Fava beans have a rich flavor and a high protein content. But you may not like the taste of fava beans, or you can’t find them in the store. There are several good substitutes for fava beans that won’t compromise the taste or nutritional value of the dish.
This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider.
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What Are Fava Beans?
Fava beans are a type of legume native to North Africa and Southwest Asia. They are a staple in many cuisinies around the world, including Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Fava beans are also known as broad beans. The telugu chikkudukaya in English is the same as fava beans or broad beans.
When cooked, the beans are green with a slightly sweet taste and a creamy texture. They are encased in large, tough pods that you can remove before cooking.
Fava Beans Nutrition
These beans are rich in protein, fiber, and many important vitamins and minerals, making them a nutrient-dense addition to your diet.
One cup of fava beans provides about 13 grams of protein, 9 grams of dietary fiber, and significant amounts of B vitamins, choline, folate, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
9 Substitutes for Fava Beans
These are the best substitutes for fava beans that are easy to find and can work well with your recipes:
Lima beans might be the best substitute for fava beans. They have a similar buttery texture and sweet flavor that can emulate the taste and feel of fava beans in a variety of dishes.
Lima beans are also packed with nutritional value, including proteins, dietary fiber, manganese, folate, and iron. They are the same color, a taste-match, and a nutritional equal to fava beans.
Edamame is another excellent fava bean substitute. These are immature soybeans that have a similar creamy texture and a nutty, sweet flavor. Like fava beans, edamame is green and a rich source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Edamame has a distinct flavor that might alter the taste a bit of a dish intended for fava beans. Despite this, their taste and nutritional profile make them a worthy substitute when fava beans aren’t available. (If you love edamame, try my recipe for Garlic Parmesan Edamame.)
Another fava bean alternative is kidney beans. They are named for their kidney-like shape. These beans have an earthy flavor and a soft, creamy texture when cooked. Kidney beans are rich in protein, fiber, and various essential nutrients.
One significant difference is their darker color, which may change the visual presentation of your dish. While kidney beans share some similarities with fava beans, their flavor is somewhat distinct. So they might impart a different taste to your recipe.
Cannellini beans are sometimes called white kidney beans because of their kidney shape. They are a staple in Italian cuisine.
Their creamy texture and mild, nutty flavor can seamlessly blend into most recipes calling for fava beans. They will offer a white color instead of a green color to your dish. (If you love cannellini beans, try my recipe for Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew.)
Lentils are small, disk-shaped legumes that come in a variety of colors, including green, red, brown, and black. Their earthy flavor and firm texture make them a versatile ingredient in many dishes. Although lentils lack the same sweet taste of fava beans, they provide a similar mouthfeel in most recipes.
Lentils are also nutritional powerhouses, boasting high levels of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are a good choice when you need a quick-cooking substitute for fava beans because they have a shorter cooking time.
Black beans are often used in Latin, Cajun, and Creole cuisines. The dense, meaty texture of black beans makes them a good fava bean replacement.
They have a sweet, earthy flavor and a similar nutritional profile to fava beans. Keep in mind that black beans have a distinct texture, flavor, and color that may slightly alter the final result of your recipe.
Fresh or frozen, green peas are easy to find in most grocery stores. Their vibrant green color, sweet flavor, and creamy texture resemble that of fava beans.
They provide similar nutrients, such as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, and several minerals like iron, zinc, and manganese. Do not substitute canned green peas for fava beans because the canning process makes green peas too soft to replace fava beans in recipes.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are another exceptional alternative for fava beans. With their creamy texture and nutty taste, chickpeas can fill the fava beans’ role in many recipes with ease.
One notable difference between chickpeas and fava beans is the color; chickpeas have a beige color that can alter the appearance of your dish.
Being from the South, I must mention black-eyed peas. They have a characteristic black spot on a creamy white background, and they are rich in protein, fiber, and a variety of nutrients. These peas have a mild sweet and earthy flavor, with a texture that holds up well when cooked, much like fava beans.
Because of their taste, texture, and nutritional profile, these are the 9 best substitutes for fava beans. What do you usually use in place of fava beans in your recipes? Let me know in the comments. And if you love fava beans, try substituting them into my recipe for Cowboy Caviar.