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.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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? Here are a few more tasty bean dishes to recreate at home: Spanish Chorizo & Butter Bean Slow Cooker Stew, Miso Aubergine with Edamame Beans and Brown Rice, or Huevos Rancheros inspired Baked Bean Bowls.
Since white beans have a subtle flavour, you can use most herbs. A few favourites include fresh rosemary, parsley, and thyme.
Yes! You can freeze these yummy white beans.
No, white beans are not the same as pinto beans. Pinto beans are not in the white bean family.
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.
Yes, you can add frozen spinach to these creamy beans. Toss in feta cheese and tomatoes to create a Mediterranean version of this dish.
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.
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.
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.
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