Beans are an essential part of many diets, offering a great source of protein and fiber. Beans, peas, and lentils all belong to the same seed family: Fabaceae. Botanists around the world have confirmed this little-known fact!
Beans are commonly used as a quality protein source in recipes around the world.
There are so many beans to choose from that it can be challenging to know what is out there and decide which bean is right for you.
That's why we've compiled this comprehensive overview of the different types of beans available. In this A-to-Z bean guide, explore pictures and learn about these delicious legumes from Adzuki to Mung beans.
⬇️ Table of Contents
- 1. Adzuki Beans
- 2. Anasazi Beans
- 3. Black Beans
- 4. Black-Eyed Peas
- 5. Borlotti Beans
- 6. Cannellini Beans
- 7. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
- 8. Cocoa Beans
- 9. Coffee Beans
- 10. Cranberry Beans
- 11. Edamame
- 12. Fava Beans
- 13. Fayot Beans
- 14. French Green Beans
- 15. Gigante Beans
- 16. Great Northern Beans
- 17. Kidney Beans
- 18. Lima Beans
- 19. Lentils
- 20. Marrowfat Peas
- 21. Mung Beans
- 22. Navy Beans
- 23. Pinto Beans
- 24. Peas
- 25. Pole Beans
- 26. Purple String Beans
- 27. Red Beans
- 28. Snow Peas
- 29. Soybeans
- 30. Snap Peas
- 31. Urad Beans
- 32. Lupini Beans
- Health Warnings About Consuming Beans
- Beans Recipes To Try
1. Adzuki Beans
Adzuki beans, also known as azuki or Adzuki, are small red beans originating from East Asia and China. They have been grown there for thousands of years and are now a popular ingredient worldwide.
These beans are highly nutritious and contain ample protein and fiber, providing numerous health benefits. The sweet flavor makes them a great addition to delicious desserts like ice cream or cakes, but Adzukis beans are also highly nutritious.
Boiling them into porridge or adding them to soups and stir-fries. Due to their unique taste, texture, and versatility in cooking, adzukis are worth trying if you want to add something special to your meal plan!
2. Anasazi Beans
Anasazi beans are a type of heirloom bean that has roots in Native American culture. These beans were historically grown by the Ancestral Puebloans, otherwise known as Anasazi, in the Southwest of North America.
These beans are noted for their glossy and marbled appearance and have a unique sweet and nutty taste. Anasazi beans pair well with other ingredients such as smoked meats, winter squashes, cabbages, potatoes, and herbs like oregano and thyme.
This makes them an excellent ingredient for soups, stews, making bean salads, and side dishes. If you're looking to mix up some classic recipes with an added dose of nutrition - try using Anasazi beans!
3. Black Beans
Black beans are popular types of beans and incredibly nutritious legumes. They contain a wealth of essential nutrients, including protein and fiber, and they also pack a powerful punch as far as antioxidants are concerned.
Combining them with other foods, such as rice or salsa, can transform them into flavorful meals for any occasion. Furthermore, black beans can be cooked in many ways: boiling, baking, and sautéing with vegetables.
When using them in recipes — especially in dishes such as soups and stews, they may need to be soaked overnight before use to improve their texture.
4. Black-Eyed Peas
Native to the Southern United States, Black-Eyed peas may appear unassuming but don't be fooled by this common bean!
These delectable legumes are a vegan and vegetarian's best friend. Not only do they make for an amazing pot of beans, but they can also serve as the star protein in any meal!
Embrace the smoky, earthy flavor of black-eyed peas with various seasonings and vegetables. Of all kinds of beans, these legumes have a distinct taste that perfectly complements rice dishes or other grains. Incorporate them into your soups, stews, and chilis for added richness!
Moreover, you can also fasten up a scrumptious side by combining cooked black-eyed peas with diced onion and celery - crunchiness guaranteed! And don't forget a splash of vinaigrette for some piquant flavor!
5. Borlotti Beans
Borlotti beans are a type of legume, also known as cranberry beans. They have a mild flavor and creamy texture, making them ideal for soups and stews. Their taste is often described as having an earthy, chestnut-like sweetness.
In addition to soup and stew, they can also be cooked in chilis or used as a substitute in recipes that call for red kidney beans.
When using them in dishes such as chili that require a long cooking time, be sure to soak the beans overnight prior to cooking. This will reduce their cooking time by at least half and help keep the beans tender instead of too mushy.
6. Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans are a popular type of white kidney beans, often cooked in Italian cuisine. When cooked properly, they have a mild buttery flavor and a tender texture.
To get the best flavor and texture from your cannellini beans, they should be soaked overnight before cooking to soften them and allow them to absorb more of the surrounding liquid.
After soaking, they can be boiled for an hour or so until soft. They can also be cooked using canned varieties which just need to be heated a few minutes before serving.
Cannellini beans have a versatile use and are great for soups and stews, but they can also be used as an accompaniment for roasted meats or potatoes.
7. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are hearty, nutrient-packed legumes. As a popular ingredient in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines, the mild flavored bean can be found in countless savory dishes.
From hummus to falafel to soups and stews, chickpeas are an ideal food for adding texture, flavor, and protein to any meal.
When garbanzo bean is boiled or roasted, it becomes crunchy and makes a great snack that you can keep plain or season with salt just like any other nut.
They can also be milled or have their starches extracted to create flour that can then be used as a gluten-free alternative in baking. In short, the hardworking chickpea is an integral part of balanced diets worldwide.
8. Cocoa Beans
Cacao beans are the seeds of the cacao tree, native to Central and South America. When fermented and dried, they provide a rich flavor in many popular dishes and desserts.
To prepare cocoa beans for use, most manufacturers roast and hull them before grinding them into a fine powder. Once ground, cocoa powder can be blended with other ingredients to create delightful treats such as hot chocolate or chocolate candy bars.
Cocca beans are also integral to many baked goods like cakes and cookies. Furthermore, extracting fat from cocoa beans results in cocoa butter used in lotions and cosmetics for its moisturizing properties.
As a result of these myriad uses, cocoa has become a precious commodity in various industries.
9. Coffee Beans
Coffee beans are the seeds of specific types of plants within the coffee plant family, Coffea. There are two major varieties of coffee: Arabica and Robusta, with each having its own distinct characteristics when it comes to flavor, aroma, body, and acidity.
The processing of coffee beans also makes a major difference in the quality and taste of the end product; for instance, washed or wet-processed coffees tend to bring out more acidity than natural dry-processed coffees.
Finally, roasting plays an important role in creating unique flavors from the same bean since lighter roasts which are quickly cooled, result in brighter acidity, whereas darker roasts have a fuller body and lower acidity.
It's clear that trying new types of coffee beans can bring great variety to your cup!
10. Cranberry Beans
Possessing a mild nutty flavor, Cranberry beans are a type of legume that is native to Central and South America. These kidney-shaped beans are popular in Latin American cuisine and are available fresh and dried, depending on the region.
When used dried, they require soaking overnight before cooking to ensure they reach their ideal texture after cooking. Once adequately soaked, they can be boiled for 30 minutes or simmered for 1-2 hours until fully cooked.
Often Cranberry beans are utilized in hearty stews or soups and serve as an excellent addition to meat-based dishes like chilis.
For vegetarians and vegans, these versatile beans make a great protein source in tacos, salads, and sandwiches.
Edamame are young soy beans that are picked before fully mature. It is often used as tasty appetizer or snack for its delicious taste and texture, making it incredibly enjoyable to eat.
While traditionally served with just a sprinkle of sea salt on top, edamame can be done in various other ways. These include tossing it with flavorful sauces or spices such as miso, garlic butter, chili powder, or sesame oil and togarashi for more complex flavor options.
Additionally, edamame can be incorporated into salads and stir-fried dishes. In short, edamame makes a beautiful addition to almost any meal!
12. Fava Beans
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a wonderfully versatile, velvety texture food option that can be enjoyed as an accompaniment or added to many main dishes. Their robust and earthy flavor is highly sought after by many people.
Depending on their yellow, green, or black hue, each color features its unique flavor profile: Yellow is the sweetest and mildest, while Black exhibits bolder tastes.
Preparing fava beans is simple; you must split and remove the inner seed before cooking them in your preferred oil, salt, pepper, and spices. Once done with the preparation stage, these hearty legumes make a fantastic addition to farmers' markets.
13. Fayot Beans
Fayot beans, also known as flageolet beans, are native to Mauritius and have a range of delightful flavors and a unique crunchy texture. This pod-grown legume has been a dietary mainstay in the Indian Ocean region since the 18th century and is a beloved staple today.
