Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans or Italian white beans, are a beloved ingredient in many culinary traditions. Their mild flavor and creamy texture make them a versatile ingredient in a variety of dishes. Yet, there could be numerous reasons you might be seeking a substitute. Perhaps you’re cooking for someone with dietary restrictions, you’re trying to cater to specific flavor preferences, or simply, cannellini beans are unavailable at your local store. Two of the best substitutes are Great Northern Beans and Navy Beans, mainly due to their similar taste, texture, and nutritional value.

👅 Flavor Profile

Cannellini beans have a subtle, slightly nutty flavor with a rich, creamy texture when cooked. Their mild taste allows them to absorb flavors from other ingredients, making them versatile in various dishes. When cooked, they retain their shape quite well, which is ideal for salads and stews. When mashed, they make a great base for dips and spreads.

🔄 The Closest Replacements/Substitutes

Great Northern Beans

great northern beans as cannellini beans substitutes

Great Northern beans are a fantastic substitute for cannellini beans. They have a mild, nutty flavor and firm flesh that holds up well in cooking, much like cannellini beans. They’re an excellent option for stews, casseroles, and salads.

Taste and Texture Comparison: Great Northern beans have a similar taste and texture to cannellini beans, although they might be a tad grainier.

Nutritional Comparison: Great Northern beans are also rich in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, similar to cannellini beans.

Price and Availability Comparison: Great Northern beans are widely available and priced similarly to cannellini beans.

Navy Beans

Navy beans, also known as pea beans or haricot beans, offer a similar texture and flavor profile to cannellini beans, making them an excellent substitute. They have a delicate, slightly nutty flavor and a creamy texture that matches well with a variety of dishes.

Taste and Texture Comparison: Navy beans are slightly smaller than cannellini beans but share a similar mild, nutty flavor and a creamy texture.

Nutritional Comparison: Nutritionally, navy beans are rich in protein and fiber, just like cannellini beans, making them a healthy alternative.

Price and Availability Comparison: Navy beans are commonly found in grocery stores and are generally comparable in price to cannellini beans.

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans, named for their shape, are another good substitute. They are larger and have a darker color, but their hearty texture and full-bodied flavor can provide a similar feel in many recipes.

Taste and Texture Comparison: Kidney beans have a robust, hearty flavor and maintain their shape well during cooking. However, they are a bit firmer than cannellini beans.

Nutritional Comparison: Kidney beans are a good source of protein and fiber, making them a nutritionally sound substitute for cannellini beans.

Price and Availability Comparison: Kidney beans are widely available and affordably priced, much like cannellini beans.


chickpeas as cannellini beans substitutes

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas can be a great substitute for cannellini beans. While their flavor is more distinct, their firm texture and versatility make them a good alternative.

Taste and Texture Comparison: Chickpeas have a nuttier taste and firmer texture than cannellini beans, but they can be used in a similar way in many dishes.

Nutritional Comparison: Like cannellini beans, chickpeas are rich in protein and fiber, making them a nutritionally comparable substitute.

Price and Availability Comparison: Chickpeas are widely available in most grocery stores, often both dried and canned, and they are similarly priced to cannellini beans.

If you don’t have chickpeas you can use of this chickpeas substitutes

Butter Beans

Butter beans, also known as lima beans, have a creamy texture and buttery flavor that can replace cannellini beans in various recipes.

Taste and Texture Comparison: Butter beans offer a buttery, somewhat sweet flavor that differs from the mild taste of cannellini beans. They also have a creamier texture.

Nutritional Comparison: Nutritionally, butter beans provide a similar amount of protein and fiber.

Price and Availability Comparison: Butter beans can usually be found in the same locations as cannellini beans, either dried or canned, and their price is comparable.

🔪 How to Use Cannellini Beans Substitutes in Recipes

White Bean Soup

Many bean varieties, like navy or Great Northern beans, can be substituted in a classic white bean soup recipe to replicate the creaminess of cannellini beans. Red kidney beans would provide a color contrast but still lend a hearty texture and flavor.


In a chili recipe, pinto beans, black beans, or even a mix of both can stand in for cannellini beans. Each offers a unique flavor and texture, creating a depth and richness in your chili dish.


In cold salads, you can opt for substitutes like chickpeas, green lentils, or edamame. They hold their shape well and contribute a diverse flavor profile to the salad.

Pasta e Fagioli

This classic Italian dish usually includes cannellini beans, but Great Northern beans or borlotti beans can be substituted for a slightly different flavor and texture while maintaining the integrity of the dish.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell pepper recipes that call for cannellini beans can easily accommodate other beans like black beans, pinto beans, or even cooked lentils, creating a nutritious and hearty meal.

Baked Beans

For a homemade baked beans dish, consider substitutes like navy beans or pinto beans. Their starchy texture and ability to absorb flavors make them ideal in a rich, sweet, and tangy baked bean recipe.

💡 Tips and Guidance

  1. When substituting beans in recipes, pay attention to the cooking times. Different beans may require varying cooking times to achieve the desired texture.
  2. If you’re using canned beans as a substitute, be sure to rinse them thoroughly to remove any excess sodium.
  3. Bear in mind the size of the beans you’re substituting. Larger beans may have a more significant presence in the dish, while smaller ones might blend more seamlessly.
  4. If you’re using dried beans, remember that they need to be soaked prior to cooking. You can do a quick soak by boiling them for a few minutes and letting them sit for an hour, or do an overnight soak in cold water.
  5. Always taste as you go! Beans can have different flavor profiles, so you may need to adjust your seasonings accordingly.
  6. Some beans, like red kidney beans, contain toxins that are eliminated by boiling. Make sure to boil these beans vigorously for at least 10 minutes before lowering the heat to finish cooking.
  7. Beans are versatile and can be combined. Don’t hesitate to mix different types of beans if you’re short on a particular kind.

Now that you have these substitutes and tips at your disposal, you’ll be well-equipped to experiment and find the perfect balance of taste and texture in your recipes with cannellini beans substitutes. Happy cooking!

Alex Bayev Photo
About me:

Hi, I'm Alex. I love to cook and bake, and I'm always looking for new recipes to try. I started this blog — to collect and share most delicious and easy recipes in one place. I remember, how many questions recipes raised to me, when I started cooking. To make sure that doesn't happen to you, I take step-by-step photos of the cooking process for every recipe so you can see how all the steps are supposed to go together, even if you're not following my recipes exactly.

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