This Cannellini Beans Recipe is an easy and nutritious way to turn dried white beans into a hearty and delicious side dish or lunch. Vegetarian and gluten-free.
Cannellini Beans with Garlic and Spinach
Beans are an inexpensive, shelf-stable, and healthy addition to any kitchen pantry. Available dry, or precooked and canned, beans are an easy and delicious way to sneak in extra plant-based protein and fiber.
When I first made this cannellini beans recipe I couldn’t believe that such a simple bean recipe could offer so much flavor.
All about the beans – plus a few other simple ingredients like garlic, fresh herbs, olive oil, and lemon – the humble little cannellini is the perfect bean for this recipe. Completely vegetarian and gluten-free, dish up this recipe with eggs for breakfast, on toast for lunch, topped with salmon for dinner, or simply enjoy it as it is.
Can I Use Canned Cannellini Beans?
Canned cannellini beans (often labeled as white kidney beans) are great if you’re in a hurry, but cooking your own cannellini beans will taste a million times better. Since this recipe uses such few ingredients, I highly recommend skipping the cans, saving them for soup and stew recipes.
How to Cook Cannellini Beans
Start by soaking your beans for at least 8 hours. You may also soak them overnight.
- Tip: If you forget to pre-soak your cannellini beans, you may also quick-soak them. To do this, transfer your beans to a large pot filled with approximately 8 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover with a tight lid, and then remove from heat. Allow them to soak for one hour before draining and rinsing.
Place the drained and rinsed soaked beans in a large pot. Add any aromatics (in the case of today’s recipe we’re adding garlic, fresh sage, and rosemary), a little olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt. Cover with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the beans are creamy, but not mushy.
From here you may use your cooked cannellini’s however you’d like – you could even save the liquid they were cooked in to make a fabulous broth for soup.
- Tip: You can freeze pre-soaked beans. Simply drain and rinse before transferring to a freezer-safe ziplock bag.
What are Cannellini Beans?
Found in recipes like minestrone and pasta e Fagioli, these pretty white beans are actually a sub-variety of kidney beans and are often referred to as white Italian kidney beans.
Their dense interior makes them a perfect bean for hot soups, bean salads, or even healthy veggie platters.
Try adding cannellini beans to other recipes including,
- Breakfast: Serve with a couple of fried eggs and a few slices of bacon. One of my very favorite high-protein meals.
- Lunch: Enjoy with some juicy grilled shrimp or top on crunchy, toasty, buttery bread.
- Dinner: Enjoy with your favorite white fish or salmon, pork chops, steak, and yes, chicken, too.
Looking for more delicious bean recipes? Try these reader favorites:
- Easy Three Bean Salad Recipe
- Navy Bean Soup with Ham
- Instant Pot Black Bean Soup Recipe
- Perfect Instant Pot Black Beans
- Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe
- Refried Beans (How to Make Refried Black Beans)
- Tomato Baked Vegetarian Beans with Tangy Feta
Have you tried making this Easy Cannellini Bean Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Cannellini Beans Recipe
- 1½ cups dry cannellini beans (soaked overnight)
- 1 head garlic (halved horizontally (crosswise))
- 4 leaves fresh sage
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- salt ((cook to taste))
- 6 cups water
- 2 tbsp butter (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
- 2-3 large handfuls fresh spinach
- ½ large lemon (zest and juice)
- freshly ground black pepper (to season)
- Place the dry beans, whole head of garlic, sage leave, fresh rosemary, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, and 6 cups of water in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are creamy all the way through, but (most) of their skins are still intact (the skin will start to peel away). Set aside.
- Once the beans are softened, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil plus 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook until fragrant - about 30 seconds.
- Add the spinach in batches. Allow it to cook and wilt slightly before adding additional spinach. Toss the spinach frequently for even cooking. Season with additional salt and a little black pepper as desired.
- Use a large slotted spoon to carefully transfer the cooked beans over to the skillet filled with garlic and spinach. Continue to gently mix until heated through.
- Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and a little of the cooking liquid if needed (discarding otherwise). Season to taste and serve drizzled with additional olive oil, lemon juice, or a little fresh parmesan cheese, if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)