Difference Between White & Red Kidney Beans

All types of kidney beans are high in protein, fiber and numerous vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, potassium and folic acid. Despite these similarities, the differences between white and red kidney beans are more than skin deep. Varying in texture, flavor and nutritional profile, white and red kidney beans have very different potential uses.

A bowl of red kidney beans on white crockery. (Image: GazTaechin/iStock/Getty Images)

Texture and Flavor

Red kidney beans are the most common kidney bean. These large beans have a dark red color, glossy skin and firm texture, making them suitable for soups, stews, chilis, and other dishes that cook for a long time. Also known as cannellini beans, white kidney beans are large, with a thin, white skin and a subtle flavor. As a result, these beans are more suitable for salads and dishes that require a shorter cooking time.


Compared with red kidney beans, a 1/2-cup serving of cannellini contains an additional 12 calories, 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates and 1 less gram of dietary fiber. White kidney beans also have a higher mineral content, providing more iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc than red kidney beans. But red kidney beans are a better source of vitamins, including vitamin K and vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6 and B-9.

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