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Dark Red Kidney Beans

Dark red kidney beans may be small but they have a lot to offer! These little red beans are full of vitamins and nutrients, plus they taste good too.

Closeup of kidney bean pods, similar to dark red kidney beans.

Keep reading to learn all about dark red kidney beans including how to use them in recipes, their health benefits, and even how you can grow your own.

Characteristics of Dark Red Kidney Beans

Dark red kidney beans are large, kidney-shaped beans. They have glossy red skin on the outside and white flesh inside.

Once cooked they have a creamy texture and mild bean flavor that is slightly sweet. Their texture remains firm, even when cooked for long periods.

Kidney beans grow in pods on plants that are around one to one and a half feet tall. There are both bush and vining varieties. Up to ten kidney beans can grow in a single pod.

Vining beans.

What’s the Difference Between Dark Red and Light Red Kidney Beans?

Dark red kidney beans have slightly thicker skin and a darker color.

Other than that, there is little difference between dark red and light red kidney beans. Their flavor and texture are very similar and so is their nutritional profile.

Since they are so similar, you can easily substitute dark red for light red kidney beans in recipes and vice versa.

Eating Dark Red Kidney Beans

Beans are an affordable way to add some nutrition to your diet. They work well in many different recipes and kids love them as well!

Where to Get Them

Dark red kidney beans widely available at most grocery stores, health food stores, and online retailers like Amazon. You can get them dried or canned, organic or conventionally grown.

Dried kidney beans.

Canned Vs. Dry Beans

Dried beans are often cheaper than canned beans. They do take some time to prepare but the process isn’t difficult. If you’re not sure how to use dried beans, here’s a helpful guide on how to soak and cook them.

Canned kidney beans offer greater convenience than dried beans since you don’t have to soak or cook the beans before using them. They’re ready to use right out of the can!

Dried beans are slightly more nutrient dense than canned, but both offer a lot of health benefits and either one is a good choice for adding important nutrients to your diet.

Canned beans often have added salt so that’s something to watch out for. If you’re trying to reduce sodium in your diet, look for low-sodium or no salt added varieties. Dried beans typically don’t have any added ingredients.

Can You Eat Raw Kidney Beans?


Raw kidney beans are toxic so you always want to cook them before eating them. Once cooked, kidney beans are perfectly safe to eat and make a healthy addition to a balanced diet.


There are so many ways to use kidney beans. They’re great for snacks like nachos, as a salad topping, in bean salads like this Summer Kidney Bean Salad, and even in dessert!

Try these Fudgy Kidney Bean Brownies for a healthy sweet treat.

Kidney Beans as a Meat Substitute

Kidney beans are a good source of protein so they’re an excellent substitute for meat. If you’re trying to cut down on meat consumption, try one of these recipes for a tasty, filling main course.

Kidney Bean Fajita Tacos

Kidney Bean Burger with Mushrooms

Spaghetti and Bean “Meatballs”

Tacos made with kidney beans.

Soups and Stews

Dark red kidney beans maintain their firm texture even when cooked so they’re perfect for soups, stews, and other recipes where the beans are cooked for a long time.

Soups and stews also freeze really well so they’re perfect for making a big batch and saving some for another time.

Classic Chili

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Minestrone Soup

Bean Stew

Kidney bean chili.

Kids Like Kidney Beans Too!

Dark red kidney beans are an excellent food for toddlers. Little fingers gain fine motor skills and a nutritious snack when they pick up and eat single beans.

For older kids, you can blend kidney beans with or without seasoning and use them as a spread on crackers or rice cakes.

Another idea is to make a Red Kidney Bean dip. Kids love dips. You’ll be surprised how many veggies they can eat when they have something fun to dip it in!

Health Benefits of Kidney Beans

Dark red kidney beans pack a lot of nutrition into their tiny package. They’re an excellent source of dietary fiber with a whopping seven grams in a half-cup serving.

A bowl of dark red kidney beans.

Kidney beans are also a good source of protein with seven grams per serving.

They have iron, magnesium, potassium, and many other nutrients as well. At only 105 calories per serving, dark red kidney beans are a food you can feel good about eating!

Growing Your Own Beans at Home

If you have a home garden, it’s definitely possible to grow your own dark red kidney beans at home.

Person planting kidney bean seeds.

Kidney beans are simple to grow and do well in USDA hardiness zones 4 and above. They prefer moderate temperatures between 65-80 degrees.

Plant seeds in spring after the last danger of frost has passed. They need full sun and well-draining soil.

Your beans will be ready to harvest in about 100-140 days.

Where to Buy Seeds

Kidney beans don’t do well with transplanting so it’s best to start them from seeds.

You can order dark red kidney bean seeds online. Kidney beans are not a common home garden plant so you may have a hard time finding seeds in a store.

Can you grow kidney beans from store-bought beans?

It’s possible to grow dark red kidney beans from a package of dried beans, but you may not have a very good germination rate.

Seeds that are intended for planting are much more likely to germinate and grow into healthy plants that will give you a good harvest.

Canned beans have already been cooked and won’t germinate.

Wrapping up Dark Red Kidney Beans

Closeup of green kidney bean pods.

Whether you want to try growing your own or just enjoy some from the grocery store, dark red kidney beans are a great addition to a healthy diet.

Want to learn more about beans? Visit our bean plants page to discover more about beans!