If you’re cooking for a lot of people, recipes that you can make in advance are often lifesavers, because they allow you to focus on the main dishes on the day. A green bean casserole is a popular recipe for all sorts of occasions – but can you make it in advance?
Can you make green bean casserole ahead of time? You can make green bean casserole ahead of time by a day or two, but you will need to make sure that you leave the crispy onions off the top. These onions will not crisp up on a second heating, and will go soggy while stored. So if you want that delicious crunch, they will need to be added on the day.
How Do You Make Green Bean Casserole Ahead of Time?
If you want to make green bean casserole in advance, you have two options: you can assemble it and leave it uncooked, or bake it, cool it, and reheat it on the day. Either of these will work well.
Leaving the casserole uncooked may give you a better casserole overall, because you can make sure it is cooked to perfection on the day. Many foods lose a little of their freshness and texture when they are reheated, so putting the ingredients together and waiting to bake it may be preferable.
However, some people prefer to cook the casserole in advance and “finish” the dish so that it just has to be heated up again. The result may not be as delicious, but this can be easier and may make you feel better prepared.
You can choose which of these will work best for you. In a pinch, a pre-baked casserole could be reheated in a microwave, so if oven space is tight, pre-baking your casserole may be a preferable option. However, if you’ve got plenty of space, simply assemble the ingredients in advance and cook them on the day.
How Do You Store Green Bean Casserole?
Whether you bake the casserole in advance or not, you will need to store it carefully to ensure that it remains safe to eat, especially if you are making it more than a day in advance. Do not make it more than 3 days in advance. It will need to be kept in the fridge at all times until it is ready to be cooked.
You can assemble the casserole as you would normally, and then cover it with foil, a wax wrap, or plastic wrap, or put a lid on the container. The less air that can access the top, the better the casserole will keep.
Place the container in the fridge and leave it there until about half an hour before you wish to bake it. At this point, take it out of the fridge and put it on the counter so that it can come to room temperature.
You can use much the same method if you are pre-baking the casserole, but make sure you let it cool fully before putting a lid on and putting it in the fridge.
You will need to ensure that it comes to the proper temperature throughout when you re-bake it. You can microwave the dish if you prefer, but it will need to be finished in the oven so that the topping can crisp.
Note that if you make the casserole as much as 3 days in advance, any leftovers may not keep as well as leftovers from a casserole made only a day in advance.
When Do You Add The Onions to Green Bean Casserole?
Green bean casserole is made complete by the addition of onions, which turn delightfully crispy in the oven. You should leave these off until you are ready to bake it (or bake it for the second time) so that they don’t have a chance to go soggy while the dish is being stored.
Simply add the onions when the casserole is about 5 minutes from being ready to serve. If you are baking it twice, leave them off the first time, and only add them on the second bake. If you put them on to start with, they will go soggy and will not crisp up properly. They may also burn during the second baking.
Can You Freeze Green Bean Casserole?
If you want to make your casserole further in advance, you might be thinking of freezing it. This isn’t ideal, because the freezing may affect the texture of the beans and the cheese, and overall, the casserole will probably be soggier. However, it is safe to do this and many people do.
You can again freeze the whole casserole in its uncooked but assembled state, or bake it, cool it, and freeze it. Either of these will work. Make sure that you place the casserole in an airtight container to reduce the risk of freezer burn, and then put it in the freezer.
It can be stored for around 2 months like this. It may last for longer, but at this point, the vegetables might start to soften.
To thaw the casserole, place it in the fridge overnight. About 30 minutes before baking, take it out of the fridge and set it on the counter to warm to room temperature.
How Do You Know If Green Bean Casserole is Done?
You might struggle to tell whether the casserole is done if you’ve made it in advance, because chilled casserole will take slightly longer to cook. Placing it on the counter should help, but you may still need to add 5 or 10 minutes to the baking time to ensure that the casserole is hot through.
You can use a thermometer to check the internal temperature, or just insert a skewer into the center and check that it is piping hot. The entire casserole should be bubbling before you serve it.
You can make green bean casseroles in advance, and this may help to cut back on how much cooking you need to do on a big day. However, the casseroles do still need to be heated until they are bubbling, and should only be made up to 3 days in advance unless you are going to freeze them.