If you are fairly new to cooking, finding the difference between northern beans and navy beans can be a bit difficult for you.
We don’t blame you; both of the beans are white and might look similar to the naked eye.
It’s true that they both come from the same bean family Phaseolus Vulgaris, and are originally native to North and Central America. But in reality, the beans differ in taste, size, and use.
When a recipe calls for navy beans, you have to be able to differentiate them from Great Northern beans. This is why you need to know the difference between Great Northern beans vs navy beans.
Don’t worry though, we are here to help you understand the key differences and to also help you differentiate them easily. So without further delay, let’s get into spilling the beans!
A Brief About Great Northern Beans
Great Northern beans were grown by the Mandan tribe for centuries. The beans grill in North Dakota, and therefore are called Great Northern beans.
A great way to spot Great Northern beans is by their shape and structure. They look quite similar to white lima beans. These beans too are oval-shaped and have very thin skin.
The bean has a very mild and subtle flavor. Great Northern beans are not too dense and have a very light texture.
Some people often say that the bean has a slightly grainy texture. The large size of white beans is also closely related to kidney beans.
Because of the structure, the beans hold their shapes quite well when cooked. That is one of the main reasons why Great Northern beans are ideal for putting in salads, soups, or baking.
Their mild and creamy texture makes them the perfect component for baked beans. One interesting thing about the Great Northern bean is that- it is blanched. When cooked, the outer layer is removed so the beans stay white.
When you’re at the grocery store, look for northern beans that are slightly shiny and plump. If the Great Northern beans look wrinkled or dry, try and avoid them.
Some stories even dried great northern beans. These beans have to be soaked first before you cook them. Although they can be a bit of a hassle to cook, dried beans are great for long-term storage.
Depending on the type of Great Northern bean that you have bought- you might have to cook the beans for an hour or more.
Substitute For Northern Beans
Can’t seem to get your hands on Great Northern beans? Don’t worry, here are some good substitute options that are similar in look and texture.
1. Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans are a great substitute for the Great Northern beans. This is because the beans have a very similar naughty flavor.
Similar to Great Northern beans, these two are white. They have a kidney bean shape, and a smooth taste as well.
Cannellini beans can be used in soups, and even salads, because they’re easy to cook. The beans originate from Italy and are often used in most Italian dishes. The beans on their own don’t have that much flavor. But cannellini beans are great at absorbing flavors from other ingredients.
If you plan on using cannellini beans, you need to remember that they have to be soaked overnight. So the preparation time for the beans is quite long.
2. Navy Beans
Navy beans and Great Northern beans are quite similar to the naked eye. They also have very mild flavor profiles and similar textures.
If you want to make baked beans and are looking for an alternative to Great Northern beans, you can try out navy beans. The beans require a little bit of preparation so that the cooking time can be sped up.
Once cooked, the beans give a very similar texture to Great Northern beans.
When compared, Navy beans have lower sodium content than Great Northern beans. But Navy beans are a great source of fiber which can help your stomach health. Because the beans are rich in fiber- they are great in soups and salads.
3. Lima Beans
Lima beans are very popular in southern cuisine. The beans are often used to make baked beans or succotash.
European explorers brought lima beans back with them. The beans are named after the seaport of Lima, Peru.
Lima beans are flat and large. They are also green in color. The beans are quite popular for having a very earthy or nutty taste. Unlike great northern beans, these have quite a strong flavor.
The beans are a great addition to casseroles, dips, spreads, or even soups. You do have to soak the beans overnight before using them in any recipe. Once soaked, the beans can even be blended to create a lima bean soup that is added to rice or pasta. It gives the dish a creamy texture.
But, lima beans are a bit more expensive than Great Northern beans. So, you can only use these as a substitute if you have no other option left, or have a bit of money to splurge.
4. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are often used in Mexican cuisine. They are quite popular within the Hispanic community.
These beans are also white but have a rounder shape. Unlike great northern beans, pinto beans have a brown or dark beige edge. Therefore, they have a marveled appearance and are not completely white.
Pinto beans are quite versatile. You can use them in chilies, salads, soups, or even blend them to make dips.
Although it’s not a great replacement, if you are in dire need, you can also use chickpeas in place of great northern beans.
Chickpeas have a very strong flavor and are nutty and slightly sweet. That is why chickpeas are often used in salads or other dishes. Because they can hold their shape even after cooking, they are a great addition to soups and salads.
Chickpeas have been used in recipes for ages. They are included in recipes that date back thousands of years. Chickpeas are often used in Egyptian, Greek, or Roman dishes. The product is also used in Arabian, Spanish, and even Italian cuisine.
So, it can be said that chickpeas are quite versatile. Besides being used in salads and soups, they are also great in stews, casserole, and dips. After all, hummus, which has become a staple dip in the states, is made out of chickpeas!
One thing that you must remember when using chickpeas as a substitute for Great Northern beans is that- they have a very strong flavor. The taste of chickpeas might affect the overall recipe.
