Are cannellini beans and butter beans the same?
These large white beans have a rich, creamy texture. They are available canned or dried - dried beans must be soaked and cooked before use. Cannellini or borlotti beans can be substituted for butter beans in many recipes.
Probably the most common canned white bean in the UK is the canellini bean (sometimes called white kidney beans in the US) and this would be a popular choice for most people. However you could use other beans and canned haricot beans would be a good alternative. In the US these are usually known as navy beans.
- Seventy-one percent say that they regularly buy cannellini beans, outstripping the next two most popular white beans: great Northern and navy. We've always appreciated the convenience of canned beans for use in quick recipes and for their ability to be pureed into perfectly creamy spreads.
- Bring the beans to a boil, then cover and simmer them gently for 20 to 30 minutes or until the beans are tender but not mushy. The cooking time will depend on the size and age of the beans. Smaller and newer beans will require a shorter cooking time, so check on them after 20 minutes.
- Coffee plants produce red cherries which contain two halves of a bean. The red cherries are harvested and the outer layer of the red cherry is removed leaving two halves or two whole beans.
Cannellini Beans. Cannellini beans are the largest of the group and because of their traditional kidney shape, they can also be referred to as White Kidney Beans. Meatier than Navy or Great Northern beans, they have a nutty, earthy flavor and tender flesh, and are often used in Italian dishes like Minestrone.
- It's a mid-sized bean, larger than the navy bean but smaller than cannelini or kidney beans. They can be canned, but it tends to make them soft. You're more likely to find them sold in dried form at your supermarket. Great Northern beans have a delicate flavor and a smooth, creamy texture when cooked.
- Red kidney beans are the most common kidney bean. These large beans have a dark red color, glossy skin and firm texture, making them suitable for soups, stews, chilis, and other dishes that cook for a long time. Also known as cannellini beans, white kidney beans are large, with a thin, white skin and a subtle flavor.
- A good substitute for navy beans would be a Great Northern bean. But any white bean which is 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length would probably due. I've even had good baked beans made from dried baby limas, which are a little bigger than that range.
Updated: 3rd December 2019