Parmesan Beans

$2.97 recipe / $0.74 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 9 votes
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I will literally (read: figuratively) eat anything that is Parmesan and black pepper flavor. There’s something about that combo that is so insanely satisfying to my palate. But I guess that’s why Cacio e Pepe is such a classic. And since I love turning a humble can of beans into something delicious, I decided to give a couple of cans of cannellini beans the Parmesan-pepper treatment. The end result is kind of like refried beans, but using a different bean and with a different flavor profile! Easy and delish!

Overhead view of a skillet full of Parmesan beans with a wooden spoon.

What’s in Parmesan Beans?

This super simple side dish only has seven simple ingredients and only takes about twenty minutes to make! And since I usually have ALL of these ingredients on hand, Parmesan beans are going to be my new go-to side dish. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make Parmesan Beans:

  • Cannellini Beans: I like Cannellini beans for this recipe because they have a soft and creamy texture, but also retain enough shape so that you’re not left with complete mush. Their flavor is also mild enough to not overpower the Parmesan.
  • Garlic: A little sautéed fresh garlic gives this recipe a nice deep base flavor. Plus, all good recipes start with sautéed garlic, ammiright?
  • Olive Oil: The oil is used to both sautée the garlic AND give the beans a little more body and richness. You need a little fat in there to smooth it all out.
  • Chicken Broth: Simmering the beans in a little bit of broth adds more flavor and helps create that saucy texture.
  • Parmesan & Pepper: The two main flavor players! I can never get enough of Parmesan and pepper together. I’ve listed amounts below, but really, just measure with your heart. ❤️

Can I Use a Different Bean?

Cannelini beans really are the best choice for this dish because of their flavor, texture, and size, but you could probably get away with Great Northern Beans or navy beans. Both of these varieties also have a mild and creamy flavor and texture, but they are smaller in size. Navy beans also tend to break down faster, which may result in a mushier texture.

What to Serve with Parmesan Beans

Parmesan beans are such a neutral side dish that they’ll go with so many different meals. Today I served them with some baked chicken drumsticks and roasted broccoli, but they’d also go great with: Tomato Basil Chicken, Creamy Pesto Chicken, or Lemon Pepper Chicken.

Overhead view of Parmesan Beans on a plate with chicken and broccoli.
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Parmesan Beans

5 from 9 votes
Parmesan and freshly cracked pepper give these canned cannelini beans new life! These Parmesan beans are an easy and delicious side dish.
Close up side view of a wooden spoon stirring Parmesan Beans.
Servings 4 ½ cup each
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 20 minutes



  • Mince the garlic and add it to a large skillet with the olive oil. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for about one minute.
  • Drain, but do not rinse, the Cannellini beans. Add the beans and broth to the skillet with the garlic. Stir to combine.
  • Allow the beans to come up to a simmer. Simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they've thickened slightly. The spoon should leave a trail in the beans as you stir.
  • Add the Parmesan and pepper to the beans. Stir to combine. Taste the beans and adjust the Parmesan, pepper, or add salt if needed. Serve hot!

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Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 259kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 15gFat: 9gSodium: 736mgFiber: 11g
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Close up side view of a wooden spoon stirring Parmesan Beans.

How to Make Parmesan – Step by Step Photos

Sautéed garlic in a skillet with olive oil.

Mince two cloves of garlic and add them to a large skillet with two tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for about one minute.

Bean added to the skillet, broth being poured in the side.

Drain but don’t rinse two 15oz. cans of Cannellini beans. Add them to the skillet along with ½ cup vegetable or chicken broth. Stir to combine.

Simmered beans in the skillet being stirred with a spoon.

Allow the beans to come up to a simmer. Simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they become thick and saucy. There should be a trail left by the spoon when stirred.

Pepper and Parmesan being added to the skillet.

Add ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper and ⅓ cup Parmesan (grated or shredded) to the beans. Stir until the Parmesan has melted into the beans.

Thickened beans being stirred with a spoon.

The Parmesan will help thicken the beans considerably. Give the beans a taste and adjust the Parmesan, pepper, or add salt if needed.

Finished beans in the skillet with a wooden spoon.

Serve the beans immediately, while still hot. The beans will thicken and solidify when cooled.

Overhead view of Parmesan beans on a plate with chicken and broccoli.
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  1. I’ve been looking for new ways to use all the beans I have and this recipe looks delicious!

  2. I never thought I’d like a bean recipe this much! I’ve made this a few times, and it’s even better if you add an onion (at the beginning before the garlic) and some crumbled bacon!

  3. I’m a widower. Made this for church’s senior Sunday potluck. Got 3 offers from ladies for marriage. They also wanted the recipe. What a life!

  4. Absolutely love! Quick easy and healthy. I added the juice from half a lemon after and it was great!

  5. Needed a really quick lunch for myself, cut recipe in half and used pinto beans. Delicious. This recipe is a keeper.

  6. I just made this and used extra garlic and extra cheese and I just loved it ! So delicious and comforting with the warm cheesy taste and creamy texture.

  7. I’m always looking for more simple and tasty recipes and this really fit the bill. I think I let mine cook down a bit too much, but they were still good. I ate them with toasted baguette and olive oil.
    I will definitely make them again.

  8. These sound delicious! Think I may toss in some prosciutto and serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread.

  9. This tasted pretty good but mine sure weren’t saucy like yours. I only had 3/4 of a can of leftover beans so I used 1/4 cup of broth (half of what recipe called for) but I needed to add way more water. Is the recipe wrong at 1/2 cup broth or did I miss something?

    1. It could just be that your canned beans didn’t have as much liquid left over after the drain as mine did. Or perhaps when the beans simmered more of your liquid evaporated than mine did (if there is a smaller amount the evaporation might happen faster).

  10. Is there any way to make this vegetarian since parmesan cheese is not suitable for a vegetarian diet?

    1. Parmesan is really the main flavor here, so I wouldn’t suggest substituting it. Some people think that nutritional yeast gives a similar flavor, but it will really depend on your taste buds.

    2. I’m sure availability depends on location, but I buy vegetarian parmesan from my local supermarkets.

  11. Yummy. I tried a half recipe for lunch using pintos. Folks tend to think of pintos only in terms of TexMex, but they have a deliciously creamy texture that’s good for much more than refries. I only buy canned beans on sale–in my neighborhood the more popular Great Northerns, chickpeas, and Cannellini tend to sell out, but I can always find a couple of cans of pintos. Canned beans have plenty of salt to start with, but I added plenty of fresh ground black pepper. I served this with grilled boneless porkchops and a mixed green salad.

    1. I made these as a base alternative to pasta for meatballs it was amazing and filling and soaked up the sauce. Served with a side of broccoli. Perfection! I love your recipes!