Popular Northern Beans Recipes
If you have some Great Northern beans lying at home, here are a few classic recipes that you can try out. These recipes are great if you want to experience the true flavor and texture of Great Northern beans.
The recipes are also very simple and don’t require you to spend much time in the kitchen.
1. Boston Baked Great Northern Beans
Short the beans carefully, and rinse them thoroughly. Get rid of any dirt that might be on the beans. After rinsing, place them in a large pot, and fill the pot with water.
Bring the water to a boil, and cook the beans. After the water has boiled for 3 minutes, lower the heat and let the water simmer. After this, you will have to let the Great Northern beans cook for 60 to 90 minutes or until they are tender.
When boiling, you might notice that the beans produce a sort of foam. This has to be skimmed out of the water regularly.
Then, the beans are flavored with three types of sweeteners- brown sugar, molasses, and maple syrup. Mix these with the beans, and you have a great bowl of Boston-baked great northern beans!
2. Greens And Beans Turkey Soup
This entire recipe requires 15 minutes of preparation time, and 2 and 1/2 hours of cooking.
Place a turkey carcass into a stockpot and boil it with celery and onion. Bring the water to a boil, and then let the carcass simmer in the water for about 2 hours.
After it is done, remove the carcass and let it cool. Then the broth can be strained to remove the fat and boiled vegetables.
Shred the meat from the bones, and put the meat back into the broth. After this, add boiled Great Northern beans, chopped onions, salt, pepper, and bouillon, and bring the broth to a boil. Reduce the heat, and let it simmer for just 10 minutes.
This flavor-packed soup is quite a hardy meal and can keep you full for a long time.
3. Spicy White Chili
To make this, get a Dutch oven or a kettle, and sauté some onions in it. After the onions are tender- add chilis, oregano, cayenne pepper, cloves, cumin, and most importantly a lot of garlic. Cook all of these ingredients for two or three minutes.
Add a hefty amount of chicken broth, and 1/2 cooked Great Northern beans.
Cook the broth for 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender. After this, remove the pot from the heat, and stir in as much cheese as you like.
You can then garnish this cheesy, creamy chili with sour cream or even jalapeno peppers if you like. Some people also sprinkle garlic powder or onion powder on top for a kick of flavor.
A Brief About Navy Beans
Navy beans are also known as Boston beans, p beans, Harry cut beans, or even Yankee beans. They are very closely related to great northern and cannellini beans.
The beans are pre-sized and white. They are quite versatile and used in a lot of dishes.
You can get navy beans both in dried form, or canned form. They can also be grown in a garden very easily if you have enough space.
These beans are known for their fairly mild flavor and dense texture. These beans are called navy beans because they were once a staple supply in the United States Navy. Because the beans can be dried, they last quite a long time. Besides that, beans are also a great source of nutrition.
If you buy navy beans in a can, you have to rinse them and then use them in your dishes. If you buy them in their dried form, you have to let them soak overnight and then boil them to make them tender.
Although canned beans are ready to use, a little bit of slow stewing improves their flavor a lot. Depending on what you are cooking, a dish including navy beans can take quite a while to cook. The beans, when they are dried, need to be boiled for a minimum of 60 minutes.
5 Navy Beans Substitute
If the recipe that you plan on making calls for navy beans, but you don’t have any in the pantry, you have nothing to worry about.
Luckily, there are quite a few alternatives to Navy beans that can give you a similar feel and taste.
1. Mayocoba Beans
Mayocoba beans Also known as Mexican yellow beans are very pale yellow. Sometimes they are also ivory colored.
When cooked, the beans have a very creamy texture with a mild flavor. That is why these are a great substitute for navy beans.
The beans can absorb any flavor that they are cooked in. That is why they are often used in soups, stews, tips, chilies, or even consumed as refried beans and on tacos.
2. Black Beans
Black beans might not look anything like navy beans, but they are similar in character. The beans are capable of absorbing flavor and therefore are used in salads, soups, chili, rice, stews, and even to make purees.
If the color isn’t a problem, the beans can also be used in stews. These beans have a softer texture, but they are dense like navy beans. Black beans also have a very mild and creamy flavor with a slightly meaty texture.
Some people often use a mixture of navy beans and black beans in their recipes. It gives the dish a nice black and white color.
3. Red Kidney Beans
Red kidney beans can be used as a replacement for navy beans as well. Red kidney beans are red like navy beans which are cream or white-colored.
But, red kidney beans also have a very nice creamy and smooth texture. Besides that, the beans are also slightly sweet which makes any dish taste a lot more hearty and better.
Red kidney beans are great for using in chilis, dips, or stews. They are also used in salads and many vegan dishes.
If the color of the wind doesn’t bother you, they can also be blended in with suits.
4. Flageolet Beans
These beans have a very mild and delicate flavor. The beans are used in dishes such as salads, soups, or even as a side dish for meat. The mild flavor of the beans goes quite well with meat and even fish.
