Sometimes things can get a bit confusing when we’re talking about the various bean varieties around the world but we’re going to simplify them as we’re looking for the perfect fava bean substitute.
I imagine that fava beans are not so easy to find around the world. That’s one major reason to talk about the best substitutes for fava beans.
On the other hand, other people might not like their flavor all that much. I will admit that if we read about what fava tastes like, the description might sound a bit weird to some.
However, I and others think that fava might be one of the tastiest bean varieties.
Fava beans have a nutty and slightly sweet flavor. There’s a hint of bitterness and a slight aroma of cheese. Other people describe the flavor as being nutty and buttery. While others say that they taste like spring, with a sweet vegetal flavor.
Fava Bean Substitute: the Best Picks
1. Dry fava beans: Goya Foods Large Fava Beans
If you enjoy the taste of fava beans, I recommend buying dried fava beans. You have to soak them overnight, like we do with all other bean varieties, and the next day they’re ready to be cooked for delicious recipes.
2. Lima beans: Del Monte Green Lima Beans
If you want a fava bean substitute that tastes and looks quite similar to fava, then the answer is lima beans. The only difference between these two is that lima beans can’t be eaten raw. Fava beans can be eaten raw when they’re young pods.
3. Cannellini beans: 365 by Whole Foods Market, Beans Cannellini Organic
These are the common beans. They’re also the biggest from the white bean variety. Cannellini beans are excellent as a substitute for fava beans. They’re affordable and easy to find in local stores.
4. Chickpeas: Eden Foods Organic Garbanzo Beans
Considering that falafel is made from either chickpeas or fava beans or a combination of both, we could say that chickpeas are a top favorite fava bean substitute. They’re versatile and delicious.
5. Black beans: Bush’s Best Canned Black Beans
Who doesn’t love black beans? We can use them to make absolutely every dish that calls for fava beans, black bean falafel. Black beans are one of my favorite bean varieties.
13 Favorite Fava Bean Substitutes
We must also keep in mind that fava can be eaten raw, especially when they’re very young and you can eat them raw whole with the pod. That might be an awesome thing if you enjoy eating a lot of raw dishes, like salads.
However, there are only a few fava substitutes that can be eaten raw, like: sugar snap peas, snow peas, and pigeon peas as they’re young pods.
Edamame and lima are two examples of substitutes that look like fava but cannot be eaten raw. You always have to cook edamame and lima.
All the substitutes that I’m going to recommend can be used in a 1:1 substitution. There’s no need to change quantities.
The best fava bean substitutes are:
- dry fava beans
- canned fava beans
- lima beans
- pigeon peas
- sugar snap peas
- snow peas
- green peas
- black beans
- black-eyed peas
1. Dry fava beans
If you live in a place where you can’t find them fresh, maybe you can find dry fava beans as a substitute.
Dried fava beans are pretty much cooked like any other beans. They’re soaked and then they’re cooked low and slow in water.
I usually let them soak overnight. The next day they’re ready to be cooked so it’s much easier this way.
Dried fava beans are compared to the flavor of chickpeas. Just by that information alone you know that you can use chickpeas as the best fava bean substitute.
The dried ones are perfect for falafel, soups, stews, and pastes.
2. Canned fava beans
You can also buy them canned.
Canned fava beans are an amazing option to buy because they don’t have to be soaked and cooked for long periods of time. We just have to open the can.
It’s the same with other canned bean varieties (kidney beans, cannellini, black beans, etc.). Most of us buy them canned when we want to prepare quick dishes, they’re our shortcut.
3. Lima beans: similar flavor to fava beans
If we’re looking for a substitute that actually looks really similar to fava beans, then we need to talk about lima beans.
Lima beans are the fava bean substitute that resemble it the most both in terms of appearance and taste. However, it’s a matter for you to see if it’s available where you live.
What you should know about these two similar green beans is that fava beans are actually less starchy and have a milder taste than lima beans.
Thus, if you’re looking for a substitute because you don’t actually like fava all that much, then lima is not going to work as a substitute for you.
