What's The Difference Between Cannellini Beans And Great Northern Beans?

Let's say you're cooking a dish that includes white beans. There are several different legumes that are considered "white beans," so how do you know which type to choose? Well, comparing and contrasting them may help you out. According to MasterClass, two of the most popular types of white beans are cannellini beans and great northern beans. Cannellini beans and great northern beans have several similarities, the most basic being that they're both white in color. In addition to sharing the same white hue, cannellini beans and great northern beans grow from the same plant, Phaseolus vulgaris. Both bean types are also packed with protein, fiber, and other helpful nutrients like potassium, per Healthline. Their nutrient profile offers several health benefits, including improved digestive health and potential weight management.

Despite cannellini beans and great northern beans sharing the same color, growing from the same plant, and containing the same nutrients, they are different in several ways. While these two types of beans are virtually interchangeable, their differences can impact when it's best to use one over the other.

Subtle flavor differences

Cannellini beans and great northern beans differ in four key ways: Size, shape, flavor, and texture. According to Healthline, great northern beans are smaller than cannellini beans and round in shape, while cannellini beans are larger and have an ovular shape, similar to that of a kidney. This is why cannellini beans are also referred to as white kidney beans.

The flavor is one of the most important differences between cannellini beans and great northern beans. You may think these two types of beans have similar flavors, but they are not the same. MasterClass reports that great northern beans are known for their mild taste, which generally allows them to absorb the flavors of other foods, making them a great option for soups. On the other hand, cannellini beans are known for a stronger, nuttier flavor and work well in various dishes, including salads. Additionally, cannellini beans and great northern beans have different textures, with cannellini beans being more creamy than the latter.

Tips for preparing white beans

There are many things you can do to kick up the flavor of white beans, whether they're cannellini beans or great northern beans. One of the most important steps you should take when preparing canned or dry white beans is washing them, per MasterClass. Washing dried white beans will allow you to remove any dirt from them while straining and rinsing canned white beans removes any excess sodium. When cooking beans, you should also save the water you cooked them in. Taking this extra step while cooking is well worth your time, as you can use the water to thicken up soups.

According to BBC goodfood, another thing you should do when preparing white beans is to soak them. Soaking the beans for at least five hours will ensure that their texture is the best it can possibly be. If you follow these preparation tips, you should be able to make a tasty bean dish, whether you're using cannellini beans or great northern beans.