11 Kidney Bean Recipes That Show High-Protein Ways To Use the Pantry Staple

Photo: Little Sunny Kitchen
Walking the aisles at the grocery store, there are some pantry items that are exciting and trendy (chickpea pasta! banana flour!), and then there are products that are just...there. Canned and dried kidney beans definitely fall into the latter category. But while the legume certainly isn't new or trendy, it is undeniably loved by healthy eating experts.

“Kidney beans are one of the most consumed beans,” registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD, previously told Well+Good. Like all beans, kidney beans are high in fiber and protein. Rifkin also points out that they're an especially good source of calcium, with 80 milligrams per cup, a good portion of the 1,000 milligrams you want to aim to get a day. Below is a full nutritional run-down of kidney beans (for a 1 cup serving), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Protein: 36 grams
Carbohydrates: 88 grams
Fiber: 56 grams
Calcium: 80 milligrams
Iron: 5.76 milligrams

For people who don't eat meat, kidney beans can be a great way to reach the recommended daily requirements for protein and iron. On average, someone should aim to get 75 grams of protein a day and 18 milligrams of iron a day. As you can see from the nutritional run-down above, just one serving of kidney beans can go a long way to getting there.

It's one thing to know the benefits of kidney beans, quite another to know exactly how to transform them into a delicious meal you look forward to eating. Lucky you, we pulled 11 recipes that help you accomplish just that. From rainy day chilis to Cajun-style jambalaya, these are easy, comforting meals you'll find yourself remaking again and again.

Keep reading for 11 kidney bean recipes you'll have on repeat all fall.

kidney bean recipes
Photo: All The Healthy Things

1. Slow cooker chili

Everyone should have a good chili recipe up their sleeve; it's one of the easiest, best ways to get all the protein and fiber your body needs, one comforting spoonful at a time. This one is packed with flavor thanks to garlic, onion, green chiles, chili powder, and cumin.

Get the recipe: Slow cooker chili

kidney bean curry
Photo: Little Sunny Kitchen

2. Kidney bean curry

This dish is both sweet and spicy—it will hit just the spot. The sauce is made with coconut milk, which makes it extra creamy. Pair it with basmati rice for a truly nourishing meal that only takes 30 minutes to cook from start to finish.

Get the recipe: Kidney bean curry 

kidney beans and butternut squash
Photo: Aida's Kitchen

3. Stewed kidney beans and butternut squash

Adding butternut squash to your rice and beans is a seasonal way to take it to a whole new level. This hearty meal only takes 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook, making it an easy dinner to whip up any night of the week.

Get the recipe: Stewed kidney beans and butternut squash

kidney bean soup
Photo: Macheesmo

4. Kidney bean soup with guacamole

This soup takes a few hours to cook, but the end result is well worth the wait. The soup has a tomato base and is spiced up thanks to the smart use of cumin, paprika, cayenne powder, and oregano. What really elevates this soup is topping it off with a generous mound of guacamole (the recipe for that is included as well). Add crispy corn strips for crunch!

Get the recipe: Kidney bean soup with guacamole 

potato and kidney beans
Photo: All That Jas

5. Potatoes and kidney beans

Kidney beans go really well with another super cheap healthy food: potatoes. Here, the root veg is boiled and then mashed up before being combined with the kidney beans. Garlic and chives are the two must-have ingredients in this dish; otherwise it will taste a bit bland. This yummy side dish only takes 10 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook.

Get the recipe: Potato and kidney beans

mediterranean kidney beans
Photo: The Mediterranean Dish

6. Mediterranean kidney beans with cilantro and Dijon vinaigrette

If you're looking for a kidney bean recipe that doesn't involve soup or stew, this Mediterranean-style dish is a good one to try—and it only takes 15 minutes to make. Tomatoes, cucumber, and cilantro are combined with the beans and then everything is topped off with a Dijon vinaigrette. It's the perfect lunch for getting anyone out of a sad desk salad rut.

Get the recipe: Mediterranean kidney beans with cilantro and Dijon vinaigrette

vegan gumbo
Photo: Loving It Vegan

7. Vegan gumbo

Traditional gumbo tends to have two staples: lots of meat and lots of spice. This recipe proves you don't always need the former to make a good gumbo. (The spice, on the other hand, is non-negotiable.) The kidney beans are truly the core ingredient in ensuring the gumbo is both satisfying and full of enough protein that you don't need anything else on the table. The vegetables in this dish include green bell peppers, celery, frozen veggies, cauliflower, mushrooms, and tomato—but if you don't have everything on the list don't sweat it; it will still taste great no matter what veggies you throw into the pot.

Get the recipe: Vegan gumbo

Photo: The Curious Chickpea

8. Afghan kidney bean curry

Kidney bean curry is a staple in Afghanistan, where it's more widely known as lubya, lubia, or lobia. This dish shows how to enjoy it—no matter where in the world you live. The secret to making it, according to The Curious Chickpea blogger Eva Agha, isn't to use a whole slew of spices in your pantry; it's to go big on three in particular: coriander, cumin, and garlic. Serve this dish with basmati rice for a complete meal.

Get the recipe: Afghan kidney bean curry

Photo: Babaganosh

9. Jambalaya with kidney beans

If you have a lot of mouths to feed, having this Cajun-style jambalaya recipe on hand will be a game-changer. Besides the rice and kidney beans, okra and Cajun seasoning are both key ingredients. This recipe calls for shrimp, but you can also use chicken instead, or even go veg and omit meat and seafood all together.

Get the recipe: Jambalaya with kidney beans

one pot kidney beans
Photo: Ahead of Thyme

10. One-pot kidney beans

This one-pot kidney beans recipe is a great one to bookmark for if you just want something simple on hand. Besides the kidney beans themselves, all you need are baking soda, olive oil, onion, tomato paste, and a few key spices. Easy peasy.

Get the recipe: One-pot kidney beans

Photo: Cooking with Manali

11. Rajma masala

Cook With Manali food blogger Manali Singh shares that rajma masala (kidney bean curry) is one of the most common types of curry in Northern India, and she shares her spin on the dish here. The secret to making the pureed tomato base extra creamy is adding a little ghee. It doesn't take much, but it makes all the difference.

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