Types of Beans

Published on: Feb 22 2011 by Shenron

Each and every plant that belongs to the family Fabaceae is referred to as beans. This family is often referred to as pea family or bean family. A large varieties of beans fall under this plant family. Beans are often classified as edible and inedible. The edible types of beans are used extensively for cooking and in different recipes while inedible beans are considered harmful for health and are often not suggested for cooking. Beans are normally rich in protein contents while they have low cholesterol and low fat contents. Apart from these, beans are also rich in other minerals essential for the body growth such as iron, potassium, and magnesium. For those who are vegetarian, bean is the best substitute for meat.

Different Types of Beans

Beans are available in many different types which are used in several different recipes all across the world. Beans are versatile and diverse in its features and characteristics. Following are given some of the different types of beans with brief description of each type.

Adzuki Beans

Adzuki beans also known as aduki or azuki beans are grown widely in the eastern countries such as Japan and China. These beans are small, round and pointed on one side. Adzuki beans has a sweet taste and available in red color. These are widely used in making the sweet bean paste for the fact of having a sweet flavor. Some of the popular recipes of adzuki beans in Asia include red bean rice, moon-cakes, baozi etc. They are rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, vitamin B3, copper and fiber. Also, they contain low content of fats and sodium. These are good for maintaining the normal blood pressure.

Black Beans

Black beans are commonly known as black turtle beans or just turtle beans. These are called turtle beans because of having a shell like shape that is dark and shiny. Black beans are the major part of the Latin Americans and Caribbean’s diet. Black beans when cooked give a tasteful flavor and soft feel. Black beans are widely used in the recipes like casseroles, pasta, and soups. The popular varieties of black beans include domino, valentine and black hawk. Black beans are considered a good source for the diabetics as they help reducing the cholesterol level.


Originated from the New Mexico, this bean is known as a dried bean and is a vital part of the Native Americans’ diet for more than thousands of years. It is found in dark red and white color and is often taken as akin to the pinto bean. Anasazi beans when cooked become pink or light beige colored with a meaty feel. It gives a gentle taste which is slightly sweetish. These beans can be stored in a glass jars for about an year in an uncooked form, while in the cooked form you need to store them in refrigerator. However, you can enjoy the fresh taste of cooked beans for a week or so after been refrigerated. In New Mexico, these beans are also known as cave beans, a New Mexico appaloosa, the Aztec bean and Jacob’s beans.

Fava or Broad Beans

Broad beans are known to be one of the oldest grown beans. It is commonly known as pigeon beans, fava beans, horse beans, and Windsor beans. These beans when cooked give a smooth, creamy texture with an unmatched taste. However, there is a negative point associated with these beans as they cause favism – an enzyme deficiency. Hence, is it is also called fava beans.

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans are indigenous to Middle East. These beans are also known as Indian pea, ceci pea or chickpeas. It is highly edible type and rich in protein content. These beans are also known to be one of the oldest cultivated types of the beans. These beans usually taste like walnuts or chestnuts with a strong texture. These beans are used in the recipes like hummus, curries, falafel etc.

Haricot Beans

Haricot beans are small, firm oval shaped beans with a strong taste. These beans are rich in folate, iron and fiber. Other names given to this bean include Yankee bean, Boston bean, Fagiloi, Haricot Blanc (white), and the Pearl Haricot bean. It also referred to as navy bean, pea bean or white bean. In the 19th century, haricot beans were used widely along the sea areas and hence got the name navy beans. Haricot beans are widely used in the recipes such as soups, salads, bean dishes and chili. As these are firm in their shape, they are soaked in water for some time before cooking. These are ideal for baked bean recipes. You can substitute these beans with variety of other beans such as Cannellini, Flageolets, Great Northern, or Dry Lima Beans.

Kidney Beans

These are called kidney beans because they are shaped like human kidneys. They have a dark or light red color and hence often referred to as chili beans. These beans contain high contents of iron and calcium. These are cholesterol free but have a reasonable amount of carbohydrate contents. Kidney beans are used extensively in the recipes like salads and casseroles. Kidney beans are very popular in sub continent where these are used in varieties of different food recipes.

Cannellini Beans

These are known to have a thin skin with soft, delicate flavor. These are in fact white, oval shaped and dried beans. You can use white Navy beans or Great Northern beans in place of cannellini beans if they are not available.

Red Beans

As the name suggests, these are dark red small sized beans. You can have them in both dried and canned form. Its mild sweet flavor makes it a popular ingredient of Mexican dishes like refried beans. Red beans are often called Small Red Beans. The dried beans need to be soaked before cooking.

Lima Beans

The other names given to this bean include pallar bean, butter bean, haba bean, sugar bean and Madagascar bean. These are basically the seeds taken from phaseolus Lunatus, a type of legume. Flat, greenish white beans are called butter beans because of having a texture and flavor similar to that of butter. Both large and small varieties of lima beans are available which are used in several different cuisines.

Hyacinth Beans

These beans are commonly found in the tropical regions such as India, Indonesia and Africa. They are cultivated as a food crop. The plant of the hyacinth beans is similar to that of a vine as it also bears dark purple colored pods. An interesting fact about these beans is that the leaves and flowers of these beans are also edible and is used widely.

