What’s the Difference? Black Beans vs Kidney Beans

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Beans have been a source of nourishment and nutrition for generations worldwide, especially in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Whether farmers seeking a rich source of protein or families wanting to provide their children with a balanced meal high in dietary fiber, beans are a tiny powerhouse that comes in various colors, shapes, and sizes.

They are highly regarded by people on plant-based diets seeking a good protein source and a great source of fiber.

Let’s compare the two most popular and common beans: black beans vs kidney beans.

a bowl of black beans and a bowl of kidney beans

Black Beans

Black beans, also known as black turtle beans, are a popular staple with an earthy flavor.

They are small and round with a white core, and their outer layer releases a strong black pigment while cooking, turning the soup or broth translucent black. 

Traditionally, Cuban restaurants serve black beans with white rice alongside entrees. My favorite way to enjoy them is with mojo con yuca and citrus-marinated pork shoulder.

Black beans are also popular in Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean.


A study published by Appetite shows that black beans, due to their high fiber content, can help control post-meal spikes in blood sugar levels. 

The study further explains that incorporating whole black beans into a meal can bring about acute beneficial metabolic and GI hormone responses in adults with metabolic syndrome, owing to the fiber present in black beans. 

This nutritional value has helped black beans sustain communities for centuries. However, with the rise of post-industrial food manufacturing, canned beans have become prevalent, and many such canned products can contain high sodium levels.

Lastly, beans are a good source of resistant starch.

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are a staple food across Central and South America. They are roughly 1 inch long and resemble a small kidney. They come in light red or dark red.

Cooked kidney beans on a plate
kidney beans on a plate


Similar to black beans, kidney beans are rich in vitamin K, vitamin c, potassium, and B vitamins.

They are also an excellent source of protein and a good choice for people looking for a high amount of fiber in their diet, because they promote healthy insulin sensitivity.

This needs to take into account the preparation method. Once cooked, the nutritional value changes.

Black Beans vs Kidney Beans

Regarding texture, black beans are nuttier, have firmer texture and skin, and are slightly less starchy than kidney beans.

When cooked, kidney beans have a creamier texture and sweet taste than black beans. Black beans can maintain their texture much more than kidney beans.

When deciding on your favorite it all comes down to personal preference.

Nutritional Profile

Overall, black beans and kidney beans have a similar nutritional profile with only minor variations. I have included a comparison chart below.

To recap the comparison chart and offer a high-level view of the nutritional differences, both have similar calories, protein levels, sugar, grams of fiber, and carbohydrates. They differ in the vitamin profile: Black beans have high levels of potassium, magnesium, and folate, while kidney beans have more calcium than black beans.

Based on this data point, beans are a great source of protein and fiber for blood sugar control.

They contain essential amino acids, making them ideal and popular choices for anyone looking to increase protein in their diet, especially anyone on a plant-based diet.

Compared to black beans, kidney beans contain high amounts of phytohaemagglutinin toxin, which can be harmful if consumed at high levels. Therefore, it is recommended that you soak and cook dry beans well to remove the toxins before eating them. A study conducted by Kansas State University suggests that to remove phytohaemagglutinin, beans should be cooked at high temperatures, which can help remove the lectin.

After soaking the beans for at least five hours, cooking them for at least 30 minutes of cooking time at 212 degrees in fresh water is recommended to kill the toxin. 

Other beans that contain high levels of lectin include garbanzo beans and lentils.

view of chart comparing nutritional data black beans vs kidney beans, 1 cup cooked
black beans vs kidney beans nutritional data

Ways To Enjoy Beans

Several countries have a variety of dishes with unique and delicious flavors. Refried beans are always tasty in Mexican, Colombian, or Cuban cuisine. Lentejas are also at the top of the list, try this lentejas with plantains recipe.

If you want a hearty main dish, try beans with Puerto Rican shrimp stew, and Cuban rabo encendido.

Additionally, black bean soup is a popular and delicious dish. In Colombia, beans are a staple food often prepared with plantains.

If you’re short on time, canned black beans can be a savior! Try this 20-minutes for the best black beans (frijoles negros), they’re so good.

Sides To Serve With Beans

Fried patacones are a staple in Colombia with frijoles (cooked beans). Try these other plantain recipes: arañitas de platano, air fryer plantain chips, and boiled plantains.

Yuca is also incredible with beans, try these air fryer yuca fries, or traditional yuca fries.

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