This is the only way you'll want to eat white beans from now on. They are soft and lemony with the perfect combination of spices. You can serve this vegan white bean recipe as a side or add some grains to make it a nutritious lunch or dinner.
If you were looking for a high protein and high fiber side dish that's not only healthy but also tastes BOMB, you found it! I swear by this white bean recipe for family meals and gatherings. We never have leftovers when I make these because everyone goes for seconds!
However, you can also easily eat these lemony spinach white beans with a sandwich or turn them into a salad by adding grains.
For another vegan white bean recipe, check out this spinach soup made with white beans, potatoes and white wine.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's a super nutritious dish. White beans are high in plant-based protein (24 grams of protein/100 g) and spinach adds a good amount of fiber.
- This vegan white bean recipe comes together in less than 15 minutes (if you're using canned beans).
- It's super inexpensive once you bought all the spices.
- You can it make with pantry items only if needed (using frozen spinach and canned white beans - I always keep those on hand).
- It's perfect for meal prep as this recipe tastes even better the next day.
- White beans, such as great northern beans, navy beans, butter beans or cannellini beans are the base of this side dish. You can you canned beans for convenience or cook dry beans at home.
- Baby spinach adds a serving of veggies to the dish. You can use frozen spinach but make sure to thaw it in a sepearte pan first and remove excess water.
- Yellow onion and fresh garlic are flavor boosters.
- Lemon is THE key ingredient. It adds a zesty touch to sometimes bland-tasting beans.
- Ground coriander, turmeric and cinnamon give this bean stir fry a real kick. It's an unusual combination that you probably don't use on the regular (and that's what makes this recipe so special).
See recipe card for detailed measurements and instructions.
- Don't swap out the spices. This specific combination of spices combined with lemon juice is what makes this recipe a hit. Leaving some of them out or swapping them out could make this dish taste relatively bland.
- If you use canned white beans, try to find a brand that only contains white beans, water and salt. Many contain preservatives, aromas and other additives that you can easily omit by reading labels.
- If you use dried beans, soak them overnight for quicker cooking times and easier digestion.
- If using dried beans, try to buy them in loose at zero-waste stores.
- Make a small batch of the spice mix and use it in salads and stir-fries. You'll also have it ready to go the next time you want to make this recipe.
How to cook dry white beans
STEP 1: Rinse the dry beans under cold water. Make sure to remove any discolored or damaged beans.
STEP 2: Soak the beans in water. Add them to a large stockpot and cover them with water at a 1:4 bean-to-water ratio (add 4 cups of water to 1 cup of white beans). Let them sit for 8 hours or overnight.
STEP 3: Strain the beans. Rinse them thoroughly under cold water until the water runs clear.
STEP 4: Cook the beans. Add them back to the pot and add water until it covers the beans. Bring it to a boil then reduce it to low-medium heat. Cook the beans until tender. This can take between 45 minutes and 2 hours.
Elo's pro tip: Cook the beans in vegetable broth for extra flavor. I simply add vegetable broth powder to the cooking water.
STEP 1: Rinse the beans under cold water if using canned beans. Cook and drain them according to the instructions above if using dry beans.
STEP 2: Mince the onion and the garlic. You want to mince them very finely to prevent biting on large pieces of onions. I like to use a garlic press for the garlic.
STEP 3: Heat a large pan with olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
STEP 4: Add in the beans and sauté them for 2-3 minutes. You want them to absorb the flavor of the onion and garlic.
STEP 5: Mix the spices in a small bowl. Add them to the pan and give it a good mix. Season with salt to taste.
STEP 6: Add in part of the spinach (until your pan is full). Reduce the heat to prevent to beans from burning. You don't want to stir too often or the beans may get mushy. Once the spinach is wilted, add in the rest. Give it a final stir. Serve as a side dish or check our add-in ideas below.
Watch the video!
- Quinoa – turn this dish into a delicious quinoa and white bean salad. You can eat it warm or cold.
- Cooked white potatoes – will keep you full for longer.
- Cooked white or wild rice – adds a serving of grains to make it extra nutritious.
- Crushed tomatoes – add them to the pan with the white beans for summery vibes. You may have to let it simmer for about 10 minutes to prevent the dish from being watery.
Frequently asked questions
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Yes, cannellini beans are a variety of white beans with medium-sized pods and a slightly earthy flavor. They hold their shape really well and are great for salads.
Both are white beans and they can be used interchangeably. However, cannellini beans have a nuttier and earthier taste compared to the really "buttery" butter beans (also known as lima beans).
Cannellini beans and navy beans are two different kinds of white beans. However, they both have a similar taste and texture that is nutty and earthy.
Cooked dry beans contain a little more protein, fiber and minerals than canned beans according to the USDA (see for yourself: canned white beans nutritional information versus cooked white beans nutritional information). However, their composition is still pretty similar. Nevertheless, many canned beans are high in sodium and contain other additives and preservatives. That's why I always recommend looking for brands that only contain white beans, salt and water.
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15-Minute Vegan White Bean Recipe (Lemon & Spinach)
- 1 onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 14 oz (400 g) canned white beans or a heaping ½ cup of dry beans
- 11 oz (300 g) baby spinach
- 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice juice of 1 ½ lemons
- 1 pinch of salt and pepper
- If using dry white beans, soak them overnight and cook them according to your prefered method.
- In a small bowl, combine all the spices to make the spice mix.
- Wash the spinach.
- Mince the onion and crush the garlic with a garlic press.
- Heat a large pan or skillet with your preferred cooking oil. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium-high heat until fragrant (2-3 minutes).
- Rinse the white beans under cold water and add them to the pan. Add 3 teaspoons of the spice mix, salt and lemon juice. Sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat. Don't stir too often to prevent breaking down the beans.
- Add in spinach until your pan is full. Once it's wilted, give it a good stir. Add in the rest of the spinach. Stir again.
- Serve as a side dish, with a sandwich or as a salad with cooked rice, quinoa or potatoes.
- You can use any kind of white beans: butter beans, cannellini beans, great northern beans, or navy beans.
- Try not to swap out the spices. This specific combination of spices combined with lemon juice is what makes this recipe a hit. Leaving some of them out or swapping them out could make this dish taste relatively bland.
- If you use canned white beans, try to find a brand that only contains white beans, water and salt. Many contain preservatives, aromas and other additives that you can easily be avoided.
- If you use dried beans, soak them overnight for quicker cooking times and easier digestion. You can find detailed instructions here.