If you’re not familiar with cannellini beans, then you might know them by their other term, white kidney beans.
The cannellini bean is often used in pasta, salad, and soup. It’s quite popular in tomato-based sauces, due to its subtle, nutty flavor. This bean is a great addition to most meals because it absorbs the flavor of the dish.
It has an excellent fluffy texture, and when cooked, is a tender bean, with a slight chew.
The name ‘cannellini’ is Italian, and it is popularized as the bean is commonly used in Italian cooking, more prominently in southern and central Italy. Interestingly, the cannellini bean is said to be derived from Peru.
The beans were cultivated by Italian immigrants and introduced to Europe in the 1500s. These tasty beans then found their tradition within Italian cuisine.
However, it’s not just the Italians who love these beans. They’re a staple in cuisines all over the world. In India, it’s referred to as the lobia bean and is used in curry dishes.
If you’re using a recipe that calls for cannellini beans, but you can’t seem to find any in the cupboard, don’t fret. We’ve researched the 10 best cannellini bean substitutes, that will work as an excellent replacement.
On our list, you’ll see the likes of butter beans, kidney beans, great northern beans, navy beans, Garbanzo beans, pinto beans, lentils, soybeans, black-eyed peas, and Anasazi bean.
With that said, let’s check out the best 10 substitutes for cannellini beans.
First on our list of the best substitutions for cannellini beans, is butter beans.
Butter beans are also known as mini lima beans. They’re kind of like lima beans, with a difference. Lima beans are picked while they are still immature. Butter beans are lima beans at full maturity.
The result is a gorgeous, creamy white color. They have a wonderfully soft texture, and they taste creamy.
So, other than the creamy taste, butter beans do not really have much flavor. They’re also starchier than the cannellini beans. However, they do share a similar texture — butter beans are a little more tender, and they’re much larger.
One reason why they work so great as a substitute for cannellini beans is that cannellini beans also don’t have that much flavor, other than their distinct nuttiness.
So, you can pretty much use herbs and spices to curate the flavor you want. This means you’re likely going to have a similar outcome.
You can buy butter beans canned, or you can buy them raw. If getting them raw, you have to boil and prepare the beans yourself. Butter beans work great in soups, salads, tomato-based dishes. You can even make butter bean mashed potatoes.
Next on our list of the best substitutes for cannellini beans, is navy beans.
Navy beans are also known as pea beans. They are smaller than cannellini beans and are oval-shaped. A good perk about navy beans is that if you plan on buying raw beans, these guys cook fast.
Once they are cooked, they taste creamy and have a mild flavor. They’re a great substitute for cannellini beans because again, they don’t have that much flavor. They’ll take on the flavor of the spices and herbs you use, so they’re pretty useful.
As I said, you can either buy these beans canned or buy them raw. If buying them raw, you have to boil and prepare them yourself. These beans are great in soups, tomato-based dishes, and mashed.
Great Northern Beans
Next on our list of the best substitutes for cannellini beans, is great northern beans.
Is it wrong to like a bean, just for its name? Great northern beans sound weirdly regal. Jokes aside, these are sweet tasting beans, that have a delicate texture. They have a mild, nutty flavor, so they are an excellent substitute for cannellini beans.
They are a little larger than cannellini beans, but not by too much. One perk about these beans is that even when they’re cooked and in dishes, they hold their shape quite well, so they’re not going to end up mushed into the food.
You can buy them canned, or raw. If you buy them raw, you have to boil and prepare them yourself. They are quite popular in French cuisine, particularly casseroles. They also work well in most tomato-based dishes.
Next on our list of the best substitutes for cannellini beans, is kidney beans.
Kidney beans are very similar to cannellini beans when it comes to their size. Their size is almost identical, and they have a very similar texture.
There is a difference in taste, however. Kidney beans have an earthy texture, much distinct from the cannellini bean. So if your chosen dish meant that the cannellini bean was the star of the show, don’t use the kidney beans.
If in the dish your cannellini bean was just to add texture, and a little flavor, then the kidney beans will work fine. These are usually dishes that contain a lot of spices, herbs, or butter, so the flavors are usually transformed.
You can purchase kidney beans canned, or you can buy them raw. If you buy them raw, you have to boil and prepare them yourself. They are very popular in Mexican cuisine and pair well with soups and salads.
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Next on our list of the best substitutes for cannellini beans, is fava beans.
Fava beans are also known as broad beans. They are the opposite of cannellini beans when it comes to color. They’re dark and oftentimes spotted brown. Furthermore, they are fairly large beans and have a meaty texture.
When it comes to taste, fava beans aren’t exactly identical to cannellini beans. They have a slightly cheesy undertone. This isn’t too much of a problem, however. If you plan on adding lots of herbs and spices, it’ll take over that flavor.
Even if you add in a fair amount of garlic and onion, it won’t be prominent.
You can either buy fava beans canned or raw. If you buy them raw, you have to boil and prepare them yourself. They work very well in Mexican cuisine, as it is easy for fava beans to absorb flavors. They also work well with soups.
Next on our list of the best substitutes for cannellini beans, is garbanzo beans.
If you’re not familiar with the term garbanzo bean, you’ll likely know their other name. They’re quite often referred to as chickpeas and are very popular.
They have a very different shape to cannellini beans, being small and round. When it comes to taste, they have similarities, as they’re both nutty beans.
Like cannellini beans, they absorb the flavors they’re surrounded by, so it makes a nifty replacement. Also, garbanzo beans are pretty much everywhere, so it shouldn’t be hard to find some.
