Cannellini beans are white beans that are popular for their nutty and creamy flavor.
However, since they’re not as common as other beans, they may not always be available, so you’ll need to know an effective substitute for cannellini beans.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to replace cannellini beans in recipes without changing the texture and flavor of your dish too much. Here are some go-to alternatives below, so feel free to check them out.
Reasons You May Need A Cannellini Beans Substitute
The most common reason you may need suitable substitutes for cannellini beans is that they’re not always readily available. These types of beans aren’t exactly pantry staples. So, many of us may not have them at home without purposely adding them to our grocery list.
Furthermore, cannellini beans tend to be harder to find at stores compared to other legumes, making it more convenient to use alternatives in certain situations.
Yes, cannellini beans are quite nutritious. However, they’re not really among the healthiest beans you can consume. So, if you’re looking to increase your fiber, protein, or mineral intake, other legumes might be the better choice for your recipe.
Flavor And Texture Variations
If you want to indulge yourself in creative cooking, experimenting with different types of beans in a recipe that calls for cannellini beans is an excellent starting point. While cannellini beans already have a very palatable flavor, using alternative beans can add unique twists to your classic recipes, making them even more enjoyable for your guests and family.
5 Best Substitutes For Cannellini Beans
Here are the best cannellini bean substitutes that you can always use when cooking.
Great Northern Beans
Also known as large white beans, great northern beans look similar to cannellini beans in terms of shape and color. These beans have a mild, nutty flavor but aren’t as potent as cannellini beans.
Great northern beans are commonly used for stews and soups, but I also fancy frying and baking them to add variation to our meals. Just note that despite being smaller, these white beans have a tougher skin, so they may take longer to cook than cannellini beans.
Also called pea beans, navy beans have a firm texture and provide a slightly sweet flavor to your dishes. These beans are rich in fiber and are packed with many minerals, making them a healthy replacement for cannellini beans.
It’s best to substitute navy beans for cannellini beans when preparing dishes that allow beans to maintain their shape, such as pork and beans, baked beans, and salad.
Of course, you may also puree them, but they require longer cooking times compared to cannellini beans.
Red Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are also excellent substitutes for dry or canned cannellini beans. These beans have a unique kidney-like shape and color, making them easily distinguishable from other legumes.
Texture and size-wise, red kidney beans are quite similar to cannellini beans. However, the flavors of these two beans are very distinct from each other, so red kidney beans are not always the ideal alternative to cannellini beans.
Kidney beans have a very strong flavor profile. Hence, it’s best to only use kidney beans as a replacement for cannellini beans in recipes that are heavily seasoned or buttered.
Instead of cannellini beans, you can also use butter beans, which, true to their name, have a delicate and creamy texture.
Also known as lima beans, these legumes may be smaller in size compared to cannellini beans, but they certainly pack a flavorful punch, especially when cooked in high-fat dishes.
Use these butter-like beans to replace cannellini beans in dishes featuring starchy vegetables, salads, or soup. They also work well in pasta recipes that already have a creamy flavor.
Since these alternative beans cook faster than cannellini beans, you can save a significant amount of time when using this substitution.
Commonly known as chickpeas, garbanzo beans are also an excellent alternative to cannellini beans in recipes. These beans can be found in almost every store, making them my go-to alternative if I don’t want to spend too much time hunting for groceries.
While these beans may not look too similar to cannellini beans, they offer a similar texture when cooked, making them a great choice if you want a 1:1 substitution.
Just remember that chickpeas have a more prominent nutty flavor than cannellini beans. So, ensure you adjust your seasonings accordingly when using garbanzo beans to substitute cannellini beans in any dish.
Don’t have the alternatives mentioned above? Don’t worry, as other beans can still be used as a great substitute for cannellini beans. To name a few, you can consider black beans, fava beans, adzuki beans, pinto beans, and marrow beans to replace cannellini beans in a recipe.
You may not use these alternatives as frequently as the first legumes mentioned, but they’re still excellent substitutes that provide their own unique flavors and textures to dishes.
How To Choose The Best Substitute For White Kidney Beans
Although there are plenty of alternatives for cannellini beans, know that not all substitutions will work equally well for every recipe in which cannellini beans are used.
Cannellini beans are known for their unique flavor profile, characterized by mild nuttiness and earthiness with hints of a meaty and creamy texture. While some beans can mimic these qualities to a certain extent, they can’t perfectly replicate the taste of cannellini beans.
Here are some guidelines for selecting which beans are a good alternative to cannellini beans, depending on the dish you are preparing.
Best for soups and stews: Navy beans, great northern beans, and garbanzo beans.
Best for a salad: Butter beans, garbanzo beans, red kidney beans.
Best for dips and spreads: Navy beans and garbanzo beans.
Best for casseroles: Butter beans, great northern beans, and red kidney beans.
Best for sides: Butter beans and navy beans.
Remember that these guidelines are, by no means, fixed and rigid sets of rules. Instead, think of them as “safe substitutions,” which means they’re the best choices to not alter the flavor of your dish too much.
If you want to be adventurous in your cooking endeavors, feel free to vary the alternatives you use in your recipes. Cooking is all about trial and error, and many delicacies now were invented because of seemingly random food combinations.
Tips For Adapting Recipes When Using A Substitute
Start With Small Amounts
Whether you’re substituting great northern beans, butter beans, or navy beans for cannellini beans, you should always start by incorporating small amounts. It’s always easier to add more beans to your dish as needed than it is to take them out if you’ve added too much.
Be Prepared To Adjust Other Ingredients
Cannellini beans are a delicious type of legume packed with various unique flavors.
Unfortunately, no other bean can perfectly mimic this ingredient’s taste, as some may add or lack certain flavors. To work around this hurdle, you should be prepared to adjust other ingredients in your recipe when using cannellini bean substitutes.
Take Note Of The Cooking Time
Not all legumes have the same cooking time. Some beans may have thicker skin than cannellini beans, making it necessary to cook them longer or vice versa.
That said, before you totally commit to using a substitute bean, know how long it takes to cook in comparison to cannellini beans. Doing so will ensure that you won’t have beans that are unintentionally undercooked or overly mushy.
Get Creative With The Best Cannellini Bean Substitutes
You no longer have to stress out when you can’t find cannellini beans to use for your family’s most-awaited meal. Like most ingredients, cannellini beans can be easily replaced with other legumes, regardless of the dish you’re trying to prepare.
Plenty of beans can be used in place of cannellini beans. So get creative with your cooking journey, and you may be surprised by the unique flavor combinations you’ll encounter!