Breaking the Bean Barrier: Exploring Top Great Northern Bean Alternatives
Great Northern Beans are so great in chili or soup, but sometimes the grocery store is just out! What can you do when your great northern beans are gone?
So many soups, stews, and chilis use great northern beans for their mild flavor and texture. Their basic white bean texture makes dishes like bean soup unbeatable, so what can you do when great northern beans can’t be found? Fortunately, there are plenty of great choices out there to substitute for great northern beans.
What are Great Northern Beans?
Great northern beans are a common type of white bean. They are popular for their large size and mild flavor. The texture of cooked great northern beans is smooth and velvety. This bean can be found dried or cooked and canned in grocery stores almost everywhere and online.
Uses for Great Northern Beans
This large bean has a very basic bean flavor so it is used in a vast variety of dishes. These beans are served hot or cold and whole or mashed. There is no limit to the applications of great northern beans. Some very common dishes that use this bean are:
- Bean Stew
- Pork and Beans
- Three Bean Salad
- Pasta e Fagioli
Health Benefits of Great Northern Beans
Like all beans, great northern beans are packed with protein. Great northern beans are an excellent source of manganese. These beans also bring iron, magnesium, and more to benefit your nutrition. They make an excellent protein source for vegans and vegetarians.
How to Choose a Great Northern Beans Substitute
There are a few things to think about when choosing a substitute for great northern beans. Try to focus on these main areas:
- Color- is replicating the color of the beans important?
- Flavor- how close to the mild flavor of great northern beans is this substitute?
- Texture- is this substitute close to the creamy texture of great northern beans?
With these ideas in mind, you should be able to find an excellent substitute for great northern beans in any recipe.
The 6 Best Great Northern Beans Substitutes
|No.||Substitute Name||Good For Matching|
|1||Navy Beans||Color, Flavor, Texture|
|2||Cannellini Beans||Color, Flavor, Texture|
|4||Lima Beans “Butter Beans”||Color, Texture|
|5||Red Kidney Beans||Flavor|
1. Navy Beans
Despite their name, navy beans are a type of white bean that makes a great substitute for great northern beans. This variety of beans is smaller than the great northern bean but very similar in color. Their flavor is mild and nutty and their texture is smooth like great northern beans.
Navy beans are an excellent replacement to mimic the color of great northern beans. Navy beans have a very similar flavor and texture to the original and can be used as a 1:1 substitute for great northern beans in any recipe. The biggest difference between navy and great northern beans may be their size.
2. Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans are an excellent substitute for great northern beans in soups, stews, and more. They are a common form of white bean with a nutty flavor. Their texture is smooth and their size is very similar to that of the great northern beans.
Thanks to its proportions and velvety smooth flavor, the cannellini bean is the perfect choice to use in place of great northern beans in soups, chilis, and bean salads. Its appearance is so similar to that of the northern bean that people may mistake this substitute for the original.
3. Pinto Beans
This bespeckled bean can be an excellent substitute for great northern beans in many recipes. Pinto beans are a type of bean with light tan skin that is speckled with darker patches. Their flavor is nutty and sweet and their texture when cooked is nice and smooth.
Pinto beans may not look the same as great northern beans but they make up for it in flavor and texture. Their mild yet nutty flavor is a nice substitute for the flavor of great northern beans. If the color of the beans is not an issue for your recipe pinto beans make an excellent swap.
4. Lima Beans “Butter Beans”
Lima beans are a type of white bean that makes an excellent substitute for great northern beans. Lima beans, or as they’re sometimes called butter beans, have a unique flavor among white beans. They taste more vegetative than other beans, but their cooked texture is similar to other white beans.
Lima beans work well as a substitute for white beans in mixed bean dishes. Their flavor is fairly far from the great northern bean so they work best when they’re paired with other beans. Try this substitute in chili, three-bean salad, or multi-bean soup.
5. Red Kidney Beans
This common bean can be a suitable substitute for great northern beans in many recipes. Red kidney beans are a type of red bean that resembles the human kidney. They are very easy to find in stores. This swap is great for chilis and multiple-bean soups.
As the name indicates the red kidney bean has a much different color from the great northern bean, so if color is the main concern in your recipe this may be the wrong choice. They have a wonderfully mild and bean-like flavor that can be comparable to great northern beans. The exterior texture of the red kidney bean is more firm than the great northern bean but the inside gets nice and smooth when cooked.
Chickpeas are light-colored legumes that can be used as a substitute for great northern beans in salads and soups. Chickpeas are sometimes called garbanzo beans and they are legumes that grow on bushes. Their color is off-white to tan and their texture is very creamy and smooth.
The flavor of chickpeas is starchy and mild. They have nutty and earthy notes that might be a little bolder than great northern beans, but they are an all-around tasty substitute. It’s best to save this swap for salads and other dishes where the beans won’t be overworked because chickpeas get so soft they may break down a little in long stewing dishes.
Navy beans are a great choice for anyone in need of a great northern bean substitute. The flavor of navy beans is mild and very similar to that of the great northern bean. They have an excellent texture when cooked and their color is almost identical to that of great northern beans. Navy beans are easy to find and can be used in equal measure to great northern beans.
The one thing holding this bean back from being the perfect substitute for great northern beans is its size. The navy bean is much smaller than the great northern bean, so when considering the visual of the dish the navy beans don’t quite measure up.
The Best Overall Great Northern Beans Substitute
Thanks to their size, shape, color, and flavor cannellini beans are the best overall substitute for great northern beans. They look almost the same and their smooth bite is just like that of the great northern bean. The mild and nutty flavor of cannellini beans makes them a great choice for any white bean-forward dish.
Find this substitute in dried or canned format at any grocery store or online. They are inexpensive and can be used as an equal substitute for the great northern beans in any recipe.
6 Best Substitutes For Great Northern Beans
- Navy Beans
- Cannellini Beans
- Lima Beans “Butter Beans”
- Red Kidney Beans
- From the list of substitutes above, pick your favorite to use in its place.
- Use your imagination and be creative with these substitute recipes!