11 Best Substitutes for Cannellini Beans

An important ingredient to American, African, and European cuisines, the cannellini bean is a staple in many households. However, you might wake up to a pantry that is missing these versatile, and delicious beans. 

But there is no need to panic if this ever happens to you. You can easily find some substitutes for cannellini beans in your pantry as we speak!

Replacing cannellini beans without compromising on taste is easier than you think. It is possible to replicate the creamy texture and nutty flavor of Cannellini beans with other alternatives.

This is not to say that it will be simple but it’s possible. Read on to find out about the various alternatives you can use to substitute cannellini beans.


11 Best Substitutes for Cannellini Beans

Even if you aren’t an expert chef, putting a lot of effort into your meal, only to have it taste slightly off can be disheartening. This is why we have taken into account bean size, texture, flavor, and cooking time while considering alternatives for cannellini beans.

This not only gives you more options, but you also have more room to experiment and improvise!

1. Great Northern Beans

Arguably the best substitute, great northern beans are almost identical to cannellini beans in terms of looks. 

Upon close inspection, you are bound to find a few differences. 

Despite the kidney shape, great northern beans are smaller than cannellini beans. They have a thicker skin and a milder flavor compared to the latter. Great northern beans are softer when cooked, and even taste sweeter. It might feel like it possesses the same nuttiness as cannellini beans. Trust me, you’ll never taste beans like these. 

They don’t add much in the taste department, giving the dish the texture of beans without changing the overall flavor. Instead, they take on the dominant flavor of the dish. Cooking them for 45 – 60 mins is ideal.

How to Substitute:

You can substitute one cup of cannellini beans for one cup of great northern beans. However, you might need to increase the cooking time, owing to their thicker skins.

2. Navy Beans

Navy Beans can seem like they are practically interchangeable with cannellini beans. But just like great northern beans, you will find differences that might throw off your dish. 

Navy beans are mildly flavored with a creamy texture, having denser flesh and thicker skins. They are much smaller than cannellini beans, which means it can be tricky to put them in recipes where you need the cannellini to stand out.

Also Read:  3 Best Substitutes for Lupini Beans

Ideally, navy beans are perfect for soups and dips when pureed. They lose their shape easily and are the smallest white beans on the market. 

How to Substitute:

Navy beans need 1½ – 2 hours of simmering or boiling, even after soaking overnight. You can use one cup of navy beans to replace one cup of cannellini beans. 

3. Red Kidney Beans

Being identical to how cannellini beans are supposed to be cooked, many claim red kidney beans to be their favorite alternative to cannellini beans. 

Red kidney beans are similar in size and shape, with meaty flesh inside which is perfect for soups and other dishes that need simmering.

But if you’re looking to make a dish where you’d taste the beans outright, red kidney beans might not be the best substitute for you. They don’t readily absorb the other flavors of the dish easily and are not as creamy as cannellini beans. 

Red kidney beans have an almost meaty taste, their earthy flavor makes them distinct from other beans on this list. If you’re making a dish where color isn’t a factor, try using red kidney beans. 

How to Substitute:

Since red kidney beans cook the same way as cannellini beans, directly substituting them should pose no problems. One cup of red kidney beans for one cup of cannellini beans.

4. Butter Beans

As the name would suggest, butterbeans get their name from their buttery flavor and texture when fully cooked. 

They might not add a lot of flavor, but the creamy and buttery texture is alluring enough for most people. Butterbeans are comparatively more starchy as well.

Growing up to the same size (if not larger) as cannellini beans, butterbeans have a hard time retaining their form. They make excellent additions to dips after they’re pureed.

How to Substitute:

Butterbeans might be larger in size sometimes, but they cook in 60 minutes after thorough soaking. One cup of butterbeans is equivalent to one cup of cannellini beans. 

5. Flageolets

If you’re a resident of France, this pick must have come as no surprise to you. 

Their flavor profile is much like that of cannellini beans, mild and creamy, with the added benefit of agreeing with the other flavors easily. They have a more subtle taste, and the avid chefs who know about these beans hold them in high regard.

The drawback? Flageolets aren’t cultivated as readily outside Europe. So although it might sound like a dream substitute for cannellini beans, don’t burn a hole in your pocket just to get them!

