top view of a rectangle dish with fagioli on a marble surface.
Home » Italian Recipes » Homemade Tuscan White Beans Recipe (Tuscan Fagioli all’Olio)

Homemade Tuscan White Beans Recipe (Tuscan Fagioli all’Olio)

Last updated on May 6th, 2024

Are you looking for an easy and delicious Italian side dish?

Did you eat Tuscan white beans at a restaurant in Tuscany and now you want to recreate the dish at home?

If so, you’ll love this fool-proof Tuscan recipe for one of the region’s most iconic side dishes – fagioli all’olio – homemade Tuscan white beans with garlic and sage.

Why cook Tuscan white beans instead of just using canned beans?

First, it’s cheap. It costs nothing to make several pounds of beans compared to buying several cans and you can make several different Tuscan dishes after cooking these beans such as:

top view of hand holding a white bowl with ribollita
Ribollita is just one of many dishes you can make with cannellini beans

Second, the taste of cooked beans is so much better. They are more buttery and rich, and you can spice them up however you want.

Finally, they take no more than 10 minutes to get started.

Note: Plan accordingly as the beans need to soak for at least 8 hours or better, overnight, before cooking.

Read more about Traditional Tuscan Food.

More Veg Please: Check out my list of Vegetarian Dishes to Try in Italy.

Fagioli all’Olio Pronunciation

Fagioli all’olio is pronounced fah-goh-lee ahl-ohl-yoh in Italian.

Listen how to pronounce fagioli all’olio:

What are Fagioli all’Olio?  

Dish and white plate of Tuscan white beans on a marble counter.

Fagioli all’olio is a traditional and simple Italian dish made by cooking dried cannellini beans with oil, sage and garlic. 

In Tuscany, these beans are a staple as the local cuisine is based on la cucina povera, the concept of preparing hearty and delicious meals with local and seasonal ingredients at a low cost.

They are served most commonly with grilled meats such as la bistecca fiorentina and grilled sausages. If you are at an authentic trattoria in Tuscany, you will notice the locals eating bistecca with sides of sautéed greens and roasted potatoes – a classic Tuscan dinner. 

Learn More: Read about the Different Types of Italian Eateries – From Trattorie to Osterie and more!

Ingredients for Tuscan White Beans

Dried cannellini beans soaking in a white bowl.  Bowl is on stone surface.

serves 8 as a side dish
prep time 10 minutes
cook time 2 hours
rest time 8 hours

  • 1 lb (450 grams) dried cannellini beans 
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5-6 fresh sage leaves
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil + more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Step-By-Step Instructions for Tuscan White Beans (Fagioli all’Olio)

Close up of Tuscan cannellini beans cooking in water with garlic and sage and oil.
  1. Rinse the cannellini beans and then soak them in a big pot of water overnight (or 8 hours minimum). 
  2. Peel the garlic but do not chop it. Drain the beans and add them to a large pot along with the peeled garlic, sage leaves, and olive oil. Fill with about 10 cups of water and bring to a simmer. 
  3. Remove any of the scum (white bubbly foam) that forms at the top with a spoon. Gently simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour but up to 2. 
  4. When the beans are tender but not falling apart, turn off the heat and stir in the salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Drain the beans (reserve the cooking liquid for other uses – see notes below) and remove the garlic if you can spot it. Serve as a side dish either at room temperature or gently reheated drizzled with plenty of extra virgin olive oil.

What to Serve with Fagioli all’Olio

Close up of cooked Tuscan white beans with oil and sage.

Although typically reserved to grilled meats, I serve these beans with all types of second course meals. Here are some of the most traditional ways and my favorites:

  • Bistecca fiorentina
  • Grilled sausages
  • With a green salad, crusty bread and cheese for a vegetarian lunch.
  • With roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables

Tuscan White Beans – Notes and Tips

Pyrex glass measuring cup with cooking liquid from beans.  It's sitting on a stone shelf.
Always save the cooking liquid. It can be added to soups and stews for lots of extra flavor!
  • Soak beans for up to 16 hours before cooking and a minimum of 8.
  • Don’t cook the beans into a pulp. Turn off the burner the moment the beans are tender. Best to check after 1 hour of cooking.
  • These beans are perfect room temperature, making them ideal for picnics, potlucks and when you are entertaining. 
  • Use these beans to make fagioli all’uccelletto and ribollita.
  • Add to soups and stews such as Italian minestrone.
  • Save the cooking liquid for adding flavor to soups and stews.

Don’t Miss: Our full guide to Traditional Tuscan Foods – A Local’s Tips on Foods You Must Try in Tuscany for more recipes and regional specialties! And if you love cannellini beans, check out Homerun Italian Cannellini Beans Recipes For Dinner.

Dish of Tuscan white beans sitting on a marble counter. Spoon in the dish.
top view of a rectangle dish with fagioli on a marble surface.

Tuscan White Beans Recipe (Tuscan Fagioli all’Olio)

One of Tuscany's most iconic side dishes – fagioli all’olio – homemade white beans with garlic and sage.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Rest time 8 hours
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb dried cannellini beans (450 g)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5-6 leaves fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (60 ml), + more for serving
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Rinse the cannellini beans and then soak them in a big pot of water overnight (or 8 hours minimum).
  • Peel the garlic but do not chop it. Drain the beans and add them to a large pot along with the peeled garlic, sage leaves, and olive oil. Fill with about 10 cups of water and bring to a simmer.
  • Remove any of the scum (white bubbly foam) that forms at the top with a spoon. Gently simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour but up to 2.
  • When the beans are tender but not falling apart, turn off the heat and stir in the salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground black pepper.
  • Drain the beans (reserve the cooking liquid for other uses) and remove the garlic if you can spot it. Serve as a side dish either at room temperature or gently reheated drizzled with plenty of extra virgin olive oil.

Notes

Notes and Tips:
  • Soak beans for up to 16 hours before cooking and a minimum of 8.
  • Don’t cook the beans into a pulp. Turn off the burner the moment the beans are tender. Best to check after 1 hour of cooking.
  • These beans are perfect room temperature, making them ideal for picnics, potlucks and when you are entertaining. 
  • Use these beans to make fagioli all’uccelletto and ribollita.
  • Add to soups and stews such as Italian minestrone.
 
Keyword quick
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Fagioli all’Olio Recipe FAQ

What can you do with the cooking liquid from making homemade beans?

The cooking liquid leftover from making beans is very rich and flavorful. Add it to soups and stews for extra flavor, similar to how you would use a broth.

How else can I use cannellini beans?

Use these beans to make other Tuscan favorites such as fagioli all’uccelletto and ribollita. Add to soups and stews such as Italian minestrone.

Can I freeze cooked cannellini beans?

It’s best not to because when they defrost, they tend to fall apart.

Can I use other oils instead of extra virgin olive oil for cooking cannellini beans?

If you don’t have extra virgin olive oil, you can use olive oil but for serving, it’s really best you use the very best quality you can find as it really defines the dish. 

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