10 Best Substitutes for Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans

A uniquely shaped red bean which has its name because of its shape, kidney beans are a very popular and common ingredient used in sauces, salads, or as a garnish.

Kidney beans are a very healthy and nutritious food that can improve your health. They are an excellent source of protein for many people, and are often used as an alternative to beef. Kidney beans are particularly popular in Central America and Mexico.

But what if you don’t have any kidney beans? Are there other beans that can be used instead?

The best bean substitutes for kidney beans are black beans, pinto beans, red beans, white beans, borlotti beans, and anasazi beans.

All of these will make your dish unique and tasty.

Read below to find out more about kidney beans, and also how to substitute them if you are making chili con carne. Scroll down and take your pick.

Substitutes for Kidney Beans

Our list consists of the best ingredients that can serve as a replacement for kidney beans. No need to worry if you don’t have any kidney beans at home, just check the list below.

1. Black Beans

Black beans

A very small, kidney-shaped black bean that has a very rich and full flavor. They are traditionally used in southern Mexico and South America especially and if you use them, they’ll give a bit of Latin flavor to your dish. They are rich in fiber and protein which makes them the perfect substitute. They go well in soups and casseroles.

2. Pinto Beans

pinto beans

Commonly used to make chilies, these beans can be cooked or mashed. Pinto beans can be found dried or packed in cans and are available from most food shops. For fresh ones, you can put them in water overnight to soak. Change the water, simmer the beans until they are tender (about 2 to 3 hours) and then they are ready to use in your recipe.

3. Red Beans

Red beans

Red beans are a very good replacement for kidney beans. They have the same level of protein and their other nutrients closely resemble kidney beans. You can use red beans for chilies, stews, soups, and salads as well.

4. White Beans

White beans

White beans, commonly known as cannellini beans, are also a good substitute for kidney beans. They have a subtle nutty flavor and will fit very well in your salads and soups as a replacement for kidney beans. They are very nutritious and can improve your health.

5. Borlotti Beans

Borlotti beans

Borlotti beans (also known as cranberry beans) are another very good replacement for kidney beans. They are commonly used in Italy, especially in soups and pasta dishes. You can use these beans in all recipes that call for kidney beans. They have a very thin skin and create a rich broth when cooked. You can find them in your local food stores.

6. Anasazi Beans

Anasazi beans

Another type of bean that is cultivated by American Indians, anasazi beans can be a very good substitute for kidney beans. If you use these beans when cooking, please note that they are very sweet. You can use them as a substitute in recipes that call for kidney beans like hot chilies, lime and cilantro.

7. Lima Beans

Lima beans have been a staple in Peru for about nine millenniums.

They also have a kidney shape; however, they’re flatter than red kidney beans. And they’re ivory-white. Moreover, they don’t hold a beany flavor. Still, they will give your dish a buttery taste.

You can use Lima beans in your stews, soups, and casseroles.

I personally enjoy Lima beans in beef or poultry dishes. They’re so tender. You can get the preferred doneness on a stove for less than 30 minutes without soaking. So, they’re also easy to cook.

Lastly, they’re great for your heart.       

Thanks to the high-fiber content, lima beans reduce cholesterol levels. They’re also loaded with magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure.

8. Mung Beans

Mung beans

Mung beans have been a part of many Asian cuisines for many years.

They’re not red or kidney-shaped; however, they’re still a great substitute for kidney beans because of their nutty and slightly sweet taste that you will enjoy.

You can use Mung beans in your salads, curries, soups, and stews because they’re versatile. Moreover, they work well for both savory and sweet recipes.

Lastly, they pack antioxidants that prevent cancer and heart diseases. If you opt for Mung beans, you will also obtain B vitamin, which prevents infections and increases the production of red blood cells.

9. Pigeon Beans

You can find Pigeon beans in Asia’s tropical and subtropical regions. They’re oval and change color throughout their development.

Young Pigeon beans have bright green color while mature ones turn beige.

I love these beans because of their nutty and slightly sweet taste, and I often serve them with rice.

When cooking Pigeon beans, you should soak them for about one hour, so they can completely soften in just 30 minutes. If you forget to soak these beans, they will take about two hours to tenderize fully.

It would help if you made Pigeon beans a part of your diet because they’re a perfect source of folate, which boosts blood cell production. They also contain minerals like potassium, magnesium, copper, and thiamin.

So, if you don’t have kidney beans on hand, you can use Pigeon beans in the same ratio and save your recipe.

10. Lentils


Lentils can replace kidney beans in your dishes. They’re the most colorful legumes, so you can choose your favorite and prepare a unique dish.

However, note that each option had a unique flavor, so I recommend this ingredient as a last resort to replace kidney beans.

You can use lentils in soups, pasta, salads, curries, and side dishes. The best part? They don’t need soaking before cooking because they’re already tender.

Still, I suggest adding olive oil for a flavor boost.

Lastly, lentils contain soluble fiber, which is excellent for digestion and preventing constipation. They also include potassium which eliminates the negative effects of salt and lowers blood pressure.

Simply put, they’re always a good alternative when you don’t have kidney beans on hand.

What are Kidney Beans?

Kidney beans were given their name because of their shape. However, they actually come in many sizes and colors. From ivory-white to blood-red and black, kidney beans can be found in your local market. You can get them in cans, dried or fresh.

When raw, they are toxic, so they need to be very well prepared before use. They are usually medium-large and are used in salads, soups, or chilies. Kidney beans are usually found fresh and are used in many cuisines all over the world.

Kidney beans can be very beneficial for you and your health. Do not hesitate to use them in your meals. Since they have a very interesting and unique shape, they can also bring a very nice look and taste to your dish.

Substitute for kidney beans in chili con Carne

If you are making a chili con carne and you have no kidney beans, no worries, there are substitutes that you can use. You can make the chili sauce simply by using black beans, pinto beans, or cannellini beans. They will fit very well in your recipe.

Read: Substitutes For Beans In Chili

You can also use a combination of beans, and even make the chili con carne without meat (although you’ll need to put more effort into it).

If you are using a combination of different beans, make sure to adapt the flavors and the texture, because different beans will bring slightly different flavors.

Related questions:

Are red beans and kidney beans the same thing?

Actually, no. Red beans and kidney beans are different types of beans. Red beans are smaller and rounder. The only thing they really have in common with kidney beans is the color. However, they are similar enough to be used interchangeably in recipes.

How long to cook kidney beans from a can?

To cook kidney beans straight from the can, you’ll need 5 minutes to prepare. Then you have to cook them for an additional 15 minutes which makes it in total 20 minutes.

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