The Best Butter Beans Substitute For That Same Creamy Texture In Your Dishes

Butter beans in cast iron skillet
Butter beans in cast iron skillet - Ilia Nesolenyi/Getty Images

A cheap can of butter beans has way more potential than its humble packaging suggests. The legumes are deliciously creamy, with a mild taste that holds just enough flavor to enhance all kinds of soups and stews. Butter beans are incredibly versatile, but cannellinis (another popular type of bean), can also deliver the same beloved creamy texture.

Butter beans are quite buttery, hence the name, with a luscious texture that's hard to replicate, but not impossible. Cannellini beans are known to be smooth and shaped similar to a kidney bean; they make every dish they encounter a bit heartier. The most noticeable difference between butter beans and cannellini beans is the taste: While butter beans are quite mild with a slight earthiness, cannellini beans are on the nutty side.

Flavor aside, both beans are almost identical in texture and are often used interchangeably. They both bring a creamy touch to salads and soups, and each variety takes the same amount of time to cook. Around 1 ½ to 2 hours is enough to boil the beans down into a luscious texture. Butter beans do have a little extra fat in them, which is good if you like to simmer them slowly for an extra creamy touch. You may need a splash of heavy cream or half and half when using cannellini beans. Another trick for cooking beans with the creamiest results is to cover them completely when cooking so the trapped steam can soften them.

Read more: 20 Popular Canned Soups, Ranked Worst To Best

Try These Other Creamy Butter Bean Substitutes

white bean salad
white bean salad - Fudio/Getty Images

Navy beans also make a pretty good alternative to butter beans. Despite their name, the legumes are white. Though they're a little smaller than butter beans, the two share a similar buttery, creamy taste and texture. They have a slight earthiness to them and make a great swap for butter beans in stews and soups. Thanks to their size, they only take around an hour to cook.

If you prefer butter beans for their size, then Great Northern beans are the perfect substitute for you. They're on the larger side, just like butter beans, with a delicate, creamy flavor that's suitable in many dishes. Great Northern beans can be pretty mild and nutty, so they're best when dressed up with a buttermilk dressing for a tangy, refreshing cold salad or covered in herbs and lemon zest as a delicious side to other potluck staples.

While they're not the same white color as the other examples, pinto beans share a similar flavor and texture to butter beans. With a soft, creamy texture, these speckled legumes are at the top of our list of canned beans you should keep in your pantry. Like butter beans, pintos have a delicate, earthy taste that works well in chili and other Tex-Mex dishes.

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