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Upgrade Recipes: 5 BEST Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

If you’re looking for a ingredient that is bursting with flavor and nutrient-dense, consider trying out some pigeon peas.

But, with so many other legume substitutes available, it can be confusing to decide which one to choose.

Luckily, learning how to use pigeon peas and the five best substitutes for them can make your menu prep decisions easy.

Whether you are cooking for a family meal or just creating something for yourself the options are nearly endless — enabling you to explore global flavors.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

If you’re looking for an alternative for your favorite recipes, here are five of the best substitutes for pigeon peas.

1 – Red Lentils

red lentils

Red lentils should always be your go-to choice when looking for a readymade substitute for pigeon peas.

They have a subtle flavor and can be easily cooked in less time, making them an ideal replacement for pigeon peas in most recipes.

They also contain more fiber, folate, and iron than other pulses-like chickpeas and sky-rocketing their nutritional benefits even further.

Red lentils dissolve into the stews, making them the perfect ingredient in soups and dals where smoothness is required.

Serve red lentils as part of an Indian-inspired meal or use them as an accompaniment to a main dish for extra nutrition.

2 – Chickpeas


Chickpeas are great for dishes that call for pigeon peas.

They’re small and oval, much like pigeon peas, but they’re a darker shade of yellow and are often cooked with spices such as garam masala.

The easiest way to replace pigeon peas in a recipe is to use canned chickpeas.

Simply drain the can, rinse the chickpeas, and cook as directed.

If you want your dish to still have some of that traditional texture of pigeon peas, try using dried chickpeas instead.

Before cooking with dried chickpeas, they need to be soaked in hot water overnight or pre-boiled in water for 1–2 hours.

Once the chickpeas are ready to go, follow your recipe instructions as stated.

3 – Black Beans

black beans 1

Black beans, also called ‘black turtle beans’, are a common substitute for pigeon peas.

They’re widely available and widely used in Latin American cuisine.

Like other legumes, black beans are high in protein, fiber and folate.

They’re slightly less sweet than pigeon peas but work just as well when cooked with spices and herbs or chili peppers.

They also make a great addition to veggie burgers or meatless tacos due to their dense texture.

Since black beans have a shorter cooking time than pigeon peas, you may want to consider soaking them before using them in recipes.

4 – White Beans

white beans

White beans, also known as cannellini beans, are a good substitute for pigeon peas.

They are mild in flavor and have a smooth texture when cooked.

When used as a substitute in dishes, you should use an equal volume of white beans to pigeon peas.

However, it is important to note that some dishes may require adjustment of other seasonings and herbs to accommodate the substitution.

White beans can be cooked from dried or canned for convenience.

Dried beans can be soaked overnight before cooking for best results but canned beans can simply be heated and added to your recipe.

5 – Kidney Beans

kidney beans

Kidney beans can be a delicious substitution for the small and flavorful pigeon peas.

They have a much larger size than the pigeon pea, but have a similar texture and taste, with creamy and buttery flavors.

Kidney beans are a great source of protein and dietary fiber, as well as antioxidants such as B vitamins.

Keep in mind that they need to be cooked longer than pigeon peas, so adjust your cooking time accordingly.

Additionally, they also offer more nutritive benefits due to their enlarged size – they can provide up to 3 times of folate, iron, magnesium and zinc than the latter.

substitutes for pigeon peas

The 5 BEST Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

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


  • Red Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Black Beans
  • White Beans
  • Kidney 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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