Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, are one of the most delicate types of beans. They come from Italy and are known for their creamy white color, fluffy texture, and nutty flavor.
They are used in many Italian recipes and since they maintain their shape when cooked they are ideal for salads, soups, stews, and chili.
You can buy canned cannellini beans to use in place of the dried ones but if it’s not available in your stores, then try the cannellini beans substitutes we offer in this post.
The best substitutes for cannellini beans are canned cannellini beans, navy beans, kidney beans, great northern beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, fava beans, butterbeans, flageolets, garbanzo beans, and soybeans.
Best Substitute for Cannellini Beans
1. Canned Cannellini Beans
As said above, there is the canned version of cannellini beans and if you can purchase it from your local stores then it’s the best substitute. While it’s not easy to find dry cannellini beans, canned cannellini beans are easier and quicker substitutes. You don’t spend time on preparation like soaking and cooking and therefore you save time and effort.
This is a good idea especially if you want to make your favorite dish without spending too much time. In the majority of cases, beans need to be soaked for at least 3-4 hours and cannellini beans are not an exception. Make sure to drain and rinse canned beans in water before using. This way you’ll make them taste better.
2. Navy Beans
Navy beans are other types of white beans native to Peru. They are mild in flavor, dense and smooth in texture as well as high in protein content. You can use them in salads, soups, stews, and stir-fries.
Navy beans are tougher in texture and you need to soak them overnight to get a softer texture. They become tender but not mushy which means they maintain their shape like cannellini beans.
So, navy beans can save your dish if you don’t have cannellini beans in hand and still want to use beans of the same color and appearance.
3. Kidney Beans
Although kidney beans are dark red in color they offer the same size, shape, and a similar taste to cannellini beans that’s why they are considered one of the best alternatives to cannellini beans.
You can easily find kidney beans both dry and canned as they are available almost everywhere. They do reflect almost the same way as cannellini beans in different dishes and if the color doesn’t matter, then this is an ideal substitute to consider.
You need to soak them for at least 6 hours or overnight and then cook them the same way as cannellini beans. You can use the same seasonings and add it to the same dishes.
4. Great Northern Beans
Great northern beans are medium-sized white beans very similar to cannellini beans. They have a smooth texture, nutty and mild flavor. They are quite popular in North America and if you have them in your pantry you can use them in place of cannellini beans in stews and many other dishes.
You need to soak them for 4-12 hours before cooking. When cooked, great northern beans become soft, and delicate and bring out their unique taste with a slight sweetness. They won’t become mushy if you don’t overcook them. So, be careful with the cooking time and keep it up to 180 minutes depending on the size of the beans.
5. Black-Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are white peas with small black dots that make them look like eyes. They have a creamy texture and a very mild taste. They are used in stews, and soups and tend to maintain their shape which makes them a good substitute for cannellini beans in many dishes.
They require soaking for at least 6 hours up to overnight. Avoid overcooking so as not to end up with a mushy substance. Like some other popular types of beans, black-eyed peas can also be found in canned versions. You can use them in salads, fritters, and fried patties.
6. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are another well-known variety of beans and you can easily find them. They are sometimes called “painted beans” because they come with a mix of colors and spots of brown and red. You can soak them for 6-8 hours before cooking. The longer you soak, the more delicate they will become.
Compared to the rest of the substitutes, pinto beans may offer a different taste but they are perfect, especially in spicy dishes including chilis. You can use them in burgers, taco salads, vegan burritos, and many other Mexican dishes.
7. Fava Beans
Fava beans are one of the healthiest beans used in diet-friendly recipes. They are high in protein, low in fat, and full of vitamins. They are large, meaty in texture, and reddish brown in color. These are super nutritious varieties of beans to use in place of cannellini beans.
Fava beans are creamy, nutty, slightly sweet, and bitter at the same time. Soak them for 6-7 hours or up to overnight. You can use them in side dishes, stir-fries, or add to veggie balls or soups.
8. Butterbeans/Lima Beans
They are called butterbeans due to their texture and flavor. These beans, also known as lima beans, have a buttery and soft texture and creamy-buttery taste. They are white in color and look like cannellini beans.
Compared to cannellini beans, butter beans are starchier and tend to become mushy when overcooked. Soak them overnight and cook until they become soft yet not too tender. You can use them in almost all recipes calling for cannellini beans.
Flageolets, native to France, are white beans with a firm yet creamy texture. They are mild in flavor and become soft when cooked. Soak them overnight and then cook.
Flageolets are mostly popular in France but some farmers in California grow their varieties. So, if you find them you can use them in place of cannellini beans.
10. Garbanzo Beans
Garbanzo beans can come for help when you can’t find any type of bean nearby. They are also called chickpeas and are available everywhere. You can buy canned versions too.
They differ in shape, size, color, and taste from cannellini beans but they also have similar features.
Garbanzo beans are as tough as cannellini beans and they need to be soaked overnight before cooking. They become soft and carry a nutty flavor when cooked. On the other hand, garbanzo beans have more calories than cannellini beans.
Another alternative to cannellini beans is soybeans. The best part about soybeans is that they come with a neutral flavor and are cooked almost the same way as regular beans. They are often used as meat substitutes by vegans and if you are a vegetarian looking for alternatives to cannellini beans then soybeans are one of the best options.
Just like beans, soybeans require soaking for at least 4 hours up to overnight. The seeds of soybeans come in a variety of colors from yellow to brown and from tan to black. You can choose light-colored ones to replace cannellini beans. Use the same seasonings to get the same result.
FAQs on Cannellini Beans
Can I substitute lentils for cannellini beans?
Lentils are often used instead of beans in soups, stews, and side dishes as they taste similar to beans. So, you can use your favorite types of lentils to substitute cannellini beans. This will also give you an idea to change up and refresh your recipes.
Are cannellini beans gluten-free?
Yes, cannellini beans are naturally gluten-free and you can safely use them in your gluten-free diet.
What are the health benefits of cannellini beans?
Cannellini beans are a great source of fiber, protein, folate, iron, and magnesium. They are fat-free and very nutritious. They also help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Beans usually belong to the most nutritious group of foods that have a special place in healthy diets. They are one of the best alternatives to meat due to their nutritional value.
Many types of beans are interchangeable but there are varieties that are hard to find and one of them is cannellini beans. The cannellini bean substitutes mentioned in this article are the easiest options to use in your recipes.