Also Read:  11 Best Substitutes For Great Northern Beans

How to Substitute:

Flageolets don’t lose form all that easily and cook at the same time as cannellini beans. One cup of flageolets for one cup of cannellini.

6. Pinto Beans

A crucial part of many Mexican dishes, pinto beans might sound like an unlikely choice in terms of cannellini substitutes.

But when you consider how pinto beans have the same creamy texture, with a buttery flavor profile, they rightfully deserve a spot on my list.

They can change your dish visually, owing to its colors. But they can be a perfect replacement for cannellini beans in spicy and fried dishes, such as burritos, chili, refried beans, etc.

How to Substitute:

Pinto beans need less time than cannellini beans to fully cook. After soaking them overnight, cook the pinto beans for 40-50 mins. for the best experience. One cup of pinto beans is equivalent to one cup of cannellini beans.

7. Chickpeas

Referred to as garbanzo beans in many parts of the world, chickpeas are incredibly versatile, finding their place in salads, hummus, burgers, curries, etc. 

Although seen as a last resort if you can’t find any of the other ingredients on this list, this does not stop chickpeas from being tasty and incredibly nutritious.

Chickpeas have a different shape and a neutral flavor profile than cannellini beans but act as a good alternative in dishes where they will be broken down through simmering. They are round and maintain their form even after extensive cooking.

For the ideal taste, soak them and remove the skin by rubbing them between your fingers.

How to Substitute:

Soak the chickpeas overnight and simmer them for at least 2 hours. One cup of chickpeas can be used to replace one cup of cannellini beans. 

8. Fava Beans

Sometimes referred to as “broad beans”, fava beans are another bean with a distinct flavor on this list that can be used as cannellini beans substitute.

And with people describing it to be either bitter, sweet, and even “cheesy”, you can see why that is the case.

They’re a great substitute for when you want to replace the mild-tasting cannellini flavor with something more intense. They are simple to make and incorporate into soups and stews. They are fairly large and meaty but are a little more time-consuming to cook. 

How to Substitute:

One cup of fava beans is the same as one cup of cannellini beans. Regardless of how you prepare fava beans, it is always important to get rid of the skin. Cook them halfway (1 hour), rinse, and use your fingers to pop out the beans.

Also Read:  10 Best Acini de pepe substitute

Don’t have Fava Beans? Read out substitutes for fava beans here.

9. Black Beans

Depending on your country of residence, black beans must be the most commonly encountered bean in your daily life. 

With that said, black beans aren’t the ideal option as a replacement for cannellini beans.

They are small, black, and taste relatively sweeter than cannellini beans. Black beans are soft and fluffy and don’t even need to be soaked in order to cook them fully. 

If you’re in a pinch, simply puree your black beans and counteract the sweetness with salt and spices. The result will be almost indistinguishable. You can use this method to make salads, stews, dips, and so on.

How to Substitute:

Black beans cook easily compared to cannellini beans. You only need ½ hour to 45 mins. for the beans to cook fully, even without soaking. A cup of black beans can replace a cup of cannellini beans.

Out of black beans? Check out substitutes for black beans.

10. Black-eyed Pea

A popular choice in southern states, the black-eyed pea has been an excellent companion for meat-heavy dishes.

They share the same creamy consistency as cannellini beans, with similar earthy flavors. Their dense consistency lends itself to being a delicious component of many soups, salads, curries, stews, etc. 

Popularly referred to as “cowpea”, you can definitely use them as a substitute for cannellini beans.

How to Substitute:

One cup of black-eyed peas for one cup of cannellini beans. Simmer for 45 mins. to 1 hour after soaking them in water overnight. 

11. Borlotti Beans

Finally, we have the Borlotti beans. 

These are versatile legumes that have a rich and creamy texture, perfect for emulating cannellini beans. Like black beans, they have a mild sweetness to them. 

Borlotti beans are perfect companions to the main dish or just a stir fry bowl meal. They hold their shape well, and are practically impossible to overcook!

How to Substitute:

One cup of Borlotti beans is equal to one cup of cannellini beans. You can choose to soak Borlotti beans overnight if you don’t have a pressure cooker.

Don’t have Borlotti? Check out the substitutes for Borlotti beans.

If you find yourself missing an ingredient or two for a recipe you found online, don’t panic, take a step back, and just improvise.  All the beans here in this list are incredibly delicious and work just as well as a substitute for cannellini beans.

Let us know your favorite!

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