Black-Eyed Peas or Cowpea

These are called black eye because of having a black eye on its oval shaped creamy white outer skin. Black-eyed pea or cowpea has mild texture and is rich in fiber, folate and iron. It is found both in fresh and dried form. It is used in the recipes like soups, side dishes and casseroles. It is an essential ingredient of a Southern United States dish called ‘Hoppin John’. In some regions, it is also called Black-Eyed Cowpea.

White Beans

These are also called as small white beans or peas. White beans are actually a group of beans having white color and almost possessing the same taste and texture. Some of the popular types of beans in this group are Navy, Great Northern and Cannellini beans. All the varieties in this group can be substituted for one another in the cuisines. These are rich in potassium, iron, fiber and folate.

Corona Beans

These are considered native to Italy and widely grown in this part of the world than any other region. They are large and broad, white in color. The size of this bean becomes even larger after being cooked. It is similar to lima beans in looks and is used in varieties of recipes like soups, stews etc. It has a rich meaty texture.

Cranberry Beans

Like many other varieties, it is also rich in iron, fiber and folate. It has a dusty pink color with red markings or strips. If cranberry beans are not available, you can use pinto beans or red kidney beans in place of them. Another common name for these beans is Italian Borlotti.

Flageolet Beans

They are famous French shell beans. It grows a 3 inch of inedible green pod containing small sized, light green, kidney shaped beans. They are available fresh in the summer season. These are also available in the dried form stored in plastic bags, boxes etc. In France, braised flageolets are traditionally used with the leg of lamb. These are also used in soups, stews or in salads with lemon and oil. Dried beans require being soaked before cooking.

Great Northern Beans

These are medium sized, oval shaped, white beans having soft, gentle flavor. It has a strong texture with delicate creamy flesh. It is also rich in fiber, iron and folate. They are found widely in canned and dried form. They are considered best for the baked bean dishes and recipes. It is also used in soups. White kidney beans or Navy beans are its best substitutes.


It has a round, flat shape and is found in green, brown or red color. It exhibits good taste with solid texture. Lentils are rich in phosphorus, folate, iron and fiber.

Lupini Beans

White, round shaped bean, is similar to Fava beans in appearance. Lupini is known to be indigenous to Italy where it is cultivated widely. It is quite bitter in taste and to remove the bitter taste, the bean is often soaked and marinated. Other popular names for lupine beans are Albus Lupin, White Lupin, European White Lupin, or Tremmocos.

Marrow Beans

It is white, round shaped and plump looking bean widely cultivated in Italy. It gives a smooth, creamy and meaty texture once cooked with a taste identical to smoked bacon. It is used in the recipes like braised meat, soups. Stews and also served as a side dish. Although, these are often substituted by Great Northern Beans, but these don’t provide the same size and taste as that of marrow beans.

Mung Beans

It is a small sized dried bean having a thicker outer skin with round shape. It is available in green, brown and black color. It is native to India where it is commonly called Yellow Mung, Yellow Split Mung or Moong Dal. It is extensively used in the dishes like curries and a dish called Dal. It is also used as translucent bean sprouts to add crunch and taste to salads, egg-dishes, sandwiches, and stir-fried dishes.

Pink Beans

Pink beans are grown all over the world. They are small, oval shaped beans which are found in pale pink color. It is widely used in the recipes like soups, rice dishes, refried bean dishes, stews and chili con carne. In Spanish, pink beans are called Habichuelas Rosadas. They can be used with or for kidney beans and pinto beans in several different recipes.

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are medium sized beans found with beige or brown strips. They usually possess a natural flavor with meaty feel. They are rich in iron, fiber and folate. They are widely used in the recipes like refried bean, beans and rice dishes, chili, soups, and stews. They are found in the market in precooked or dried form in the cans. Dried beans should be soaked in water overnight or for few hours before cooking.


Some of the popular varieties of runner beans are Aztec, Giant Pinto, Madeira, Black, White and Scarlet. These are considered as the heirloom beans. They are one inch long and tend to become double the original size when soaked. These are restricted to some regions of the world and where they found easily get best of admiration and appreciation from the people.

Soybeans (Dried Yellow Soybean)

They are dried, yellowish, oval shaped and medium sized beans known for their gentle taste and strong texture. These are rich in calcium, folate, iron, phosphorus, and fiber. They also contain rich protein contents with low amount of carbohydrates. In different regions soybeans are called as Soya, Soya Beans, Soja or Soi.

Black Soybeans

Black soybean is a variety of soybean which widely used in Asian cuisines. Black soybean is also used in the making of products like tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, and certain other snack foods. Due to its sweet flavor, it is often not opted for cooking rather it is used in soups, casseroles, stews etc.

Split Peas

Split peas are small in size having green or yellow halved peas. It is known for its earthy flavor and creamy feel. It is rich in potassium, phosphorus, folate, and fiber.

These are some of the major types of beans used in the making of different tasteful and flavorful cuisines and recipes.

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