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Caramelized Lemon White Beans

These Caramelized Lemon White Beans are full of zesty flavor and easily made into a hearty vegan main meal! Slightly sweet with notes of garlic and citrus, this is a perfect springtime dinner!

spoon and bread next to a plate of white beans and asaparagus

Beans are one of my favorite plant protein sources – they’re hearty and easily adaptable to so many dinners. While cooking beans from dry is certainly the more sustainable route, having canned beans on hand does save a lot of time and is perfect for those “emergency” weeknight meals when you need something on the table, fast. Today’s recipe for Caramelized Lemon White Beans is a show-stopping way to deliver plant protein and tons of flavor in just 20 minutes.

bowl of lemons on a brick table next to a tree

In today’s recipe we’re caramelizing lemon alongside onion and garlic to build a very aromatic flavor base. Before we get into that though, here is a quick reference point of how to make the caramelized lemon slices featured above.

How to Caramelize Lemon Slices

  1. Place the lemon on its side and slice very thinly into coins. To avoid an overly bitter final product, you ideally want the piece to be 1/4 of an inch thick (or thinner). Too thin and you’ll risk the slices falling apart, which is not a huge deal, but aesthetically not as lovely.
  2. Once sliced, remove any seeds.
  3. Add lemon slices to a pot with a few TBS of warmed oil. Let cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until edges become deeply browned/slightly black. The centers will shrivel a bit, this is OK. We’re drawing the natural sugars out of the fruit.
  4. Remove from heat and serve alongside any matter of meals. These also make an excellent cocktail garnish!
marble table with plate of caramelized lemon white beans

Ingredients & Possible Substitutions

I used standard Great Northern beans for this dish, but any kind of white bean (like a cannellini bean, navy bean, chick pea, or even black-eyed pea) can be substituted.

I originally wanted to use broccolini for this recipe but the grocery store was out when I went shopping to recipe test. Thankfully, asparagus is a great pairing with lemon and really brings a “spring” element here. Broccolini or broccoli rabe would be a nice component in place of asparagus.

Parsley lends a nice herbal note when finishing his dish, but fresh basil (as pictured) is a perfect substitute if that’s what you have available.

hand holding a plate of caramelized lemon white beans and asaparagus

Other White Bean Dinner Recipes

Cozy Braised White Beans with Garlic and Rosemary

Pesto White Bean Salad

Rosemary White Bean Dip

Favorite Chickpea Dinners

Crispy White Bean Skillet with Kale and Tomatoes

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spoon and bread next to a plate of white beans and asaparagus

Caramelized Lemon White Beans

  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


These Caramelized Lemon White Beans are full of zesty flavor and easily made into a hearty vegan main meal! Slightly sweet with notes of garlic and citrus, they’re a great addition to your weekday dinner rotation.


Units Scale
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 of a medium/large yellow onion, sliced into thin half moons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 of a large lemon, sliced into very thin rounds
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb of asparagus or broccolini, sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups of cooked white beans (two rinsed cans)
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • Cashew parmesan, to serve


  1. Add a pot to the stove over medium heat. Add olive oil. Once shimmering, add onion, 1/2 tsp salt, a few twists of pepper, and lemon slices. Let cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Lemon slices should take on some color.
  2. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring to prevent burning.
  3. Add asparagus (or broccolini), white beans, and a cup or two of water. Bring entire mixture to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are bright green but not soggy. If you have thicker pieces they may take longer to cook. Add parsley and remove from heat.
  4. Serve warm with cashew parmesan, fresh herbs, and toasted bread for a heartier meal.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: One sixth of recipe
  • Calories: 246.8 calories
  • Sugar: 2.3 grams
  • Sodium: 404.6
  • Fat: 5.1 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 0.8 grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4.3 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 38.1 grams
  • Fiber: 11 grams
  • Protein: 14.8 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Keywords: white beans, lemon

Portrait of Emily Meyers, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Emily (Frigon) Meyers is the founder of Garlic Head, a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets while saving time and money. She is a lifelong vegetarian and 10+ year vegan. Garlic Head does not focus on labels - it focuses on creating food that everyone can enjoy.

Emily earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University along with degrees in Economics, Spanish, and Global Sustainability from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been featured on numerous podcasts and websites including The Food Institute, VegNews, Buzzfeed, and the Boston Globe.

Meet Emily here.

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  1. R says

    Made this today, it was so easy and filling! I used small tender asparagus. Goes well with a nice hunk of sourdough bread.
    Will definitely be making this again!

  2. susannahwf says

    Big hit for a family dinner – the carnivores had it on the side and loved the lemon flavor. Of course it was my entree – delicious!

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