When you have a recipe that lists fava beans as an ingredient and you do not have it, using a substitute or an alternate can be done. Fava beans are in season in spring, when you get them fresh grab them while you can otherwise, try one of these alternatives. All of these 7 substitutes for fava beans shared in this list are delicious & easy to find.
Since beans are one of the healthiest foods with fiber & protein, you don't want to miss out on this key ingredient. However, most of these substitutes are just as healthy & key nutritional benefits just like fava beans do. For those with Favism, finding a replacement for fava beans in cooking is a matter of life & death.
When you are looking for fava beans, keep in mind they do go by other names. Try also finding broad beans, horse beans, faba beans, or robin hood beans. No matter what you call them, they are the star of some great recipes such as Creamy Pesto Pasta with Fava Beans or an amazing Fava & Rice Salad.
What Can be Substituted for Fava Beans?
If you are asking yourself this right now, you are in the right place. I will share with you today the best alternate ingredients to replace fava beans. Here is the list of the best options for using instead of favas in recipes.
- Lima Beans/Butter Beans
- Cannellini Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Garbanzo Beans/Chick Peas (ceci beans)
- Black Beans
For more information on each option, see the sections below. All of these beans are similar to fava beans & taste delicious.
These hearty green legumes, edamame, makes for a good fava bean replacement. Fresh, frozen, or canned edamame is an easy way to replace favas in a recipe or for a snack. They can be found at most grocery stores and Asian markets.
Edamame has an earthy taste and a hearty texture like favas. They both are also high in fiber and protein, with edamame being smaller in size. Edamame is a young soybean with tons of flavor & health benefits.
Lima Beans/Butter Beans
In terms of taste, texture, size, shape, & color lima beans are the next best thing to fava beans. The best substitute for favas for all these reasons is to use lima beans as an alternate ingredient. Limas may also be called butter beans, double beans, Madagascar beans,s or wax beans. Dried limas are white and once cooked a soft green color.
They both have a light, grassy, earthy, and slightly nutty taste. The mild starchy legumes come in pods and are good sources of fiber & protein. They are in season at different times of year so they are good to swap one for the other. Read more about the similarities & differences between lima beans & fava beans.
These large white beans are similar to northern beans in appearance. However, what makes cannellini beans a good substitute for fava beans is their shape, size, & heartiness are similar. Bonus, both are native to Italy.
Cannellini comes in dried and canned varieties that are easy to find at mainstream grocery stores. Use them in a 1:1 replacement in any recipe. When you want a creamy texture in soups, stews, or risottos this is my favorite replacement.
Red, pink, white, crimson, or some are almost purple. These kidney-shaped beans are a good choice to use instead of favas when in a pinch. They are light to dark in color with some varieties speckled.
They come in dried, canned, or frozen varieties in almost any store. Kidney beans are sweeter than fava beans so keep that in mind when substituting in savory dishes. These are good alternatives when making stews, soups, salads & pasta dishes.
Garbanzo Beans/Chick Peas (ceci beans)
Protein-packed garbanzo beans are a great alternative to use instead of fava beans. They can be interchangeably used in any recipe like my Chickpea & Potato Curry.
Most people have a can of garbanzo beans in their pantry so this substitute ingredient is often already available to most cooks. Drain the ceci/garbanzo beans from the can and use them in what the recipe calls for fava beans.
Frozen, dried, or fresh peas make a great alternative for fava beans. Besides being the same color to help with the look of your recipe. Black-eyed peas are not as good as English peas but will also work.
Peas are a lower-calorie option at only 81 calories per 100g or ⅓ cup compared to 341 calories for fava beans. That also translates to less carbs, fiber, & iron.
Black beans may not be green like favas, but they are a great option for those eating healthy. Black beans are loaded with fiber & protein. They help keep you full & energized.
Plus black beans are loaded with antioxidants & good for heart health. These easy-to-find beans are available dried or canned in most conventional grocery stores.
Can I use Frozen, Dried, or Canned Fava Beans?
If you don't have fresh fava beans available, canned, dried, or frozen favas are a great replacement. These substitutes for recipes are the closest choices. Just keep in mind you may have additional cooking time if you need to soak & cook dried fava beans. Frozen or canned fava beans are the quickest & easiest substitute for fresh ones.
Fava Bean FAQs
Fava beans with their big pods and beans inside can be intimidating. They are a bit labor intensive so I get it. But once you do it once, you realize how easy it is to enjoy fresh fava beans straight from the garden or market. I have a full article with all the tips & steps for shelling & cooking fava beans.
Favism, or G6PD deficiency, is an inherited disorder where the absence of the enzyme G6PD leads to hemolytic anemia when fava beans are consumed. This destruction of red blood cells and blockage of blood vessels can lead to kidney failure and potential fatality if blockages occur in the kidneys. While usually detected in childhood, favism can also affect adults.
I hope you found the right bean to use as a substitute for fresh fava beans. Whether you war making soup, stew, salad, pasta, risotto, curry, or a side dish, favas are a yummy part of a healthy diet.
This legume is a plant protein that is key in vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean, & Middle Eastern diets for good reason. Try cooking with fava beans more & you will wondering where they have been your whole life?!!