Learn About Beans

Author: Chef Sydney

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What are Beans?

Beans are legumes that grow from plants.  Beans are different depending on their variety, but they usually have an outer skin and a creamy, smooth texture inside.  Beans are classified into different categories to distinguish between the varieties.  One of the main categories is the common bean.  Several beans fall under the common bean category, but some of the most used are navy, pinto, black, and kidney beans.  Other notable types of bean include soybeans, peas, and lentils.

What Are the Different Kinds of Common Bean?

  • Navy
  • Pinto
  • Black
  • Kidney


Navy beans are a white oval-shaped bean.  Navy beans are featured in popular canned baked beans and navy bean soup.


Pinto beans are a smaller brown round or oval-shaped bean.  Common uses for pinto beans include as a side dish, in chili, and pureed into refried beans.

Learn About Beans
A handful of assorted beans.

Watch our cooking video lesson on how to make pinto beans as a meal.

How To Make Pinto Beans Video Cooking Lesson


Black beans are a small black round-shaped bean.  This bean is commonly blended into dessert batters, served with rice, and even served by itself as a side dish.


Kidney beans are larger red kidney-shaped beans, but they may also be white or speckled.  Kidney beans are commonly used as a chili bean and are also cooked into curries and red beans and rice.  This type of bean is toxic if it is not properly soaked and cooked.

How Do You Eat Beans?

If you purchase dry beans, make sure to look through the beans to ensure there are no rocks, which are sometimes packaged with the beans.  Certain beans require hours of soaking before cooking.  Beans are popular in salads, soups, and stews for their texture and flavor.  Beans are also served as a side dish, such as in baked beans.  Beans may be served over rice or cornbread.

Where Can You Buy Beans?

Look for dry beans in the grains aisle of the grocery store.  Canned beans are found in the canned foods aisle.  Certain types of fresh beans, such as peas in a pod, are available in their peak season in the produce section.

How Do You Store Beans?

Store dried and canned beans in a cool, dark place, away from moisture.  Store fresh beans in the refrigerator.

Fun Fact About Beans

Dried beans come in a variety of colors, like pink and purple, and have different patterns.

Did You Know?

While beans are often considered vegetables, they’re actually legumes!

Recipes Using Beans

Easy Chili

Create a delicious pot of chili to eat as a meal or side dish. Brown ground beef with onions, salt, and pepper. Use a colander to drain the fat into a bowl and transfer the meat mixture into a stockpot. Add beef broth, red kidney beans, tomato juice, chili powder, and canned tomatoes. Simmer over low heat until the liquid reduces. Serve with crackers and cheddar cheese.

Black Beans

Use canned black beans to make a delicious side dish. Use a colander to drain liquid from canned black beans. Use a saucepan to soften onions with garlic and olive oil. Stir in black beans, cilantro, salt, and paprika. Cook for about 15 minutes. Serve with cotija cheese crumbled over the top.

Red Beans and Rice

Create a classic comfort food as a meal, snack, or side dish. Soften diced onion, garlic, and a green bell pepper in a large pot. Add long grain white rice, chicken stock, kidney beans, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid evaporates. Sprinkle fresh cilantro over the top and serve.

Easy Bean Salad

Beans add dimension and creaminess to salads. Use a colander to drain canned cannellini beans and black beans. Add drained beans to a bowl with corn, red onion, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeño. Make a simple dressing flavored with olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cilantro, and minced garlic. Pour dressing over salad ingredients, mix until coated, and chill before serving.

Vegetable Soup

Add canned beans to your favorite vegetable soup recipe. Simmer canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, potatoes, carrots, kidney beans, corn, peas, celery, and onion in a stockpot. Flavor the soup with a bay leaf, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic. Allow the soup to simmer until the vegetables are cooked and the flavors have incorporated.

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