This article shares all the most popular types of beans as well as their uses in food preparation and pictures of each for easy identification. So, if you have been wondering about the various beans, then this post is for you.
What are beans?
Beans, scientifically referred to as Phaseolus vulgaris are members of the legume family. Beans are classified as edible seeds or seed pods that are typically kidney-shaped and grow mostly in pods.
Beans are used widely around the world for their health benefits and are great for making some really delicious recipes including chili, stews, and salads.
Beans come in both fresh form and canned form. In their fresh form beans maintain a lot of their flavor but it can be inconvenient to cook with them in this form. This is so because most fresh beans take a while to prepare and soften – for example, fresh red kidney beans need at least 5 hours to soak and another 90 minutes to fully cook.
On the other hand, canned beans are very convenient and easy to access, and they are already fully cooked. But, some of the flavors is lost during the cooking and canning process so some canned beans are very bland!
Are legumes beans?
Nope. Legumes are not beans. But, beans are a type of legume. Legumes are a group of vegetables that includes beans, peas, peanuts, alfalfa, and lentils.
To explain further legumes are classed as any plant that bears a seed inside of a pod. While beans are the seeds from a plant. So, all beans are legumes, but not all legumes are beans.
Now, let us discuss the 15 types of beans that are the most popular including the uses of each, an explanation of the flavors of each bean type, and some substitutes for each.
15 Types Of Beans With Pictures
Navy beans, which are also called haricot, white pea beans, or Boston beans are small oval-shaped white beans native to the Americas.
Navy beans have a mild and delicate flavor and are creamy when cooked which makes them great for making dips, soups, stews, baked beans, and even in salads and chilis.
They are a great bean to use in place of other bean types like great Northern beans, cannellini beans, and even butter beans in dishes like soups, chilis, and more.
Edamame beans are immature soybeans that are picked before they turn ripe and harden. These beans are native to Northeastern China and are typically sold in fuzzy green pods that are about 2 to 3 inches long and have 2 to 3 beans per pod.
The flavor of edamame beans is buttery with a slight sweetness and nuttiness and it has a crunchy texture. These beans work great for salads, roasting, stir fries, wrap, sandwiches and more!
These beans work well in place of other kinds of beans like sugar snap peas, fava beans and even green beans in salads, stir-fries, dips, hummus, and more.
Black beans also called black turtle beans or frijoles negros are small shiny black beans that are native to the Americas.
Butter beans, also called Gigante beans are large whitish or cream-colored beans native to Peru. Butter beans have a rich, savory, and buttery flavor and a smooth velvety texture.
Butter beans work well as a side dish, in soups, stews, chowders, dips, pies, and more. Also, butter beans can be used in place of other kinds of beans like white kidney beans, navy beans, great Northern beans, and pinto beans to name a few.
Chickpeas also called Garbanzo beans, or Bengal beans, are yellow-brown or beige in color and pea-shaped with a mild and slightly nutty flavor.
These beans are native to the Mediterranean region and are great for adding to savory soups, salads, hummus, curries, and dips and even used to make flour!
Soybeans which are native to Eastern Asia are another type of bean worth discussing. These beans are also called soya beans or soja beans.
The soya beans seeds can be either brown, green, yellow, or black and have a flavor that is often described as beany and grassy. These beans are used to make many food products such as soy milk, soy oil, and soy flour, but it is also used to make recipes like soups, curries, soybeans and rice, masala, and a lot of other delicious vegetarian recipes.
Red Adzuki beans (or Adzuki beans)
Another popular type of bean is the red bean. These beans, also sometimes called red beans or Adzuki Beans, are small pinkish-reddish, oval shape beans that have a taste that can be described as very mild. This means they rely on seasoning and condiments to enhance their taste.
These red beans also have a creamy smooth texture and can make a great addition to many dishes.
Adzuki beans are native to Japan and they are great for adding to stews, red beans, and rice, as well as beans stews, chili recipes, and great for making red bean paste.
Pinto beans, also called frijol pinto, or painted beans, are another common type of bean native to Mexico. These beans are thus used to make a lot of yummy Mexican dishes.
These beans are small pale pinkish-colored beans with reddish brown streaks. Pinto beans have a flavor that can be described as earthy, rich, and creamy and works great in dishes like refried beans, tacos, burritos, chili, soups, baked beans, and more.
Red kidney beans
These are larger dark red kidney-shaped beans that are native to Central America and Mexico.
Red kidney beans are slightly sweet and have a dense meaty structure. These beans are firm with buttery creamy insides and work great in salads, soups, chilis, and more. They also make great substitutes for other bean types like pinto beans, black beans, and even pink beans.
Cannellini beans also called white kidney beans are very large white, kidney-shaped beans that are meaty, with tender flesh and a flavor that is considered nutty and earthy.
Cannellini beans are native to Argentina but are very popular in southern Italy. These beans are great for use in white bean soups, salads, bruschetta, dips, and more.
Fava beans also called broad beans are often confused with edamame. These beans grow in large lumpy green pods and have large seeds with a clear whitish coating that needs to be blanched and removed before consumption. Fava beans can be eaten both raw and cooked.
Fava beans are great for use in salads, pestos, stews, and more. They’re also great sautéed, fried, or steamed.
These beans have a buttery, nutty slightly sweet flavor when fresh and a milder flavor when dried.
Mung beans also called green gram, maash or munggo are native to India. Mung beans are small round shaped green, black-brown, or yellow-colored beans that come from 4-inch-long pods that hold approximately 10 to 15 seeds.
Mung beans can be used in both sweets and savory dishes like soups, stews, curries, salads, and Asian desserts. Mung beans have a nutty slightly sweet flavor that reminds one of potatoes.
Cranberry beans, also called borlotti beans, are a kind of kidney beans that are light-colored with purple-pink spots. They are thought to be native to Colombia.
These beans have a creamy, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor with a soft, velvety, dense texture. Cranberry beans work great in pasta, minestrone, baked beans, salads, and more.
Black-eyed peas (Or black eye beans)
Black-eyed peas also called black-eyed beans are another type of bean that we’ll discuss.
These beans have a distinctive ‘eye’ which is often black, brown, red, pink, or green. Black-eyed peas are green when they are first shelled, but turn buff when dried. These beans have a flavor that is an earthy and creamy texture.
Although called back-eyed peas, they are indeed a bean native to Africa.
Great Northern beans