5 Best Substitutes For Cannellini Beans

Regarding the world of cooking, cannellini beans are among the most versatile. Despite this, there is no guarantee that you will always have access to it.

Cannellini beans may be called upon in a dish, but you don’t have any on hand, or maybe it is unavailable in your nearest grocery shop. Familiarize yourself with the most appropriate substitutes for each situation.

The best substitutes for cannellini beans are red kidney beans, great northern beans, fava beans, garbanzo beans, and Borlotti Beans.

This article will explore all these substitutes, so you can pick which is the best for your particular dish.


What Are Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, are a variety of white beans popular in Italian. They are harvested in Argentina and are one of the largest white beans, which are usually available in cans.

Cannellini beans are slightly kidney-shaped with squarish ends and are creamy white in color. They are similar to navy beans.

These beans have a nutty, mild flavor and fluffy texture when cooked. They are often used in Italian dishes like minestrone, ribollita, and salads.

Substitutes For Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans’ size, mouthfeel, and flavor should all be considered when substituting them in a recipe that calls for it.

All of these factors are important, even if they don’t apply to every dish, a thorough understanding of the various bean substitutes will help you select the best one for the given situation.

Each of our top picks for cannellini bean substitutes will be detailed below. In addition, we’ll provide an overview of the most popular dishes using each bean type.

1. Fava Beans

fava beans

Fava beans, also known as broad beans, have a distinct flavor. While they taste like white kidney beans, they have a more robust flavor than other beans.

They have a buttery, nutty taste with a light bitterness flavor, and many people have said they taste like cheese.

Their distinct flavor sets them apart from almost any other type of bean. In some dishes, however, they may be a suitable substitute for cannellini beans if you prefer the flavor of these beans.

If you’re looking for a main filling dish that’s vegan or vegetarian, broad beans are a good choice. You can use them in various dishes, including salads and soups.

Compared to cannellini beans, cooking dried broad beans takes a lot longer. After peeling off the tough and bitter outer skin of broad beans, they can be eaten. Preparation is as simple as parboiling them for about an hour, then washing and flushing them.

Please ensure the beans are ripe enough to eat before removing them from the pod shell.

2. Great Northern Beans

great northern beans

Cannellini beans and Great Northern beans are often mistaken for each other. White kidney beans are noticeably larger than their northern counterparts. To the untrained eye, they appear to be nearly identical because of their kidney-shaped contours.

Please take note of a few notable deviations, namely the difference in group composition.

  • White kidney beans have a much longer shelf life than Great Northern beans because they are more resilient.
  • The texture of Cannellini beans is smoother and creamier, whereas the texture of Great Northern beans is more fibrous and rough. Beans from the Great Northern region soften quickly.
  • The flesh of the great northern bean is tougher than that of a cannellini bean, so you will have to increase the cooking time slightly when using them as a substitute.

Because of Great Northern beans’ firm flesh can hold their shape well during cooking, making them a perfect choice for slow-cooked dishes like stews and soups.

Their preparation time ranges from 45 to 60 minutes; overcooking will result in a mushy texture.

They work best as a substitute for cannellini beans when the dish’s appearance is critical, when obtaining a white bean is essential, and when it will not be overcooked to a great extent.

3. Garbanzo Beans

garbanzo beans

Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, can be used in recipes that call for cannellini beans as a succulent ingredient.

Chickpeas are best known for their role in hummus. They are a great substitute for bean dips in recipes. In terms of flavor, they have a nutty flavor that is similar to white kidney beans, which makes them an excellent substitute.

Garbanzo beans are a great source of protein and fiber, making them a great option for vegetarians and vegans.

They retain their firm texture even after hours of cooking because of their high density.

Even so, chickpeas take the longest to cook, despite their accessibility and ease of purchase. They need to be boiled for at least two hours in most cases before they’re ready to eat.

4. Red Kidney Beans (Adzuki Beans)

red kidney beans

Red kidney beans are said to be the best substitute for cannellini beans. They are easy to find, you can find them in any nearby supermarket.

Red kidney beans are just as nutritious as cannellini beans. Both of these beans have the same mild, nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness, but many believe red kidney beans have a more pronounced flavor.

However, as long as the color of the beans is ignored, cannellini beans and red kidney beans can be used interchangeably. Their size and proportions are similar to that of a large bean.

Red kidney beans are great for meals that involve simmering, like stews and soups, because of their tough skin that covers a meaty interior. After being soaked for at least 6 hours before simmering, they take about 1 hour to cook.

5. Borlotti Beans

borlotti beans

It’s hard to find beans more colorful and prettier than Borlotti beans out there, this hearty ingredient comes in a gorgeous shade of beige and pink. They’re from the kidney bean family and are commonly referred to as Cranberry beans or Roman beans.

Borlotti beans have a rich creaminess similar to cannellini beans but not quite firm and large as the cannellini beans.

There’s a hint of nutty sweetness to this bean and a smooth texture, making it a bean that works well cold, hot, at room temperature, and in a bean salad or cold pasta dishes, making them a great substitute in this situation.

Borlotti bean is slightly more expensive than many other beans, but it is easy to use and simple to prepare.

You can cook them in about an hour; they are medium-sized beans that maintain their shape very well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are pinto beans and cannellini beans interchangeable?

Cannellini beans, also known as white beans, originate in Italy, whereas pinto beans originate in Mexico. Their nutritional value, flavor, cooking time, and role in various recipes differ. They differ from regular beans in some ways, but they also have some similarities.


We’ve talked about quick and easy substitutes for cannellini beans already. Replacements that are nearly identical to the original in flavor and texture can be found. While some are similar in taste and texture, others are not.

If you don’t have any cannellini on hand, you can use any of the other beans listed here in its place and still get great results.