Are Red Beans and Kidney Beans the Same?

Are Red Beans and Kidney Beans the Same? The answer is no. The terms “red beans” and “kidney beans” are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two different types of beans that have distinct characteristics. Both belong to the larger family of beans known as Phaseolus vulgaris, commonly known as common beans, but they differ in shape, size, taste, and texture. Understanding these differences can help ensure you choose the right bean for your culinary needs, especially in recipes where these distinctions might affect the dish’s outcome.

Shape and Size

  • Kidney Beans: True to their name, kidney beans have a shape that closely resembles a human kidney. They are larger and have a more curved appearance. Their size makes them ideal for dishes where a hearty, substantial bean is desired.
  • Red Beans: Red beans are smaller and rounder compared to kidney beans. They also have a smoother appearance and are not as curved as kidney beans. This makes them a preferred choice for dishes that require a more delicate texture.


  • Kidney Beans: Kidney beans typically have a darker red, almost maroon color. The vibrant color can stand out in a variety of dishes, adding visual appeal.
  • Red Beans: Red beans have a lighter red to pinkish hue. Their color is more uniform and less intense than that of kidney beans.

Taste and Texture

  • Kidney Beans: Kidney beans have a mild, somewhat sweet flavor and a soft texture when cooked. They can absorb flavors well, making them suitable for slow-cooked dishes.
  • Red Beans: Red beans tend to have a richer, slightly nutty taste and a smoother texture. They hold their shape well during cooking, which makes them ideal for recipes that require beans to remain intact, such as Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, salads or as a whole-bean side dish. For our Louisiana and Rice recipe, please click here.

Culinary Uses

  • Kidney Beans: Due to their size and hearty texture, kidney beans are often used in chili, stews, and salads where they can be a prominent feature of the dish. A bit larger than the red bean.
Kidney Beans

Red Beans: Red beans are a staple in Creole and Cajun dishes, most notably in the classic Louisiana red beans and rice. Their ability to hold their shape and their distinctive flavor make them the bean of choice for this traditional dish. Click here for our Louisiana Red Beans and Rice.

Red Beans

Nutritional Content

Both red beans and kidney beans are similar in nutritional content, offering high levels of protein, fiber, iron, and potassium with low fat. They are a healthy addition to any diet, providing essential nutrients that support overall health.

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