You’ve probably seen the light and dark red varieties but did you know kidney beans come in all sorts of colors? There are even some speckled types!
Keep reading to learn all about several unique varieties of kidney-shaped beans.
Light Red Kidney Beans
One of the most popular varieties, light red kidney beans get their name from the pale reddish-pink color of their skin. Inside the beans are creamy white.
They’re plump and round with a classic kidney shape. Each bean is about 1/2 an inch long.
This variety has a mild bean flavor that is slightly sweet and nutty. When cooked, the beans have a creamy consistency that is delicious in chili, baked beans, and other recipes.
They maintain their shape without getting mushy even when cooked so they’re ideal for soups and stews.
Since they’re so popular, the light red variety is easy to find. You can get them dried or canned at many grocery stores, superstores, convenience stores, and online.
Our blog post on Light Red Kidney Beans has even more information.
Dark Red Kidney Beans
Aside from the darker color, dark red kidney beans are quite similar to their light red cousins. The texture is somewhat heartier but the flavor is the same, mild, slightly sweet, and a bit earthy or nutty.
They’re dark red to burgundy in color with white flesh inside. The beans are plump, kidney-shaped, and about 1/2 an inch long.
These dark beans are popular for chili and other soups. They’re easy to find dried or canned in grocery stores or online. If you buy a can of seasoned chili beans, there’s a good chance they’re dark red kidney beans!
If you’re interested in growing your own beans, you can find seeds at True Leaf Market.
We’ve got a great blog post on Dark Red Kidney Beans that explores the subject even more!
Red Speckled Kidney Beans
Also known as rajma chitra beans, red speckled kidney beans are a unique variety with a pretty, speckled skin. They have a mild and sweet flavor that is similar to other types of kidney beans. They’re a bit smaller than the light and dark red varieties.
Originating from Kashmir, these beautiful beans are popular in Indian cuisine. They’re delicious when seasoned with Indian spices like garam masala or coriander.
They aren’t as common as other varieties so you may not find them at your local grocery store but they can often be found at health food stores or online. Amazon even carries seeds if you’d like to try growing this variety at home.
For more information, read our blog post on Red Speckled Kidney Beans.
Light Speckled Kidney Beans
Light speckled kidney beans are another speckled variety with beautiful colors of beige, burgundy, and red. Because of their color, they’re sometimes called cranberry beans. And because of their sweet flavor, they’re sometimes called sugar beans.
Cranberry beans look somewhat like a more colorful version of pinto beans. They’re about the same size and shape.
If you want to find them in a store, look for cranberry beans on the label. They’re also available online at places like Amazon.
Our blog post on Light Speckled Kidney Beans will dive even deeper into the subject of these beans.
White Kidney Beans
White kidney beans are often called cannellini beans. They have tough white skin and a creamy off-white middle. When cooked, the beans have a smooth texture that is light and almost fluffy. The flavor is mild and nutty.
Cannellini beans are popular in Italian cuisine and make an excellent addition to soups, stews, and bean dip.
Cannellini beans are usually easy to find both dry and canned. If you’re interested in growing your own, seeds are available online at True Leaf Market.
To learn more, read our blog post on White Kidney Beans.
Purple Kidney Beans
As the name suggests, purple kidney beans are a dark, luxurious purple color. Sometimes they look almost black. They’re larger than other varieties with a rich, hearty texture that is creamy when cooked.
These pretty purple beans are sometimes called Norberg beans or Wanda beans.
As pretty as they are, the purple variety isn’t very common so unfortunately, they’re pretty hard to find in stores and online. We recommend checking the bean seed selections on Hoss Tools to see if they add purple kidney beans to their inventory.
Read our blog on Purple Kidney Beans to learn more.
Caparron Kidney Beans
Half white and half reddish-purple with lots of speckles, Caparron beans are as beautiful as they are rare. These interesting beans are common in the northern areas of Spain, but hard to find anywhere else.
Caparrons are small and somewhat less kidney-shaped than the other varieties we’ve looked at, but they have a similar taste. Mild, slightly sweet, and a little nutty or earthy.
These pretty beans are the main ingredient in Caparrones, a traditional Spanish stew featuring caparron beans and chorizo.
Like purple kidney beans, they’re rare and seeds aren’t easy to find. It’s worth visiting Hoss Tools to see if they’ve added caparron kidney beans as one of their selections.
Check out our blog post on Caparron Kidney Beans for a more in-depth read.
Why Eat Them?
These common beans (and the less common varieties!) are a healthy addition to any diet. They contain many different nutrients including dietary fiber, calcium, protein, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin B, and more.
Adding beans to your diet can improve digestion, promote healthy bones, help your body maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
They’re inexpensive, especially when you buy dry beans, but canned varieties are inexpensive as well. They’re versatile and easy to incorporate in all kinds of recipes for things like soups, stews, rice dishes, salads, and even things like smoothies and brownies.
Since they’re high in protein, beans make a nutritious and affordable substitute for meat in recipes like tacos, chili, and burgers.
How to Prepare Your Beans Safely
It’s important to note that raw kidney beans are toxic. Canned beans are already cooked and are safe to use out of the can but dry beans must be properly prepared before you can eat them.
To safely cook dried beans, all you have to do is boil them for at least ten minutes.
Yes, it’s actually as simple as that! They won’t be fully cooked after that time, but the toxins are neutralized with just ten minutes of boiling.
To fully cook dried kidney beans, soak them in water for at least five hours or overnight. After soaking, drain the beans and cover them completely with fresh water, then boil them in a pot on the stove until soft. It usually takes between 60-90 minutes for the beans to be fully cooked.
Once cooked, the beans are safe to eat and provide many health benefits.
Time to Eat Some Kidney Beans
Whichever variety you choose, there’s a lot to love about kidney beans!
To learn more about other types of beans, make sure to check out our Bean Plants page. There you can discover even more interesting varieties of beans, get ideas for how to use them, and even get tips for growing your own!