Moreover, you cannot eat lima beans raw. Thus, if you’re looking for a substitute for raw recipes, you’ll have to focus on getting sugar snap peas, snow peas or pigeon peas when they’re young pods.
Since we’ve been talking about lima beans, which look very similar to fava, let’s talk about another ingredient that also looks similar to these two.
Still, edamame are not exactly at the top of my list for fava substitutes because I imagine that they’re even more difficult to find than lima and fava.
And, just like lima, you cannot eat edamame raw. Out of the three, only fava pods can be eaten raw when they’re young and delicious.
Still, if you’re a big fan of Japanese cuisine, I’m sure that edamame dishes are something you’ll enjoy.
5. Cannellini beans: the most common fava bean substitute
Is there anything more common than cannellini beans? After all, they’re also harvested from the common bean plant.
If you want to skip a few steps in the cooking process, get canned cannellini. But if you’re trying to save a lot of money, get the dry ones. Let them soak for a long time and they’re going to be easier to cook with.
I love cannellini beans because they soak up the flavors of other vegetables and ingredients. They’re perfect sponges of flavor.
They’re a silky, nutty bean that can be used in whatever recipe calls for fava beans.
Cannellini are certainly a perfect fava bean substitute, whether you want to make foul mudammas, salads, soups, stews, etc.
6. Pigeon peas: versatile fava bean substitute
If you’ve never had pigeon peas, then you should give them a try. Unlike what the name might suggest pigeon peas are actually a bean variety.
Pigeon peas are just as versatile as fava beans and that’s what makes them such a lovely substitute to have in the kitchen. They can even be eaten raw if you buy them when they’re in season as young bright green pods.
Moreover, pigeon peas are more starchy and don’t taste as sweet as green peas but they still manage to have a delicious nutty flavor. They also absorb the flavor of the other ingredients in the dish.
7. Sugar snap peas: raw fava bean substitute
Is there anything better than making a quick stir-fry with sugar snap peas? Their sweetness is delicious.
I wanted to include sugar snap peas as a fava bean substitute in raw dishes. Sugar snap peas are the perfect ingredient if you need a raw substitute.
8. Snow peas
Snow peas also work as a substitute for raw fava beans but they’re not as sweet as sugar snap peas. Still, their taste is similar so you can definitely go for snow peas, too.
9. Green peas
If you don’t like beans in your dishes and you don’t want to use either lentils or chickpeas, then use green peas. This is a versatile ingredient.
Green peas are affordable, easy to find around the globe, sweet, delicious and very easy and quick to cook.
Green peas are perfect for people who don’t enjoy the starchiness of various bean varieties.
10. Black beans
I absolutely love black beans. The contrast that they offer in any dish is just perfect. I make my chili with black beans although kidney beans aren’t all that bad either.
Black beans have a mild flavor but what I like a lot is that they’re soft and creamy.
11. Black-eyed peas
Black-eyed peas are pretty popular in many parts of the world. If this is the one you prefer, you can use them as a fava bean substitute without any problems.
However, keep in mind that black-eyed peas taste like earthy white beans. It might be a flavor you like or it might not.
12 . Lentils
Whenever we talk about any bean substitutes, we should always make sure to remember that lentils and chickpeas will work perfectly as substitutes.
I overall prefer chickpeas as a fava bean substitute but lentils aren’t bad either. Considering that we can even make chili with lentils, you can be sure that lentils work for whatever recipe you want to make.
My favorite are red lentils.
13. Chickpeas: one of the best fava bean substitutes
Are there people who talk about chickpeas and don’t immediately salivate? I love them so much that I even included roasted chickpeas as the perfect vegan substitute for prosciutto.
I love eating vegan dishes as often as I can so I’m always up to cooking with chickpeas. Add some delicious extra virgin olive oil to the mix and it doesn’t take long to make a perfect dish.
Chickpeas can absolutely be used in whatever dish asks for fava beans. After all, falafel is made with either fava beans, chickpeas or both.
Get the canned ones if you want to speed up the cooking or if you want to make salads.
What are fava beans?
