Understanding the difference between the cannellini and kidney beans can help you decide if a substitution is possible, depending largely on the recipe you are using and how the beans are prepared. The beans have some similarities that make them interchangeable in some dishes.
Cannellini beans are white Italian kidney beans, available in both dried and canned forms. Dried cannellini beans require soaking overnight before you cook them. Use the beans in salads, soups and stews or puree them for use in dips. Evenly colored, glossy white beans are the best quality and have the best flavor. Boiled cannellini beans have about 225 calories per one cup serving with 11 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbohydrates. They also contain iron, magnesium and folate.
Kidney beans are a large dark red bean. They are typically found at grocery stores in cans, although they also are available dried. They are used in salads, chili, soups and stews. Kidney beans have about 215 calories per one cup serving with 14 grams of fiber, 13 grams of protein and 37 grams of carbohydrates.
Substituting Kidney Beans
While cannellini beans are a white kidney bean, they have a creamier texture than the darker red variety. In recipes specifically calling for white beans, the appearance of the dish is affected substantially if kidney beans are used. Kidney beans may affect the taste minimally if they are used whole in salads or soups instead of cannellini beans. Kidney beans won't work as well in recipes calling for pureed white beans because of the difference in creaminess and in color.
Substituting Great Northern or white navy beans for the cannellini beans offers a better result in both taste, appearance and creaminess than using kidney beans as the substitute. Before soaking or cooking any dried bean, sort through them and remove any pebbles or other residue. Canned beans last as long as three years. Dried beans are good for up to one year. Cooked dried beans stay good as long as three days when stored in the refrigerator.