Cranberry Bean Substitute

Cranberry Bean Substitute

Whether it’s a simple bean salad or a more complex bean soup, the cranberry bean will always rise to the occasion, immersing your taste buds in its creamy, nutty flavor, no wonder it has become a staple in Italian cuisines.


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Imagine you wake up with a craving for a delicious cranberry bean salad. You have everything ready except the most essential ingredient; your Cranberry or Borlotti beans. Disappointed, you may consider cooking a different dish altogether. This shouldn’t always be the case because adequate substitutes will make you forget about the absence of cranberry beans.

What are Cranberry Beans?

These beans are closely related to the Phaseolus vulgaris or common beans. Before many countries started cultivating the crop, it was initially cultivated in Columbia. The cranberry or Borlotti beans have a white color with visible pink patches when dry and pinkish brown color when cooked, similar to pinto beans.

Unlike green beans, it is a shelling bean, and the meaty seeds can be stored and used for multiple creamy dishes.

Cranberry Beans Nutrition Facts

Craneberry Beans

Uses of Cranberry Beans in Recipes

Cranberry beans are usually the star of most dishes it is incorporated into. It gives off a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and an appealing aesthetic. These plump beans are common in Italian and Portuguese cuisines, and they can even be spotted in some salads and Casseroles in the United States.

It has a milder pungency than most beans, and when cooked, it gives a dark, beefy broth, and d bright-colored beans turn into a darker hue of pink and brown.

Below are some foods that can be made with Borlotti it cranberry beans;

  • Fresh stewed Borlotti Beans
  • Pasta e Fagioli with Borlotti beans
  • Italian Borlotti bean, pumpkin, and farro soup
  • Borlotti beans with chard
  • Barbunya pilaki
  • Borlotti bean stew
  • Cranberry beans with garlic and olive oil
  • Jamon-wrapped cod with cranberry bean stew
  • Borlotti bean soup with pancetta
  • Greek spinach, Borlotti beans, and Feta Rice
  • Cranberry bean and kale soup
  • Tomato and cranberry bean pasta bake
  • Borlotti bean mash with mushrooms
  • Slow-cooked chorizo and Borlotti beans
  • Cranberry bean and beef stew

Substitutes for Cranberry Beans

Suppose you’re a lover of cranberry beans and you live in the United States. In that case, I’m sure you have searched for these beans a few times without finding one in stock. However, unlike countries like Italy, Mexico, or Portugal, cranberry beans are not available all the time in most supermarkets in America. This is one of the reasons why it is important to have a substitute for these legumes.

Most people substitute just about any bean for cranberry beans. This can be accepted, but the substitute must closely match its flavor or texture to get a good substitute for this meaty legume. Here are some adequate substitutes for the cranberry bean.

Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans


It is easy to see a pinto bean and think you’re looking at a cranberry bean; they have a striking resemblance and the same mild flavor. Unlike cranberry beans, pinto beans are versatile, and most people usually have some in stock. These beans are also easier to spot in supermarkets.

They have a slightly earthy and a mildly creamy nutty flavor, just like cranberry beans, and they can add that much-needed flavor associated with cranberry beans.

When substituting, use precisely the exact measurement where the recipe calls for cranberry beans.

Navy Beans

Navy Beans


With their sparkling white color, you can easily spot cranberry beans. Still, despite the color, the taste is amazingly similar. They have an almost silky smooth texture and a slightly nutty flavor like the cranberry bean. Navy beans can easily replace cranberry beans in any recipe, but they are perfect for soup recipes.

Canned Navy beans will also substitute for cranberry beans, using a 1 to 1 ratio when substituting.

Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans


Kidney beans are very common, and you’re likely to have some already stocked somewhere in your pantry. The legumes can be any shade from light red to very dark (almost purple) red, and they are shaped like kidneys. That’s where the name was gotten from. Unlike most mildly flavored beans, they have a slight sweetness and a meaty texture with light skin, like cranberry beans. It is a suitable substitute for cranberry beans, and it will give more flavor to your soups or pasta dishes.

Use a 1 to 1 ratio when substituting.

Black Beans

Black Beans


The black turtle beans are common to Latin American cuisines but can be used in every region. The black beans have a shiny black appearance, which yields a dark broth when cooked. It has a creamy, mild flavor that is not overwhelming, ideal for many dishes.

The soft black bean can serve as a substitute for the cranberry bean in a recipe if you don’t mind having a darker color in your soup. If substituting, use the same measurement to use cranberry beans.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why are they called cranberry beans?

When you hear the word “cranberry,” a bean isn’t what comes to your mind; first, cranberries are usually small red fruits, but the cranberry bean gets the name because of its pod. It has a meaty look with a bright red color similar to the cranberry fruit.

Are cranberry beans healthy?

They are a good source of protein, iron, copper, folate, and fiber. However, they contain a toxin that only neutralizes when cooked for some minutes, so ensure not to consume them raw.

How long does it take for cranberry beans to grow?

Cranberry beans in the tropics produce mature seeds that can be picked only after two months (60-65 days) from planting. They will be air-dried for seven to ten days only when the plants bulge and the pods appear dry.


The cranberry beans are good for many dishes, and this isn’t a surprise when you consider the mild texture. Still, if you’re all out of some cranberry beans, multiple alternatives would get the job done without overpowering the flavor of your dish.