If you've been looking for a Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish that uses green beans but is healthier, more colorful, and more vibrant than regular green bean casserole, look no further! This simple and colorful green bean recipe is a simple and delicious way to add something green and healthy to your menu for the holidays and for any weeknight dinner!
The best green beans for Thanksgiving and Christmas
Green Beans with Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries is an easy, 30-minute Thanksgiving and Christmas side dish that will add colors and vibrancy to your holiday menu! This is such a perfect holiday recipe. Green beans make a delicious combo with classic holiday ingredients, such as pecans and dried cranberries. This side dish is packed with nutrients and fiber. It's perfect to make during the colder months in the Fall and Winter. It’s healthy, meatless, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, and paleo. This basic recipe will impress you with its simplicity.
Holiday side dish
What I love the best about these Thanksgiving green beans is that they fit so well with the traditional holiday side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and stuffing. It's like having Autumn on your plate. You can make this in addition or instead of regular green bean casserole. It’s also a perfect side dish for Christmas or any other holiday! Try it for your favorite festive occasion, and it might become a new family favorite recipe for the holidays!
Why make it
- Versatility. Green beans with butternut squash, pecans, and cranberries is a simple combination that will pair well with any type of main dish, whether it's chicken, beef, turkey, pork, lamb, duck, or seafood.
- Holiday side dish. Make these Christmas green beans to go along with brown-sugar glazed ham, and you will impress your family and friends. This recipe is colorful, vibrant, and super fresh. Or, make it any time you like, year-round.
- Nutrition. This side dish is nutrient-dense and packed with colorful veggies (green beans and butternut squash) and fiber. It’s healthy, meatless, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, and paleo.
- Try something different for the holidays. Venture out of your traditional holiday menu and make these green beans instead of a regular green bean casserole for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Or, make it any time during Fall and Winter seasons to add freshness and color to your holiday menu.
- Green beans in this recipe are sliced briefly boiled in a pot of hot water, drained, and quickly rinsed with cold water. This helps them to retain their shape and not fall apart. It also keeps them slightly crunchy and prevents them from getting mushy.
- Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, and E, as well as several minerals, including magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Butternut squash is also rich in dietary fiber. It also adds a wonderful orange color to this holiday Autumn dish.
- Pecans are packed with fiber and are rich in many nutrients. This includes zinc and Vitamin B1. These delicious nuts add crunch and texture to the Christmas green beans. I like to toast them in the oven before adding them to this side dish.
- Dried cranberries add sweetness. I used Craisins. You can also use dried figs, blueberries, or cherries.
- Maple-lemon drizzle. I used 2 tablespoons of maple syrup plus 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (not the bottled kind) as a salad dressing.
How to cook green beans
- Boil. If you like softer green beans, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and green beans and boil them (on medium heat) for 5 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse them under cold water. This will prevent them from getting mushy and will keep them crunchy.
- Blanch. If you prefer crunchier green beans, bring a large pot of water to boil, and boil green beans for about 1 or 2 minutes until a little tender but still crunchy. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water.
- I don't recommend roasting them in the oven for this recipe. Roasting the green beans strips them of the bright green color that you get if you use the 2 methods above.
Recipe notes and recommendations
- Make-ahead tip. If you plan to make holiday green beans a day ahead, don’t add pecans. Add nuts only when ready to serve (to make sure they are crunchy).
- Serve it cold or hot? This dish is best served immediately, warm, or at room temperature. Just not refrigerator cold.
- Soak dried cranberries briefly in hot water to plump them up. It's especially true if your cranberries are too dry and tough to bite. This will make dried cranberries juicier, softer, and more vibrant.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. The parchment paper keeps roasted butternut squash nice and crispy. It also minimized the cleanup.
- Avoid overcrowding when roasting. When adding cubed butternut squash to the parchment-lined baking sheet, do not overcrowd the cubes. Keeping the cubes separate will ensure they get crispy and crunchy.
- Green beans can be replaced with broccoli or Brussels sprouts.
- Butternut squash can be replaced with sweet potatoes.
