Easy White Beans

Here’s a fast and easy white beans recipe: just 5 minutes in a skillet and they’re full of flavor! Use this trick for cooked or canned beans.

White beans

Here’s one of the best tricks for the home cook: how to make a can of beans taste incredible in 5 minutes! This is one of our top ways to make a quick and easy lunch, dinner protein or side dish. Pop white beans into a skillet and cook with herbs until warm and perfectly seasoned. It sounds deceptively simple, but the flavor is anything but: it’s salty, rich and nuanced. Beans are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Here’s more about white beans and how to whip up this fast and easy recipe: perfect for weeknights!

Different types of white beans

There are three main types of white beans that you’ll find at the store. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Cannellini: Cannelini beans (can-a-leen-ee) are an Italian variety that are large and kidney shaped, with a creamy texture and mild flavor. They’re also known as white kidney beans.
  • Great Northern: Great Northern beans are smaller than cannellini and have a brighter white color. They also have a mild flavor with a nutty undertone.
  • Navy: Navy beans are the smallest of the types of white beans. They have a mild flavor and got their name because they were a popular staple for the US Navy in the early 1900’s. You’ll find them in Boston Baked Beans and other American dishes. They’re also known as Boston beans or pea beans.
  • Butter: Butter beans are the largest of the white bean family. Lima beans are the green immature version of this bean, but the mature dried version tastes completely different. It has a creamy, rich flavor. Butter beans are sold in many grocery stores dried and canned.

There’s also a variety of extra large white beans called gigante beans. This variety is harder to find and used differently in recipes, so we won’t focus on it here. But if you can find them, they’re buttery and delicious!

White beans

Ingredients for this easy white beans recipe

This white beans recipe is the perfect recipe for a weeknight where you’ve got no idea what to eat, or a quick and easy lunch. They’re also a fantastic side dish, especially if you’re trying to add plant-based protein and fiber to accent a dish. This trick is so easy, you’ll wonder where it was all your life. Here’s

  • 15-ounce can white beans of any type: cannellini, Great Northern or navy
  • Olive oil
  • Dried tarragon or oregano (see below)
  • Onion powder and garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper

The flavor maker: dried tarragon!

Dried tarragon might not be a staple in your spice drawer, but we think it should be. Why? It adds intriguing, nuanced flavor. Tarragon is an herb often used in French cooking, but it’s also used in other Mediterranean and European cuisines. The fresh herb has an anise or licorice aftertaste, like fennel. The dried version is similar but not quite as strong.

Add a bit to these white beans and you’ll be amazed at the amount of flavor it brings! If you don’t have it, a good substitute for tarragon in this recipe is dried oregano.

Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans are a great option for white beans

How to make white beans taste great in 5 minutes

This white beans recipe is for already cooked or canned beans. To learn how to cook dried white beans, head to White Beans on Toast and follow the method there. As much as we like to make time to cook from dry, we eat a lot of canned beans around here. They’re so quick and easy, it’s worth stocking up! Here’s how to take a can of white beans and infuse big flavor:

  • Drain and rinse the beans. The can liquid makes them too soggy, so strain that out.
  • Melt butter in a skillet, or heat olive oil. You can use either. Butter infuses beautifully savory flavor, but olive oil works and keeps it plant-based / vegan.
  • Add tarragon, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Cook for 2 minutes, until warmed!

Once you’ve tried this recipe once, you won’t need to measure again! You can easily memorize the method and approximate on the seasonings.

White beans nutrition

White beans are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet! Here’s what you’re getting in 1 cup cooked beans:

IngredientCaloriesProteinCarbsFiberFat
White beans24217 grams44 grams11 grams0.6 grams
Source: White Beans Nutrition
  • White beans are loaded with plant-based protein (about 30% your daily need in 1 cup) and fiber (about 44% of your daily need).
  • Beans have lots of nutrients, a good amount of zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and vitamins B1, B6, E, and K.
  • Beans are a low glycemic index food, weighing in at 24 (source).
White beans

Why to eat more beans

White beans might be one of our planets best life sustaining foods. Not only are they delicious: they’re also shelf stable for about 2 to 3 years (both dried and canned). Here are a few more things to love about these mighty legumes:

  • Beans are the cheapest source of protein in the world. They’re the only food that’s both categorized as a protein and vegetable by the USDA.
  • They’ve may help you live longer: They’re rich in cancer fighting antioxidants and hearty-healthy fiber. Guess the common element in Blue Zone diet countries where people live the longest in the world? They all eat 1 cup of beans per day.
  • They’re planet-friendly. Beans may be key to feeding the Earth’s growing population: they take less of a toll on the climate than animal proteins.

More of 5-minute bean recipes

Here’s a collection of bean recipes that each come together in 5 minutes! It’s the perfect way to flavor each can of beans:

This white beans recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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White beans

Easy White Beans


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 to 3 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s a fast and easy white beans recipe: just 5 minutes in a skillet and they’re full of flavor! Use this trick for cooked or canned beans. 


Scale

Ingredients

  • 15-ounce can white beans of any type: cannellini, Great Northern or navy beans
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon or dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse the beans.
  2. Heat the butter or olive oil over medium-low heat in a small skillet. Add the beans and seasoning. Heat until just warm, about 2 minutes. 

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: White beans, white beans recipe

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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