Asparagus Casserole is a bridge between seasons. Its creamy sauce and crispy top are all cold-weather comfort, but its starring ingredient, asparagus, is one of the first and happiest harbingers of spring.
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This healthy asparagus casserole is a springtime riff on my popular Healthy Green Bean Casserole.
Like the green bean casserole recipe that inspired it, as well as the majority of these healthy casserole recipes, this is a from-scratch casserole that ditches the cream of mushroom soup and uses simple ingredients you likely already have around.
It is equally as scrumptious as the green bean original, but since (unlike green beans), you don’t need to blanch the asparagus before adding it to the sauce, it is quicker and easier to make.
It is easy enough, however, that you don’t need a special occasion to make it.
Plus, when spring arrives and asparagus is in season, that is occasion enough to celebrate!
How to Make Asparagus Casserole
What makes this healthy asparagus casserole special is its use of fresh ingredients.
Skip asparagus casserole cream of mushroom soup-style and definitely skip canned asparagus casserole.
While I am all for a smart shortcut, here using the real deal pays off in every bite.
- Asparagus. This low-calorie veggie is the scrumptious star of our casserole. It pairs beautifully with mushrooms and the cheesy breadcrumb topping. Plus, asparagus is rich in fiber, vitamins, and folate.
- Mushrooms. Mushrooms bring earthy, umami goodness to the casserole, giving it deep flavor. They’re also filled with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Don’t be tempted to use white button mushrooms, which are totally lacking in flavor. Cremini (baby bella) mushrooms or chopped portobello mushrooms are best.
Not a fan of mushrooms? You can simply omit them.
- Milk. 2% milk provides the casserole with the perfect amount of richness without the need for heavy cream.
- Flour. Helps thicken the casserole filling and makes it luscious.
To make this asparagus casserole gluten free, swap in a GF 1:1 flour blend and use gluten free breadcrumbs.
- Spices. Salt, pepper, dried basil, and nutmeg give the casserole delicious flavor.
- Greek Yogurt. Using Greek yogurt to thicken casseroles is one of my favorite healthy hacks. It’s creamy, tangy, and packed with protein.
- Fresh Basil. Basil is a spectacular finishing touch that adds wonderful freshness.
- Crispy Panko Topping. A combination of whole wheat panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan, lemon zest, and melted butter creates our crispy casserole topping. It’s perfectly cheesy and flavorful!
Casserole Topping Options
Crunch panko breadcrumbs are my go-to for casserole toppings, but they are certainly not the only option! Here are a few ideas for ways to top your asparagus casserole:
- Fried Onions. French fried onions are a casserole classic, and they’d be absolutely delicious on top of this asparagus casserole.
- Bacon. The ultimate crowd-pleaser! Finish off the casserole with some crumbed pieces of Oven Baked Bacon.
- Nuts. For an extra crunchy finish, try topping your casserole with chopped nuts. Walnuts or pine nuts would be tasty here.
- Stir the Parmesan topping together.
- Sauté the asparagus, onion, and mushrooms.
- Stir in the flour, until it disappears.
- Pour in the milk to make the sauce.
- Once the sauce has thickened, remove it from the heat. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, and fresh basil.
- Transfer the mixture to a baking dish.
- Add the breadcrumb mixture on top. Broil to toast the topping. Let stand for a few minutes, then DIG IN!
- To Store. Refrigerate casserole in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or gently in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftover casserole in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Plan Tip
The casserole can be assembled without the topping through Step 6 up to 1 day in advance or frozen up to 1 month in advance; be sure you are using a freezer-safe baking dish. Cover tightly and refrigerate (or freeze).
When ready to bake, let come to room temperature (if the dish is in the freezer, place it in the refrigerator the night before to thaw). Sprinkle with the breadcrumb topping and bake as directed.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Dish. One of my most-loved kitchen tools.
- Dutch Oven. The perfect tool for preparing the casserole ingredients.
- Citrus Juicer. My #1 hack for easily juicing lemons and limes.
Beautiful Baking Dish
This high-quality baking dish will be your go-to for casseroles and so much more. It’s heavy-duty and will last a lifetime.
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Asparagus season, we welcome you, casserole style!
- ½ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Zest of 1 small lemon plus 1 tablespoon juice, divided
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds asparagus trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion very thinly sliced
- 8 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, sliced (do not use plain white mushrooms, as they do not have much flavor)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 7 ounces 2% Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil plus additional for garnish
Position a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat to broil. Lightly coat a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish with nonstick spray.
In a small bowl, stir together the panko, Parmesan, and lemon zest. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, pour over the top, then stir to moisten. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large, wide saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the asparagus, onion, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and golden and the mushrooms brown and have given up their liquid, about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the top. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes more, until all of the flour turns golden and no white bits remain.
Slowly add the milk a few splashes at a time, stirring between each addition to prevent lumps from forming. Increase the heat to medium high.
Stir in the salt, pepper, dried basil, and nutmeg. Cook and stir, allowing the sauce to bubble, running a wooden spoon or rubber spatula along the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.
Continue cooking and stirring until the sauce reduces and thickens to resemble a creamy gravy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Run the spoon or spatula along the bottom very frequently at the end to make sure that your sauce isn’t sticking.
Remove the sauce from the heat. Stir in the Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and fresh basil. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.
Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top.
Transfer to the oven and broil, watching closely, until the casserole is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes prior to serving. Garnish with additional fresh basil.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: The casserole can be assembled without the topping through Step 6 up to 1 day in advance or frozen up to 1 month in advance; be sure you are using a freezer-safe baking dish. Cover tightly and refrigerate. When ready to bake, let come to room temperature (if the dish is in the freezer, place it in the refrigerator the night before to thaw). Sprinkle with breadcrumb topping and bake as directed.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate casserole in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftover casserole in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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