Red Beans VS Kidney Beans: How They Differ

A few misconceptions cover the ground between red beans vs kidney beans. Both beans look remarkably similar, which can make it rather difficult to point out one from the other. Though not immediately apparent, they do have differences that show up on a visual inspection. 

For a visual inspection, if you put red beans and kidney beans side-by-side, the differences become evident. Despite their visual differences, the beans still have remarkably similar flavor and culinary uses. However, the difference between their flavor and culinary uses requires a bit more finesse.

So, let’s take a closer look and see how red beans and kidney beans compare.

Red Beans vs Kidney Beans – Key Points

The Size And Color Differences

As we know, a visual examination can show the difference between red beans and kidney beans. Sometimes, it’s obvious. At other times, the difference only becomes apparent when you put both beans together side by side.

Kidney beans are big and plump. In comparison, red beans are relatively smaller and rounder. As their name implies, kidney beans are shaped quite a lot like kidneys. Meanwhile, red beans are oblong-shaped. While these differences don’t seem as obvious, they do seem clear as day when these two types of beans are placed together.

Red beans are true to their name and have a deep red color. The most common color for kidney beans is red, though with more of a crimson touch. Also, kidney beans don’t appear as bright as red beans.

While red is the most common color for kidney beans, they do have other colors and cultivars. These include red speckled kidney beans, light speckled kidney beans, and white kidney beans.

The Taste And Texture Of Kidney Beans and Red Beans

When preparing kidney beans, it’s important to first soak them for several hours. These beans contain a toxin that’s neutralized by soaking them, followed by thoroughly cooking them. According to the FDA, this toxin can cause nausea, followed by diarrhea and stomach pains. Although when cooked properly, these beans are perfectly safe and nutritious.

As for texture, kidney beans have a relatively thick skin as compared to red beans. Kidney beans have a firm and meaty texture that offers excellent mouthfeel.

The taste of kidney beans is largely neutral with some sweetness. However, they will absorb the flavor from accompanying ingredients in the recipe, creating a wonderfully flavored dish. Kidney beans are very popular with Southern, especially Southwestern recipes. They’re also common in Indian cuisine.

Red beans have a relatively stronger and beanier taste. You’ll find them to have a mild flavor with nutty and sweet tones. These beans too absorb some flavor from other ingredients, though not to the same degree as kidney beans. Besides, the texture here is soft and creamy with a smooth skin. These beans are fairly popular with southern cuisine and in Central American dishes.

Both types of beans are rich in nutrients. Red beans are a great source of antioxidants and are rich in proteins, fiber, potassium, calcium, and several other nutrients. Kidney beans are slightly richer than red beans in protein and several nutrients. They also include a fair amount of fiber, iron, folate, and thiamine.

What Are Red Beans?

Red beans are small, oval-shaped beans with a bright red color. These beans usually grow to about half an inch in length. The type of red beans those of us in the Western world are most familiar with are the small red beans or Mexican red beans. Another variety of red beans is popular in East Asia and is better known as adzuki beans. 

The beans are incredibly versatile in food and can be used with several recipes and eaten alone. Many varieties of beans, including red beans, are often paired with rice to make a delicious dish!

What Are Kidney Beans?

Kidney beans are relatively larger than red beans and have something of a kidney shape. They usually have a red color with a crimson touch and aren’t as bright as red beans. There are at least four varieties of kidney beans and they depart from the red color to show speckles. You might also see white kidney beans.

In terms of flavor, kidney beans have a sweet touch, though they are very adept at absorbing flavors from other ingredients in a recipe. They have a relatively thicker skin and their texture isn’t as smooth as that of red beans.

Types Of Beans – A Quick Look

Kidney beans are a type of lentils and are available in several varieties. As we see, even these 2 types of beans are available in several varieties. Here’s a list of common beans, in no particular order.

  • Kidney beans
  • Red beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Black beans
  • Black eyed peas
  • Cranberry beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pink beans
  • White kidney beans (Cannellini beans)
  • Lima beans
  • Adzuki beans
  • Soybeans

Pinto beans are another popular type of beans. Their name is Spanish for paint, and represents the brown streaky color of these beans. However, once cooked, the beans take on a solid reddish-brown color that’s quite similar to what you’d expect from red beans or kidney beans. 

Cranberry beans, also known as Roman beans, are very similar to Pinto beans in appearance. These oval-shaped beans have a mottled tan and red skin. Much like Pinto beans, they lose this color when cooked, and take on a solid reddish-brown hue like red beans or kidney beans.

Black beans are oval-shaped beans with a black skin. Their soft skin texture contributes to them being a key part of several recipes.


Are Red Beans Keto?

A low-carb diet plan like keto doesn’t go well with red beans. This is because these beans have a rather high carbohydrate content. Interestingly, this concept extends to most of the popular bean varieties, including red beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, and more. 

If you must have beans while on a ketogenic diet, give a shot to low-carb options like green beans. Even so, remember to consume these only in moderation. 

Is Red Bean Paste Healthy?

Red beans are a fairly good source of nutrition but does that mean that the same also extends to red bean paste? These beans are a rich source of protein, fibers, minerals, and vitamins. However, there is another major component in the red bean paste besides the beans. This component is sugar. 

Red bean paste contains copious amounts of sugar, which means that it can’t really be considered healthy. Feel free to enjoy the red bean paste in moderation and while it does offer benefits of red bean and its nutrition, it isn’t exactly a healthy option due to the presence of high sugar content.

Are Kidney Beans Healthy?

Kidney beans are nutritious, healthy, and delicious, which is about all you can ask from a food item. They are a rich source of protein, fiber, iron, folate, thiamine, and several other nutrients. Although they are rich in nutrition, it is advisable to never eat kidney beans raw. 

The beans may contain a toxin which causes nausea, stomach ache, and diarrhea. This toxin is neutralized when the beans are soaked in water. Generally, these beans are soaked overnight or at least 5 hours before cooking. Once they’re soaked and well-cooked, the toxin poses no risk and the beans are their nutritious and delicious self.


A comparison of red beans vs kidney beans shows very clear differences. Yet, it cannot be ignored that they are remarkably similar in appearance, taste, and even texture. Both of these beans are excellent choices for your meals and they’re as nutritious as they’re delicious. 

You cannot copy content of this page