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From Pinto to Black: 5 BEST Substitutes for Kidney Bean

For those trying to figure out how to best incorporate kidney beans into their culinary repertoire, you may be wondering which of the many substitutes are right for you.

Whether you’re looking for a meat alternative or to spice up a dish without adding extra starch, you can easily replace kidney beans with an array of amazing substitutes.

From the health benefits of pulse-based alternatives, such as black beans and cannellini beans, to the classic flavours pulled from pinto beans and navy beans, find out which five substitutions work best to keep your dishes tasty and your appetite satisfied more their than ever.

What’s Kidney Bean?

whats kidney bean

Kidney beans are a type of legume with a mild and slightly sweet flavor.

They are one of the most popular beans in the United States, used in many recipes and cuisines including Mexican, Indian, Southern cuisine, and chili.

Kidney beans come in various sizes and colors, ranging from red to light chocolate.

The two main types are red kidney beans and white kidney beans.

Red kidney beans are the most commonly used across many recipes for their firm yet creamy texture, nutty flavor profile, and vibrant color.

When cooked correctly, red kidney beans have a soft but satisfying texture that appeal to many different palettes.

They’re packed with fiber and protein — making them a great choice for vegetarians — plus carbohydrates to give them an earthy texture that might remind you of brown rice or quinoa when combined with other ingredients like sauces or spices.

While they can be eaten raw with caution — it’s important to note that the toxicity level decreases once cooked — there’s no harm in adding some heat if you prefer it; whether that’s through boiling or oven roasting (which will bring out some additional sweet flavors).

The 5 Best Substitutes for Kidney Beans

Their robust, meaty texture gives dishes the added bonus of being both filling and nutritious.

If you do not have access to kidney beans for whatever reason, there are some great alternatives that can stand in for them.

Here are five of the best substitutes for kidney beans:

1 – Black Beans

black beans

Black beans are a great substitute for kidney beans, as they have a similar flavor and texture.

They’re slightly sweeter than kidney beans, and their creamy texture makes them an ideal choice for soups.

They also work well in stews and chili, as well as salads or side dishes.

They don’t require soaking like kidney beans do, so to make them easier to include in recipes you can use canned black beans.

These bean varieties are also packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, vitamins A and C, and essential minerals such as calcium and iron.

Additionally, black beans contain flavonoids with antioxidant activity that helps protect your body from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals.

2 – Cannellini Beans

cannellini beans

Cannellini beans, otherwise known as ‘white kidney beans’, could possibly be the best substitution for red kidney beans.

They have a mild – mellow flavor and a soft, creamy texture when cooked.

The main difference between the two is in their size and shape, with cannellini being longer and more oval-shaped than kidney beans.

Their taste profile is also different, with cannellini having a milder flavor that some may find more appealing than the stronger taste of red kidney beans.

When exchanging for red kidney beans in recipes like chili, it is important to note that Cannellini will cook a bit faster so adjust your cooking time accordingly.

3 – Pinto Beans

pinto beans 1

Pinto beans are a variety of the common bean, and they can be used as an excellent substitution for kidney beans.

They are medium-sized, oval-shaped beans with a pinkish-brown color that has a speckled mottle appearance.

The flavor is similar to the kidney bean, but slightly milder, and they are available either dry or canned.

When cooking with canned pinto beans, keep in mind that they will cook more quickly than the dried variety — it’s best to reduce the cooking time by half if substituting canned for dried.

Pinto beans have numerous health benefits and are recommended for weight loss and to lower cholesterol levels.

4 – Navy Beans

navy beans

Navy beans, or haricot beans, are a small white bean that is shaped like a pea.

They have a mild flavor and are great for use in stews, soups and casseroles.

Navy beans contain similar amounts of protein and fiber to kidney beans but have a much milder flavor.

They also tend to break down more easily when cooked, making them an ideal substitute in recipes calling for mashed or pureed kidney beans.

As an added bonus, navy beans can usually be found year-round in most grocery stores.

5 – Great Northern Beans

When it comes to taste and nutrition, Great Northern beans are the closest substitute to kidney beans.

This bean is a bit larger than kidney beans and has a smoother outer shell.

It is creamy white in color and has a slightly milder flavor than red kidney beans.

Due to their similar nutritional profile, Great Northern beans can be used as a one-to-one substitution for many dishes requiring red kidney beans.

Aside from their use in traditional baked bean recipes, they are perfect for creamy soup bases and savory casseroles.

When selecting these legumes, make sure that you buy the dry variety instead of prepared ones as those are likely more processed and may not offer the most nutritional benefit.


In conclusion, if you find yourself in a pinch and can’t get hold of kidney beans, there are plenty of other options to satisfy your craving for the legume’s unique flavor.

From chickpeas to lentils, each option offers its own nutritional and culinary benefits.

Just be sure to read through the recipes you’re working with carefully and adjust your ingredients accordingly.

Any substitution will work just as well as kidney beans, so don’t be afraid to get creative with your ideas.

substitutes for kidney beans

The 5 BEST Substitutes for Kidney Beans

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes


  • Black Beans
  • Cannellini Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Great Northern Beans


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
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