Guy Fieri's Must-Have Thanksgiving Casserole (And The One He Never Eats)

Thanksgiving dinner can be a contentious subject. Whether you're debating canned versus fresh cranberry sauce or fighting over whether stuffing or dressing reigns supreme, it seems like Turkey Day tends to bring out all of our most controversial food opinions, and Guy Fieri is no exception. That's right, the "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" host let spill his essential Thanksgiving casserole side, and of course, also divulged the dish that he would diss.

It turns out, Fieri is quite the fan of the humble green bean casserole. That's right, the humble and often maligned side dish, which consists of green beans mixed in with cream of mushroom soup topped with crispy fried onions, stacks up as one of Fier's favorite Thanksgiving dishes. This may be surprising for some, considering recent studies have shown that green bean casserole is one of the least liked Thanksgiving sides, but that hasn't stopped Fieri from making the dish his own. According to an interview with EatingWell, Fieri likes to make the dish from scratch, using cremini mushrooms and adding a crispy topping of shallots rather than the usual canned crunchy onions. 

Of course, Guy Fieri isn't a fan of all Thanksgiving sides. There is one in particular that he can't stand, and it's sweet potato casserole. His reasoning? It's simply too sweet. Of his dislike, Fieri noted, "I'm not a sweets guy in the first place." However, Fieri does make room at the table for some jalapeno-infused cranberry sauce, which sounds interesting, to say the least.

It's not easy being green bean casserole

Though it's essential on Guy Fieri's Thanksgiving table, the humble green bean casserole has a bit of a reputation problem. For one, though green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving staple, it is also widely disliked by those who celebrate Thanksgiving. This mixture of green beans, canned soup mix, seasoning, and canned crunchy onions can look unappetizing, and the recipe is pretty dusty, especially compared to some dishes that are constantly being retooled. 

For the most part green bean casserole has been left unchanged over the years, a holdover from a midcentury way of cooking that valued convenience and canned ingredients above all else, but this doesn't have to be the case. There are plenty of ways to brighten up your casserole. Fieri, for example, ditches the canned cream of mushroom soup in favor of a homemade mushroom gravy in which he uses cremini mushrooms. Additionally, he tops his casserole with homemade fried shallots, which bring much-needed freshness to a dish marked by its use of processed ingredients.

And perhaps that's the best way to improve the dish. Starting with fresh, rather than canned, ingredients can really elevate your casserole. And you might want to switch out that casserole dish for something that can help the dish go from soggy to crispy. Cooking your casserole in a skillet might just be the best way to do so. Another upgrade is to shred parmesan over the top of your green bean casserole, adding some cheesy goodness to the creamy casserole. Of course, there are countless ways to make green bean casserole your own. You just have to think beyond the can.

Be sweet to the casserole

So Guy Fieri isn't the biggest fan of sweet potato casserole, but that doesn't mean that you should exclude it from your dining room table. Fieri's primary dislike of sweet potato casserole stems from its overwhelming (and often one-note) sweetness. The casserole consists of mashed sweet potatoes mixed with spices, brown sugar, eggs, and butter, and is topped with a heavy heaping of marshmallows. So it's true that there isn't exactly a lot of complexity in the dish.

However, there are a few ways to improve the candied casserole. Adding bacon and cheese to the top of your sweet potato casserole, for example, can add some much-needed contrasting flavors to the dish, bringing the casserole from dessert to benign a proper side to the Thanksgiving turkey. Alternatively, adding roasted bananas to your sweet potato casserole – yes, bananas! — can help to lighten up your dish and can even serve to replace the brown sugar in the recipe, making for a healthier swap out.

But if you really want to dig into the dessert possibilities of sweet potato, you might want to try putting the deliciously sweet tuber into a pie. Sweet potato pie, a staple on most Southern Thanksgiving tables, might just be the perfect way of enjoying sweet potatoes in their full, dessert-ready goodness, while not having to pair it alongside the savory stuffing or creamy green bean casserole. Of course, there's room at the table for every dish, controversial or not. So cook what you like, and embrace the inevitable discussion over which dish is best, and which should be left over.