11 Best Cannellini Beans Substitutes

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It’s a cold evening, the perfect weather to have some soup or freshly made stew. Want to add some protein to your soup or stew? Well, there are beans to the rescue! What sort of beans would you prefer in your stew? I’m sure it must be cannellini beans because of their nutty flavor and tenderness.

Cannellini Beans in a bowl

Although, what to do when you’re all out of cannellini beans? Moreover, even your nearest store is all out of them! Well, there is no need to worry! You can use various substitutes that work perfectly well in stews, soups, salads, curries, and more!

What substitutes can you use in place of cannellini beans? Some of the best substitutes for cannellini beans are navy beans, butterbeans, fava beans, pinto beans, soybeans, and black-eyed peas. But, before I start listing out all the substitutes, let me tell you a little bit about cannellini beans.

Quick Peek: Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans

This section is cannellini beans 101. Read on to know more about the taste, flavor profile, and uses of cannellini beans!

What Are Cannellini Beans?

Cannellini beans, aka white kidney beans, are originally from Italy. They are creamy white in color, slightly kidney-shaped, and have squarish ends. When cooked, they are fluffy and have a slightly nutty and earthy flavor. 

Cannellini beans are predominantly used in Italian cuisine. They are meatier than Navy or Great Northern beans and have tender flesh. They retain their shape easily after cooking and hence are highly preferred in soups and salads.

Describing Cannellini Beans: Flavor and Texture

Cannellini beans are white and extremely earthy in flavor. Most people go for canned beans as they are pre-cooked. However, because of their size, cannellini beans take a sufficient amount of time to soak and cook.

Once cooked, they have tender flesh and are soft and chewy. They easily absorb the flavors of spices in your food while also retaining their own taste. They are meatier than other white beans.

Uses of Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans, being from Italy, were originally used to add to minestrone soup. However, now they have gained popularity almost everywhere globally and are used in various cuisines!

They are a great vegetarian and vegan option for protein. Any meal can be made meat-free by substituting the meat with cannellini beans. 

Moreover, cannellini beans are not limited to soups, stews, and salads. They can be used for various other recipes, like beans on toast, as a side, or even as a dip!

Cannellini Beans On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

 Cannellini beans are packed with protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They have very low sugar and fat content and are cholesterol-free! This makes them extremely good for your heart! Their skins are full of dietary fiber, which is good for digestion. They also are a great source of calcium. 

These beans are full of minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. Cannellini beans make for a great meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan diets. They have about 23.36 gm of protein per 100 gms. Moreover, cannellini beans are completely gluten-free. Hence, they work well for people with gluten intolerance. 

Now that you’ve got enough information on Cannellini beans let us dive into their substitutes!

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

11 Best Cannellini Beans Substitutes

Now that I’ve rambled enough about cannellini beans let me get to the substitutes! The best substitutes for cannellini beans are as follows

1. Great Northern Beans

Great Northern Beans

Cannellini beans are often confused with great northern beans because they both are creamy white in color. However, cannellini beans have a distinct kidney shape and are larger than great northern beans. 

Cannellini beans do hold their shape better than great northern beans, after being cooked. However, if cooked for the right amount of time, great northern beans also do hold their shape. 

Great northern beans can be a great substitute for cannellini beans for any recipe that particularly calls for white beans. They absorb all flavors easily and still retain their meaty texture. Here is the recipe for creamy white chicken chili for you.

2. Navy Beans

Navy Beans

Navy beans are one of the most popular white beans, besides cannellini beans. They have a meaty texture but are much smaller in size than cannellini beans. 

Navy beans retain an earthy taste after being cooked, but they may break down easily if overcooked because of their small size. Navy beans would be a great substitute for cannellini beans in recipes like dips and salads. 

They work well in soups and stews as well. However, make sure you don’t simmer them in the liquid for too long as that might break them down, and they’ll eventually turn creamy.

3. Butterbeans

Butter Beans

Butterbeans, also known as mini lima beans, are quite similar to lima beans. However, the one notable difference is that they are white in color, whereas lima beans are green.

Butterbeans would work as a great substitute for cannellini beans due to the fact that they retain their shape after being cooked. They are starchy and have a notable buttery and creamy taste.

They would work perfectly well in recipes like casseroles and stews due to their starch content. However, one thing to keep in mind is that they have a slightly gritty texture compared to the smooth cannellini beans.

But, despite their large size, they cook within 1 hour if they have been soaked well. Here is the recipe for three bean baked beans for you.

4. Red Kidney Beans

Red Kidney Beans

Red kidney beans and cannellini beans are completely interchangeable. Except for the color difference, they both have a nutty flavor with a slight touch of sweetness. Both have firm skin with a soft, fleshy interior. 

Red kidney beans are also packed with nutrition and antioxidants, just like cannellini beans. However, their antioxidant profile is slightly different from each other. 