When preparing Fayot beans, it's important to soak them overnight before cooking to ensure they remain whole. To add flavor, consider sautéing them with garlic, ginger, onion, and chili flakes for a delectable side dish.
If you are looking for more creative uses of these beans, they make an excellent addition to soups, salads, and curries. Of course, because of its nutritional profile - low in fat yet rich in fiber and protein - it’s also great as part of any balanced diet.
14. French Green Beans
French green beans, also known as haricots verts, are a slender and delicate form of the regular green bean. They are usually picked when the beans are around half an inch in size for maximum flavor, texture, and nutrition.
When cooked properly, French green beans should be bright green in color with a crisp snap when bitten into.
This type of green bean is most frequently boiled quickly to maintain much of its nutrient value and cooked al dente – with only a bite to them.
An enjoyable variation on enjoying French Green Beans is to cook them slightly longer until they become golden brown, which leaves their texture soft yet crunchy while developing an entirely different flavor profile than those served al dente.
15. Gigante Beans
Gigante beans, also known as Ayacote beans or Gigantes Plaki, are large white beans from Greece and the Middle East.
They have a creamier taste than other kinds of white beans and are often used in Mediterranean cooking to make soups, stews, and salads.
Because of their size, they can take longer to cook, but they add a great flavor to dishes when served with grilled vegetables or seafood. Preparing Gigante beans is an easy process - simply rinse them off and pick out any rocks before adding water and bringing them to a boil.
Once lightly boiled for about 10 minutes, continue simmering for approximately an hour until soft. It's important not to overcook these beans as they will become mushy, so check halfway through the cooking process.
16. Great Northern Beans
Great Northern beans offer a delightful nutty flavor and delicately tender texture. Whether you use them in soups, stews, casseroles, dips, or salads, they are sure to add heartiness with their high protein content and creamy consistency.
Not only that, but packed full of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, iron, and other essential minerals, these little beauties make the perfect healthy addition to your diet - why not give baking some breads or cakes using Great Northern Beans a crack?
Make sure to season your dish with various spices or herbs for a greater depth of flavor. Remember not to overcook them since they can produce a mushy texture and reduce nutritional value.
17. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are a popular common bean for adding flavor and texture to various dishes. Typically dark red, they are packed with healthy nutrients such as folate, several minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, and protein that contribute to overall nutritional wellness.
While they can be cooked in various ways, one of the more time-efficient methods is to pressure-cook them until they're tender. When purchasing canned or dry kidney beans, look for an even color and ensure no discoloration or mold traces on their surfaces.
When cooked correctly, this legume can be added to an array of recipes like chili con carne, Mexican salsa dip, salads, and soups. They combine perfectly with various other ingredients like ground beef or pork, potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetables for delicious results.
18. Lima Beans
Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are a beloved legume enjoyed for centuries, originating from the ancient Incas in Central and South America. These delightful little beans can be cooked in minutes and served with several delicious sauces or battered and fried.
Lima beans not only taste great, but they also boast impressive nutritional benefits such as dietary fiber and iron, making them perfect for those looking to increase their intake of essential nutrients.
Cooking lima beans is a breeze; all required is boiling water, a pinch of salt, and your creative spirit.
For centuries, Lentils have served as a cornerstone of diets worldwide for their amazing wellness benefits and versatility. From red to green to brown, these legumes come in various sizes and colors, each boasting delightful flavors and unique textures.
With up to 25 grams of protein per cooked cup, Lentils are a powerhouse source of essential proteins. Not only that, they are also full of fiber for better digestion and dietary minerals like iron and zinc!
Best yet, you don't need to soak them before cooking, and they are perfect for fast weeknight meals such as soup or homemade veggie burgers.
20. Marrowfat Peas
Marrowfat peas are a variety of legumes often used in Middle Eastern cuisines. The peas have been part of traditional diets in the region for centuries, and they are considered an ideal choice for dishes such as Mejadara (or Mujadarah) and in soups, stews, and curries.
While Marrowfat Peas can be eaten raw, they typically need to be soaked overnight and boiled until soft before being used in recipes, which helps ensure their mildly sweet flavor is optimized for any dish.
In addition, because Marrowfat Peas are high in dietary fiber, antioxidants, iron, and other plant-based proteins, consuming them is a healthy way to add nutrients to your diet.
21. Mung Beans
Mung beans are a nutritious and versatile type of bean that originated in India. They range in color from light green to yellow and have a slightly sweet flavor.
