The 8 Most Popular Types of Protein-Packed Beans—and How to Use Them
Legumes and beans are nutritional powerhouses that deliver tons of fiber and protein for pennies. They also make filling additions to salads and soups, can be blended into delicious dips, added to tacos or burritos, or served as-is as a simple side dish.
When using dried beans in recipes, remember to use plenty of heavily salted water to cook them and be careful not to heat them for too long. For everything you need to know about cooking dried beans, see our guide here. (Canned beans can be equally delicious, btw.)
Whether using canned or dried, beans come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and flavors. Here are the eight most common types of beans you'll find.
Rich in magnesium, these legumes have a velvety texture and a subtly sweet taste that goes well with smoky flavors, such as bacon or chipotle. Pair brightly colored vegetables and fruits with the shiny purple-black beans for festive salads. Black beans are available dried or canned.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are consumed more than any other beans in the world. Round and firm, with a nutty flavor, they’re the basis of hummus.
Small, plump, and spotted, these beans are an excellent source of folate (important for pregnant women). Their earthiness complements salty meats, like bacon and ham.
These light brown beans have substantial amounts of fiber and protein. Their earthy flavor and smooth texture works well in dips and stews or in Mexican refried beans.
These large, rosy beige kitchen mainstays (also known as white Italian kidney beans) are creamy and delicately flavored.
Green, flat, oval-shaped lima beans—both the larger, potassium-packed butter (or Fordhook) beans and the sweeter baby limas—have a buttery flavor and a starchy interior that can turn mushy, so they’re best in quick sautés. They are often sold cooked and frozen.
Great Northern Beans
These small, white, kidney-shaped beans are an especially good source of calcium. Because they’re mild and easily absorb seasonings, they work well in stews and soups.
This popular chili ingredient, known for its reddish skin and white interior, packs protein, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and about the same amount of cancer-fighting antioxidants as blueberries.