Are you someone who loves creamy soups? Then you must have tried butter beans. It is also known as lima beans or sieva beans and is a staple in South American delicacies. So today, let’s talk about butter bean substitutes.

Butter beans are something we all stock up during our pantry shopping. However, we cannot escape the situation where we run out of it. In such cases, having a butter bean substitute is a boon.

Well, if we are out of butter beans, what else could fit in its place? Cannellini beans, borlotti beans, great northern beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and red kidney beans are some of the best butter bean substitutes.

Before discussing butter bean substitutes, let’s understand the butter bean itself. It is a common ingredient. However, if you haven’t used butter beans yet, this section will give you enough information about them.

Quick Peek: Butter Beans

Butter Beans

Butter beans are extremely rich and can be used in various ways. This section has all the information on butter beans. You will know the bean’s flavor and texture profile, uses, and nutritional benefits. 

What Are Butter Beans?

Butter beans are commonly called lima beans. Most people think these two are different items. However, these two are different names for the same things. Other than that, butter beans are also called as 

Butter beans are beans of a plant called Phaseolus lunatus plant. These beans are a staple in South American dishes. It is used fresh, dried, or frozen and is available throughout the year.

 Depending on their place of cultivation, butter beans change their name. Therefore when you hear Madagascar beans, Gigante beans, or Chad beans, remember they are all just different names for butter beans.

Describing Butter Beans: Flavor And Texture

As their name suggests, butter beans have a bean-like shape and white color. It has a nutty flavor. It has a rough texture when raw; however, once boiled, it gains a smooth, creamy, velvety texture that thickens up the dish.

It can be added to soups or broth to increase the thickness of the dish. When it is added to a dish, it absorbs the flavor of the dish. 

Uses Of Butter Beans

Butter beans are extremely flavorful and can be used in various ways. It can be added to stews, pasta, or soups. It is also the main ingredient in dishes like ceviche and succotash.

It can be cooked as it is. However, to make them soft and creamy, it is advisable to soak them in water overnight. It can be eaten as it is or used as a filling in tacos or burritos.

Butter Beans On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Butter beans are an extremely healthy food item. It has in store a variety of healthy nutrients like carbohydrates and protein, making it a healthy snack alternative.

If you are someone who is trying to eat healthily or lose weight, include butter beans in your food. They are full of fibers and make a feeling of fullness once consumed. Thus, it will restrict overeating.

One major issue faced by a lot of vegetarians or people following a vegan diet is that they lack protein in their daily diet. If you are someone like that, butter beans are for you.

On a daily basis, an average human needs 45 g of proteins. However, if you cannot include meat or similar items, include butter beans. They are a natural source of protein.

Butter beans are also a great source of vitamin B9. This vitamin helps the body in red blood cell production as well as in the conversion of carbohydrates to energy. Thus, we can say that butter beans help you fight anemia and help you get rid of any tiredness. 

Why Use A Substitute For Butter Beans?

This question, I’m sure, has crossed your thoughts. Why would you use a substitute for a nutrient-dense vegetable? While there are numerous reasons to utilize butter beans, there are a few reasons to use a substitute.

To begin with, butter beans may be more difficult to come by than other types of beans. It is available worldwide, but it may be difficult to locate in some areas. In this instance, a stand-in may be able to save the day.

Butter beans may be unappealing to some people. If that’s the case, you can use butter bean substitutes. Finally, why bother running to the store if you don’t have any of these problems and are simply out of butter beans?

Many of the suggested substitutes are fairly simple to find and may already be in your cupboard! That will undoubtedly save you time and effort.

I believe I’ve provided you with a lot of ‘butter bean’ knowledge. Now, let’s swiftly get to the topic’s major attraction: the best butter bean substitute.

7 Best Butter Beans Substitutes

This section has a list of all the best butter bean substitutes. Moreover, you will also get to know how to use each substitute in place of butter beans. So, let’s get started!

1. Cannellini Beans

Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans have a nutty flavor and extremely creamy texture, just like butter beans. It is widely used in Italian cooking and can be used as a butter bean substitute.

Cannellini beans, just like butter beans, are known under different names. It is called haricot blanc, fagioli, or white beans. It is one of the largest bean varieties available to us. They have a dense outer covering and retain their shape in cooking. Hence they are great for soups and stews.

2. Borlotti Beans

Borlotti Beans

Borlotti beans have a mild nutty flavor with a sweet undertone. With its flavor profile similar to butter beans, it can be considered a great alternative to butter beans.

