Beans come in all manner of shapes, sizes, colors, and tastes. But even still it can sometimes be confusing when you try and determine the differences between varieties and which beans you should use for dinner tonight.
One group of beans that often get confused for one another are kidney beans, red beans, and pinto beans. All three are very popular in similar cuisine, often in southern cooking, stews, and baked beans. They even look quite a bit alike!
While similar, each of these different beans bring a little something special to each recipe they are used in! But, which one should you use for dinner tonight?
Of the three, kidney beans are noticeably the biggest and plumpest. She looked at side-by-side with other beans, kidney beans also have a much more distinct shape that isn’t as round and oblong and looks more like a kidney. Go figure! Their thicker dark red skin makes them ideal for and commonly used in lots of dishes that are cooked over long periods of time like chili, baked beans, and jambalaya where they are great at soaking up and absorbing other flavors in the dish. But, they are also a great hearty and healthy protein topper for salad too.
While many people think kidney beans and red beans are the same, they are actually two different kinds of beans! When you put one next to the other, the visual differences are immediately apparent. Where kidney beans are one of the largest beans, red beans are much smaller and retain the classic oblong shape. And while both are red, kidney beans have a darker, more crimson shade while red beans are much brighter, almost pinkish, shade of red and have a much “beanier” taste. Despite their differences, red beans do often go in similar rice and stew recipes as kidney beans and pinto beans.
Pinto, the Spanish word for paint, get their name because of their brown, streaky color when they are raw. Once cooked though, they take on a more solid reddish-brown color that can make them look similar to red beans and kidney beans. Pinto beans, however, stand out the most with their flavor and texture. Pinto beans are much softer and creamier in texture and have a more distinct nuttiness than the other two, making them great for mashing. They are one of the more prominent beans in southern and south of the border cooking like rice and beans, soup, chili, and baked beans.
So, which bean should you use in your dinner recipe? These three beans go into many of the same kinds of recipes but when it comes to a Latin or Mexican cuisine pinto beans are the clear choice!
And while red beans and kidney beans can be somewhat interchangeable, we will always defer to the humble kidney bean! Kidney beans are better at absorbing the flavors around them and their thicker skin gives them a nice pop when you bite into them!
Our pinto beans and kidney beans are tasty, hearty, full of flavor, and perfect for whatever recipe you feel like bringing to the dinner table! Our beans are available in the center aisle of your favorite local grocery store and available online too!
Be sure to grab a few jars of each and try out some of our favorite pinto bean and kidney beans recipes like these!
What’s the difference between Great Northern White Beans, Navy Beans, and Cannellini Beans? Find out here!