Adzuki Beans Vs. Red Beans

When recipes call for a particular ingredient, it can be confusing if the ingredient has many variations. Beans fall into this category as there are so many similar variations. Adzuki beans and red beans are both incredibly popular, but what are the differences?

What Are Adzuki Beans?

The adzuki bean is cultivated in East Asian countries like Japan, Nepal, Korea, China, etc. It is known for its dark red color but also possesses different varieties that are white, black, or gray. The name Adzuki translates from Japanese to mean “small” because of the bean’s size.

The bean has a strong and nutty but sweet flavor. It features heavily in East Asian cuisine. Due to its sweet flavor, adzuki beans s boiled in sugar and then used as an ingredient in desserts and pastries. 

Adzuki beans are very nutritious, with high amounts of magnesium, iron, B vitamins, manganese, zinc, etc. They have low amounts of sodium, making them a great blood pressure regulator and diuretic. 

It is considered a very healthy bean as it has one of the lowest fat levels while containing high amounts of protein. Consuming adzuki beans is linked to beneficial effects on kidney, bladder, and reproductive functions, weight loss, and breast cancer prevention.

What Are Red Beans?

“Red beans” is a generic term used to describe beans that are red. This causes a bit of confusion as most red-colored beans can be used interchangeably in dishes. Examples of these red-colored beans are adzuki beans, small red beans (Mexican red beans), and kidney beans.

Adzuki Beans Vs. Red Beans: What’s The Difference?

Adzuki beans and red beans have a lot in common, with the most prominent similarity being their red color. It can be said that adzuki beans are no different from red beans as it is a type of red beans. But here are a few differences between Adzuki beans and other red beans. 

  • Size: Adzuki beans are much smaller than kidney beans but bigger than Mexican red beans.
  • Shape: Kidney beans are shaped like a kidney, as the name suggests, while Mexican red beans are oval-shaped. Adzuki beans are rounder and plumper than the other red beans. 
  • Taste And Texture: Adzuki beans have a nutty and slightly sweet flavor. The texture is soft but with a mealy feel. Small red beans have a mild earthy flavor and a smooth, creamy texture. Kidney beans are slightly sweet with an earthy flavor and soft texture.
  • Culinary Uses: Adzuki beans can feature in sweet and savory dishes due to their sweet taste. It can be used in soups, stews, pastries, buns, etc. However, both small red beans and kidney beans can be used in only savory dishes. They have a plain taste compared to adzuki beans and can’t be used in sweet dishes. They can be used in salads, soups, etc.


While Adzuki beans can be considered a type of red bean, it has stark differences from the other red-colored beans. This article has highlighted the significant differences between them.