Fava beans are also known as broad beans or faba beans. The plant is also known as vicia faba, a species of vetch, a flowering plant that belongs to the pea and bean family Fabaceae or Leguminosae.
They’re famous across Asia, Middle East, Europe, South America and Africa. Fava beans have quite a long reach and popularity.
The amazing thing about them is that they’re so versatile since they can be eaten raw, cooked in all ways that exist or dried for later use during the cold months. They’re not many legumes that are as versatile as fava.
The plant is pretty easy to grow. If you have experience with pea plants, you’re going to easily handle growing your own vicia faba.
Fava beans grow in big, bumpy green pods. The harvest takes place in the spring so the planting is done early.
The pods hide large, flat, bright green beans. The tough clear skin of the beans is usually removed before eating.
However, in some places the price for fava beans might be a bit more expensive than for other bean varieties, peas, lentils or chickpeas. It depends where you live and how popular and easily grown they’re in your area.
Popular recipes with fava beans
Fava beans can be eaten raw so they work well in raw salads.
Other dishes in which we can enjoy this ingredient are stews, dips, all kinds of vegetarian dishes, boiled, mashed, steamed, sautéed, fried or roasted.
Shelled fava beans are usually blanched in order to remove the rough clear skin more easily.
One famous dish that is associated with fava beans is foul mudammas. Let’s see what fava bean substitute will work for this spectacular dish.
Foul mudammas is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that everyone should try once, even if we aren’t making it with the traditional ingredient.
Foul mudammas is especially awesome because it’s a vegan dish. Everyone can eat it.
The traditional ingredients are: stewed fava beans seasoned with cumin and finished with extra virgin olive oil. A lot of extra virgin oil is used, which gives it that hearty taste but you can use whatever oil you usually use for cooking.
What can we use as substitutes for foul mudammas? Pretty much any other bean variety that we want, including lima, cannellini, black or kidney beans.
Or we can use lentils or chickpeas. I would say that if you love chickpeas, absolutely use them to make foul mudammas. Or we can use pigeon peas. And even green peas if you don’t like anything else.
In fact, the flavors in foul mudammas are brought by the spicy sauce made with crushed garlic, chili peppers and fresh lemon juice. This spicy sauce goes well with anything.
Fresh parsley and diced tomatoes can be added on top for a crunch, fresh finish.
Sautéed fava beans
You can make a simple but delicious dish that consists of sautéed fava beans with garlic, green onions and basil.
This is a completely green dish that looks so pretty. If you want to keep the total green aspect of this dish, as a fava bean substitute you can use lima beans, edamame, sugar snap peas, snow peas or green peas. Or you can use chickpeas if you don’t mind changing the color of the dish.
Green beans can also work in this case, they make a great sautéed side dish.
Mexican fava bean soup
In the case of soups, including a very delicious Mexican fava bean soup, we can use pretty much whatever substitute we want: any bean variety that we can find and prefer or we can make it with lentils or chickpeas.
Flatbread with fava beans, cucumbers and burrata
Burrata is a cheese similar to mozzarella. If you can’t find burrata, just use fresh mozzarella. Or use feta or goat cheese or any other softer cheese that is famous where you live.
To replace the fava beans for this recipe, you can use sugar snap peas or young green pods of pigeon peas. Just cut them into bite-size pieces and you’re ready to assemble your flatbread as a low-calorie pizza alternative. It can also be a wonderful appetizer.
Fresh fava bean and parmesan salad
This recipe calls for blanched fava beans. That means that you can blanch lima beans or edamame to use as substitutes. But you can also use chickpeas, pigeon peas, sugar snap peas or snow peas.
Fava beans with tomatoes
I love eating fava beans with tomatoes but, just as much, I love eating green beans with tomatoes. For this recipe, I think that green beans would work the best. Green beans are also a perfect asparagus substitute.
You can buy frozen green beans for a cheap price and make as many servings as you want for a pretty cheap price.
As you can see, there are plenty of legumes to choose as a fava bean substitute, choose the ingredients you love the taste of or can be easily found where you live and match your budget.