Red Beans Vs Kidney Beans – The Truth about their Similarities and Differences

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Beans are a very important item of food as they provide so much nutrition and flavor while also being able to be paired with so many other ingredients. There are so many types of beans and it can sometimes be quite difficult to distinguish some types from others. If you’re debating whether to put red beans vs kidney beans in chili, just simply read on and you will know what to do.

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Red Beans Vs Kidney Beans

Table of Contents

Defining Both Beans

What are Red Beans?

While both types of beans are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, they have quite a few differences that may not be immediately known by everyone. Red beans and kidney beans look similar enough that a lot of people can confuse them at a glance.

Red beans are very round and small when compared to kidney beans and will have a much brighter color. Despite being called red beans, they are actually closer to being a shade of pink.

Red beans have a very soft, smooth, and creamy texture which allows them to work brilliantly in soups, chili con carne, and the occasional salad.

What are Kidney Beans?

Kidney beans are quite unique as they have 4 different types that all have different colors. There are wight kidney beans, red speckled kidney beans, lightly speckled kidney beans, and red kidney beans.

Kidney beans are a lot bigger than red beans and will have a much darker, more crimson shade of color. These beans also have much thicker skin than red beans which means they need to be cooked for longer. This allows them to spend more time absorbing the flavors of the other ingredients they are being cooked with. Kidney beans are used incredibly commonly in soups, stews, chili, and rice dishes.

Before being cooked, it is important to soak your kidney beans as they contain a specific toxic protein that is only eliminated after they have been soaked.

Another kind of bean that kidney beans are closely related to is the chili bean. It can be quite difficult to choose between the two beans when making chili as they both suit it so well.

Red Beans Vs Kidney Beans – The Truth About Their Similarities And Differences

The Difference Between the Red and Kidney Beans

When looking at the main differences between the two types of beans, you will immediately notice are how their color, shape, and texture are all different.

Kidney beans have 4 different colors, are quite large, and will have incredibly thick skin.

However, red beans are almost pink in color, quite small, and have a smooth buttery texture.

Because of the difference in texture between the two types of beans, they also have differing cooking times as kidney beans need to be cooked for longer due to their thick skin. This also allows the kidney bean to spend more time absorbing the flavor of the food it is being cooked with which can make the bean itself taste a lot nicer.

Differentiating featuresKidney BeansRed Beans
Shape and SizeKidney shaped with a large size Oval and oblong while being generally small in size
FlavorKidney beans spend longer being cooked so they absorb the flavor of the food they are cooked withRed beans are nutty in flavor
ColorKidney beans come in 4 different colors. Those colors are; dark red, red, and speckled, white and speckled, lightly speckledDespite being called red beans, they possess more of a pink color than red
TextureDue to their thick skin, kidney beans have a hard texture but after being soaked and cooked they are slightly smootherRed beans have a buttery smooth and creamy texture

Kidney Bean and Red Bean Nutrition

Both types of beans are incredibly nutritious and are quite healthy for you. Kidney beans are slightly healthier as they have some nutrients that are considered essential for people’s health.

In a single cup of kidney beans, there are 219 calories, 16.5g of fiber, and 16.2g of protein. Alongside this, kidney beans also have a lot of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, and thiamine.

As for red beans, a single cup will give you 294 calories, 16.8g of fiber, and 17.3g of protein. Red kidney beans will also have nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium in them.

Both types of beans are incredibly good sources of protein. They can be great to add to the diet of someone who is a vegetarian as it is all plant-based. Alongside their impressive protein content, these beans are rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. They can both really help with health concerns and should be added to the average diet as much as possible.

Thanks to all of the healthy nutrients in these beans, they can be really helpful for helping with high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and weight loss.

Red Beans Vs Kidney Beans – The Truth About Their Similarities And Differences

Are Kidney Beans and Red Beans Interchangeable?

Kidney beans and red beans are completely interchangeable and can be swapped out for each other whenever you want to. While their flavors are different, they have very similar nutrients and will act well in each other’s place.

When cooking kidney beans, the FDA heavily recommends following some steps to ensure they are safe to eat. These steps are;

  • Soak the kidney beans in water overnight
  • Drain the kidney beans
  • Rinse the kidney beans and then place them in a pot of fresh water
  • Boil the kidney beans for 20-30 minutes at 212 degrees F. After this, lower the temperature and let the beans simmer until they are soft

Which is Better – Red Beans Vs Kidney Beans

While both types of beans is a great source of nutrients and minerals, they share different pros and cons that will make them better suited for different situations.

In dishes such as soups, stews, or rice dishes, they are very easily interchangeable. Substitution will not cause a problem at all, as the beans are there to bulk out the meal more than anything.

In salads and other dishes where the beans are more noticeable, it is smarter to use red beans for the most part. They are soft and creamy, which will make them feel a lot more at place in a salad.

If you’re interested in another type of bean, check out our post on green beans!

FAQs on Red Beans and Kidney Beans

Can I substitute red beans for kidney beans?

You can substitute red beans for kidney beans in a lot of dishes. These dishes include soups, stews, and rice dishes. This is because the beans are used in these dishes for mostly the purpose of adding nutrients to the dish and bulking it out. In dishes that are more subtle and the beans are more noticeable, it is best not to swap them out as kidney beans may seem out of place in a salad due to their hard texture. Whereas a red bean will be a much better fit for a salad as it is creamy and smooth in texture.

Can I use red beans for kidney beans and rice?

Yes, you can swap out kidney beans for red beans in this dish. That is because, in rice dishes and other dishes such as soups and stews, beans are used as a way to bulk out the meal and add some extra protein and nutrients to it without adding much complexity. Dishes where the beans are more noticeable such as a salad run a higher risk of the beans seeming weird and out of place if you try to use different types of beans. Kidney beans would not work too well in a salad as they are hard and flavorless, whereas red beans are creamy and nutty which makes them great for a salad.

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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