Types of Beans Found in Pork and Beans


When it comes to the world of legumes, beans are a staple ingredient in many cuisines. One popular dish that features beans prominently is pork and beans. This classic dish typically combines tender pork with a variety of beans in a rich and flavorful sauce. In this article, we will explore the different types of beans that are commonly found in pork and beans dishes.

1. Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are one of the most common types of beans used in pork and beans. These beans are large and kidney-shaped, hence their name. They have a dense texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Kidney beans are known for their ability to absorb flavors, making them a great choice for hearty dishes like pork and beans.

One interesting fact about kidney beans is that they come in two main varieties: light and dark. Light kidney beans have a softer texture and a more delicate flavor, while dark kidney beans are firmer and have a stronger taste. Both varieties work well in pork and beans, adding depth and richness to the dish.

2. Navy Beans

Navy beans, also known as haricot beans, are small, oval-shaped beans that are commonly used in pork and beans recipes. They have a mild, creamy flavor and a soft, buttery texture when cooked. Navy beans are often used in soups, stews, and casseroles due to their ability to hold their shape well during cooking.

The name “navy beans” originated from their long history of being a staple food for sailors in the United States Navy. These beans were a popular choice because they were easy to store and provided a good source of nutrition during long voyages.

3. Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are another popular type of bean that is often found in pork and beans dishes. These beans are medium-sized and have a speckled appearance with a beige background and reddish-brown markings. Pinto beans have a creamy texture and a slightly earthy flavor.

One of the reasons pinto beans are commonly used in pork and beans is their ability to hold their shape and texture when cooked for extended periods. This makes them ideal for slow-cooked dishes like pork and beans, as they won’t become mushy or lose their integrity.

4. Black Beans

Black beans, also known as turtle beans, are a popular choice for adding depth and color to pork and beans dishes. These beans have a small, oval shape and a deep black color. They have a rich, earthy flavor and a smooth, creamy texture when cooked.

Black beans are often used in Latin American cuisines, where they are a staple ingredient in dishes like feijoada and rice and beans. In pork and beans, black beans add a visually appealing contrast and a unique flavor profile.

5. Great Northern Beans

Great Northern beans are large, white beans with a mild, nutty flavor. They are similar in size and shape to cannellini beans and are often used interchangeably in recipes. Great Northern beans have a smooth, creamy texture that makes them a popular choice for soups, stews, and of course, pork and beans.

These beans get their name from their popularity in the northern regions of the United States. They are a versatile bean that can absorb flavors well, making them an excellent addition to pork and beans dishes.

6. Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, are another type of bean that is commonly used in pork and beans dishes. These beans are large and kidney-shaped, similar to kidney beans, but they have a creamy white color and a slightly nutty flavor.

Cannellini beans are often used in Italian cuisine, where they are a key ingredient in dishes like pasta e fagioli and minestrone soup. In pork and beans, cannellini beans provide a creamy texture and a subtle flavor that complements the other ingredients.

7. Lima Beans

Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are large, flat beans with a creamy texture and a delicate, buttery flavor. They are named after the city of Lima in Peru, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years.

In pork and beans, lima beans add a unique texture and flavor that sets them apart from other types of beans. They are often used in combination with other beans to create a diverse and interesting mix of flavors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I use a combination of different beans in pork and beans?

Yes, combining different types of beans can add complexity and variety to your pork and beans dish. Feel free to experiment and find your favorite combination!

2. Are canned beans suitable for making pork and beans?

Yes, canned beans are convenient and work well in pork and beans recipes. Just be sure to rinse them thoroughly before using to remove any excess sodium or preservatives.

3. Can I use dried beans instead of canned beans?

Absolutely! Using dried beans can give your pork and beans a homemade touch and allow you to control the cooking process. Just remember to soak and cook the beans according to the package instructions before adding them to your dish.

4. How can I add more flavor to my pork and beans?

There are many ways to enhance the flavor of your pork and beans. You can use spices like paprika, cumin, or chili powder, add diced onions and garlic, or even incorporate some bacon or smoked meat for a smoky taste.

5. Can I make pork and beans vegetarian-friendly?

Absolutely! You can omit the pork and use vegetable broth or seasoning to create a delicious vegetarian version of the dish. You can also add vegetables like bell peppers, corn, or carrots for added texture and flavor.

6. Can I freeze leftover pork and beans?

Yes, pork and beans can be frozen for later use. Just make sure to cool the dish completely before transferring it to an airtight container or freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to three months.

7. Can I use pork and beans as a side dish?

While pork and beans are often enjoyed as a main course, they can also be served as a side dish alongside grilled meats, burgers, or sandwiches. Their rich and hearty flavors make them a versatile addition to any meal.


Pork and beans is a classic dish that brings together tender pork and a variety of beans in a flavorful sauce. By using different types of beans, you can create a dish that is not only delicious but also visually appealing. Whether you prefer kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, black beans, great northern beans, cannellini beans, or lima beans, each variety adds its own unique texture and flavor to the final dish. So go ahead and experiment with different combinations to find your perfect pork and beans recipe!

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