Red kidney beans work really well in recipes that require a long amount of simmering, like soups and stews. They retain their shape easily, even if cooked for a long time. So, if color isn’t something you are worried about, red kidney beans would be the perfect substitute for cannellini beans. Here is the recipe for Mexican red bean salad for you.

5. Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans are more commonly known to the world as chickpeas. They are among the most commonly used beans in the world. They are known for their texture and are very easily available in the market.

Chickpeas are medium-sized round beans. They are known to be able to retain their texture, even after hours of cooking! They have a mild flavor and nuttiness similar to cannellini beans. 

They would work as a great substitute in recipes like bean dips. However, chickpeas do take a longer time to cook. That is one thing to keep in mind while using them as a substitute. Here is the recipe for Espinacas con Garbanzos for you.

6. Fava Beans

Fava Beans

Fava beans are full of protein and nutrients, just like cannellini beans. They are very low in fat and carry various minerals like copper, iron, and magnesium. They are also great for the immune system and bone health.

Fava beans are quite large, fairly dense, and meaty. They work as the best substitute for meat in vegetarian or vegan recipes. They have a slightly cheesy taste which adds a great flavor to any food. They are a wonderful substitute for cannellini beans in soups, stews, salads, or anything else!

7. Flageolet Beans

Flageolet Beans

Also called the ‘caviar of beans,’ flageolet beans are a slightly less popular variety of beans from France. They are used extensively, mostly in French cooking.

Flageolet beans are not extremely popular, especially outside of France. They have a creamy taste, much like cannellini beans, and they soak up other flavors easily. If available, flageolet beans would make a great substitute for cannellini beans in about every dish possible!

8. Adzuki Beans

Adzuki Beans

Adzuki beans or ‘red mung’ are extremely popular in Asia. These beans are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, just like cannellini beans.

They are very easily available in any Asian market due to their popularity in Asian food. They are usually used to make desserts in various Asian countries. 

However, now they have gained popularity in various savory dishes too. Moreover, Adzuki beans don’t need to be soaked or cooked for too long. Hence, they would make a great substitute for cannellini beans.

9. Black Beans

Black beans

Black beans are very different from cannellini beans, especially in terms of size and color. However, they are extremely popular and very readily available in any market.

These beans have a slightly sweet taste, which can be easily overridden with seasonings and spices. Due to their immense popularity and ready availability, they would make a great substitute for cannellini beans. 

If a color doesn’t bother you, black beans are best! They work really well when incorporated in salads, wraps, and chilies.

10. Borlotti Beans

Borlotti Beans

Borlotti beans are the prettiest-looking beans you’d ever find! They have a lovely speckled beige and pink color. They are sure to add some aesthetics to your food!

They are smaller in size and creamier than cannellini beans. However, they aren’t as firm as cannellini beans once cooked. Borlotti beans would make a great substitute for cannellini beans in cold pasta and salads. If cooked for an hour to two, they retain their shape perfectly!

11. Pinto Beans

Pinto beans

Pinto beans are darker in color than cannellini beans and are sometimes spotted. They will add a different aesthetic to your food!

Pinto beans are extremely popular in savory dishes and Mexican burritos. They can work as a great substitute for cannellini beans as they also retain shape once cooked and have a similar flavor profile.

Short Recap

That definitely was a lot of information on cannellini beans and their substitutes! However, at this point, I am sure you must be confused about which beans work best for your food. Let me break it down further for you.

Most Suitable: Butterbeans would be the most suitable substitute for cannellini beans due to their similar flavor profile and white color.

Easily Available: Black beans would be the most easily available substitute for cannellini beans.

Best Flavor Profile:  Red Kidney beans would be the best substitute for the flavor profile. Except for the color difference, these beans are almost the same as cannellini beans. 

How To Use Cannellini Beans Substitutes In A Recipe

Cannellini Beans in a bowl

Cannellini Beans Substitutes

Want to add some protein to your soup or stew? Cannellini beans are perfect for it because of their nutty flavor and tenderness. Although, what to do when you’re all out of cannellini beans? You can use various substitutes that work perfectly well in stews, soups, salads, curries, and more!
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  • Great Northern Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Butterbeans
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Fava Beans
  • Flageolet Beans
  • Adzuki Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Borlotti Beans
  • Pinto Beans


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
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Final Word

As we have come to the end of this article, I hope it has given you ample information about cannellini beans and their substitutes. Cannellini beans work best when used in cold pasta and soups, as per their Italian origin. However, they can be added to any and every dish as they act as a great meat substitute!

All the substitutes listed above are extremely worthy alternatives to cannellini beans. Choose your substitute as per what your recipe calls for, and I’m sure you’ll end up making a wonderful gastronomical delight!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Is there another name for Cannellini beans?

Yes, they are commonly referred to as White Kidney Beans.

Are cannellini beans the same as white beans?

  Cannellini beans are one of the various types of white beans

Which are the closest beans to cannellini beans?

Great Northern beans are the closest to cannellini beans.

Are white beans healthier than chickpeas?

  Although they are both healthy, chickpeas are 44 % higher in calories than chickpeas

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