Easy Cranberry Bean Recipe with Dried Beans (Borlotti Beans)

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Jump to Recipea bowl of cranberry beans with a slice of multigrain bread on a wooden dining table

Cranberry beans, also know as borlotti beans are a soft and creamy bean that works well in so many dishes. This pot of beans is my go to cranberry bean recipe. It is a simple an easy way to cook a big pot of beans that can serve a group or it makes for great lunches throughout the week.

This recipe takes some time to cook but it is a fairly simple recipe. The amount of active time is very minimal. Just chop up some vegetables, throw them in a pot with olive oil and add the beans, water, and seasoning.

How to cook cranberry beans?

To soak or not to soak. Many people swear by soaking their dried beans overnight and others never do. I have done it both ways and I think they turn out about the same. I often find myself not soaking my beans because I can’t think that far in advanced.

If you do want to soak your beans, add them to a large container with cold water for an overnight soak, about 16-24 hours.

With this recipe I just cook the dry beans straight from the package, no soaking. Cooking cranberry beans from dried takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to cook all the way through.

If you want a shorter cooking time you can also cook them in a pressure cooker or instant pot. I don't have either of those, so this recipe will show you how to cook them on the stove in a large dutch oven.

Cranberry beans ingredients.

What are cranberry beans?

Cranberry beans are also know at borlotti beans. These beans have a velvety, creamy texture that works great in a variety of dishes. They are popular in Mexican and Italian cooking. Cranberry beans are similar to pinto beans in size and texture. You might see them is dishes such as pasta e fagioli, soups, or just served on their own like they are in this recipe.

Unshelled cranberry beans are a white and red color, similar to the color of the individual beans. You can enjoy fresh cranberry beans if you pick them at the right time, but most of the time you will find them dried.

Where to Buy Cranberry Beans?

The easiest way to find of dried cranberry beans is by buying them online. You can buy them on Amazon or bean suppliers like Rancho Gordo. Sometimes you can also find them in your grocery stores but I have had a hard time finding them. There is a farm that goes to my local market that has beans in the late summer - early fall that I can stock up on, so most of the time I buy them there.

Cranberry beans cooking in a pot.

Additional Flavors

You can easily change up this recipe to add in flavors that you enjoy. If you want to spicer add in some red pepper flakes or a chopped jalapeño. If you want more herby flavor, add is extra fresh herbs. If you don't have herbs you could add bay leaves while the beans are simmering.

Health Benefits of Cranberry Beans

Cranberry beans are a great healthy option. They are packed with plant protein and dietary fiber. Cranberry beans are also loaded with vitamins and minerals such as folate, phosphorus, thiamin, and manganese.

How to Serve Cranberry Beans

You can serve cranberry beans as a side dish or as the main meal. A great way to serve them is on a thick piece of toasted bread. Smash some of the beans and then top with more. Add a drizzle of olive oil or a fried egg on top! Another way to serve them is just in a bowl with some sautéed greens add a little bit of lemon juice on top. If you want this to be more of a soup recipe, add extra water when making them to create more broth.

I love to top these beans with some good olive oil and a drizzle of vinegar. I love the garden heat vinegar by Acid League.

These beans do great along side a side salad, roasted veggies, or a a nice piece of bread.

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Bowl of cooked cranberry beans.

Easy Cranberry Bean Recipe with Dried Beans (Borlotti Beans)

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  • 2 cups dry cranberry beans
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • A couple sprigs of fresh thyme and/or fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 cups of water
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • Optional toppings: olive oil, vinegar, salt


  1. Roughly chop the onion, garlic, and red pepper.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add in all your chopped vegetables and cook them for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the herbs and bay leaf along with your beans, half of the salt, and 10 cups of water. You can add more water later if it looks like you need more*.
  4. Bring your pot to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer uncovered for 1.5-2 hours.
  5. The time it takes to cook the beans will depend on the size and how old they are. Check them every 30 minutes or so to stir them and see if they need more water.
  6. Once they are done, remove the bay leaf and herbs and season with remaining salt. Taste and adjust as needed.
  7. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and/or vinegar.


You want the beans to be submerged in water throughout the cooking process. If the water level is getting too low just add some more water on top.

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