Know your beans: Which beans work best with different dishes?


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Do you know your beans? For example, do you know which types of beans work best in curries, stews, chili or even salads? Well, hang onto your hats, amigos, because we’ve done a roundup of our favorite varieties and the dishes in which we love them best.


But first, fun facts!

  • According to Workman, beans are the only cultivated plants that give to the soil as well as receive. “Legumes have nodules on their roots that add nitrogen to the soil instead of using it up.”
  • Workman also adds that cooked beans can be frozen for up to six months, which is good news to anyone who wants to make a huge pot-full but doesn’t necessarily want to spend the next three weeks eating beans. When you’re ready to eat them, simply thaw them overnight in the fridge and they should reheat just fine the next day.
  • Although Americans love their beans, Britons are pretty fond of their legumes as well. According to Express, 38.5 tons of baked beans are eaten every hour in Britain.
  • Express also says that although the average Briton eats four times as many baked beans as the average American, the Irish take top prize for most baked beans consumed.


Ready for some magic?



Also called chickpeas, these are the beans you want to make hummus, gluten-free orange cake and curries. You can also pan roast them or add them to a stew.


Kidney beans

In one of Colombia's signature dishes, which includes steak or ground beef, a whole green or yellow plantain, some avocado, a cornmeal cake (arepa sin sal) and white rice, the kidney beans are the glue that holds the entire dish together. Although they are also tasty in three-bean salad, they are arguably best as the star ingredient in chili con carne — well, depending on which side of the age-old beans or no beans chili debate.


Black beans

Cuban black bean soup, gluten-free chocolate cake, loaded nachos. Noms.


Cannellini beans

These are a large white bean closely related to the kidney bean and interchangeable with Great Northern beans. Use them to prepare a garlicky cannellini beans with escarole. 


Pinto beans

If you don’t have kidney beans on hand for some frijoles colombianos, then pinto beans are the best of possible substitutes. They are also excellent refried, in chili and pretty much in any Mexican dish that requires beans — burritos, tacos and on their own as a side dish, top with some queso blanco. And definitely use them to make borracho beans.


Mung beans

Salad anyone? Perhaps paired with quinoa. And don’t forget Mediterranean mung bean stew and any number of curries. 


Limas or butterbeans

Lima bean ragout with tomatoes and thyme, lima beans and ham, sweet potato and lima bean soup and succotash. 



Quite possibly one of the ideal snacks when you want to keep things healthy.


Broad beans

These are also called fava beans. A little bird told us they pair nicely with liver and a nice Chianti.


Pigeon peas

A huge shoutout to Puerto Rico for giving the world one of the most delicious rice dishes in the history of ever: arroz con gandules.


Haricot beans

Is what the U.K. called them. Those baked beans on toast topped with an egg we keep talking about? Those are haricot beans. These smaller white beans are called navy beans in the U.S., which are a lot like Great Northern beans. Aside from baked beans, white beans are nice in stews, soups, salads and ragouts. 


Green beans

Also called string beans or wax beans, green beans can be enjoyed steamed, sautéed, sautéed and topped with Parmesan and — hello, Thanksgiving — in a casserole.


Black-eyed peas

That’s right. They are not only a hip-hop group but also a bean. And they work as well in salads as they do in gumbo and jambalaya.