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5 Substitutes for Kidney Beans: Exploring Flavor and Versatility

Kidney beans are a staple in many kitchens, adding depth and heartiness to a variety of dishes, from chili to salads, with their rich, velvety texture. However, while these legumes are a fantastic addition to the culinary world, sometimes a recipe calls for a little bit of variety.

Whether you’re out of kidney beans, looking to add some diversity to your diet, or simply interested in expanding your culinary horizons, there are several legumes on the market that can serve as exceptional substitutes.

In this detailed exploration, we’ll take a flavorful walk through five nutritious and versatile substitutes for kidney beans.

From their unique taste profiles to their applications in different cuisines, we will provide you with all the knowledge you need to make informed choices and whip up delicious, kidney bean-free meals.


🙋‍♀️ 5 Substitutes for Kidney Beans

Without further ado, let’s dive into the wonderful world of kidney bean replacements and how they can enhance your next culinary creation.

1 – Chickpeas

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a fantastic all-round alternative to kidney beans. They possess a nutty, earthy flavor and a firm, buttery texture that adapts well to a wide range of dishes.

Chickpeas offer a taste that is slightly milder than kidney beans but equally satisfying. Their nutty undertones lend themselves well to dishes where a more pronounced earthy flavor is desired.

Beyond their frequent use in Italian dishes, chickpeas can star in Middle Eastern cuisine, as the main ingredient in hummus, or in Indian dishes like chana masala. They can also be roasted for a tasty snack or pureed for creamy soups and stews.

When substituting chickpeas for kidney beans, proportions can remain similar. Remember to cook chickpeas for slightly longer to achieve the desired tenderness, especially if you’re transitioning from canned kidney beans to fresh or dried chickpeas.

2 – Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans are often heralded for their creamy texture and mild, nutty flavor. This makes them an exquisite substitute for kidney beans in many recipes, particularly those that require a smooth consistency.

These beans have a smooth, delicate flavor that pairs well with herbs and savory seasonings. Their soft texture makes them perfect for purees, dips, and soups.

From Italian minestrone to Tuscan bean stews, cannellini beans are a common sight in Mediterranean cuisines. They also make a delicious addition to salads or as a side dish when gently simmered in broth with garlic and rosemary.

If using dried cannellini beans, soak them overnight before cooking, and ensure they are fully cooked through to enjoy their creamy texture fully.

3 – Black Beans

Black beans offer a heartier flavor compared to kidney beans, with hints of earthiness and a slightly sweeter profile. They have a starchy, creamy texture that holds up well in a variety of dishes.

These beans are a staple in Latin American and Caribbean cuisines, featuring in classic recipes like Cuban black bean soup and Brazilian feijoada. They also make an excellent addition to nachos and tacos.

Black beans, like kidney beans, are packed with fiber and essential minerals, promoting the feeling of fullness and aiding digestion.

4 – Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are another close cousin to the kidney bean, offering a mild, nutty flavor and a creamy texture when cooked. They are the bean of choice in many Southwestern and Tex-Mex dishes.

They have a more elusive taste compared to kidney beans but can add a depth of flavor to soups, chilis, and refried bean preparations.

Though less frequently associated with Italian cuisine, pinto beans can work wonderfully in dishes like pasta e fagioli, where their creamy texture can be celebrated alongside herbaceous tomato broths.

5 – Great Northern Beans

Great Northern beans are often overlooked but serve as a remarkable replacement for kidney beans. They have a mild, delicate flavor and a thin skin that allows them to take on the taste of the ingredients they’re cooked with.

Great Northern beans are like the chameleons of the bean world, easily adapting to the cooking process and absorbing the flavors of accompanying ingredients.

From cassoulets and stews to pasta dishes and salads, Great Northern beans can effortlessly blend in or stand out, depending on the culinary direction you choose.


Chickpea Chili (substitute for Kidney Beans)

This hearty Chickpea Chili is a flavorful and nutritious twist on the classic chili recipe, replacing kidney beans with chickpeas for a protein-packed alternative. Loaded with veggies and spices, it's a comforting dish perfect for chilly evenings or gatherings with friends and family.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Tex-Mex
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 80 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1 can 14 oz diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans 15 oz each chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: avocado cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream


  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onion and garlic, sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add diced bell pepper, carrot, and zucchini to the pot. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften.
  • Stir in diced tomatoes, chickpeas, vegetable broth, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Bring the chili to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat to low and let the chili simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flavors meld together and the chili thickens to your desired consistency.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve hot, garnished with your choice of toppings such as avocado slices, fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, or a dollop of sour cream.


  • You can customize this chili by adding other vegetables such as corn, diced sweet potatoes, or mushrooms.
  • For a spicier kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or diced jalapeños.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for longer storage. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving.


Serving: 1cupsCalories: 80kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 222mgPotassium: 275mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 2916IUVitamin C: 35mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Substitutes for Kidney Beans
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5 from 6 votes (6 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Sunday 17th of March 2024

Exploring substitutes for kidney beans opens up a world of possibilities! Whether it's chickpeas or black beans, I'm eager to experiment with different flavors and textures in my dishes.