What are Swedish Brown Beans?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Swedish brown beans are a type of bean originally developed in Sweden and introduced to the rest of the world via Swedish immigrants. These beans are often specifically called for in Scandinavian cuisine which features beans, and they can be used in cuisine from a wide variety of other regions of the world, as well. In communities with an especially large populations of Swedes and Swedish descendants, these beans are often on the menu, thanks to an acquired preference for them.

Adzuki beans, which can be substituted for Swedish brown beans.
Adzuki beans, which can be substituted for Swedish brown beans.

Like other common beans, Swedish brown beans are formally known as Phaseolus vulgaris. They have been specifically developed through selective breeding to display several traits which are viewed as desirable, and they can easily cross-breed with other beans, for gardeners who feel like getting adventurous with their bean patches. They are also very easy to grow; they just need mild weather, plenty of sun, and loose, loamy soil with intermittent waterings.

Game meats such as moose and reindeer are often served alongside Swedish brown beans.
Game meats such as moose and reindeer are often served alongside Swedish brown beans.

The Swedish brown bean is relatively small and ovoid, with a pale brown to tan color. The beans are known for being extremely tender with a nutty flavor, and they hold together well, even through extended cooking. This last trait makes these beans especially popular in soups and stews, as cooks do not need to worry about the beans breaking apart if they are a little bit overcooked.

In addition to being used in soups, Swedish brown beans do very well in baked bean and casserole dishes, and they can be prepared in various ethnic recipes as well. Some cooks like using these beans in Indian food, where their mildly sweet flavor contrasts beautifully with many curry spices, and Swedish brown beans are commonly used in pork and beans, especially in the Midwest, where many people are of Scandinavian descent.

To prepare Swedish brown beans, cooks should first rinse the beans and then soak them overnight or until doubled in size. The soaking will help the beans stay together during the cooking process, yielding tender, firm beans with lots of flavor. After soaking, the beans will take one to two hours to cook. If Swedish brown beans are hard to find, adzuki, cranberry, and pinto beans all make adequate stand-ins for this Scandinavian food.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I like making stew with these brown beans. I put chunks of meat and vegetables along with the beans. The result is a nice, thick stew with lots of flavor. I have not tried any other recipes with these beans, but I'll be sure to in the future. The baked beans sound great.


@stoneMason-- If you like baked beans, Swedish brown beans are great for it. Since they're already a little sweet and nutty, the bakes beans turn out even better. I actually use less sugar in my recipe when I use Swedish brown beans for this reason.

If baked beans are not your thing, you could search for some Swedish or Scandinavian recipes using Swedish brown beans. The other name for these beans is "bruno bonor."

Although other types of beans can be used if required, I don't think any other bean is like Swedish brown bean. So if a recipe calls for it, I think it's best to find and use these beans.


I saw Swedish brown beans at the farmer's market today. I was attracted to them because of their beautiful light brown, golden color. I didn't buy any because I didn't know what I could do with them. But now I know, I'll be sure to buy some next weekend. I can't wait to see what they will look like after they're cooked. I heard their color become even more beautiful and honey-like.

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