Besides that, these beans are also whitish. So when used as a replacement, most people won’t be able to tell whether these are flageolet beans or navy beans.
5. Butter Beans
Butter beans are a sort of large cream-colored beans that have a buttery, rich, and savory flavor. When cooked properly, the beans can give a great velvety texture to your dish.
These beans can be used in replacement of navy beans in recipes such as casseroles, dips, salads, soups, mesh, and even pies.
Popular Navy Beans Recipes
Navy beans are quite healthy. They are also very versatile and can be used in a lot of different recipes. Here are a few quick and easy ways for you to enjoy a healthy meal that include navy beans.
1. Navy Bean Sandwich Spread
To make the sandwich spread, you will have to cook the navy beans until they are tender. Then put them in a food processor with olive oil, flaxseed oil, herbs such as thyme, dried oregano, parsley, and spices such as onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Blend to make sure until it is smooth. Use it as a sandwich spread on brown bread.
2. Simple Navy Bean Bruschetta
To make this, cook your navy beans until they are tender. Then just lightly toss them in some sage, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Put them on a slice of bruschetta, and enjoy!
3. Navy Bean Soup
Place two cups of dried white navy beans that have been soaked overnight, one chopped small onion, garlic cloves, a pound of smoked ham hock, salt, and pepper into a large Dutch oven.
Add eight cups of water. After bringing the beans to a boil, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about an hour, or until the bean is nice and tender.
Remove the ham hock and keep the soup on a low flame to keep it warm. Remove the bones from the broth. Adjust the seasoning as required.
This is a great way to enjoy a fulfilling bowl of navy bean soup.
Difference Between Navy Beans And Great Northern Beans
Now that we know what navy beans and Great Northern beans are, we can get into the differences between them. As we have mentioned before, although these beans look quite similar to the eye, they differ in texture and nutrition. Here are a few key differences between the two beans.
Technically, there is no key difference in the usage of northern beans and navy beans. Oftentimes, they are used as substitutes for each other.
Both the beans are great in stews, soups, salads, and even as dips. They are very versatile and can be adjusted and added to any recipe as per a person’s liking
When it comes to nutrition, Great Northern beans are much better than navy beans. This is because there is 32.03% more dietary fiber in Great Northern beans.
There is also 17.05% more potassium, 19.05% more calcium, 8% more magnesium, 44.51% more riboflavin, and 9.83% more phosphorus in Great Northern beans.
So, if you plan on adding beans to your diet to make your overall consumption of food healthier, we would suggest that you go with the great northern beans for sure!
Great Northern beans and navy beans look very similar. They are both white, but they have a difference in texture.
Navy beans have a much denser texture and also come with thicker skins.
On the other hand, great northern beans have a thin skin and a less dense texture.
4. Cooking Time
Because navy beans have such thick skin and are denser- they have to cook for a longer time. Usually, navy beans take 90 to 120 minutes to cook properly. On the other hand, great northern beans will be done within 45 to 60 minutes.
Are Great Northern Beans The Same As Navy Beans?
Although they look quite similar, Navy beans and Great Northern beans are not the same things.
Great Northern beans are called large white beans. These are generally larger than navy beans in size. The beans also have a less dense texture and thin skin.
The shape of Great Northern beans is flat like a cannellini bean. The delicate flavor goes well in soups, stews, and even salads.
On the other hand, navy beans have a very thick skin and have a more dance texture. These also need to be cooked for a longer amount of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should You Salt The Beans When They Are Cooking, Or After They Are Done Cooking?
By adding the salt to the boiling water when they are cooking- there’s a possibility of the beans becoming too tough. That is why a lot of people recommend adding salt after the beans are done cooking.
2. How To Store Navy And Great Northern Beans?
Dried beans can be stored in an airtight container in a dry place for weeks or months.
Cooked beans on the other hand have to be covered in a container, and refrigerated. These have to be discarded after a week.
3. How Long Do You Have To Soak Dried Beans For?
Dried beans have to be soaked for a couple of hours. It is better if the beans are soaked overnight.
After soaking, you have to simmer them on low heat until they are tender.
4. What Is The Size Of A Great Northern Bean?
Great Northern beans are approximately half an inch in length.
They are off-white, and also have a semi kidney shape.
Both navy beans and Great Northern beans are great sources of protein and nutrition. However, Great Northern beans have more nutritional value than navy beans. They are also easier and quicker to cook. Navy beans will take longer to cook while great northern cooks in 60 minutes.
The key differences between Great Northern VS Navy beans are in the texture and nutritional value. Great Northern beans Have a lighter texture, while Navy beans have a denser texture.
Both of these beans are used in very similar dishes. Because they can hold on to their shape even after being cooked, they are great additions to stews, soups, and salads.
Understanding the difference between these two beans can be difficult by looks, but they have different textures. Now that you know the differences between these two, you will know exactly which one you have to use in your recipes!