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The 5 Best Substitutes for Butter Beans

The average American family eats 1,000 pounds of canned vegetables every year.

A good amount of these canned vegetables are butter beans.

These delicious beans are a great source of dietary fiber and protein.

The best part about these beans is how easy they are to prepare.

They do not require any boiling, soaking, or prepping before cooking, making them an ideal addition to any meal.

They can be paired with Italian dressing for a tangy taste, parmesan cheese for a salty flavor, or even salt and pepper for a simple side dish.

Butter beans can also be added to soup, casseroles, and salads.

That being said, these beans can be easily substituted to suit any palate.

In this article, we will look at five great alternatives for butter beans.

What are Butter Beans?

what are butter beans

First of all, it’s important to note that butter beans are also known as lima beans.

The beans are the plant’s seeds that are part of the legume family.

Butter beans originated in South America, but now they can be commonly found around different parts of the world.

In terms of flavor and texture, butter beans are starchy and soft.

They usually have a mild taste, and their skin is edible after boiling or steaming.

Butter beans can generally be cooked in various ways because they maintain their creamy consistency well.

The beans can be blended into dips and spread like hummus, used as ingredients in soups, casseroles, and baked dishes, or enjoyed whole in a salad.

They are most commonly served with rice, meat dishes, or sauteed vegetables.

In terms of nutritional value, butter beans are high in calcium and iron.

They contain many vitamins and minerals, which can have positive effects on your health when you eat them regularly in your meals.

For example, vitamin B1 in butter beans has been linked to better brain function.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Butter Beans

Here are the five best substitutions for those who cannot eat butter beans or are looking for different ways to use them in their meals.

1 – Navy Beans

navy beans

One of the most common substitutes for butter beans is having navy beans.

The flesh of the bean is soft and mild, making them a good replacement for other beans in dishes like chili or soups.

Navy beans originate from Northern Italy and the Mediterranean region.

It’s important to note that these beans are smaller than butter beans but should be easy to find at any grocery store.

They are full of protein and dietary fiber, which can be helpful for your digestive system.

You can use them in any dish where you would like butter beans to be added.

2 – Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

chickpeas garbanzo beans

Chickpeas are another great substitute for butter beans.

These can be used to make spreads, dips, and salads.

They are available at most grocery stores, but the best place to purchase them is from a health food store.

It’s critical to note that even though they are called garbanzos, these beans are more commonly known as chickpeas.

Chickpeas originated from the Middle East and India.

They can be purchased dried or canned.

If you want to try them fresh, you should buy them at a farmer’s market in the summer.

Chickpeas have a somewhat nutty flavor similar to butter beans, but the texture is slightly different.

This can be perfect for people who are not used to eating traditional butter beans.

3 – Cannellini Beans

cannellini beans

Cannellini beans are another popular substitute for butter beans.

These beans originated from Italy and France, but they can now be found in the United States.

They have white flesh inside, similar to butternut squash or coconut milk.

It’s crucial to note that these beans are large and should not be substituted if you look at a smaller bean.

In addition, they have a stronger flavor than butter beans and may be more intense in your dish.

Cannellini beans can make salads, soups, dips, and casseroles because of their soft consistency.

They also go well in stews and other meals because the beans hold their shape.

4 – Great Northern Beans

great northern beans

Another common substitute for butter beans is great northern beans.

These beans are small and round, with creamy white flesh inside.

They have an earthy flavor that can be substituted in many dishes.

It’s important to note that these beans originated from Northern Italy and were originally named after the city of Milan.

Great Northern beans can be found in many grocery stores and are available in canned and dried forms.

These beans are soft and hold their shape well.

There are tons of dishes where you can use great northern beans instead of butter beans.

They work best in recipes that call for a smaller, softer bean.

5 – Borlotti Beans

borlotti beans

Borlotti beans are another great substitute for butter beans.

They look similar to kidney beans but smaller and have a different flavor.

These beans originate from Italy and Southern France but can now be purchased in the United States.

It’s crucial to note that these beans should be purchased dried because canned versions will not be as good.

If you are buying them dried, make sure to buy them in bulk because they can go bad if not used within a few months of purchasing them.

These beans should be cooked at least 12 hours before using them for recipes.

Once cooked, their skin can be peeled off to reveal the white flesh inside, which has a nutty taste.

Borlotti beans can be used in many dishes and are a great substitute for butter beans.


Butter beans are a great addition to any dish.

However, they are not the healthiest beans on the market and may be difficult for some people to find.

Depending on the dish you are preparing, there are a lot of substitutes that can be used instead.

Chickpeas, cannellini beans, great northern beans, and borlotti beans are all good substitutes for butter beans if you want to reduce your cholesterol or cut down on fat.

So give these substitutes a try the next time you make a recipe that calls for butter beans.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Butter Beans

The 5 Best Substitutes for Butter Beans
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Navy Beans
  • Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
  • Cannellini Beans
  • Great Northern Beans
  • Borlotti Beans


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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