14 Ways to Use White Beans

From Soups to Spreads, These Are Our Favorites

Turkey green chili recipe

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

White beans are a family of beans, including Cannellini, navy, Great Northern, and butter beans. Although each variety is wonderfully versatile, they do have unique qualities. Cannellini beans are large and firm, so they hold up well in low and slow recipes like stews. Navy beans are small and starchy when cooked, making them a popular choice for baked bean dishes.

Great Northern beans have a delicate flavor and are neither big nor small, so reach for them if you're in doubt of what variety to use. Butter beans, or baby lima beans, are the softest variety of white bean, so they're best suited for dips. Read our guides on storing and preparing dried beans, quick soaking your beans, or simply dive into our favorite ways to use white beans, below.

  • 01 of 14

    Beet and Cabbage Borscht with White Beans

    Beet and Cabbage Borscht

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    This Love them or hate them, beets are essential to the Ukrainian kitchen, where borscht was born. If you’d prefer, you can substitute carrots for the beets called for in this recipe, which still imparts sweetness and a pop of color. 

  • 02 of 14

    Turkey Green Chili

    Turkey green chili recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    This turkey and green chili benefits from several unique ingredients, like hominy and beer, for a satisfying Mexican inspired meal. Along with white beans and turkey, this soup is fortified by an array of green chiles, which you can mix and match to please your particular palate—read our guide on Mexican green chiles to get started. 

  • 03 of 14

    White Chicken Chili

    Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

     The Spruce

    This white chicken chili is dressed up with oregano, cumin, and jalapeno pepper. Transform this recipe into a vegetarian-friendly dish by using vegetable stock and a dab of miso paste for extra umami. As for the chicken, well, there’s always soy-based substitutes or tempeh, but we also like the idea of battered and fried mushrooms

  • 04 of 14

    Cuban White Bean Soup

    Cuban White Bean Soup

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

    This Cuban white bean soup uses ham hocks and salt pork, a double-dose of pork that makes its flavors sing. If you’re interested in tweaking the spices but want to keep it authentic, substitute the oregano and bay leaf for minced cilantro and a squeeze of lime. 

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  • 05 of 14

    Vegetarian White Bean Chili

    Low fat vegetarian white bean chili

    ​The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak 

    If you like homemade vegetarian chili recipes, try this vegetarian white bean chili —it's completely meat-free and still deeply filling and satisfying. Loaded with spices like cumin and cayenne, and with a fresh hit of heat from canned green chilis, this one will have you coming back for seconds. Like all hearty stews, this also freezes well for an easy dinner to have on hand.

  • 06 of 14

    Copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli

    Copycat Olive Garden pasta e fagioli soup in a bowl

    The Spruce / Jennifer Perillo

    Cannellini beans paired with red kidney beans are the star in this copycat Olive Garden pasta e fagioli soup recipe. It's a hearty, inexpensive meal to make with homemade or canned broth, small tube-like pasta like ditalini, and Italian sausage. A sprinkle of Pecorino-Romano cheese over each bowl and you have a delicious family meal.

  • 07 of 14

    White Beans and Smoked Ham Shank

    White Bean Soup With Smoked Ham Shank

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    White beans and smoked ham shank is a classic recipe from the American South. Since ham is the primary flavor of this dish, the quality of your stew dish is linked to the quality of your ham. To this end, it's worth hunting down heritage breed pork, if you can.

  • 08 of 14

    White Bean Hummus Recipe

    White Bean Hummus Dip (Gluten-free)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Even if you are a purist on the hummus front, this white bean version is worth a try. It adds flavorful depth to this kale salad and is a great substitute for the yogurt sauce on these lamb sliders. We suggest using either navy beans or baby lima beans (aka butter beans) for the smoothest result. 

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  • 09 of 14

    Crockpot Great Northern Beans

    Crockpot great Northern beans recipe

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    Crockpot Great Northern beans are exactly what they sound like and yet, so much more. The bundle of herbs and aromatics used in this recipe makes it a lovely first course to warm up the appetite.

  • 10 of 14

    Spanish White Beans and Rice

    Spanish White Beans and Rice Recipe (Empedrado de Arroz)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Spanish white beans and rice has all the trappings of its cuisine: paprika, saffron, olive oil, and garlic (lots of garlic). It’s a vegan-friendly meal as is, but if you’d like to stir in some Spanish chorizo for a heartier meal, be our guest. A few more tweaks to consider include oven roasting your garlic before adding it to your beans, as well as exploring the various types of Spanish paprika

  • 11 of 14

    Tuscan Ribollita Soup

    Ribollita Soup

    leonori / Getty Images

    In Tuscany, meals are fresh, simply prepared, and heavy on legumes. This Tuscan ribollita soup is true comfort food, using day-old bread to thicken its broth. Since its name “ribollita” translates to “reboiled” in Italian, you can be sure this soup is equally delicious as leftovers.

  • 12 of 14

    Turkish Navy Bean Salad

    Piyaz Navy Bean Salad Beauty

    Esin Deniz / Getty Images


    This recipe tosses together tomatoes, navy beans, and a bundle of parsley for an ensemble that reflects the Mediterranean flavors of Turkey. Here, it’s all about the quality of your ingredients so take notice of when tomato season is near you or learn how to select a good olive oil.

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  • 13 of 14


    Loubia, Moroccan White Beans

     Michal Osmenda/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

    The number of herbs and spices in Loubia outnumber its main ingredients, but expect no less from Moroccan cuisine—after all, the country was an integral part of the spice trade route between Europe and the Far East. Traditionally, Loubia is served with rounds of fresh Moroccan bread to soak up its savory broth. 

  • 14 of 14

    Cinnamon Spiced Bean Pie

    Bean Pie With Cinnamon
    Bean Pie With Cinnamon. Diana Rattray

    This bean pie is perfectly moist and dense but has the added protein boost that say, sweet potato or pumpkin lack. Interestingly, bean pie owes its origins to the Nation of Islam, who rejected eating classic soul food dishes as a sign of protest and self-sovereignty. Consider using the beans as a base for a number of creative iterations, like swirling in caramel or chocolate chips.