and lid for food expansion.

Cooked green bean casserole:

  • Remove green bean casserole 10 minutes before the end of cooking time. Frozen casserole will finish cooking during the reheating process. You can skip this process if you dont mind a soggy green beans.
  • Transfer under-cooked or fully cooked casserole into a clear plastic container with air tight lids. You can also use thick freezer bags or the original baking container and tightly cover with a lid or a layer of plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. 
  • Date, label and add thawing and reheating instructions.
  • Freeze at 0°F or temperatures below.
  • Use frozen cooked green bean casserole within two months of the date of preparation.

Toppings:

  • Prepare the toppings on the serving day or three days before serving and use it as directed by the recipe.

How to label a dish for freezer:

Items needed:
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent marker 
  • Freezer bags with a writeable surface.
Steps:

Step 1: Cut and attach several layers of masking tape to the casserole dish or whatever container you are using.
Step 2: Write the necessary information on the masking tape. Write the date of freezing, name of dish, state of dish (liquid or solid), defrosting and reheating guidelines, pan to be reheated in, cooking time etc.
Step 3: Enter all labels on the freezing container if using a freezer bag with a writeable surface.

Nutrition: Cooked vs frozen-cooked green beans? 

Green bean is an excellent source of vitamin: A, C and K, folic acid and dietary fiber.

One cup of cooked green beans (boiled and drained without salt) contains approximately,
  • 44 calories
  • 16% Daily Value Dietary Fiber - (4g)
  • 5% Daily Value Protein - (2.4g)
  • 0% sodium
  • 50% Daily Value Vitamin K - (59.9ug)
  • 13% Daily Value Vitamin C - (12.1mg)
A cup of previously frozen cooked green beans on the other hand contains approximately,
  • 38 calories
  • 16% Daily Value Dietary Fiber- (4.1g)
  • 4% Daily Value Protein- (2g)
  • 0% sodium 
  • 43% Daily Value Vitamin K - (51.5ug)
  • 6% Daily Value Vitamin C - (5.5mg)
From the information above, it can be observed that a frozen green beans will reduce in some nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin K. The overall calorific value will also reduce by a small amount.

How to thaw and prepare frozen uncooked green bean casserole

When it's finally time for the big event, follow the steps below to thaw and successfully cook the frozen green bean casserole.

Thaw in refrigerator then cook in the oven:

Transfer frozen casserole to the bottom of the refrigerator two days before serving. On serving day, remove foil and plastic wrappers and transfer casserole to a baking dish. Bake as directed by the recipe adding extra 20 minutes. If you let the casserole sit at room temperature for about an 40-50 minutes, bake as directed by the recipe.

Thaw and cook directly in the oven:

Transfer frozen green bean casserole to an oven safe dish (if not already in a bakeable casserole). Remove plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Casseroles frozen in glass container should be transferred to a separate baking dish or allowed to thaw in the refrigerator before baking in the oven. Sudden change in temperature can shock the glass and cause it to crack or explode in the oven. Cover the dish with a new aluminum foil and bake untill completely warmed through. Remove foil and bake untill the sauce is bubbling and the beans are tender. Turn the casserole using a spatula. Spread frozen or fresh topping mixture over the beans. Bake for additional 10 minutes or untill golden brown. The final temperature of the casserole should be 160°F.

Thawing and cooking directly in the oven can take upto 90 minutes depending on how dense the casserole is.

Thaw in microwave and cook in oven:

Remove all wrappers, place casserole on a microwave safe plate and thaw according to the owner's manual of your microwave oven. Cook immediately after thawing.

How to reheat fully cooked green bean casserole

In oven:

Discard plastic wrap and foil. Place a new sheet of foil over the baking dish. Cook the casserole at recipe temperature untill the internal temperature reads 160°F or untill completely heated through. This should take about 30-40 minutes. Make sure to add the topping to the casserole at least 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.

In a microwave oven:

Transfer casserole to a microwave safe plate and microwave at 2 minute intervals, stiring at each intervals untill heated through evenly.

How to keep green bean casserole warm

Cover the reheated or freshly cooked casserole with aluminum foil to keep it warm for longer period.

More on green bean casserole


Canned or homemade?

Sauce: Make sauce from scratch for better taste.

Toppings: Use canned or fresh ingredients for toppings. 

Green bean: Use fresh or frozen green beans for better taste and lowest sodium. Look for green beans that are spot free and bright in color. Canned green beans contain high amount of sodium as preservative. If you are using a canned beans, ensure to drain and rinse off the beans with water to reduce the sodium content by upto 41%. Alternatively, opt for low-sodium canned beans. Other than that, canned green beans are full of fibers and rich in essential nutrients, even though they are not as tasty as a fresh green beans.

Key tips for making green bean casserole

  • Blanching: Dry green beans completely before mixing with mushroom sauce. Any remaining moisture form the beans can make the mushroom sauce runny.
  • Sauce: Thoroughly cook sprinkled flour to avoid raw taste.
  • Topping: Do not over fry toppings as they will go back into the oven for additional 10 minutes.

What goes with green bean casserole?

  • Your favorite brisket recipe.
  • Poultry i.e thanksgiving turkey
  • Salad.
  • Fruit sauce.
  • Mashed potatoes.
  • Mac'n cheese.
  • Honey salmon.

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