The BEST Substitutes for Cannellini Beans

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When you’re in the mood for one of your favorite recipes that has some creamy, hearty cannellini beans in it but don’t have any on hand. What do you do now?? Luckily, there are plenty of great substitutes for Cannellini Beans that will give your dish the same flavor and texture you’re after.

But before we dive into those easy-peasy alternatives, let’s make sure we understand what Cannellini beans taste like!

What Do Cannellini Beans Taste Like?

Cannellini beans are a type of white bean that is popular in Italian cuisine. They have a neutral, slightly nutty flavor and a creamy texture. Because of their mild flavor, they are often used as a base for soups and stews. They can also be puréed to make a dip or spread.

Cannellini beans are high in fiber and protein, making them a healthy addition to any diet. When cooking with cannellini beans, it is important to soak them overnight before using them. This helps to soften the beans and minimize cooking time.

Cannellini beans can be used in various ways, including simmering in broth, baking in a casserole, or Puréeing into a soup. They are downright tasty and versatile legumes!

Cannellini Beans Substitutes

Substitutes for Cannellini Beans

White Kidney Beans

White kidney beans, also known as cannellini beans. I have it here in the selection cause you might have a can or a bag that says white kidney beans and not know it’s the same thing! I know this has happened to me before when ingredients have multiple names. If you have this in your pantry, you have scored, my friend.

Great Northern Beans

Great northern beans are the closest substitute to cannellini beans in terms of taste and texture. They are also similar in size and shape. Great northern beans can be used in any dish that calls for cannellini beans since they have such a mild flavor. They are a good choice for recipes where you want the beans to hold their shapes, such as in a baked bean dish or soup.

Navy Beans

Navy beans are another type of white bean that can be used as a substitute for cannellini beans. Navy beans are often used in chili and European-style soups. They have a slightly different flavor but have a mildly nutty flavor, but they will still work well in most recipes. Navy beans are also smaller than our other option, great northern beans.

Calypso Beans

Calypso beans are a variety of kidney bean that is similar in size, shape, and texture to cannellini beans. Some have said they have a potato-like flavor, while some say it’s a cross between cannellini and black-eyed peas. They are quite unique in that they are speckled white and black. They would work great in your recipe and give you the flavor and texture you are looking for.


Flageolets are a type of small French green bean that is similar in size and shape to cannellini beans. They are picked before they are fully matured and dried out in the shade. This gives them their pale green color. When it comes to taste, they are delicate with a creamy texture and a little bit of cannellini or navy beans type flavor. Flageolets are often used in cassoulet, a traditional French stew made with pork, sausage, and duck confit. They are quite delicious!

Butter Beans

Butter beans are also known as lima beans. They are large, white, and have a smooth, creamy, or should I say buttery texture! It’s their texture that gives them their name. They are perfect for holding sauces and absorbing all the delicious flavors they’re cooked with. They are often used in soups and stews. While they have a different flavor than cannellini beans, they will still work well in most recipes!

Borlotti Beans

Fresh borlotti beans are such fun beans with their speckles of red and white. I remember picking them in my uncle’s garden. Even though they lose their colors when cooked, they have a similar creamy texture to their Italian cousin, cannellini. These beans are also known as Roman beans or cranberry beans.

Cannellini beans replacement inforgraph

Beans Not To Use As a Substitute for Cannellini Beans

The World wide web has some crazy suggestions for cannellini beans. You won’t find that here! I will only share subs that are genuinely good swaps. Things I would do in my kitchen if I were out. With that said, here are several beans that I wouldn’t use as replacements for Cannellini.

  • Black Beans – I love black beans, but they are not a good fit here. These beans have a mild flavor, but it is distinct, and the coloring will change your recipe.
  • Garbanzo Beans or Chickpeas – Even though I recommend cannellini as a replacement for chickpeas, they really don’t work the other way. They are a hard bean to find a match, too, and cannellini tends to complement a lot of beans and is extremely versatile in recipes.
  • Lentils – Lentils are a different kind of legume altogether and not a good fit for the application.
  • Pinto – Sure, you could swap cannellini out and use pinto beans, BUT it won’t be similar. Pinto beans have a different distinct earthy flavor compared to the more mildly nutty cannellini.

All beans are legumes, but not all beans are the same in texture, taste, size, and more. So, some will complement a dish or recipe better than others. Try your best to match the flavors of the original ingredient in your recipe, and you will be successful!

My Final Thoughts On Substitutes For Cannellini Beans

While cannellini beans are delicious and versatile, there are plenty of other types of beans that can be used as substitutes in your favorite recipes. Great northern beans, white kidney beans, calypso beans, and flageolets are all great options that will work well in place of cannellini beans. So next time you’re feeling Cannelli-less, don’t worry! There’s sure to be a bean out there that will fit the bill. Happy Cooking!

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