What can you substitute for milk in green bean casserole?

Green bean casserole is a beloved Thanksgiving side dish that typically contains green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and milk. However, if you need or want to avoid milk, there are several good substitutes you can use instead.

Quick Answer

The best substitutes for milk in green bean casserole are:

  • Soy milk
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Heavy cream or half-and-half
  • Evaporated milk

Substitutes that Mimic the Taste and Texture of Milk

When choosing a milk substitute for green bean casserole, you’ll want to consider taste and texture. The milk in the traditional recipe provides creaminess and binds the ingredients together. Here are some options that can mimic the properties of regular milk:

Soy Milk

Soy milk has a similar consistency to skim and low fat milk. It has a creamy, neutral flavor that won’t overpower the other ingredients in your green bean casserole. Just be sure to give it a good shake before using, as the soy milk solids can separate.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is one of the most popular plant-based milk substitutes. The almond taste is generally fairly mild, allowing the other flavors to shine. Look for unsweetened varieties without added flavors, which will work best in savory dishes like green bean casserole.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is naturally thick and creamy. Full fat coconut milk can perfectly mimic the texture of whole dairy milk. Be sure to whisk or shake it well before adding to your casserole to fully incorporate the coconut cream.

Cashew Milk

With its rich, creamy texture, cashew milk is similar to dairy milk. Its subtle nutty flavor won’t overwhelm the green bean casserole. Shake the carton well as the cashew cream can separate.

Thicker, Creamier Substitutes

If you want an ultra creamy green bean casserole without the milk, consider using one of these higher fat substitutes:

Heavy Cream

Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream can be used in place of milk in green bean casserole. It gives a rich, velvety texture. You may want to use a little less heavy cream than you would milk, as it can make the casserole overly heavy.


Half-and-half contains 10-12% milk fat, giving it more weight than milk but less than heavy cream. It’ll add creamy richness without overdoing it.

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk has had about 60% of the water content removed, giving it a thick, creamy texture. Add it straight from the can undiluted when making green bean casserole.

Non-Dairy Powdered Creamer

In a pinch, you can use non-dairy powdered creamer instead of milk. Whisk together the powder with water until smooth before adding to the casserole. This gives a creamy texture without the milk flavor. Just note that it won’t have quite the richness of milk or cream.

Broths for Savory Flavor

Broths can add moisture and savoriness to green bean casserole without the creaminess of milk. Good options include:

Vegetable Broth

Vegetable broth has an umami flavor that enhances the other ingredients nicely. Opt for low-sodium varieties.

Mushroom Broth

With its earthy, savory notes, mushroom broth complements the usual mushroom soup in the classic casserole recipe.

Chicken Broth

The rich flavor of chicken broth can give your dairy-free green bean casserole a boost of meaty flavor.


If you need to thicken up your milk-free green bean casserole, a small amount of the following starches can help bind it together:


All-purpose flour adds thickness when whisked into the soup mixture. Use about 1-2 tablespoons per cup of liquid.


Cornstarch is a very effective thickener. Mix 1-2 teaspoons per cup of liquid.

Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot has excellent thickening power. Use about 1 teaspoon per cup of liquid.

Tips for Making Milk-Free Green Bean Casserole

Here are some tips to ensure your green bean casserole comes out creamy and delicious even without the milk:

  • If the finished casserole seems too thick, thin it with a little vegetable broth until the desired consistency is reached.
  • For added creaminess, incorporate some full fat coconut milk or soft tofu into the mushroom soup mixture.
  • Stir frequently while baking to prevent the sauce from separating or curdling.
  • For brighter flavor, substitute low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of cream soups.
  • Add extras like sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, or crispy fried shallots for texture and flavor.
  • Top with crunchy fried onions or crispy panko breadcrumbs before baking for a delicious finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do most green bean casserole recipes call for milk?

Milk is traditionally used in green bean casserole to add a creamy, cohesive texture and bind the ingredients together. The lactose and casein proteins in milk are excellent emulsifiers. Milk also contributes subtle flavor and richness.

What milk substitutes work best in green bean casserole?

The best milk substitutes for green bean casserole are soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk. Their creamy texture and neutral flavor mimic dairy milk. For ultra creamy casserole, use full-fat coconut milk.Heavy cream or half-and-half are also excellent options.

Do you need a thickener if not using milk?

You may want to use a thickener to help bind the ingredients if omitting the milk. Good options are flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder. Start with 1-2 teaspoons per cup of liquid. Avoid boiling the casserole after adding thickeners or it can turn gluey.

Will the casserole set up properly without milk?

Using one of the recommended milk substitutes or thickeners in place of regular milk will allow the casserole to set up just fine. Stirring frequently while baking helps prevent separating. Adding breadcrumbs on top at the end also helps absorb excess moisture.

Can I use water instead of milk in green bean casserole?

Water can be used to replace the milk, but it won’t provide the creamy texture and richness. Make sure to include a thickener like flour or arrowroot if using water, and increase seasonings to add more flavor.

Is it okay to just leave out the milk entirely?

You can make green bean casserole without any milk or substitute at all. The texture may be a little thinner in that case. Make sure to drain any excess liquid from the beans and soup mixture before baking. Use cooked mushrooms and onions to add moisture instead.

Dairy-Free Green Bean Casserole Recipes

Here are some tasty green bean casserole recipes without milk for inspiration:

Cashew Green Bean Casserole


  • 4 cups green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup cashew milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup French’s crispy onions


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly steam green beans until just tender but still crisp.
  3. In a casserole dish, mix soup, cashew milk, green beans, garlic powder, salt and pepper until well combined.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes until hot and bubbling.
  5. Remove from oven, top with crispy onions and bake 5 minutes more.
  6. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Coconut Milk Green Bean Casserole


  • 1 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a skillet, sauté green beans in olive oil and garlic powder until bright green.
  3. In a casserole dish mix soup, coconut milk, green beans and almonds.
  4. Bake 25 minutes until bubbly.
  5. Remove from oven, top with panko crumbs and bake 5 minutes more.
  6. Let sit before serving.

The Best Milk Substitutes for Green Bean Casserole

When making green bean casserole without milk, the most important factors to consider are texture and flavor. You want an end result that is creamy without overpowering the other ingredients. Soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk and cashew milk all perfectly mimic the consistency of dairy milk. For ultra-decadence, opt for full fat coconut milk or heavy cream.

Broths like mushroom, vegetable and chicken can provide savory flavor to the dish without the creaminess of milk. Thickeners like flour, arrowroot and cornstarch can help bind the casserole, but don’t overdo it. Always taste and adjust seasonings to complement whichever milk substitute you choose.

With so many tasty options for plant-based, dairy-free and vegan green bean casseroles, you don’t have to miss out on this holiday favorite. Experiment with different milk swaps and savory add-ins to make this classic comfort food your own.


Green bean casserole is one of the most beloved side dishes for holiday meals. But if you need to avoid milk, have no fear – you have options! Soy, almond, coconut and cashew milk all make great substitutes, lending creamy richness without overpowering flavor. For extra decadence, swap in full fat coconut milk or heavy cream. Savory broths and thickeners like flour or arrowroot can also replace milk, ensuring your casserole turns out flavorful, creamy and delicious. With a few simple ingredient tweaks, you can enjoy green bean casserole just like always, no milk required.

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