Bean Reference Chart

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RD

Ms. Myrdal Miller is the Program Director of Strategic Initiatives at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, and is a member of the Bean Institute Editorial Board.  She can be contacted at a_myrdal@culinary.edu

There are many types of beans available in the United States. The following chart describes nine of the most common varieties of beans available in both dry and canned form in U.S. supermarkets. The cooking time refers to the time needed to cook dry beans.

  DESCRIPTION COOKING TIME
Black Beans are medium-size, oval-shaped beans with matte black skin. They are also called Turtle Beans. They are sweet-tasting with a soft texture. They are popular beans in Central American, South American, and Caribbean cuisine. 60-90 minutes

Cranberry Beans are medium-size, oval-shaped beans with mottled tan and red skin. They are also called Roman beans. Cranberry beans are known for their creamy texture with a flavor similar to chestnuts. The red specks disappear when these beans are cooked. Cranberry beans are a favorite in northern Italy and Spain. 45-60 minutes

Great Northern Beansare medium-size, oval-shaped beans with thin white skin. They have a delicate flavor. Great Northern Beans are very popular in France for making cassoulet (a white bean casserole) and in the Mediterranean where many beans of a similar appearance are cultivated. 45-60 minutes

Dark Red Kidney Beans are large, kidney-shaped beans with a deep, glossy red skin. They have a firm texture, and they hold up well in soups or other dishes that cook for a long time. Dark Red Kidney beans are used in soups, cold bean salads, and chili. Both Dark and Red Kidney Beans are used to make Louisiana Red Beans & Rice. 90-120 minutes

Light Red Kidney Beans are large, kidney-shaped beans with light red/pink glossy skin. They have a firm texture, and they hold up well in soups or other dishes that cook for a long time. Light Red Kidney beans are popular in the Caribbean region, Portugal and Spain. Both Dark and Red Kidney Beans are used to make Louisiana Red Beans & Rice. 90-120 minutes

Navy Beans are small, oval-shaped beans with white skin. They have a delicate flavor. These are the beans used for the famous Boston Baked Beans. These white beans were named Navy Beans because of their inclusion in the U.S. Naval diet during the second half of the 19th Century. 90-120 minutes

Pink Beans are small, oval-shaped beans with a pale, pink skin. Pink Beans are very popular in Caribbean countries. They are used to make Caribbean Pink Beans, a dish made with no added fat and flavored with sofrito, a mixture of tomatoes, bell pepper, onions, and garlic. 60 minutes

Pinto Beans are medium-size, oval-shaped beans with mottled beige and brown skin. Like cranberry beans, pinto beans lose their mottled appearance when cooked. Pinto beans are the most widely produced bean in the United States and one of the most popular in the Americas. Pinto beans are used to make Mexican refried beans. 90-120 minutes

Small Red Beans are small, oval-shaped beans with red skin. They have a more delicate flavor and softer texture compared to kidney beans. Small Red Beans are particularly popular in the Caribbean region, where they normally are eaten with rice. 60-90 minutes