6 Borlotti Bean Substitutes

Borlotti beans are an interesting little food ingredient. Flecked in white and purple, and mild to the taste, there are a lot of recipes that can use these beans that their texture to amazing, delicious effect.

However, if you don’t like something about these beans, or you’ve run out of them in your pantry, don’t think that you’re left up a creek without a paddle.

With the right know-how, there are a ton of substitutes that you can use to make sure that your recipe goes ahead.

If you’re looking for the TLDR of this guide, and you need your best substitutes in a hurry, we would recommend using pinto beans or kidney beans in your recipes if you don’t have any borlotti beans.

Of course, if you want to learn what makes these such good substitutes, as well as a ton of other great substitutes, you should read on and find out for yourself!

6 Borlotti Bean Substitutes

What Are Borlotti Beans?

There might be some people reading who don’t know what a borlotti bean is.

For those people, as well as people who want to know what they need to replace in their substitute, we’ll unpack this bean and its qualities a little more.

Borlotti beans are easiest to spot by their aforementioned purple/red and beige colored spots, though they tend to lose this coloration when they are cooked.

They are also widely enjoyed for their texture when bitten into, which is a soft and smooth, almost creamy texture.

In terms of their flavor, borlotti beans are pretty mild, which is often why they are rarely eaten on their own, and instead are used to bulk u many other recipes like stews or chilies.

Borlotti beans are also a great source of protein, making them an ideal source for people that are limited to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

They are particularly popular in a lot of Italian and Portuguese recipes, where their creamy contents mesh well with a ton of other spices and flavors once they’ve been bitten into.

Borlotti beans are also popular across the United States and Mexico but are rarely called borlotti beans here, instead being known as cranberry beans.

(So, in case you were wondering why you hadn’t heard of borlotti beans, now you know!)

So, with those key details explained, we can now move on to our substitutes!

1. Pinto Beans

As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, if you’re looking for an ideal substitute for borlotti beans, you really should go with pinto beans

Almost immediately, most people will be able to tell the difference between borlotti and pinto beans, with pinto not only being a deep orange-brown color but also being a little smaller in size too.

However, that’s where the differences end. Because in virtually every other metric, pinto beans are the perfect substitute for borlotti beans!

Not only do they have the same mild flavor that makes them a great addition to many sauce-filled dishes, but they have a similar texture too.

This means that you can cook these two beans in pretty much the same way, making for a very simple replacement.

Plus, they’re also loaded with a ton of similar nutrients, being rich in both protein and fiber.

In short, this is the bean that you should turn to if you’ve run out of borlotti beans!

2. Kidney Beans

Pinto beans might be an overall ideal substitute for borlotti beans, but kidney beans are right behind them. Some people often opt for kidney beans over pinto, so they’re virtually identical in many ways.

Most people will easily be able to spot a kidney bean from borlotti or pinto beans, with their deep red coats, and their fluffy contents.

Borlotti beans and kidney beans are quite closely related to each other, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that they make perfect substitutes.

They have a lot of the same nutritional values, being rich in fiber, protein, and even many important antioxidants to the human body, as well as a similar texture, and are even a similar size.

The only thing that we would note is that kidney beans do have a slightly more noticeable flavor to them than borlotti beans, so a thorough rinsing will be in order if you’re looking to make them slightly milder and a better comparison for borlotti beans.

Aside from that quick step, however, they are pretty much perfect for swapping out borlotti beans within a recipe. Plus, kidney beans are easy to find and buy pretty much anywhere, so you’ll never be without them!

3. Anasazi Beans

We might be getting into slightly more obscure territory with the next few substitutes, but trust us when we say that these beans, when prepared right, are also phenomenal alternatives to borlotti beans, especially if you’re looking to add more pronounced flavors.

Anasazi beans are a perfect example. First cultivated by the Anasazi people whom the beans are named, these beans are instantly recognizable for their bright red and light coloration.

In terms of their flavor, Anasazi beans do taste a little different from borlotti beans, having a distinctly earthy and nutty flavor to them, and a noticeably firm texture to them.

However, if you soak these beans in clean water overnight, you can easily soften them up to give them a noticeably softer texture.

Once they have been prepared in this way, Anasazi beans can be used in pretty much the same recipes that borlotti beans are used in, all while having a similarly high protein and fiber count to them too.

4. Cannellini Beans

Cannelini beans are easily recognizable from many of the other substitutes that we have covered, being a bright beige white, and noticeably larger than many other beans, borlotti and kidney included.

Cannellini beans have a somewhat firmer texture than a lot of the other substitutes that we’ve covered, so you may find that they’re not a perfect 1-to-1 replacement for borlotti here.

However, they share a similar mild taste that is perfect for adding to all kinds of soups and stews, where the cooking process can soften them up a little, making them an even closer substitute.

Their mild flavor also makes them perfect for seasoning, in case you fill like adding a few extra flavors to this protein and fiber-rich substitute!

5. Navy Beans

Navy beans get their name from the fact that they have been a popular food to give sailors of the US navy since the latter half of the 19th century.

But is this staple bean as good of a substitute for borlotti as it is feeding our sea-faring troops?

Well, this white bean is certainly rich in tons of vital proteins in the same way that borlotti beans are, as well as plenty of antioxidants. There’s a good reason that this has been used as food for soldiers, after all!

They’re also pretty similar in texture, so you can do a lot worse than using navy beans instead of borlotti beans!

If you’re looking for a bean to use in your next Mexican or Tex-Mex dip, these are the substitute for you!

6. Lupini Beans

Lupini might not be as famous as many of the other beans on this list of substitutes.

However, if you’re going for a borlotti recipe that takes a lot of inspiration from European cuisines, this is arguably one of the best to go with.

With a firm outer layer and a noticeably bitter taste, these beans need a little more prep time put into them to make them work as a borlotti bean substitute.

Make sure to soak them for at least 30 minutes to get them to the right texture and flavor!

Final Notes

So, as you can see, borlotti share a lot of qualities in common with many other beans and legumes that you’ll find out there.

So, whether you’re making a soup, or looking for a replacement bean for your favorite dip, these alternative beans have got you covered!

6 Borlotti Bean Substitutes

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


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  • Pinto Beans

  • Kidney Beans

  • Anasazi Beans

  • Cannellini Beans

  • Navy Beans

  • Lupini Beans


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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