Best substitute for edamame | Top 10 alternatives for this bean
Have you seen people blanching soybeans and then using them in all kinds of tasty recipes?
Well, the green pods aren’t really soybeans yet – they’re immature soybeans called edamame.
The edamame bean is an unripe soybean that is often used in Asian cuisine. You might have seen them on a sushi restaurant menu.
These beans are typically green and have a slightly sweet flavor – most people describe edamame as a cross between the pea and green bean.
If you’re looking for a substitute for edamame, there are several options available.
The best substitute for edamame is sugar snap peas. These have a similar color and texture to edamame beans, and they also have a slightly sweet flavor.
You can use snap peas or green peas in any recipe that calls for edamame, and they will work just as well.
In fact, any type of bean is a suitable substitute because beans and edamame have the same kind of creamy, sweet, and nutty flavor.
This article explores all the best substitutes for edamame if you happen to run out or if you can’t find them at the grocery store.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What is edamame like and what to look for in a substitute?
- 2 Top 10 edamame substitutes
- 3 How to use edamame substitutes
- 4 Takeaway
What is edamame like and what to look for in a substitute?
Edamame is a Japanese name for pre-mature soybeans. You can also call them ‘mukikame beans’.
Edamame is a bean and legume, and these beans are picked before they ripen.
They are still in the pod and have a slightly different taste than soybeans which are mature and have been fully cooked.
Edamame is small and round like soybeans but since it’s immature, the beans are quite small. Each bean is about 0.5-1 cm in size and the pods are also edible.
People always wonder if soybeans and edamame are the same things and NO, they’re not. The edamame is the young soybean.
Soybeans and edamame are also distinct in terms of taste. The edamame bean has a nutty taste with a grassy undertone.
When edamame is maturing, its sucrose and amino acid concentrations are high, giving it a sweet and nutty flavor.
Edamame in the pod has a bright green color which is what makes it stand out.
Fresh Edamame, on the other hand, has a bright green pod with a bright green skin instead of the yellow of ripe soybeans. Basically, any bean or pea with a light green skin will look similar.
The texture is similar to that of a green pea, but it is more tender. The fresh edamame pod has kind of a firm texture just like most other bean types.
When looking for substitutes, you want to find something that has a similar taste and texture.
Edamame is used in a variety of Asian dishes, both sweet and savory. It is common to see them used in salads, soups, stir-fries, and even desserts.
The beans can be eaten whole, or they can be shelled and used like any other bean.
Top 10 edamame substitutes
Premature soybeans are actually very similar to beans and peas so finding a great substitute is easier than it seems!
Sugar snap peas
Sugar snap peas are the best overall substitute for edamame. They have a similar appearance, flavor, and texture to edamame beans.
When comparing sugar snap peas to fresh edamame, the sugar snap peas have a milder flavor. Some might say edamame is slightly bitter compared to the sweet snap pea so even though they don’t have the exact same flavor, it’s very similar!
The texture is also slightly different, with sugar snap peas being a bit crunchier than edamame.
Snap peas have a rounded pod compared to flatter snow peas but are not as starchy as green peas. They have a crisp texture and a slightly sweet flavor.
You can use sugar snap peas in any recipe that calls for edamame, including soups, stir-fries, and salads. They even work as snacks, just like whole edamame pods.
Green peas/garden peas
If you can’t find sugar snap peas, green peas are also a good option. These have a milder flavor than sugar snap peas but will still work well in most recipes.
Their shape is more similar to that of edamame beans, and they have a slightly starchy texture. Green peas are also a good source of protein and fiber.
These peas have a similar edamame taste and many edamame recipes will even tell you to use garden peas as substitutes.
You can find green peas in the frozen section of most grocery stores or you can buy them fresh.
Snow peas are another type of pea that can be used as a substitute for edamame. These have a flatter pod than sugar snap peas but are still similar in shape to edamame beans.
Snow peas have a crisp texture and a slightly sweet flavor. They are often used in Asian dishes, such as stir-fries and soups.
Fava beans/broad beans
Fava beans are another good option as a substitute for edamame. These beans have a similar appearance and flavor to edamame beans.
These string beans have the same green color as edamame and if you’re not careful you can mistake one for the other. However, there are some differences to note.
Fava beans are slightly larger than edamame beans and have a creamier texture. They are also a good source of protein, fiber, and iron.
As well, fava beans have a similar sweet texture but with a hint of cheesy flavor.