Mung beans are most commonly sold as dried beans but can be found canned or frozen. They are widely used in stir-fries and curries or sprouted and used as an ingredient in salads.
Because they contain protein, magnesium, fiber, and iron, mung beans can greatly include any balanced diet.
Furthermore, mung beans are easy to cook with minimal preparation; soak them overnight and then add them to your favorite dishes for a nutritional boost.
22. Navy Beans
Navy beans are a type of small white beans with many uses across a variety of cuisines. They are an affordable and nutritious way to add protein and fiber to your diet.
For example, for a hearty spread, they can be used in soups, salads, pot pies, chili, or even mashed.
These beans are easy to prepare, put the desired amount of beans into a pot or slow cooker and cover them with 2 to 3 inches of water. Cook the beans on high until soft, usually around one and a half hours, or replace them with canned beans.
Navy beans also boast countless nutritional benefits; as part of a balanced diet, they provide essential vitamins and minerals, including folate, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.
23. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are one of the most popular legumes in North America and Central America. As part of many traditional cuisines, they’re particularly popular in Mexico, parts of Texas, and the Southwestern United States.
Regarded as a budget-friendly food, Pinto beans can be used for various dishes ranging from chili to salads to refried beans. To cook them, first, soak them for about 8 hours before rinsing and boiling them on medium heat until tender.
Store boiled Pinto beans in an airtight container in a cool place for up to four days, or freeze them for a longer storage life. High in fiber and protein, Pinto beans offer several nutritional benefits, such as improving digestion, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and helping to manage cholesterol levels.
Peas have been a staple food source dating all the way back to prehistoric times and are one of the oldest domesticated crops. Its establishment as a reliable nutritional source made it an excellent option for ancient cultures, which depended heavily on agriculture to survive.
While there is some debate over what particular species of pea were domesticated first, historians largely agree that peas were grown by Neolithic farmers for them to feed their growing communities.
Later, planting peas became popular up and down the Mediterranean because of its easy-to-harvest pods, sweet flavor, and high nutrition levels.
Today, peas don't play as big of a role in our diets as they did in the past, but they remain a common vegetable choice in many dishes worldwide, like pasta dishes, due to their versatility and high nutrient content.
25. Pole Beans
Pole beans are a favorite among gardeners, offering an ample harvest and being easy to pick. While planting pole beans is no more difficult than planting other beans, they need extra support.
A trellis or fence system is required, while they will attach themselves as they grow by clinging to the narrow surface. When it comes time to harvest pole beans, this trait makes them particularly easy to pick and collect.
Plus, unlike bush varieties of untended plants, all the beans will be concentrated in one area, which means less searching for those hidden in leaves and closer together on the vine.
In addition, pole beans come with some serious benefits in terms of extended growing seasons due to the fact that new flowers start blooming and setting fruit as soon as old pods have been harvested. Therefore making them an excellent choice for home gardeners looking for more than just a single season of abundance.
26. Purple String Beans
Purple String beans are a unique and tasty variety of vegetables. Prized for their deep-hued color, these beans can make any meal exciting.
When cooked, the vibrant purple hue turns a deep olive green bringing with it an earthy flavor that goes perfectly with savory dishes. One of the best ways to prepare them is to simmer them in oil and seasonings on medium heat until they soften slightly.
This technique enables the purple color to remain bright while finishing quickly enough to ensure overall texture and taste satisfaction. Purple string beans are a delightful option for something special on your next menu!
27. Red Beans
Red beans are an incredibly versatile and nutrient-rich food. This common ingredient can be used in various dishes, from soups to side dishes like red beans and rice. High in fiber and protein, red beans can help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
They're a great pantry staple, as they can also be enjoyed as part of a nutritious breakfast or lunch. To get the most out of these tasty little beans, cook them until they are soft.
If desired, you may want to season them with herbs, spices, or other flavorings before cooking. No matter how you enjoy your red beans, they make a great addition to any meal!
28. Snow Peas
Snow peas are a fantastic vegetable to include in your meal plan. They are full of key vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamin A, which help support healthy muscles and bones.
Their mellow sweetness also makes them a tasty addition to any meal. When shopping for snow peas, look for bright green pods that make a snapping sound when broken, a sign that they are fresh. They can be cooked in several different ways.
Steam or stir fry them lightly to preserve flavor and texture, or cook them longer if you enjoy their softer texture. Either way, snow peas will provide a nutritious and delicious option for your dinner table.
