Great Northern Beans

Best Navy Bean Substitute – Handy for Your Kitchen

Use any beans you like or can afford in recipes that ask for navy beans. Try cannellini, black beans, kidney beans, Great northern beans, lima beans, pinto beans, and more. Also, you can use lentils, chickpeas, green peas, fava beans, and pigeon peas as alternatives. They’re all types of legumes from the bean and pea family.

What is Navy Bean?

Navy beans are small, white beans with a mild and creamy texture. They’re also called haricot beans or Boston beans. These beans come from the Americas and have been used in recipes for a long time, especially by sailors who needed protein. They’re smaller and a bit flat compared to other white beans, and they can be creamy white. Navy beans taste neutral but have a sweet and nutty hint. They’re famous for dishes like Boston baked beans and Senate Bean Soup. Their mild taste goes well with savory dishes and flavors like sage. You can use them in many ways in the kitchen, like making dips, soups, or salads.

Health Benefits and Uses of Navy Beans

Navy beans are good for you and have lots of protein and nutrients. They’re full of stuff like potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, folate, and iron. These beans help with digestion because they have a lot of fiber, which is good for your tummy. They taste mild, feel creamy, and have a hint of nutty flavor. They’re white and look good in lots of different foods.

In a 100g serving, they have 67 calories, 6g protein, and hardly any fat. You can buy them dried or in cans. People use them a lot in American recipes, like in dishes and desserts like bean pudding.

Substitutes for Navy Beans that are Great in Taste

When looking for a replacement for navy beans, seek for a similar taste, texture, and size to ensure a seamless substitution in your recipe.

Great Northern Beans

Great Northern Beans

Great Northern beans offer a range of health benefits with high protein, minerals, and vitamins. Originating from Central America, these creamy-textured beans add a distinct and hearty flavor to meals. Often mistaken for navy beans due to their similar appearance and mild taste, Great Northern beans are slightly larger than navy beans but smaller than cannellini beans. They have a creamier color and nearly identical flavor and nutritional content. While they can be cooked similarly, Great Northern beans have a slightly less dense texture and an earthy undertone that enhances various dishes. Notably, they cook faster than navy beans but require similar liquid and cooking time.

Cannellini Beans as Navy Bean Substitute

Cannellini Beans as Navy Bean Substitute
white kidney beans as Navy Bean Substitute

Cannellini beans, also called white kidney beans, are large and kidney-shaped, distinguishing them from other white bean types. They offer a hearty and somewhat meaty flavor, like navy beans, with an earthy undertone.

These beans have an earthy taste with a touch of sweetness and a slightly firm texture. They’re perfect for creating satisfying meals by mixing them with herbs and veggies. When substituting them for navy beans, mash them to achieve a creamy consistency similar to navy beans. Adding an extra tablespoon of olive oil can enhance their nutty taste.

Black Beans

Black beans are a good swap for navy beans because they’re almost the same size, like a pea. But they look different: black beans are black outside and white inside, while navy beans are white all over. Black beans are creamy and a bit sweet, great for dishes like chili, soups, stews, and salads.

Red Kidney Beans

Red Kidney Beans

Red kidney beans, or red cannellini beans, look almost the same as cannellini beans, but they’re a purplish-red color with a small white dot inside. They have a strong nuttier flavor compared to cannellini beans. While white kidney beans might be a closer match, red kidney beans can still be a good navy bean substitute.

Apart from taste, the main differences between these beans are their availability and price. Red kidney beans are more commonly found worldwide and often more budget-friendly.

Flageolet Beans

Flageolet Beans

Flageolet beans are much like navy beans. They’re used in soups and casseroles, similar in taste, size, color, and how long they take to cook. They’re also high in potassium and can replace haricot beans in recipes. Just remember, their taste might be a little different. Cooking them usually takes about the same time as navy beans, roughly 60-180 minutes.

Tepary Beans

Tepary beans come from the American Southwest and are known as an ancient superfood. Even though they are black, they make a good substitute for white navy beans due to their similar flavor and texture. There are white varieties available, and they’re easy to find. These beans have a slightly nutty and sweet taste.

You can also find them in flour form, which is a good alternative for flour-based recipes using navy beans. The main issue is their slight taste difference, but they’re just as nutritious as navy beans and rich in calcium.

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans

Pinto beans, native to Central and South America, are full of nutrients like fiber, protein, and iron. They’re kidney-shaped and offer a slightly sweet, nutty taste.

As a substitute for navy beans, pinto beans excel in flavor and texture, becoming much creamier when cooked. Their distinctive feature is their reddish-brown mottled skin. These beans are commonly used in dishes like refried beans and chili con carne and can replace other legumes like navy beans in recipes.

When cooking pinto beans, remember to add extra liquid, such as broth, because they’re larger than navy beans.

Fava Beans

Fava Beans
Navy bean substitute – Fava Beans

Fava beans, popular in Middle Eastern dishes, have a sweet, nutty taste. They’re versatile and can replace navy beans in recipes. Some find them slightly bitter with a hint of cheese in taste. Interestingly, you can eat young fava beans raw, which is unusual for most legumes.

Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas, despite the name, are a type of beans and a great alternative to navy beans. Popular in Caribbean cuisine, they have a delicious nutty taste, not as sweet as green peas but with a hint of sweetness. They are starchy like beans. If you can find them, they work well in any recipe that calls for navy beans.

Mayocoba Beans

Mayocoba beans, also known as Mexican yellow beans, are medium-sized and have a pale yellow or ivory color. They look like mustard seeds when uncooked. Originally from Peru, they are also called Canario or Peruano.



Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. They’re rich in fiber, protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium. These beans have a soft, buttery texture and a sweet, nutty taste, perfect for savory and sweet dishes. They’re great in soups, salads, and for making hummus. When cooked, they’re like the beans they replace, which is handy for making dishes like veggie burgers or chili.

See Also – Top Substitutes for Daikon Radish in Your Dishes

There are numerous substitutes for navy beans, including Great Northern beans, cannellini beans, black beans, chickpeas, and more, each offering diverse flavors and textures. These alternatives bring different tastes and textures to your dishes, catering to various preferences.

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