What Do Navy Beans Look Like? Your Guide to Identifying This Classic Legume

What Do Navy Beans Look Like? Your Guide to Identifying This Classic Legume

Navy beans, also known as haricot or white beans, are a popular legume that is loved for its mild taste and versatility. These small, oval-shaped beans can enhance the flavor of your soup, salad, and casseroles. But how do you identify navy beans among the numerous types of beans available in the market? In this guide, we will help you understand what navy beans look like and provide you with a clear distinction between navy beans and other types of beans.

What are Navy Beans?

Navy beans are a type of white bean that is commonly used in baked beans, soups, and stews. They have a delicate flavor and a slightly powdery and creamy texture. Navy beans are native to America and were known as such because they were a staple food in the navy diet in the early 20th century. Navy beans belong to the legume family and are a great source of protein, fiber, and vitamins.

Characteristics of Navy Beans

Navy beans have some unique physical characteristics that differentiate them from other beans. Here are some of them:

  • Color – Navy beans are creamy white with a matte finish.
  • Size – They are small and oval-shaped, with a length of about 0.5 inches.
  • Texture – Navy beans have a smooth texture and a powdery feel when cooked.

How to Identify Navy Beans

If you are not sure that you have navy beans, you can use the following guidelines to help you identify them:

  • Check for the color – As mentioned, navy beans are a creamy white with a matte finish.
  • Check the size – Navy beans are small and oval-shaped, and their length is about 0.5 inches.
  • Touch the beans – Navy beans have a smooth texture and give a powdery feel when cooked.

Types of Beans similar to Navy Beans

With a similar appearance to navy beans, it sometimes gets challenging to differentiate them. Some of the beans that look like navy beans are:

  • Cannelini Beans – Cannelini beans and navy beans have a similar appearance, size, and texture, but cannellini beans are a bit bigger.
  • Great Northern Beans – Great northern beans are another type of white bean with a similar size and texture to navy beans, and their color may be off-white
  • Lima Beans – Despite being a different color (light green), lima beans have a similar shape and size to navy beans.

Navy Beans vs. Black Beans

Black beans are another popular legume used in many dishes. They have a flavorful taste and a different texture from navy beans. Here are some of the differences between navy beans and black beans:

Navy Beans Black Beans
Color Light Creamy white Dark brown/black
Size Small and oval-shaped Smaller and round
Taste Mild flavor More flavorful and earthy
Texture Powdery and Creamy Creamy with a firmer shell

Navy Beans vs. Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are another type of legume that is similar in appearance to navy beans, but there are some distinct differences between the two. Here is a comparison of navy beans and kidney beans:

Navy Beans Kidney Beans
Color Light Creamy white Dark Red
Size Small and oval-shaped Larger and Kidney-shaped
Taste Mild flavor Slightly sweet and earthy flavor
Texture Powdery and creamy Firmer texture with a skin that doesn’t break down

Using Navy Beans for Cooking

Navy beans are versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some ways you can use navy beans in your cooking:

  • Salads – You can add navy beans to your green salads to bulk them up and add flavor.
  • Baked Beans – Navy beans are a popular ingredient in baked beans.
  • Soup – Navy beans are perfect for making bean soup or cream soup.
  • Dips and Spreads – Navy beans can be pureed and turned into dip or spread for crackers, chips, or bread.

How to Cook Navy Beans

If you intend to use navy beans in your cooking, you will need to prepare them first. Here is how to prepare navy beans:

  • Soak – Soak the beans in water for at least four hours or overnight.
  • Rinse the Beans – Rinse the beans in cold water.
  • Cook – Add the navy beans to a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for an hour or more, depending on the preferred consistency.
  • Season – Add your preferred spices and seasonings.


Knowing what navy beans look like and how they differ from other beans is essential for cooking with navy beans properly. We hope that this guide has been informative and helpful in identifying navy beans and other similar legumes. By following the cooking tips and using navy beans in your cooking, you can enjoy the delicate flavor and versatile nature of this classic legume.


What are the nutritional benefits of navy beans?

Navy beans are high in protein and fiber and are also a good source of folate, magnesium, and iron.

What is the shelf life of navy beans?

Navy beans have a long shelf life when stored properly. They can last up to three years in the pantry if they are stored in a cool, dark place, and kept away from moisture and pests.

Are navy beans gluten-free?

Yes, navy beans are gluten-free, making them an excellent source of protein for those who follow a gluten-free diet.

What do uncooked navy beans look like?

Uncooked navy beans are small, oval-shaped, and creamy white with a matte finish. They are also hard and dried.

How do I store navy beans?

Store navy beans in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool, dry place. You can also store them in the fridge or freezer for a more extended shelf life.

What kind of recipes can I use navy beans in?

You can use navy beans in recipes such as soups, stews, dips, salads, and even baking. Navy beans can also be used as a substitute for chickpeas in hummus recipes.

Can I eat navy beans raw?

No, you should never eat navy beans raw as they contain harmful toxins. You should always cook navy beans before consuming them.

Where can I find navy beans?

Navy beans can be found in most grocery stores, health food stores, and online retailers.

How long does it take to cook navy beans?

Cooking time for navy beans depends on how you decide to prepare them. It can take between an hour to three hours to cook navy beans, depending on the recipe and method of cooking.

Can navy beans be canned?

Yes, navy beans can be canned or preserved in jars. Canning navy beans is an excellent way to store them for longer periods.

What is the weight of one navy bean?

The weight of one navy bean is approximately 0.3 grams or 0.01 ounces.

Can navy beans be used interchangeably with other beans in recipes?

Yes, navy beans can often be substituted for other white beans or legumes in recipes, but keep in mind that the texture and flavor will be slightly different.


  • https://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cooking-basics/how-to-cook-dry-navy-beans/
  • https://www.eatwell101.com/navy-beans-nutrition-facts-health-benefits
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325947#uses

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