5 from 8 votes

Creamy White Beans with Parmesan (Cannellini Beans)

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These creamy white beans are quick to make, healthy, budget-friendly, and delicious! Enjoy these cheesy cannellini beans for lunch, dinner, or a side.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
£1.24
Makes: 4
mains, meal prep
Italian
Freezable

These Italian-style white beans are garlicky, cheesy, creamy, comforting, and everything you’d want in a meal. They’re also simple, fast to make, and quite healthy! Enjoy them as a primary or side dish, depending on your hunger level.

Close up of creamy cannellini beans in a sauce topped with fresh basil leaves, grated cheese and chilli flakes.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Quick – These yummy white beans are ready in 20 minutes (including prep time!).

Easy – You need minimal kitchen tools and ingredients for this yummy recipe.

Cheesy – You’ll find a delightfully cheesy taste with each bite of this white beans recipe.

Flavourful – Garlic, cheese, stock, and salt and pepper/seasoning help create a bold, delicious flavour.

Inexpensive – At £1.24 per serving, this cannellini beans recipe is budget-friendly.

Here are a few other yummy bean recipes to try this week: Miso Aubergines with Edamame Beans and Brown rice, and Easy Tuscan White Bean Soup (Creamy!)

4 types of white beans

Even though most people think of cannellini beans when white beans are mentioned, there are actually four types of white beans. This group of beans each has a white exterior and starchy inside. White beans include navy beans, great northern beans, cannellini beans, and lima beans.

Is there a difference between white beans and cannellini beans?
Yes, there is a difference between white beans and cannellini beans. White beans refer to a group of beans, while cannellini beans are a specific type of white beans.

Can I use dry white beans?

Yes, you can use dry white beans instead of cannellini bean cans. You’ll need quite a bit more time for this recipe when using dry white beans than when using canned beans.

Soaking instructions
It’s best to soak the beans first when making dry white bean recipes, as it helps cut down on the cook time. Add the beans to a pan with water and salt. The water should be about two inches over the beans. Let them soak for 4-12 hours.

Cooking instructions
Drain the water from the beans and add fresh water and seasoning (salt, herbs, etc.). Then, bring to a boil. Once the dry white bean pan is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the beans for 1-2 hours. Check the beans every 30 minutes to see if they’re ready. They will be soft (like canned beans) when fully cooked.

Once you have cooked beans, you can work through the recipe noted below, starting with cooking the onions in extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients

Ingredients to make the cannellini bean recipe laid out on a pale blue background and labelled.

Cannellini Beans – I love using canned cannellini beans for this white bean recipe. These beans help provide an extra creamy consistency to the dish. However, you can use any of the other white beans in this recipe if you wish. The flavour will be similar, but the consistency will vary slightly.

Hard Cheese – Parmesan cheese and asiago cheese work wonderfully in this cannellini bean recipe.

Single Cream – The creaminess in this white bean side dish also comes from the single cream. If you want a more decadent dish, use heavy cream instead.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations/ Adaptations

Here are a few easy swaps you can make to this recipe for white beans to help them fit your taste preferences. Instead of parmesan, try pecorino Romano for a more earthy taste. You can also use other white beans if you don’t have cannellini beans on hand.

To create a more Mediterranean feel, toss in chopped tomatoes, spinach, and feta (instead of parmesan). Or, try adding some crispy bacon bits for a more decadent taste.

How to make creamy white beans

  1. Start by adding the olive oil and diced onion into a non-stick frying pan. Season with salt and saute for 6 minutes. Once softened, add the and fry for a further 2 minutes (Image 1).
  2. Then add the white beans, add the pepper and stir together (Image 2).
2 step by step photos, the first with finely sliced onions frying in a pan and the second with beans and seasoning added to the pan.

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli until tender. 

3. Pour in the stock and stir together to incorporate (Image 3).

4. Then add the cream to the pan stirring with the beans (Image 4).

2 step by step photos, the first with beans and stock in the pan mixed with a wooden spoon and the second withthe beans in a creamy sauce.

5. Cook for 7 minutes, adding the parmesan half way through (Image 5).

6. Serve with fresh basil and an extra sprinkle of black pepper & flaky salt (Image 6).

2 step by step photos, the first with with the creamy beans in the pan topped with some grated cheese and the second with the beans garnished with fresh basil and pepper.

Tips for the best result

Rinse the beans
When making white beans from a can, it’s best to drain and rinse them to help remove some of the salt. This extra step ensures you don’t have an overly salty recipe.

Add more garlic
If you prefer garlicky cannellini beans recipes, feel free to increase the garlic in this dish.

Change the seasoning
I’ve created an Italian-inspired recipe. However, you can alter the seasoning to your preferences (like creating a Mediterranean version).

Mash the beans
To create a delicious texture, you can mash the white beans to create a slightly chunky texture. Or, keep mashing for a creamier consistency.