- Don’t want to use pecans? Use walnuts, sliced almonds, or cashews. Make sure to lightly toast the nuts for the best flavor. You can also omit the nuts altogether!
- Don't like nuts? Use pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds instead. I also prefer to lightly toast them before adding them to the green beans.
- Cranberries. You can use dried cherries, raisins, or chopped dried figs instead of dried cranberries.
- Maple-lime drizzle. You can also use honey and freshly squeezed lime juice.
How to serve it
Green beans with butternut squash, pecans, and cranberries pair well with any holiday main course for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This side dish will be a great sidekick for Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, prime rib, beef tenderloin, and other favorite holiday main dishes. If you're looking for more unique and delicious main course recipes for Christmas and Thanksgiving, see the 4 recipes below. The first 2 are meatless, and the last 2 are delicious recipes for cooking the duck!
- Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna is stuffed with vegetables and combines Ricotta, Parmesan, and Mozzarella cheeses to create the ultimate Fall and Winter comfort food.
- Black Bean and Butternut Squash Casserole is meatless, gluten-free, and made with lots of vegetables and corn tortillas.
- Roast Duck is a perfect Thanksgiving main course! This Roast Whole Duck has tender and juicy meat and crispy skin, and it’s glazed with honey-balsamic glaze to give the duck a beautiful roasted look.
- Duck Breast with Cranberry Sauce - this recipe will make a perfect main dish for any special night, an anniversary celebration, or holidays, especially Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
- Refrigerate the leftover green beans with butternut squash in an airtight container for up to 4 days. For best results, don't mix the pecans with the salad, and add them only right before serving to prevent them from getting soggy.
- I do not recommend freezing this dish.
Other Thanksgiving and Christmas side dishes you might like
If you want to discover other colorful and vibrant holiday side dishes that will make a great addition to your holiday menu, check out these recipes:
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels sprouts with Pecans and Cranberries - this vibrant recipe will work perfectly for both Thanksgiving and Christmas!
- Winter Fruit Salad with Maple Lime Dressing – the holiday ingredient list includes red apples, pears, clementine oranges (or mandarin oranges), kiwi fruit, dried cranberries, and pomegranate seeds.
- Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad with Pecans, Cranberries, and Pomegranate – perfect healthy holiday salad features Poppy Seed Honey-Lime Dressing.
Other green bean recipes to try
If you'd like more ideas for Thanksgiving green beans, don't miss these recipes:
- Green Beans with Pine Nuts and Parmesan Cheese
- Garlic and Bacon Green Beans Sautéed in Olive Oil and Butter
- Garlic Green Beans with Olive Oil and Parmesan
Holiday Green Beans for Thanksgiving and Christmas
Roasted Butternut Squash
How to roast butternut squash
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss to mix.
- Place butternut squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until softened.
- Proceed with the rest of the recipe while the butternut squash is in the oven.
How to cook green beans
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and boil for about 3 minutes if you like them crispy or for 5 minutes if you like them softer and tender. Drain and then immediately rinse under running cold water. Drain again.
How to toast pecans
- Toast pecan halves for about 5 minutes (maybe a bit longer) in the preheated oven at 350 F until they get darker in color. Chop up half of the pecans.
- Note: pecans burn really fast, so make sure to check the nuts after 5 minutes and frequently afterword.
- In a large bowl, combine cooked green beans, roasted butternut squash, and cranberries, and mix to combine. Top with toasted pecan halves and chopped pecans.
4 salad dressing options to choose from
- Option 1. Use 2 or 3 tablespoons of maple syrup plus 2 or 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (not the bottled kind) as a salad dressing.
- Option 2. Combine 3 or 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify.
- Option 3. Drizzle the salad with balsamic glaze (store-purchased) or homemade. To make a balsamic glaze, combine 1 cup of balsamic vinegar + ¼ cup of honey or brown sugar and cook it down until reduced at least by half. Consistency should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon but should not be overly thick.
- Option 4. Your favorite store-bought Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (not the creamy kind).
- Option 5. Anything pomegranate based would be good - such as pomegranate molasses mixed with a small amount of olive oil. Or store-bought Pomegranate-based salad dressing (not the creamy kind).
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.