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The 5 Best Substitutes for Navy Beans

Are you looking for a tasty, versatile alternative to the more common pulses and grains?

Navy beans have been a savory addition to traditional dishes worldwide, providing a hearty base to plant-based meals.

From soups to salads and casseroles, navy beans can be boiled and mashed or used as is – making them an ideal accompaniment to any dish.

Do you know how to use navy beans in your cooking? And what are the five best substitutes for it? Read on for all the information you need about this unique legume.

What’s Navy Bean?

The navy bean, also known as the haricot or pea bean, is a small, white legume with a mild flavor and creamy texture.

Native to the Americas, this type of bean has been used in recipes for centuries and was historically an important source of protein for naval sailors.

It is probably best known for its starring roles in Boston baked beans and Senate Bean Soup.

The nutty taste complements savory dishes as well as subtle flavors like sage.

Because of their mild nature, these beans are really versatile in the kitchen and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways – from being mashed into dips to pureed into soups to being served as part of salads.

While navy beans will never replace chickpeas or black beans on those trendy superfood bowls, they can certainly help round out your next meal.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Navy Beans

If you are looking for an alternative to navy beans, there is a wide variety of options available.

Here are the five best substitutes for navy beans that can be used in any recipe:

1 – Great Northern Beans

Great Northern beans make a delicious addition to any meal.

Native to Central America, these small yet flavorful legumes are creamy in texture, providing a unique and hearty flavor.

Great Northern beans are often confused with navy beans due to their similarly-shaped appearance and mild flavor profile.

Although they can be cooked and consumed in the same way, Great Northern beans tend to have a slightly less dense texture and an earthy undertone that adds depth to many dishes.

For those looking for a basis of comparison, Great Northern beans cook quicker than navy beans, with almost the same amount of liquid and cook time.

Should you find yourself without navy beans but with an abundance of Great Northern beans on hand, substituting them should be easy — just adjust cook times appropriately.

2 – Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, are a type of Italian bean that is large and kidney-shaped.

They are creamy in texture with a nutty flavor and are often used in soups, salads, stews, and chili dishes.

In terms of taste and texture, they have an earthy feel to them, with slight hints of sweetness paired with a slightly firm bite.

This makes them ideal for combining herbs, vegetables, and other ingredients to create hearty meals.

To substitute cannellini beans for navy beans in a dish, start by completely smashing the beans, so they have a more luxuriously creamy consistency similar to that of navy beans.

Additionally, adding just an extra tablespoon of olive oil can help bring out the nuttiness further.

3 – Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are a popular and versatile option when it comes to legumes.

Not only are they well-suited for salads, soups, chili, and stews, but they also bring a rich and robust flavor to many recipes.

Their earthy taste makes them a great complement to dishes rich in herbs and spices.

Nutritionally speaking, kidney beans are high in fiber and protein, as well as iron and magnesium.

The saturated red color of the kidney bean creates visual interest in any type of meal you create with them.

They possess a solid texture that is both creamy and firm at the same time.

If you’re looking to substitute navy beans in your recipe but don’t have any on hand, kidney beans can be used to approximate the experience of naval beans – just up the amount slightly since they’ll soak up more liquid during cooking than navy beans do.

4 – Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are a great source of nutrition and make an excellent addition to any meal.

These kidney-shaped beans, which are native to Central and South America, boast an impressive array of vitamins and minerals such as dietary fiber, protein, and iron.

When it comes to taste and texture, pinto beans have a nutty flavor that is slightly sweet.

When cooked, the skin of the bean becomes softer while still maintaining a firm center.

Pinto beans are often used in dishes like refried beans and chili con carne, yet they can also be substituted for other types of legumes, such as navy beans.

All you need to do is add more liquid (like broth) when cooking pinto beans since they are larger than navy beans.

5 – Chickpeas

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have long been a staple in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking.

These legumes are high in dietary fiber, protein, and other vital nutrients such as iron, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium.

They have a soft, almost buttery texture and a sweet, nutty flavor that compliments both savory and sweet dishes.

Chickpeas can be added to soups and salads and even used to make hummus.

For those looking for an alternative to navy beans or another bean variety they may not always find in stores; chickpeas are an excellent replacement.

When cooked, they take on similar properties of the bean typically being replaced – making them a great substitute when it comes to creating veggie burgers or veggie chili.


In conclusion, navy beans are a great source of nutrition and are highly versatile when it comes to cooking.

However, if they’re not available in your area, there are plenty of delicious substitutes that can be used instead.

These include Great northern beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and chickpeas, all of which have unique flavor profiles and textures that will make your dish stand out.

Whichever bean you choose to substitute, it’s sure to be a delicious addition to your meal.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Navy Beans

The 5 Best Substitutes for Navy Beans
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Great Northern Beans
  • Cannellini Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Chickpeas


  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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