Here are some other tasty soups and side dishes for you to try; Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque, Israeli Couscous (Pearl Couscous Recipe) and Courgette Soup

Overhead shot of creamy cannellini beans in a sauce with freesh basil leaves, grated cheese and chilli flakes in a Ninja pan with a piece of cheese on a grater in view below the pan.

What to serve with this cannellini beans recipe

Like other recipes with white beans, these yummy white beans work well with quite a few sides and main dishes. Here are a few ideas for your next meal!

Bread – Pair these cannellini beans with crusty rustic bread, garlic bread, rosemary focaccia, or Italian bread. This is a great side; the bread can help you scoop up all the deliciously cheesy beans.

Fish – Salmon, tilapia, and halibut taste great with creamy beans.

Meat – Chicken and pork pair well with this bean recipe, as they don’t overpower the flavour of the beans.

Make ahead instructions

These delicious white beans will stay good in the fridge for up to five days. If you want to make this recipe ahead of time, simply pack the creamy beans into separate airtight containers. Then, reheat each container before you eat it.

How to store leftovers

To store leftover white beans, allow them to cool fully. Then, pack them into an airtight container (or multiple containers). Reheat and enjoy throughout the week.

How to reheat

When you’re ready to eat these yummy white beans, you can simply reheat them in the microwave or on the stovetop. Ensure you stir them as they heat so they can be warm throughout.

How to freeze

If you’ve made a double or triple batch of this creamy bean dish, you can freeze the leftovers for up to one month. Pack the cooled white beans into an airtight container, and they’re ready to go into the freezer.

Have extra beans in your pantry? Try my: Spanish Chorizo & Butter Bean Slow Cooker Stew

A close up of creamy cannellini beans in a sauce with fresh basil leaves, grated cheese and chilli flakes in a pan.

FAQs

What herbs go best with white beans?

Since white beans have a subtle flavour, you can use most herbs. A few favourites include fresh rosemary, parsley, and thyme.

Can you freeze leftovers?

Yes! You can freeze these yummy white beans.

Are white beans the same as pinto beans?

No, white beans are not the same as pinto beans. Pinto beans are not in the white bean family.

What are white beans called in the store?

You won’t find any cans or bags labelled white beans at the store. You’ll need to first select a type of white bean (navy, Great Northern, cannellini, lima), then search for a label matching that bean.

Can you use frozen spinach in this recipe?

Yes, you can add frozen spinach to these creamy beans. Toss in feta cheese and tomatoes to create a Mediterranean version of this dish.

What is a good way to thicken the sauce?

Add a teaspoon of arrowroot powder to the mixture if you want thicker white beans. You can also add a flour roux as a thickener.

Should you rinse canned beans?

Yes, it’s best to rinse canned beans to help reduce the sodium level in the recipe. Otherwise, the dish can become overly salty if you add other seasonings.

How could I alter cooking time for soaked dry beans?

If you’re using soaked dry beans, you’ll need 1-2 hours to cook the beans fully instead of 15 minutes. First, it’s necessary to simmer the beans. Then, you can follow the above steps.

Can I use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth?

Yes, you can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth in this dish.
 
If you want to enjoy these white beans as a side dish, consider pairing them with these meat entrees: The BEST Crispy Bone In Chicken Thighs, One Pot Chicken & Rice, or Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

If you tried this Creamy White Beans with Parmesan recipe, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x

 

 

Creamy White Beans with Parmesan (Cannellini Beans)

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5 from 8 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
£1.24
mains, meal prep
Italian
Freezable
Servings: 4
These creamy white beans are quick to make, healthy, budget-friendly, and delicious! Enjoy these cheesy cannellini beans for lunch, dinner, or a side.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely diced (£0.15)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (£0.39)
  • 3 (x cans) of cannellini beans,  drained and rinsed (£0.65x3)=(£1.95)
  • 80 g hard cheese, finely grated + extra to serve (£1.74/2)=(£0.87)
  • 100 ml single cream £1.20/2=(£0.60)
  • 160 g tenderstem broccoli, steamed to serve (£0.99)

Cupboard Essentials

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 200 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt

Method

  • Start by adding the olive oil and diced onion into a non-stick frying pan. Season with salt and saute for 6 minutes.
  • Once softened, add the pepper and garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes, then add the white beans, stock and cream. Cook for 7 minutes, adding the parmesan half way through.
  • Meanwhile, steam the broccoli until tender.
  • Serve with fresh basil and an extra sprinkle of black pepper & flaky salt.

Notes

  • Drain and rinse canned white beans to reduce salt content and prevent an overly salty dish.
  • Customise the recipe to your taste by increasing the amount of garlic for a more pronounced flavor.
  • Tailor the dish to your preferences by experimenting with different seasonings, allowing for a personalised touch.
  • Adjust the texture of the dish by mashing the white beans; go for a slightly chunkier texture or continue mashing for a creamier consistency.

Nutrition

Servings: 4 servings
Fat: 15g
Calories: 343kcal
Carbohydrates: 29g
Protein: 18g

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