18 Best Substitutes For Kidney Beans

Are you wondering what to use as substitutes for kidney beans? Here, you’ll find the best replacements for red kidney beans that work! You may be thinking, what are kidney beans, don’t worry, we’ve got you.

What Are Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans are typically a medium-large dark red, and the kidney bean is named after its “kidney” shape. The kidney bean is eaten worldwide, from the Americas to Southeast Asia. Use cooked then chilled in salads or for chili or soups.

The white variety kidney beans are referred to as cannellini beans. Kidney beans are not typically found fresh but are widely available canned.

The best substitutes for kidney beans are Cannellini Beans, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans,  Black Beans, Navy Beans, Aduzik Beans, Butter Beans, Anasazi Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Chili Beans, Small Red Beans, Mung Beans, Pigeon Peas, and Lentils.

You can also use Borlotti, Cranberry Beans, Fava Beans, and Great Northern Beans. You can use almost any bean except lima, which is too soft for chili or slow cooking.

Best Substitutes for Kidney Beans.

Below you can read more about all substitutes for kidney beans and how best to use it instead of kidney beans in the right proportion.

1. Small Red Beans

In South Louisiana, small red and kidney beans are used interchangeably in red beans, rice, and other traditional Cajun dishes. So, because they are so similar in color and texture, using red beans as substitutes for kidney beans in chili will go unnoticed.

You can also use red beans for chilies, stews, soups, baked beans, and salads. . Small red beans is use to substitute kidney beans in the ratio of 1-to-1.

2. Pink Beans

Pink beans are a great stand-in for kidney beans. Pink beans, also known as Santa Maria pinquitos, are slightly oval-shaped pale pinkish to brown colored beans that are meaty, rich, and slightly powdery in terms of texture.

These beans can be used as substitutes for kidney beans to make refried beans, chili con carne, soup, and stews, to name a few. The best part is that pink and red beans have similar soak and cook times.

For example, red kidney beans need approximately 6-8 hours of soak time and 60 minutes of cook time, while pink beans needs a soaking time of 4-8 hours and 50 – 60 minutes of cook time. They can be swapped out quickly in a dish with similar cook times.

Use 1 cup of pink beans instead of 1 cup of red kidney beans or a 1:1 substitute ratio.

3. Pinto Beans

If you have pinto beans, these can also work as substitutes for kidney beans. Pinto beans are the perfect alternative because they can be used in almost all recipes for kidney beans. Pinto beans are commonly used to make chili or cooked and mashed for refried beans. 

The beans can be purchased dried or cooked, or packaged in cans and are available in most grocery stores. Pinto beans should be soaked overnight.  The water should be changed out then the beans should be simmered until tender, about 2 to 3 1/2 hours.

You can use Pinto beans as a 1-to-1 substitute.

4. Borlotti Beans

Borlotti is another great bean that can substitute for red kidney beans. They are commonly referred to as the cranberry bean, a mottled white and red bean related to the kidney and pinto beans. These beans are grown worldwide but are particularly popular in Italy and Mexico. 

In Mexico, the beans are called Cacahuate beans (peanut beans); in Spanish, they are called “Frijol Cacahuate.” Use in any recipe that calls for kidney or pinto beans.  When cooked, these beans have a thin skin and produce a rich bean broth.

Borlotti beans are meaty, slightly sweet, and nutty beans that have a creamy texture and produce a rich bean broth when cooked. These light brown beans with purple or pink speckles can work in recipes like bean salads, soups, and more.

Use Borlotti beans as a 1-to-1 substitute.

5. Black Beans

Black beans, also called black turtle beans, are available year-round. And they’re popular in Mexican and America; if you use them, they’ll give your dish a bit of Latin flavor. They are rich in fiber and protein, making them the perfect substitutes for kidney beans. They go well in soups and casseroles.

They go well in soups and casseroles. They are also featured in recipes like  coconut rice with black beanscowboy caviar with avocado, white chicken chili, and zucchini black bean and rice skillet. Black beans have an earthy flavor and a similar texture to kidney beans.

And while they don’t look similar, they work well as a substitute in tacos, chilis, bean dips and burgers. Use black beans as a 1-to-1 substitute.

6. Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans are smoother, white, creamier, instead of red, and they have a  slightly different taste than kidney beans, but they are of the same shape and size just like kidney beans, which are normally referred to as white kidney beans. These beans are most often used in Mediterranean dishes.

Even though they can be substitutes for kidney beans in chili, they will be noticed because the white beans will stand out where red kidney beans blend in. But cannellini beans will work well in white chili made with turkey or chicken rather than beef, and the color will blend perfectly.

Use cannellini beans as a 1-to-1 substitute.

7. Navy Beans

Navy beans, also known as pea beans, are a long-time staple food in the US Navy. They are small dried white beans for making baked beans, beans, ham hocks (Southern specialty), and various soups and salad dishes.  The beans are also available canned. 

Both versions are everyday grocery store items. Navy beans make great substitutes for kidney beans in dishes like soups and stews. And you can use Navy beans as a 1-to-1 substitute.