Borlotti beans are known by different names. They are often called Romano or saluggia beans. However, they are most commonly known as cranberry beans. They are white beans with red marks over them.

Borlotti beans are a common ingredient in Italian and Greek recipes. We can use borlotti beans in almost all dishes that use butter beans.

3. Great Northern Beans

Great Northern Beans

Great Northern beans have a creamy texture with a thin outer covering. Its creamy texture is similar to butter beans and can be used as a substitute for butter beans.

Despite their name, they are not big as their name suggests. It is medium-sized and is often produced in South America. Even though produced in South America, they are quite hard to find in most grocery stores.

They will be a great addition to stews and soups in place of butter beans.

4. Navy Beans

Navy beans

Navy beans have a very mild flavor and soft creamy texture. It gets easily cooked and thickens the dish it is added to. Hence it can be a good butter bean substitute in most dishes.

Navy beans have been a staple in American cooking for a long time. It is thus easy to get and has a long shelf time. For this reason, it was a favorite of navy people and hence its name.

It is extremely nutrient-rich and very cost-effective. However, it loses its shape while cooking and easily gets mashed. Therefore, as a butter bean substitute, it is more ideal for soups than salads.

5. Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are another widely available butter bean substitute. It is just like butter beans when it comes to taste. However, it has a more powdery texture. 

Pinto received its name from the Spanish name pinto, which means painted. It has brown marks all over them, making it easily recognizable over all other beans. 

It is widely cultivated in Mexico and Peru. However, they are now a staple in American dishes. You can easily swap butter beans with pinto beans in any recipe.

6. Red Kidney Beans

Red Kidney Beans

Red kidney beans have a lightly sweet and nutty flavor. However, when it comes to shaping, it is similar to butter and beans and can be used as a butter bean substitute.

Red kidney beans are used all over the world. It is an important ingredient in Indian cooking. However, it has a high concentration of lectin in it, and therefore, one needs to cook it thoroughly.

Ideally, it should be soaked before cooking and cooked for at least 10 minutes. It also has a red color and might affect the overall look of the dish.

But when considering the taste it provides to the dish and its wide availability all over the world, it can be considered a good butter bean substitute.

7. Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans are commonly known as chickpea. They are not an ideal butter bean substitute. However, you can rely on them if you don’t have anything else.

Chickpeas have their origin in the Middle East and are a common ingredient in falafels. They have a firm texture when cooked and do not thicken the dish. It has a distinct flavor when compared to butter beans.

Garbanzo beans are best suited as a butter bean substitute in salads and as a burrito filling. But if you have Garbanzo beans, make some hummus and spread it over pieces of bread.

A Short Recap Of Butter Bean Substitutes

That was an extensive read on butter beans and their substitutes. The following points will make things easy for you to remember about butter and its substitutes:

Best Butter Bean Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor and Texture-

  1. Cannellini Beans

Best Butter Beans Substitutes That Are Easily Available-

  1. Navy Beans
  2. Pinto Beans

Butter Beans Substitutes Should Be Least Considered-

  1. Pinto Beans
  2. Garbanzo Beans

How To Use Best Butter Beans Substitutes In A Recipe

Butter Beans

Butter Beans Substitutes

Well, if we are out of butter beans, what else could fit in its place?  Cannellini beans, borlotti beans, great northern beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and red kidney beans are some of the best butter bean substitutes.

  • Cannellini Beans
  • Borlotti Beans
  • Great Northern Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.

  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.

  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.


Butter beans are a versatile ingredient that can be added to various dishes. It is highly nutrient-rich and can be used in curries and fillings.

When choosing a substitute, find one with a flavor profile similar to butter beans. Even though these are great butter bean substitutes, there is no ideal match for butter bean flavor.

 If you use any of these substitutes, let me know in the comments if everything worked out for the best. I’ll see you next time. Until then, happy eating!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What bean is closest to butter beans?

Cannellini beans, borlotti beans, great northern beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and red kidney beans are some of the best butter bean substitutes.

What is the same as butter beans?

Lima beans and Madagascar beans are the same as butter beans.

Are cannellini beans and butter beans the same thing?

No. Cannellini beans are different from butter beans. However, they have similar flavor profiles and can be used as each other’s substitutes.

What does a butter bean taste like?

Butter beans have a mild nutty flavor and a very creamy texture.

Are canned butter beans cooked?

Yes. Canned butter beans are cooked and hence they are easy to cook.