You can find fava beans in the canned or dried bean section of most grocery stores. Fresh fava beans look like large green peas and can be found in the produce section.
Green beans are also known as string beans and are a good substitute for edamame. These beans have a similar appearance, flavor, and texture to edamame.
Green beans are slightly longer and thinner than edamame beans but have a similar bright green color. They also have a slightly sweet flavor with a crisp texture.
Since green beans have the same type of green pods as edamame, they work well in most recipes and give the dish a similar texture.
Green beans are also great to make this delicious Abitsuelas Guisado Recipe (Ginisang Baguio Beans)
Mung beans are another type of bean that can be used as a substitute for edamame. These small, green beans have a similar appearance and flavor to edamame.
Mung beans are slightly smaller than edamame but have the same bright green color. They also have a slightly sweet flavor with a crisp texture.
Mung beans are commonly used in Asian cuisines, such as soups, stir-fries, and many Indian dishes like dal.
You can find mung beans in the dried bean section of most grocery stores. You can also find them already sprouted in the produce section.
Also learn about 10 Scrumptious Ways to Cook Japanese Style Bean Sprouts
The lima bean is also called a butter bean and has a similar green hue to edamame. Thus, it’s a good substitute in recipes.
Lima beans have a creamy texture and a slightly nutty flavor. They are also a good source of protein and fiber.
Even the beans are very similar so you can easily use them as a 1:1 substitute in any recipe.
Another good substitute for edamame is chickpeas.
These beans are also similar in color and texture to edamame, and they have a nutty flavor that goes well with many Asian dishes.
Chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans but they have a different light brown color. Also, their texture is more grainy than the smooth edamame.
When substituting chickpeas for edamame, you can use them whole or you can mash them up to create a paste.
Garbanzo beans are best to use if you want to substitute them for edamame in soup or stew because they hold their shape when cooked and boiled on high heat.
If you can’t find any of the other beans on this list, navy beans are also a good option. Navy beans are also called haricot or white pea beans.
Navy beans have a similar flavor and texture to edamame, and they can be used in many of the same dishes.
Navy beans are slightly smaller than edamame beans but they have a similar shape.
Unlike edamame, the color is white instead of green so you might take that into account if you are using edamame for decorative purposes.
Navy beans have a rich flavor and are often used in soups and stews.
Another type of bean that can be used as a substitute for edamame is black-eyed
peas. These have a similar flavor and texture to edamame, and they can be used in many of the same dishes.
Black-eyed peas are about the same size as edamame beans and have a similar shape.
However, the color is cream or off-white with a black ‘eye’ mark.
The flavor of black-eyed peas is best described as earthy with a hint of sweetness.
You can find black-eyed peas in the dried beans section of most grocery stores.
How to use edamame substitutes
You can use most pea and bean varieties as substitutes for edamame in recipes.
When substituting, keep the following in mind:
- Peas and beans come in different shapes and sizes, so cooking times will vary. Smaller varieties like chickpeas will cook faster, while larger ones like lima beans will take longer.
- Peas and beans have different levels of sweetness and creaminess. For example, lima beans are much sweeter than black-eyed peas.
- Some varieties, like lentils, will completely change the texture of a dish. If you’re looking for a similar texture to edamame, opt for something like green peas. I didn’t even include lentils because they’re just too different!
- Edamame pods take about 5 minutes to cook for a stir-fry, so start with that as a guideline and adjust as necessary. You may need to add more or less time depending on the size and type of pea or bean you’re using.
- An edamame substitute should have a similar earthy flavor and a bright green or pale green color if you want it to be truly interchangeable.
- You can usually use a 1:1 substitution for almost all similar beans and peas, but you may need to adjust the cooking time depending on the size and type of pea or bean.
Spicy edamame is one of the most popular recipes that use these beans, and you can easily substitute any of the above varieties.
Just add your favorite spices to the recipe and enjoy!
Here’s a video of how you can use snap peas to make a similar dish:
If your brown fried rice recipe calls for edamame and you can’t find it fresh or frozen, don’t worry, most peas and beans will work!
There are a few good substitutes for edamame beans if you can’t find them in stores.
Some good options include snap peas, green peas, snow peas, fava beans, lima beans, chickpeas, navy beans, and black-eyed peas.
These beans have a similar flavor and texture to edamame.
Therefore, you can use them in your recipes without worrying about a major flavor difference. You probably won’t ruin any recipe with these great substitutes.
Next, find out what are the top 8 best substitutes for udon noodles for your recipes
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.