8. Anasazi Beans

Also, these dark red and white heirloom beans are popular in Mexican and Latin cuisine. It has an earthy, sweet, and nutty flavor, similar to kidney beans, and they have a meat-like texture. They’re a great replacement to use anywhere; use Anasazi beans as a 1-to-1 substitute.

These dark red and white heirloom beans are popular in Latin and Mexican cuisine. It has an earthy, sweet, and nutty flavor, similar to kidney beans, and they have a meat-like texture. They’re a great replacement to use anywhere; use Anasazi beans as a 1-to-1 substitute.

9. Butter Beans

Butter beans, or lima beans, have a buttery texture and a mild flavor. As they’re not as sweet as kidney beans, they’re an excellent substitutes for kidney beans in soups, salads like bean salads, stews, and casseroles. These 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. Use them as a 1-to-1 substitute for dishes like these.

10. Fava Beans

While fava beans resemble lima beans more closely than kidney beans, they can be substituted in many dishes.  Fava beans are versatile and often used in Asian, European, South American and African Middle Eastern cuisine.

They have a creamy and nutty taste and are especially good as snacks.Fava beans can be substituted for kidney beans in chili, but the taste difference will more than likely be noticed. Fava beans are perfect when used in vegetarian chili. And you can use them as a 1-to-1 substitute.

11. Mung Beans

Mug beans are light to medium green-colored beans are a staple in Asian cuisines for many years. Mung beans are an excellent antioxidant for soups, curries, salads, soups, and stews because they’re versatile.

Mung beans don’t have a similar shape, color, or taste to kidney beans; however, they’re still an excellent substitute for kidney beans because of their nutty and slightly sweet taste and for those who don’t love kidney beans. Moreover, they also work well for both savory and sweet recipes.

And you can use Mung beans as a 1-to-1 substitute.

12. Adzuki Beans

These beans are another fantastic substitute for red kidney beans. Adzuki beans, also called azuki beans, are mild, sweet, and slightly nutty and can work well in soups, stews, taco bowls, refried beans, and more. Azuki beans take 4 hours to soak and 55 minutes to be cooked.

In comparison, red kidney beans take 5-8 hours to soak and about 1 hour to cook. It means that adzuki beans are a pretty good replacement for red kidney beans in terms of how long they are taken to cook when making a dish. Use 1 cup of adzuki beans to 1 cup of red kidney beans.

13. Great Northern Beans

Here’s another white bean similar to cannellini beans and navy beans, and you can use them as a substitute in the same ways. The great northern bean can also be substituted for kidney beans in chili.

But, as with the cannellini bean, great northern beans will stand out in chili because of the color and would be better used in making white chili. You can use Great Northern beans as a 1-to-1 substitute in soups, stews, and chilis.

14. Pigeon Peas

You can find Pigeon beans in subtropical regions and Asia’s tropical. They’re oval and can change color throughout their development. These peas are another great ingredient for curries, soups, and stews, and they’re native to the tropical regions of Asia.

Young Pigeon beans have a similar bright green color to mung beans, while mature ones turn beige, these beans have a nutty and slightly sweet taste, and you can serve them with rice. When cooking Pigeon beans, you should soak them for about one hour, so they can completely soften.

If you forget to soak Pigeon peas, they will take about two hours to tenderize fully. So, if you don’t have kidney beans on hand, you can use Pigeon beans in the same ratio and save your recipe. If you don’t like kidney beans, you can use pigeon peas as a 1-to-1 substitute.

15. Garbanzo beans

Garbanzo beans or chickpeas are a protein-rich vegan staple. And they have a mild flavor and a creamy, slightly gritty texture, like cooked potatoes. And while they don’t have a similar texture or appearance to kidney beans, you can use them for similar dishes.

Use chickpeas to substitute kidney beans 1-to-1 in soups, stews, chilis, and even baked bean recipes like these calico baked beans.

16. Chili Beans

Here’s a kidney bean substitute that may save you some extra steps. Chili beans are cooked and canned beans with chili seasoning and sauce. And most products already have kidney beans or pinto beans inside.

Chili beans are naturally a great replacement for chili dishes because they have similar ingredients, though you might need to adjust your seasonings slightly to compensate.

17. Lentils

Lentils in the legume family and it come in various colors, so you can choose your favorite and prepare a unique dish. And while they’re not an excellent kidney bean replacement in terms of texture, size, or color, they are similarly nutrient-rich.

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, we suggest adding olive oil for a flavor boost. They’re always a good alternative when you don’t have kidney beans.

18. 4. Sweetcorn

Sweetcorn is another yummy substitute for kidney beans in chili con carne. The kernels are typically much smaller than many beans often used in such recipes, requiring less cooking time. As such, add them just ten minutes before the end of the cooking time and will ensure that they don’t get overcooked and become mushy!

You will love the kick of sweetness that corn adds to chili with an extra element of visual interest. 


Vegetarians often use kidney beans to make vegetable soup and even bean burgers, but they also make tacos, bean salads, baked beans, beans, rice, chili, and casseroles. If you don’t like kidney beans or grocery stores are out of stock, you can use these easy replacements for all your favorite dishes.

Note: The items listed here do not taste precisely like red kidney beans, but in a pinch, they can work in many dishes that call for common kidney beans.

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