You can buy garbanzo beans canned, or raw. If you buy them raw, you have to boil and prepare them yourself. Be warned, however, that they take a fair amount of time to cook.
You also have to remove the skins from garbanzo beans, if you want a more similar texture to cannellini beans.
Garbanzo beans are probably the most versatile bean on the list. They’re great in soups, tomato-based dishes, and pasta. They’re also great for making vegan burgers.
If you love hummus, you’ll probably be interested to know it’s made from garbanzo beans. Falafels are too. What a nifty bean!
Next on our list of the best substitutes for cannellini beans, is black beans.
Now, if the name hasn’t given it away already, these beans are black. That’s already a pretty big difference from our pale cannellini beans.
Not only that, these beans are actually sweet, and certainly do not carry the nuttiness that cannellini beans have. Their color is so potent, that it can actually change the color of the dish you’re making, so keep that in mind.
You’re probably wondering, then, why I’ve listed black beans as a substitution for cannellini beans.
That’s because, depending on the dish, black beans are a great substitution. While they are sweet, once you add in spices and herbs, the taste of the black bean is overridden.
Also, when it comes to texture, it’s quite similar to the cannellini bean. Another thing to remember is that black beans are very popular in Mexican cuisine.
So, if you’re making a Mexican dish that calls for cannellini beans, black beans are the perfect substitution.
You can buy black beans tinned, or raw. If you buy them raw, you have to boil and prepare them yourself. As I’ve already mentioned, they’re great in Mexican cuisine.
However, avoid using them in any pasta dishes, as they’re not a suitable replacement for that. Although, if you plan on making salad, wraps, or dips, they’re a great substitute.
Next on our list of the best substitutes for cannellini beans, is the flageolet bean.
If you’ve ever lived in France, or you’re passionate about French cuisine, then you’ve probably encountered the flageolet bean before. If you’re not that into France, then you’ve likely never heard of this bean before.
These beans are a very pale shade of green. They’re actually referred to as the caviar of beans, due to their wonderfully subtle flavor, and use in esteemed dishes. When it comes to their taste, they’re very similar to cannellini.
They’re both very mild and have a creaminess to them. However, flageolet beans are even richer than cannellini beans. While they both take on the flavor of the dish, flageolet beans do this more so.
Flageolets are an excellent substitute for cannellini beans. You can buy them canned, and you can also buy them raw. If you buy them raw, you have to boil and prepare them yourself.
The only issue you might encounter is that they’re more readily available in Europe. So, while it’s unlikely that you’ll find flageolet beans in your local supermarket, check your local health food store.
Next on our list of the best substitutes for cannellini beans, is the adzuki bean.
Now, these definitely do not look like cannellini beans. They’re a vibrant red color and a staple in Asian cuisine. An interesting fact about these beans is that humans have likely been harvesting and eating these beans for 7,000 years.
That’s a long time, it’s no wonder these beans are still in popular use.
When it comes to flavor, they are similar to cannellini beans. Adzuki beans have a sweet and nutty flavor. When it comes to traditional Asian cuisine, they’re often used in desserts. However, a lot of people use them in savory dishes.
They are paired very well with rice and tomato-based dishes.
You can buy adzuki beans canned, or raw. If you buy them raw, you have to cook and prepare them yourself. While these beans are popular in America, especially in the L.A scene, you may not find them in your local supermarket.
If that’s the case, they’ll likely be at your local health store.
Next on our list of the best substitutes for cannellini beans, are lentils.
Okay, so I’ve given you nine bean substitutions for cannellini beans, here’s a different type of substitute, a legume.
No, lentils do not taste like cannellini beans. They certainly do not look like them. And, again, they are a legume, not a bean.
However, depending on the dish you’re making, lentils might be a really good substitute for cannellini beans.
This is because lentils are excellent at adding thickness to a dish. So, if you’re making a soup or a stew, this could be a great replacement.
You could even use them as a side dish. They soak up the flavors of the dish, so taste-wise, they’re pretty versatile.
Everyone likes options, right?
Well, that rounds up my 10 best substitutions for cannellini beans.
I hope you’ve found my article helpful. If you can’t find that last can of cannellini beans, the one you just knew you had, perhaps you can use one of the substitutions on my list instead.
Also, if you’re just in the neighborhood for a new bean, or legume, I hope you find something that suits you.
The great thing about beans is that most of them take on the flavors of the dish. So if you are looking to substitute, it shouldn’t overly alter the outcome of the flavor of your dish.
Below, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions.
Thank you for reading!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Substitute Cannellini Beans, When Other Beans Have Different Flavors?
Not all the beans on this list are that different. In fact, navy beans are pretty similar in flavor. Of course, other beans, such as black beans, taste very different, but the substitutions are dish depending.
How Can I Get The Beans To Taste Better?
Season your beans! A little bit goes a long way. If you’re using the beans in a dish, then they should absorb the flavor of the food. If you’re eating them as a side, even a sprinkle of salt and pepper will make them taste better. Of course, garlic, and onions will also help transform the show. Be creative!
Should I Buy Canned Beans Or Raw Beans?
Well, this is a tricky question. It depends on your personal circumstance, really. Are you always in a rush, do you have a moderate amount of time to cook, or do you have the luxury of time itself?
If you have extra time in your week to cook raw beans, then go ahead. They’re always tastier when they’re fresh. But this can take a good few hours, depending on the beans, and if you don’t cook them correctly, they can make you very ill.
Personally, canned beans are a cheap and easy solution. They’re still healthy, and still taste delicious.
It’s up to you!