Great Northern Beans vs Cannellini Beans: What is the Difference?

If you’ve found yourself in the grocery store aisle wondering what the difference between these two popular white beans is, you are not alone! At first glance, they may even seem like the same bean, but they are not. They do have differences in size, taste, and texture. Keep reading to find out what they are!

When deciding between these two common beans, the most common questions are: What is the difference between great northern beans vs cannellini beans? Can one be substituted for the other? And which one is more nutritious?

Key Differences Between Great Northern Beans and Cannellini Beans

The main difference between great northern beans and cannellini beans is the size and taste of them. They are both white beans with a similar nutty and earthy mild flavor. Cannellini beans are larger in size with thicker skin. Great northern beans are medium-sized with a creamy texture and firm flesh.

They are both great sources of soluble fiber while being low in fat, making them a great addition to any diet.

Great Northern Beans

Great northern beans are medium-sized white beans that also go by the name of “large white beans” They are popular in North America, belonging to a group of beans called the “common beans,” other common beans are black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, and red kidney beans.

Great northerners are mild with a nutty flavor with a creamy texture. Although they have a delicate flavor, they hold their shape and take on the flavors of the food they’re cooked with. They are a versatile bean that goes great in a variety of dishes. They are commonly used in soups, stews, and baked bean dishes.

Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beansĀ are larger than great northern beans. They also go by different names, such as white kidney beans -because of their traditional kidney shape, fagioli, fazolia beans, Italian kidney beans, and haricots Blancs.

Cannellini beans have a thicker skin and a creamy, smooth texture. They have tender flesh, earthy flavor, and a nutty taste. They hold up well in soups, stews, and chili and are a great way to top off a salad.

Cannellini beans come from Italy, so they are common in Italian cooking. You’ll find them in dishes such as Minestrone and other dishes where the bean stays whole.

Cannelli beans perform best when soaked first overnight.

Great Northern Beans vsCannellini Beans Nutritional Value

Great Northern Beans NutritionCannellini Beans Nutrition
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
37.3 grams, 12%
12.4 grams, 44%
38 grams, 13%
9.9 grams, 35%
Protein14.7 grams, 29%12 grams, 24%
Calcium120.4 mg, 9%143 mg, 11%
Iron3.8 mg, 21%4.8 mg, 27%
Potassium692.1 mg, 15%741 mg, 16%

Health Benefits of Great Northern Beans and Cannellini Beans

The nutritional and health benefits of these two white dry beans are very similar. It’s also likely you’ll see slight variations in nutritional profiles depending on what brand you use.

Great northerns and cannellini beans are a great source of protein, containing about 12-14 grams of protein content per one-cup serving size with minimal fat.

Like most beans, they are an excellent source of high fiber. The indigestible fiber of plants helps regulate blood sugar and makes you feel full longer, which can aid in better weight management. Fiber also assists with gut health and the digestive process, keeping you regular.One cup of great northern beans or cannellini beans contains about nine to twelve grams of fiber, close to half of your daily value needs.

They are also a great source of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, folate, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. Eating a well-balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals is essential to keeping your body functioning at its best.

Great Northern Beans Substitutes

Great northern beans can best be substituted with cannellini beans or navy beans. Cannellini beans make a great substitute because they also have a similar nutty taste and are versatile. Navy beans will also work; they are small white beans with a similar texture and mild taste.

Pinto beans may also work if necessary. Pinto beans are popular in Mexican dishes. Pinto beans are round beans that are white and darker beige or brown, giving them a marbled appearance. Pinto beans work well in chili, dips, soups, and salads.

Cannellini Beans Substitutes

Great northern beans make a great substitute for cannellini beans due to their similar tastes. Navy beans will make a great substitute as well.

Another great option is butter beans, also known as mini lima beans. Butter beans make a great substitute, although they are a bit starchier and have less of a nutty flavor.

Key Takeaways

With so many types of beans, the good news is there are so many options to choose from, whether it’s for making bean dips, bean salads, bean soup, or making a simple side dish. There is always a bean or two that will make the perfect addition.

Great northern white beans and cannellini beans are both types of white beans with differences in taste and size. Still, they have enough similarities that they can easily be substituted for one another.

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Author Biography

Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about coaching with her here.