10 Best Cannellini Beans Substitute List for Your Cooking


You probably know where cannellini beans come from just by the name alone. That’s right, beautiful Italy, where locals use the beans in delicious pasta, salads, and more! However, we know you’ve come here to learn more about this bean and find the best cannellini beans substitute, and we’re here to deliver.

While you might feel a bit disappointed from a failed search for cannellini beans (trust us, we’d feel the same), that doesn’t mean you can’t go for a replacement.

Short Answer: 

The best substitutes for cannellini beans are red kidney beans, Great Northern beans, navy beans, and chickpeas, among others. 

Sure, some of these might not be the perfect substitutes for cannellini beans, but experiment a bit, and you can get a fantastic dish you’ll love!

Read on to learn more about what you can use to replace cannellini beans.

The 10 Best Substitutes For Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans are also called white kidney beans or Fagioli beans. These are creamy white, kidney-shaped beans from Argentina. Coming from the legume family, these beans are popular in Northern America and Tuscany.

These beans are larger than kidney beans, have a mild, nutty, and earthy flavor, and a fluffy texture when cooked. Even if it’s popular in Italy, cannellini beans are versatile! You can find it in numerous cuisines from all over the world, whether for soups, stews, bruschetta, bean salads, pasta, and more.

If you can’t find them in the supermarket or run out in the middle of a recipe, you can use any of these substitutes for cannellini beans:

1. Red Kidney Beans

Since cannellini beans are white kidney beans, it makes sense for the red version to be the perfect Cannellini beans substitute.

They taste almost like cannellini beans but with a dark red color, so if you don’t mind the difference in the dish’s colors, you’ll appreciate red kidney beans. These beans are very popular in Mexican cuisine, pairing best with spicy seasonings and chili.

Alternatively, you can try small pink beans. These are smaller and milder than red kidney beans but still, work as a substitute for cannellini beans. These beans are popular and used in the Western USA, particularly in Tex-Mex recipes with pinto beans.

2. Great Northern Kidney Beans

Great Northern kidney beans are another excellent substitute for cannellini beans, tasting mild, sweet, and delicate. These beans work best in stews that call for cannellini beans, but you can also use them in other recipes.

Great Northern beans appear almost identical to capellini beans and have a similar texture, so some of us can’t tell the difference! However, it has a distinct flavor, tasting a bit nuttier than cannellini beans. If the dish’s appearance and texture are essential aspects, we recommend going for this alternative.

3. Navy Beans

Navy beans are smaller than cannellini beans but taste very similar with a similar taste and texture. You can cook navy beans the same way and use the same amount.

Just note the smaller size, meaning that navy beans cook quicker. We recommend using navy beans in stir-fries, stews, or soups.

4. Chickpeas

These are also called garbanzo beans, a popular superfood you can find in major supermarkets worldwide. You can find them featured as a primary ingredient in various recipes, with a lovely nutty, earthy taste.

With chickpeas’ pleasant flavors, you can replace cannellini beans with this in any recipe, from salads to cooked dishes.

We love using chickpeas as a cannellini bean substitute because of the numerous health benefits. Again, it’s a superfood and one of the best non-meat sources of fiber and protein, suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

5. Butter Beans

Butter beans are large cream or white-colored beans with a rich butter flavor, hence the name. They don’t share the same shape as cannellini beans but make a great substitute, nonetheless. We recommend replacing cannellini beans with butter beans in salads, soups, stews, casseroles, chowders, mash, dips, and the like.

6. Fava Beans

Fava beans aren’t as popular as the other ingredients on our list, but they are just as tasty as cannellini beans. We recommend using this to replace cannellini beans for salads or stews. Note that fava beans taste stronger with a slightly sweeter or bitter taste, with some saying it tastes cheesy!

Before cooking fava beans, make sure you remove the skin before soaking, or it will compromise the flavor. Afterward, you can cook them as you would with cannellini beans and get a nutty flavor like white kidney beans.

7. Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are a fantastic cannellini beans substitute, tasting appetizing with spicy foods. You can easily guess where these beans come from and are prevalent in: Mexico, with tons of spice and seasoning! Mexican cuisine uses pinto beans in various dishes like burritos and chili.

However, pinto beans don’t appear similar to cannellini beans, having a darker color with spots. You’ll still enjoy the delectable flavors it offers, no matter the recipe you’re making! You can also prepare and cook pinto beans the way you would with cannellini beans, so it lessens any confusion on creating your dish with a different ingredient.

8. Black Beans

Black beans are just as popular as white kidney beans, but you can see they’re the exact opposite of one another from the name alone.

Black beans differ from white kidney beans, even in size, as the former is much smaller. One of the only things they have in common is their popularity, with black beans and cannellini beans considered the most common in North America.

Moreover, these two bean varieties also have a similar texture: Soft and sweet with slight earthy flavors. They also hold their shape excellently because of their quick cooking times.

From its looks to flavors, we can best use black beans as a last resort, especially in dishes that need to appear light or white. If you’re using it in Mexican recipes, then, by all means, go ahead!

9. Lentils

Wait, lentils? We know what you’re thinking – These are NOT suitable substitutes for cannellini beans!

Surprisingly, lentils taste similar to cannellini beans, not tasting as sweet and going well with savory recipes. However, note that lentils aren’t beans but part of pulses, a group of grains. Even then, lentils have similar nutrient profiles as other beans, with high fat and protein levels.

If you’re allergic to beans or don’t like their taste, you can try using lentils instead.

10. Flageolets

We won’t judge if you haven’t heard of Flageolets yet, but if you have, then they’re definitely worth trying. Think of these beans as the “caviar of beans,” having a subtle flavor with a mild, creamy texture.

That said, these beans are pretty rare and hard to find. If you’re lucky enough to come across them or have them in your fridge, test these beans and share what you think of their flavors with us.

Besides these ten cannellini beans substitutes, you can also use these when in a pinch:

  • Soybeans
  • Azuki beans
  • Baby lima beans
  • Borlotti beans

As you can see, most bean varieties work in place of cannellini beans.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you would like to delve deeper into cannellini beans and their alternatives, check out our frequently asked questions:

1. What’s the difference between dried and canned cannellini beans?

Any form of canned beans is pre-cooked, which dramatically lessens the preparation time from hours to mere minutes. Canned beans are also usually easier to find; supermarkets keep stock of them.

Dried beans would have more natural flavors, while canned versions are slightly saltier from the preservatives and any other seasoning added. There’s no better version of beans as it depends on your needs, but you can use them interchangeably with the proper ratios.

2. Do cannellini beans have health benefits?

Besides cannellini beans’ smooth taste and creamy texture, they are also nutritious! Cannellini beans are a great source of fiber, proteins, vitamin B6, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, and sodium. These beans also have a glycemic index score of 31, so they won’t affect your blood sugar levels too much. (*)

Wrapping It Up

If you have no cannellini beans, don’t let that stop you from creating a delicious dish! It would be best if you didn’t also try omitting it from your recipe either because there are numerous alternatives you can choose from. Whether you want Great Northern beans to soybeans, you can always try experimenting with your cooking skills and food substitutions.

We hope you found the best cannellini beans substitute from our list! If so, let us know what you thought of these alternatives and check out more of what we offer here at Nomspedia.

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