Are you looking for a Borlotti bean substitute? Borlotti beans are recognizable by their pink, purple, or brown speckles and their oblong shape. With a mild flavor that is slightly sweet and a creamy texture, borlotti beans go great in lots of dishes.
Sometimes called cranberry beans or Frijol Cachuate or Cacahuate beans in Mexico, these tasty beans are used in recipes across the board, from stews and soups to dips. Because of their mild flavor and smooth texture, finding a substitute for borlotti beans is fairly simple.
So if you’re reading a recipe and it calls for borlotti beans, yet you have none or cannot find any, there are several options of beans that will work just as well to replace borlotti beans.
What is a Borlotti Bean?
Borlotti beans are colorful speckled legumes with a beige-pink color and reddish spots all over. While they often lose their color during the cooking process, the flavor they have is mild, and the texture is creamy and hearty.
Popular mostly in Italy and Portugal, borlotti beans aren’t as easy to find in the U.S. by that name. Often referred to as cranberry beans and romano beans in the U.S., they are sometimes called Rosecoco beans in Italy and are used in lots of authentic Portuguese or Italian recipes.
Borlotti beans are a close relative of kidney beans, with a similar flavor but a slightly different appearance. High in fiber and protein, borlotti beans are packaged dried, canned, and sometimes fresh in the grocery store. Borlotti beans are also high in iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium, with benefits for reducing cholesterol.
Borlotti beans have a slightly nutty chestnut-like flavor and keep their shape while being cooked. These characteristics make these cream-colored beans with speckles ideal for salads and soups and can even be used in baked bean dips or a satisfying side dish.
How to Choose a Borlotti Bean Substitute
There are many choices of beans to use when looking for a substitute for borlotti beans. It is important to consider flavor and texture as well as cooking time for certain recipes when choosing a replacement.
The mild flavor and sweet taste of borlotti beans are easy to replicate, and the thin skin of the bean means that it cooks easily but doesn’t fall apart. Be sure to choose a bean that will not change the integrity of your dish when substituting the borlotti beans.
Are Cranberry Beans and Borlotti Beans the Same?
Yes, cranberry beans and borlotti beans are the same things. Italian and Portuguese borlotti beans are called cranberry beans in America, and in fact, many of the beans used in Europe are grown in the United States and imported. It is still possible to see borlotti beans called cranberry bean in other places outside the United States.
Which Bean is Closest to Borlotti Beans?
The borlotti bean is closely related to kidney beans, making it the best substitute for borlotti beans. The biggest difference between cranberry beans and kidney beans is their outer skin. Kidney beans are a dark reddish brown, while borlotti beans are a creamy beige with red or purple speckles.
9 Borlotti Bean Substitutes
If you’ve found a recipe that calls for borlotti beans but don’t have any on hand or want to try something different, you have many good options. Keep reading to discover the best borlotti beans substitutes I’ve found for your recipe.
From cold bean salad to hearty winter bean stews, find the best bean substitute for borlotti beans.
Borlotti beans and kidney beans are close relatives, making kidney beans the number one borlotti beans substitute. Kidney beans have a slightly richer flavor than borlotti beans, but the cooking time is similar for both legumes.
Kidney beans are a popular ingredient in three-bean salads, soup recipes like pasta Fagioli or chili, and pasta dishes. Kidney beans are a great source of plant-based protein, keeping you full for long periods of time. They are also rich in antioxidants and fiber, a bonus for those looking for a healthy bean to add to their dishes.
Pinto beans are the next best borlotti bean substitute. Due to their similar unique appearance, pinto beans and cranberry beans are often mistaken for one another. But pinto beans are more brownish with darker spots on them, instead of the light beige color of borlotti beans with red or purple marks.
Pinto beans are also known as frijoles pintos, meaning “painted bean” in Spanish. Pinto beans are a popular choice for refried beans, with an earthy flavor and soft texture that mashes well. Pairing pinto beans with BBQ is popular in the south as a side dish. Like cranberry beans, pinto beans are high in fiber and provide healthy protein that is plant-based.
Pinto beans are slightly milder than cranberry beans but are still a great substitute in any recipe that calls for them. Pinto beans will also lose their speckled color, like cranberry beans, once they are cooked, making them look almost indistinguishable from one another.
Cannellini beans are also known as white kidney beans and are another one of the top substitutes for borlotti beans. Silky and creamy in texture, cannellini beans taste just like cranberry beans but with a white color instead of a darker brown.
Cannellini beans are popular in pasta dishes as well as soups like minestrone and can be mashed into tuna salad for an extra creamy texture. Like most legumes, cannellini beans offer a good source of protein and fiber and some added flavor to any dish.
Navy beans are a popular white bean that can easily stand in as a substitute for borlotti beans. Navy beans get their name from being served to sailors as a staple part of their daily meals in the U.S. Navy since the mid-1800s.
Navy beans are native to the United States and are slightly smaller than cranberry beans. Navy beans are often used in ham hock recipes like hearty bean soup. They are also very high in ferulic acid, an antioxidant.
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a good substitute for cranberry beans. Also commonly eaten in Mediterranean countries, fava beans are consumed raw and cooked. Fava beans are more expensive than many, making them less popular.
Fava beans have a buttery, nutty, and slightly bitter flavor. Fava beans are often enjoyed as an addition to cold salads but can appear in soups and fried in a falafel. Recipes calling for dried fava beans instead of fresh will have a different preparation and flavor.
Also known simply as black beans, black turtle beans can be used instead of cranberry beans in most recipes. Called turtle beans because of their hard outer shell, these black beans are popular in Cajun and Creole cuisine in Louisiana and Mexican food.
Black turtle beans have a strong, earthy flavor that works well in most recipes that call for the cranberry bean. Soups, stews, burritos, and even dips are all delicious with this black bean as their base.
Great northern beans work as a stand-in for cranberry beans when you are unable to find them. Full of flavor with a hearty outer shell, great northern beans have a similar soft and creamy texture on the inside to borlotti beans.
Like most white beans, great northern beans are versatile in recipes due to their appearance. You will often find them along with other beans in bean stew or even bean dip. This healthy bean makes a low-fat and high-protein main or side dish.
Butter beans, also known as lima beans, are an option for replacing borlotti beans in a recipe. Called butter beans for their butter-like color, these beans are creamy and great when served with smoked ham hocks.
Butter beans look and taste different at different stages of maturation, explaining why lima beans are a green legume but also sometimes lighter colored.
Lastly, chickpeas can be used to replace cranberry beans in most recipes. While they taste similar, they have different shape and color. It is ideal to use chickpeas in a recipe where the beans may be mashed, or the aesthetic is not as important, like a dip or stew.