The Best Borlotti Bean Substitutes (Cranberry Beans or Roman Beans)

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Ever been to the store, looking for Borlotti beans, only to find that they’re sold out ? Or maybe they didn’t even carry them? So, now you’ve got a recipe that calls for Borlotti beans, but you can’t find them anywhere. Been there! If you find yourself in either of these situations, don’t worry—there are plenty of Borlotti bean substitutes. Here are some of the best substitutes for Borlotti beans.

Borlotti Bean Substitutes

What Are Borlotti Beans?

Native to Italy, Borlotti beans are a type of legume that is popular in many Mediterranean dishes. Borlotti beans are also known as Cranberry beans and even Roman beans.

Since they are native to Italy, they are quite popular in Italian cuisine. Being Italian myself, we have had many family members grow borlotti beans in their gardens.

The beans are medium size and kidney-shaped, but they have a speckled pinkish-brown skin. They are quite cute when it comes to beans. Borlotti beans can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, and salads. They can also be baked and served as a side dish.

In addition to their culinary uses, Borlotti beans are also known for their high nutritional content. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and B vitamins (source). Good for you and tasty! win-win!

What Do Borlotti Beans Taste Like?

When cooked, Borlotti beans have a creamy texture and a nutty, earthy flavor. They are often used in soups and stews, or simply boiled and served with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Borlotti beans are an excellent source of fiber and protein, making them a healthy addition to any diet.

Key Attributes About Borlotti Beans:

  • Medium in size
  • Oval kidney-like shaped
  • Cream colored but speckled with red
  • A creamy rich texture

Substitutes for Borlotti Beans

When substituting beans it’s important to understand that each bean has a different cook time when starting with dry beans.

If you presoak your beans this will lead to a much quicker cooking time and a bean that is easier to digest. If you are using a canned beans you will not have to worry about this.

Pink Beans

With their creamy texture and nutty flavor, pink beans make an excellent substitute for Borlotti beans.

Pink beans have a nice meaty texture and are often used in Latin American cuisine, so if your recipe has a Latin flair, pink beans are a great option to use. Just be sure to cook them thoroughly since they are in the kidney bean family—undercooked pink beans can have a somewhat unpleasant taste and not make you feel well.

This also applies to red beans and many others. (source) Just cook them well and enjoy!

Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans with spinach & sundried tomatoes

Cannellini beans are a type of white kidney bean that is often used in Italian cooking.

They have a mild, buttery flavor and a creamy texture that make them a versatile ingredient in a variety of dishes. Since borlotti beans are another type of kidney bean that is also commonly used in Italian cuisine.

This is a good match or should I say swap. It’s also a great swap for butter beans.

If using dry beans..borlotti beans will take longer to cook than cannellini beans, so be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Second, borlotti beans will absorb more water than cannellini beans, so you may need to adjust water as well.

The great thing about Cannellini beans is that you can easily find them canned in the grocery aisle.

Red Beans

Like pink beans, red beans have a creamy texture and nutty flavor. They’re also a good choice for Latin-inspired dishes. However, red beans take longer to cook than Borlotti beans, so be sure to plan accordingly if you are using dried beans.

Red beans are a type of kidney bean that can be used as a substitute for borlotti beans in many recipes. Both red beans and borlotti beans are large, dark red beans with a slightly nutty flavor. However, red beans are slightly sweeter and softer than borlotti beans. When cooked, they turn a rich, deep red color.

Red beans can be used in any recipe that calls for borlotti beans, such as soups, stews, and pasta dishes. They are also a good choice for making chili or baked beans. If you cannot find red beans, you can also use kidney beans or black beans as substitutes. Just be aware that these types of beans will change the flavor and color of your dish.

Pinto Beans

two cans of pinto beans on bean lot

Pinto beans are a common type of bean that is often used in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. They are named for their distinctive mottled brown and white coloration, which resembles a pinto horse. Pinto beans can be used as a substitute for borlotti beans in many recipes.

Both beans have a similar mild flavor, although pinto beans are slightly sweeter. In addition, both types of beans can be used interchangeably in dishes such as chili and refried beans.

When substituting pinto beans for borlotti beans, it is important to cook the beans until they are soft. This will help to ensure that the finished dish has the desired texture. With a little creativity, pinto beans can be used in a variety of delicious recipes.

Tongues of Fire Beans

Tongues of Fire beans is a type of borlotti bean. In Italy it is known as Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco. Which when translated is tongue of fire. They speckled with red spots. But once cooked they disappear. These beans have a creamy but meaty texture. It tends to have a hint of sweetness and a nutty flavor. Which makes one of closest alternatives to borlotti beans. But Tongues of fire isn’t the easiest bean to find.

Anasazi Beans 

Anasazi beans, are type of small, reddish-brown speckled bean that is popular in Southwestern cuisine. They have a hearty, nutty flavor, with sweet earthy undertones. They can be used as a substitute for borlotti beans in many recipes.

Anasazi beans can be purchased dried or canned and are often used in soups, stews, and chili. They can also be cooked and served as a side dish or used in salads.

Many people use them as a replacement for pinto beans in refried beans. A big plus about using these is they also contain 75% less of the gas-causing carbohydrates compared to pinto beans. (source)

Substitutes for Borlotti Beans infographic

Bad Borlotti Bean Substitutes

Not all beans are created equal. These are two bean substitutes that I don’t recommend for Borlotti beans.

Black Beans

Black beans have a distinctively earthy flavor that is not a good match for Borlotti beans. In addition, black beans will take longer to cook than Borlotti beans. As a result, they are not a good choice for recipes where the cooking time is crucial.

Garbanzo Beans or Chickpeas

a bowl filled with chickpeas sitting on top of a table

Chickpeas have a completely different flavor and texture than Borlotti beans. They are much drier and have a nutty flavor that is not suitable for all recipes.

In addition, they will take longer to cook than Borlotti beans. For these reasons, I do not recommend using chickpeas as a substitute for Borlotti beans.

Final Thoughts On Borlotti Bean Alternatives

There you have it—six of the best substitutes for Borlotti beans and two that I would avoid. So next time you’re looking for Borlotti beans and can’t find them, don’t despair—one of these substitutes will likely do the trick.

And remember to always look in the canned bean section. It’s always a great plan to stock up on some various beans. That way no matter the recipe you will have something that works.

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