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Creamy Skillet White Beans with Parmesan

5 from 6 votes

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These Italian-style creamy white beans are habit-forming — they’re really that good! Cannellini beans cook in about 10 minutes on the stovetop, in a garlicky cream sauce strewn with leafy greens and lots of Parmesan. Serve it as a hearty side dish, meatless main or add a cooked protein such as chicken, sausage, shrimp or chicken meatballs to make an easy dinner.

Cannellini beans, kale, and cream sauce in a skillet, with a wood spoon dipping into the pan.
Saucy white beans with creamy Parmesan broth, garlic and greens.

Comforting, satisfying and super-tasty — that’s the best way to describe this dish, which puts humble, affordable cannellini beans front and center.

White bean recipes are often on my weeknight menu rotation. I can’t imagine living without them! We love white beans cooked from scratch and tossed into dishes like creamy chili with Italian sausage, a spicy tomato and shrimp stew, and so much more.

Ingredients in this recipe

Cooking the beans with a handful of bold seasonings and pantry ingredients is the easiest — and fastest – way to transform basic white beans into a delicious meal. Here’s what you need.

Bowls full of cannellini beans, kale greens, parmesan cheese, cream and olive oil on a work surface.
Use pantry ingredients to make a 15-minute meal!
  • White beans: Either cannellini beans cooked from scratch or canned beans are satisfyingly creamy-textured and starchy. They make a hearty dish, and they’re my favorite type of white bean to use in this recipe. Other white beans such as Great Northern beans, butter beans or navy beans will work perfectly, as well as larger white beans like corona or Greek gigante.
  • Shallot: I like to use this type of onion because it tastes like a cross between a sweet red onion and an everyday yellow onion. Any kind of onion you have on hand is fine to use in this recipe.
  • Garlic: There’s nothing better with white beans! Grating fresh garlic cloves (or pushing them through a garlic press) quickly infuses a punchy taste straight into the beans and sauce.
  • Herbs: Tuscan-style white bean recipes are traditionally seasoned with aromatic Mediterranean herbs like rosemary and thyme. The simmering white beans quickly absorb the herb oils and the flavor is outstanding. I like to use fresh chopped herbs, but dried herbs will also work — just use about half the amount because they are more potent.
  • Red chili: Crushed red chili or Aleppo pepper add a hint of heat. Adjust the amount to suit your taste.
  • Olive oil: An Italian-style recipe like garlicky white beans would not be complete without olive oil. The fat binds with the cream and cheese to make a luscious sauce. Use a good-tasting extra-virgin oil.
  • Cream: Heavy cream enhances the naturally creamy texture of white beans (especially cannellini beans). To make this a vegan meal, you can use full-fat coconut milk or plant-based cream substitute you enjoy.
  • Cheese: Use freshly grated Parmesan for the best flavor, or a half-and-half mixture with pecorino Romano.
  • Broth: If you’re making a vegetarian dish, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Tip: If using canned beans, you can use some of the can liquid in the sauce, instead of or in addition to the broth.

How to make the recipe

  • The cooked beans keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for up to one month: cool completely, then pack into an airtight container.

Serving and flavor-pairing ideas

White beans are a neutral canvas, and go best with bold seasonings and spices. Try them with sweet roasted tomatoes, spooned on top of toasted sourdough as a hearty crostini, or simply spooned over cooked pasta for the ultimate carb fest!

A wooden spoon stirring a pan full of creamy cannellini beans with pieces of wilted kale.

Creamy Skillet White Beans with Greens and Parmesan

Karen Tedesco
Italian-style creamy cannellini beans cook in about 10 minutes on the stovetop, in a garlicky cream sauce strewn with leafy greens and lots of Parmesan. Serve as a hearty side dish, meatless main or add a cooked protein such as chicken, shrimp or chicken meatballs to make an easy dinner!
Print Pin
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Vegetables
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup sliced shallot or yellow onion
  • 3 cups cannellini beans, or 2 15-ounce cans, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, thyme or oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, or creme fraiche
  • 3 cups torn leafy greens, such as kale or spinach

Instructions 

  • Put the olive oil and shallots in a 10-12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook and stir 2-3 minutes, until they're softened
  • Add the beans, garlic, rosemary, salt and red pepper to the pan and give the mixture a stir. Cook for a minute or two, until the garlic smells fragrant (but don't brown it).
  • Pour in the broth and add the cream. Bring to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  • Lower the heat and add the greens to the skillet. Stir them in, and continue cooking until the greens turn bright green and begin to wilt. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle the cheese over the beans and stir.
  • Serve the beans warm as a main dish, side dish or spooned over pasta for the ultimate carb fest!

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Instead of broth, you can use some of liquid from canned beans to make the sauce.
  • The cooked beans keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for up to one month: cool completely, then pack into an airtight container.

Nutrition

Calories: 223kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 942mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1881IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 139mg | Iron: 3mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My absolute favorite winter dinner! Can’t wait to try this version!