“Beans… beans… they’re good for your heart.” I’ll leave the song there.
It’s true; there are many benefits to eating beans. They are low in fat, high in fiber, iron, and zinc. They are also a great source of protein.
But what if you don’t have beans on hand or just don’t like them? What can you use instead of beans in cooking? You need some white bean substitutes.
Want to know the best white beans substitutes? We’ve got you covered whether you need to swap out cannellini, Great Northern, navy, or butter beans.
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
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White Bean Substitutes
There are four main varieties of white beans: Cannellini, Great Northern, navy, and baby lima beans. All four have excellent health benefits and are so similar that they make great swaps for one another. Canned beans come in various sizes, so try to match them up when possible.
The textures, sizes, and tastes vary slightly, and a switch won’t significantly impact the dish. You may even want to make swaps to try new ingredients.
Cannellini Bean Substitute
Cannellini beans are the largest of the white beans. Shaped in the standard bean form, they are firm and hold up well during cooking. This shape lends itself to use in soups, stews, and salads. They are popular in Italian cuisine.
You can substitute any white bean for cannellini beans.
Beans, not your thing? Try boiled potatoes, riced cauliflower, or mushrooms.
Great Northern Bean Substitute
Slightly smaller than the cannellini variety, Great northern beans are known for their mild, nutty flavor. They have a firm texture and are prevalent in French dishes. These medium-sized beans take on the taste of dishes.
Great Northern Bean substitutes include cannellini, navy, or baby lima beans.
Non-bean substitutes for Great Northerns include potatoes, cauliflower, pine nuts.
Navy Bean Substitute
Named after the military branch that used them often in the early 1900s, navy beans are mild and delicate. They are soft and easy to mash. You will often find them in Southern cooking.
The best navy bean substitutes are cannellini, baby lima, and Great Northern.
If you don’t want to use beans, try steamed cauliflower, boiled potato or sweet potato, squash, mushrooms.
Butter Bean Substitutes (Baby Lima Beans Substitutes)
These small starchy beans are ingredients in succotash, soups, and stews. They get their name from their creamy texture.
Cannellini beans and navy beans are excellent Butter bean substitutes.
You can also use peas, potatoes, squash, or cauliflower to substitute for baby lima beans.
White Bean Substitutes
- Cauliflower — Steamed cauliflower is an excellent substitute for white beans. Make sure it’s still firm enough to hold up to cooking again. If you want to amp up the flavor, roast the cauliflower.
- Potatoes — Boiled potatoes have a similar texture and also add some starchiness.
- Sweet Potatoes — Boiled or roasted sweet potatoes will change the taste of a dish, but you can balance it out by adding some more salty ingredients.
- Squash — Most varieties will do as white bean substitutes. The earthy flavor and creamy texture make them great swaps.
- Pine Nuts — Also known as pignoli nuts, these will be excellent cannellini bean substitutes or work for any white beans. Just expect a little more crunch.
- Peas —Starchy, a bit sweet, and similar in size, peas are an excellent substitute for white beans of any variety.
- Chickpeas — High in fiber and protein, chickpeas have a nutty flavor and creamy texture. They will be especially excellent butter bean substitutes.
- Mushrooms — Mushrooms have this umami flavor that lends itself to so many dishes. Try white buttons or cremini.
What Do You Think?
What’s your favorite of these white bean substitutes? What do you use in place of cannellini beans? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to hear!
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