We’ve likely all been in a situation where we’re trying to follow a recipe right down to the letter, but we get so far through it and realize that we’re missing something.
Sometimes, you aren’t able to use something different – but you can when it comes to navy beans.
Navy beans can really make a dish pop, but if you don’t have any left, this doesn’t mean you need to stop and start over with something else. You can simply use a substitute – but what substitute is best (see also “The Very Best Harissa Substitutes“)?
Well, don’t worry. We’ve done the hard work for you and we’ve written this handy guide that shows you the nine best substitutions for navy beans – one of which might even surprise you (see also “Great Northern Beans: 9 Best Ways To Substitute“)!
So, if you’re intrigued to learn more, then read on and discover the answers you are looking for.
It’s a good idea that we start off by examining what navy beans actually are. Navy beans, otherwise known as haricot beans or Boston beans, are small and white beans that have a nutty flavor and a fluffy, velvety texture.
They are a favorite to use in some dishes because they have a relatively mild flavor which does not overpower the overall dish and they easily absorb the other flavorings from the dish.
Not only this, but they can happily help to bulk up a dish that might be lacking in size 0 making them perfect for a lot of vegetarian dishes.
However, it is not just vegetarian dishes that you can use navy beans in. They’re great for bean burgers, chilis, pasta dishes, tacos, enchiladas and a whole lot more!
When you’ve run out of navy beans though and you’re looking for a substitute, you’ll probably be looking for a bean that shares the same flavor, texture and appearance.
Let’s take a look at some of your potential options.
What Are The Substitute Options?
Let’s now examine these potential options if you don’t have any navy beans left!
1. Great Northern Beans
When it comes to choosing a fantastic substitute for navy beans, there are few that can hold that regard as high as Great Northern beans.
These beans are sometimes referred to as the common bean, but they have a highly similar set of characteristics as navy beans do.
They are light with a mild, nutty flavor but they differ slightly being a bit more gritty than other beans.
However, due to their flavor and texture, they are one of the most ideal beans to use in a whole host of different dish options, and this includes ones that navy beans are used for.
You can add them to stews, soups, burgers, chili and even to curries. Luckily, the ratio is the same for these beans as well at a 1:1.
2. Butter Beans
Another great option for a navy bean substitute is butter beans. Butter beans are larger than other beans and they have a much richer flavor that many describe as buttery, hence the name.
They have a very deep and meaty texture but it is still relatively fluffy when cooked too. Due to their size, they are one of the best options to choose when you’re looking to increase the size of a dish.
This makes them ideal for stews, broths, casseroles and some salad options.
3. Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans are a massive favorite among American households, so it’s likely that you’ve already got some of these beans at home when you are running low on navy beans!
These beans are sometimes called the white kidney beans and they are colored with a creamy shade, with a nutty, earthy and mild taste to them.
When cooked, they are fluffy and make a whole lot of dishes much better.
Due to their appearance, they are an ideal inclusion for salads and Mexican foods, but there’s nothing wrong with putting them in soups or stews either.
4. Flageolet Beans
Flageolet beans can be an option to choose from if you are trying to make your meal much meatier and you’re hoping to absorb a lot of the extra flavorings that your dish allows for. Perfect choices might be a broth or a casserole for example.
However, as these beans have a delicate flavor, they can also work as a side for meaty mains like chicken or lamb or you can simply use them as a way to garnish your salad.
5. White Tepary Beans
While these beans might be a little difficult to find in a lot of places around the country, if you can find them – they make for an excellent substitute for navy beans.
They’re very dense but they hold a gorgeous buttery and nutty taste which sometimes has a sweet tang to it.
Due to their larger and meatier nature, they are great for beefing up any type of dish, but they’re perhaps best for dips, stews and casserole dishes.
6. Black Beans
Black beans aren’t always the first choice that people would go to when it comes to selecting a type of bean in their meals, but you’d be pleasantly surprised at their texture and taste, despite their sometimes off putting appearance.
In fact, black beans are ideal as a substitute for liquid based dishes like chili and soups, but they’re not the best selection for salads, unless you use a dressing.
7. Red Kidney Beans
Red kidney beans have long been used in a whole variety of different dishes, and there’s a perfect rationale for it. They have a meaty texture which is easy to bite through and a beautifully smokey but light flavor.
Their aroma is gorgeous too, and as a result of all this is a bean that can easily bulk up a meal, whilst also being tasty and versatile.
Red kidney beans are ideal for a lot of different salads, wraps, stews, soups, casseroles, chilis, curries and much more.
8. Mayocoba Beans
These beans have a glorious yellow color and as such, they’re often called the Mexican yellow beans. They have a very creamy texture and flavor to them when they have been cooked.
The best reason why these beans make an excellent substitute to navy beans is because of how well they absorb the other flavors of the dish they are in.
This makes them perfect for something like a chili, casserole or soup – but you can even mash them within a gravy.
Of course though, as you can imagine – they are best used in Mexican style dishes, so consider what you’re planning to make first!
9. Pinto Beans
Now, this selection might be a little surprising for some of you, but pinto beans can be an excellent choice as a substitute for navy beans.
They also have a nutty and creamy taste and texture to them, along with the earthy finish that you would expect with a navy bean, but pinto beans are incredibly easy to source too.
In fact, despite what some people might believe, they’re not too dissimilar from navy beans.
They have similar textures, similar tastes, similar results when cooked and they both absorb the aromas and flavors of their surrounding ingredients.
As a result of this, you will likely imagine that these beans can easily be incorporated into a variety of different dishes. Consider making Asian dishes with them such as a stir fry or maybe even a vegetable daal.
It depends on the dish. However, you will likely find that the overall texture and taste of the finished dish will not change too much, despite using a different bean.
It’s a good idea to look at the recipe in full before you decide on your bean substitute though, in case one ingredient reacts poorly with another.
What If I Am On A Specific Diet?
Depending on your diet, you may be fine to use almost any bean or you might be better off avoiding all beans.
For example, those who are on a keto diet should avoid using beans as they are naturally high in carbohydrates.
Anyone with a specific allergy will need to be careful with the beans they choose, and someone who is vegetarian will be fine with any of these beans.
In fact, vegetarians will find some of these beans very useful as they can thicken many dishes up and increase your fill!
Are These Beans Easy To Source?
A lot of the beans that we have included on this list will be easy to find in your local store or even already in your home. However, some other beans might be slightly more difficult and only available in a health food store.
If you are hoping to use a particular type of bean for a dish, then you might need to look the bean up online and see their availability in your local area, in terms of stores. You may need to wait and order them online for delivery.
The Bottom Line
When you are making a dish, it can be annoying when you run out of something like navy beans. Luckily though, you can select from any of the options we have given you and still make a very tasty, healthy dish.
We hope this guide has been very helpful for you, good luck with your dish!