Soybeans have grown in popularity as an all-natural and sustainable food source due to their high nutritional value and environmental benefits. This versatile legume is a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, making it a perfect addition to many meals.
Traditionally consumed as edamame, soybeans can be added to other dishes such as stir-fries, burgers, and salads for an extra nutrient boost. With today's focus on healthy eating and sustainability, soybeans are becoming more widely accepted across all demographics.
30. Snap Peas
For those looking for a crunchy and nourishing snack, Snap peas are the ideal vegetable choice. Not only do these delicious morsels come in ready-to-eat pods filled with edible seeds, but they're also simple to prepare and serve raw or cooked.
With abundant vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin K, and manganese - plus minimal calories this nutritious option will satisfy all your snacking needs!
If you want the maximum amount of nutrition from Snap peas, eating them raw is your best bet - cooking can reduce some of their nutritional value.
Consuming a handful of Snap peas makes for an irresistible snack or side dish and may even help protect against certain illnesses.
31. Urad Beans
Urad beans, also known as Black Matpe or Urad Dal, are a staple ingredient of Indian cuisine. They have a sweet, earthy flavor and are prized for their high nutritional content. Urad beans can be used in various dishes, from dals to snacks like vada.
When cooked, they release an aroma that can fill the kitchen with an inviting fragrance. A tried-and-true food preparation method involves soaking the beans overnight before boiling them on low heat until soft and creamy.
Once boiled, they can be served as is or incorporated into other recipes, including drinks such as chaas (spiced buttermilk).
A valuable source of carbohydrates, protein, and antioxidants - incorporating urad beans into one's diet can provide essential nutrients and adds great flavor to any dish.
32. Lupini Beans
Lupini beans are an ancient culinary staple, dating back to the Roman Empire. Even today, they are still a popular food across many cultures. They have a rich and nutty flavor and a slightly bitter aftertaste.
To eat lupini beans, they must first be soaked in water and removed from their pods. Once the soaking is complete, they can be boiled for approximately forty-five minutes until they're soft and edible.
Due to their unique flavor profile, many people enjoy having lupini beans as an alternative to peas or other legumes. If cooked properly, lupini beans are a great addition to any meal!
Health Warnings About Consuming Beans
Phytohaemagglutinin is a lectin type found in certain beans, such as kidney, navy, and pinto beans. Lectins are proteins that bind to carbohydrates on the surface of cells and can cause them to clump together or become agglutinated.
Phytohaemagglutinin can make red blood cells clump together, which can cause various health issues, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even anemia. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the levels of phytohaemagglutinin in any beans you consume and reduce your intake if necessary.
Soaking and cooking the beans can help to reduce the levels of phytohaemagglutinin, as well as eating them with other foods such as grains, nuts, or dairy. When consumed in moderation, beans can be a nutritious and delicious addition to any meal!
Beans Recipes To Try
There are countless types of bean recipes that you can make! Popular dishes include:
- Chili con carne is a hearty combination of beans, meat, and vegetables cooked in a spicy tomato sauce.
- Refried Beans are made by mashing or pureeing cooked pinto beans with spices and herbs.
- Three Bean Salad, a combination of three beans such as garbanzo, kidney, and navy beans, served with a vinaigrette dressing.
- White Bean Soup is made with white beans, vegetables, and herbs simmered in broth or stock.
- Baked Beans is a classic dish made by slow cooking dry beans with molasses and spices.
- Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip made by blending cooked chickpeas with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice.
- Bean Burritos stuffed with various beans and other ingredients like cheese and salsa.
- Black Beans and Rice is a traditional Latin American combination of black beans served over white rice.
- Lentil Soup combines lentils, vegetables, and herbs simmered in broth or stock.
- Bean Burgers are made by blending cooked beans with breadcrumbs and spices before frying up in a pan.
- Baked Lima Beans, an easy side dish made by baking lima beans with butter and herbs.
- Falafel is a fried patty made from mashed chickpeas and spices.
- Bean Salad is a mix of cooked beans, such as navy or kidney beans, served with a vinaigrette dressing.
- Stewed Beans, a savory dish of cooked dry beans simmered in broth or stock.
- Bean and Cheese Quesadilla, a popular Mexican snack made by adding beans to a cheese quesadilla.
- Red Beans and Rice, a classic Creole dish of red beans served over white rice.