Creamy Braised White Beans Recipe

Whether you want a simple, satisfying meal that comes together quickly, or a hearty side dish packed with nutrients, these creamy braised white beans from private practice registered dietician and recipe developer Kristen Carli fit the bill. High in protein and fiber, great northern beans are an excellent addition to your diet, and the spinach in this recipe adds an added boost of vitamins and nutrients. But far from feeling like bland health food, these creamy braised white beans are also full of rich, cheesy flavor.

This meal also whips up in a snap, coming together in a single skillet on the stovetop in basically no time at all, making it the perfect dish to choose when you're in the mood for something hot and filling, but don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. And since most of the ingredients are pantry and fridge staples, it should be easy to satisfy your craving for creamy braised white beans the moment it strikes.

It's so delicious, it's sure to become a new family favorite. Plan to serve it with some nice, crusty bread and a freshly tossed arugula salad for a great, easy meal.

Gather your ingredients for creamy braised white beans

You don't need a ton of ingredients to make these creamy braised white beans, and the main ingredient is something you can keep on hand all the time in your pantry. This way, you can whip it up anytime you feel a craving. For this recipe, you'll need canned great northern beans, dried thyme, whole milk, Parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, crusty bread, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

If you don't have great northern beans on hand, don't fret it. "[This recipe] would work great with kidney beans or chickpeas, too," Carli says. And as far as the herbs go, you can also swap out the thyme if you don't have it. "I love dried thyme in this dish," Carli says, "but rosemary or oregano would also bring a nice herbal flavor."

This recipe couldn't be any easier! It works great for a light lunch all by itself, or even a side dish or complete dinner.

Sauté the garlic

To begin preparing the recipe, start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. If you're using fresh garlic, go ahead and run your knife through it while the oil is heating, until it is finely minced. Once the oil is hot, you can add the garlic, and stir it around for about a minute until it becomes fragrant. Be sure to keep a close eye on the garlic and keep it moving, as garlic can burn quickly if left unattended.

Add the beans

Once your garlic is fragrant and beginning to slightly brown, it's time to add in the beans. Make sure to drain and rinse the beans well under cold water before adding them to the garlic and oil. At this time, also add the milk, salt, pepper, and thyme, and stir it all around over the heat until the beans and milk are warmed through and steaming. At this point, the dish will still seem pretty loose, but that's okay. It'll thicken up soon — we promise.

Wilt the spinach

Once the milk is warm, it's time to add the fresh spinach and Parmesan cheese. Carli reminds us, "Be sure to pack your 1-cup measuring cup well. It's okay if you use a little more or less. The spinach wilts down a lot during cooking."

To make this dish even easier to make at a moment's notice, you can also use frozen spinach in place of the fresh spinach. However, if you're substituting frozen spinach, you'll need to adjust the quantity. "I would be sure to use about 2 cups of frozen spinach since it is already cooked down," Carli advises. Whether you're using fresh or frozen spinach, stir in the spinach and cheese until the cheese is melted and the spinach is wilted.

Thicken the dish

After adding all of your ingredients, lower the heat, and continue to let the whole concoction simmer and the flavors blend for about 10 minutes. While the beans are cooking, you can go ahead and broil your crusty bread until it's golden brown. Make sure to keep a close eye on it, since bread browns quickly under the broiler and can burn in the blink of an eye.

After your beans have cooked for about 10 minutes, take a potato masher, and mash about half the beans. The mashed beans will mix with the liquid, thickening the dish and giving it a lovely spoonable consistency.

Serve over bread

Once your bread is toasted and your beans are mashed, all that's left to do is to plate it up. Start by placing a couple pieces of bread in a bowl or on a plate, and then spoon a generous portion of beans over the top. Feel free to top it all off with even more Parmesan cheese or fresh herbs, if you're using them. The crusty bread will offer a nice texture contrast to the beans, and work as an excellent sponge to help soak up all that yummy broth. This is a recipe you will love to make and really love to eat!

Creamy Braised White Beans Recipe
5 from 27 ratings
Whether you want a simple, satisfying meal that comes together fast, or a hearty side dish packed with nutrients, these creamy braised white beans fit the bill.
Prep Time
Cook Time
creamy braised white beans over bread
Total time: 14 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 8 slices crusty bread
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and minced garlic. Cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  2. Add the beans, milk, salt, pepper, and thyme.
  3. Add the Parmesan cheese and spinach. Stir to combine. Cook until spinach is wilted.
  4. Lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Using a potato masher, mash about ½ of the beans until thickened in texture.
  6. Broil slices of bread.
  7. Serve by plating slices of bread. Use a ladle to scoop beans over toast. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese.
Calories per Serving 572
Total Fat 14.6 g
Saturated Fat 6.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 23.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 78.9 g
Dietary Fiber 13.3 g
Total Sugars 9.8 g
Sodium 1,455.7 mg
Protein 33.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe