Kidney Beans vs Lentils: Nutrition and Taste (Comparison)


Kidney beans and lentils are both extremely popular legumes that you’ll find in just about any grocery store.

However, they are quite different from each other.

This short post is a head-to-head comparison of kidney beans and lentils. You can also see my more general look at lentils vs beans if you’re curious how lentils stack up against others.

Taste of Kidney Beans vs Lentils

kidney beans

While they look quite different, lentils and kidney beans are still both legumes, so they share some aspects of taste:

  • Kidney beans – Extremely versatile and go well in a wide variety of meals, including chili, soups, and salads. Kidney beans have a hearty feel to them, and a considerable “beany” flavor with a soft creamy texture. 
  • Lentils – Have a soft texture and slight earthy taste. They are often used as a “meat replacement” in vegan recipes for things like tacos and shepherd’s pie.

Despite the differences, both lentils and kidney beans have an earthy taste and absorb other flavors well.

Can I Use Kidney Beans Instead of Lentils?

For the most part, kidney beans are not a great substitute for lentils, and vice versa. 

As an example, a plant-based shepherd’s pie with kidney beans would be drastically different than with lentils.

However, there are some cases where it’s okay to put lentils into a chili recipe or bean salad, or kidney beans in something like a taco filling.

Nutritional Value: Lentils vs Kidney Beans

Even though lentils and kidney beans look quite different and taste unique, they have very standard nutritional profiles for legumes.

The data below is for 100 grams of cooked legume in each respective case.

Macronutrient Comparison

There aren’t too many big differences in the main macronutrients for each legume.

  Kidney beans Lentils
Energy (kcal) 127.1 116.2
Protein (g) 8.7 9.0
Total Lipid (g) 0.5 0.4
Carbohydrate (g) 22.8 20.1
Fiber (g) 7.4 7.9
Sugars (g) 0.3 1.8

Kidney beans are slightly higher in calories, but every other number is almost identical.

Lentils have a bit more sugar, but still a relatively small amount overall.

Vitamins and Minerals

If we look at the vitamins and minerals, we again see a very similar profile.

I included a general RDA just for comparison and to sort each bean in order from highest to lowest.

  RDA Kidney beans Lentils
Folate (µg) 400 129.9 180.8
Phosphorus (mg) 700 141.8 179.8
Manganese (mg) 2.3 0.5 0.5
Potassium (mg) 2000 402.8 369.2
Iron (mg) 18 2.9 3.3
Thiamin (mg) 1.2 0.2 0.2
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 1.3 0.1 0.2
Zinc (mg) 11 1.1 1.3
Magnesium (mg) 400 45.2 35.9
Vitamin K (µg) 75 8.4 1.7
Niacin (mg) 16 0.6 1.1
Riboflavin (mg) 1.3 0.1 0.1
Choline (mg) 550 30.5 32.7
Selenium (µg) 55 1.2 2.8

Lentils have a bit more folate and phosphorus, but even kidney beans alone would reach the RDA for both of those in a few servings.

In other words, both are very healthy foods with no significant micronutrient differences.

What Are the Differences Between Kidney Beans and Lentils?

The biggest differences between kidney beans and lentils are the shape, size, and taste.

Kidney beans have a more bean-like taste, with an earthy and mushy texture. On the other hand, lentils are still soft but more firm with only a slight bean-like flavor.

Both are very healthy and it’s great to include a variety of legumes in your diet if possible.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.