This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
Making a recipe that calls for adzuki beans? Don’t have any? Want to figure out what the best adzuki beans substitute options are? Then keep reading to see how you may be able to replace these red beans in most dishes.
When it comes to beans like these adzuki beans which are popular throughout East Asia, sometimes they may be difficult to come by.
The adzuki beans, also called azuki beans, aduki beans, red mung beans or red beans are small red colored beans with a spherical shape and a flat hilum. These beans are more popularly red in color, but they also come in the colors brown, black, green, grey or even mottled.
Adzuki beans are considered to be nutty, mild, beany, and sweet when cooked. This bean is often used to make Japanese red bean ice cream (also called azuki red bean ice cream), red bean paste, red bean porridge, and as a filling for many other Asian desserts including sticky rice dumplings, red bean buns and other Asian confectionaries. It can also be added to savory dishes like soups, curries, and stews.
If you’re about to throw down in the kitchen but you have no adzuki beans, here are the best alternatives worth considering.
Note that most of the alternatives listed below are good replacements for adzuki in both sweet and savory dishes! It is quite surprising just how much one can do with just beans!
Best adzuki beans substitute options
Red kidney beans
One good substitute for adzuki beans is red kidney beans also called rajma. Red kidney beans are mild and slightly sweet in terms of flavor, with a meaty texture. These beans can work in place of azuki beans in savory recipes like miso soup, mushroom soup, stews, and in other savory dishes.
Surprisingly, kidney beans also work great as a substitute for adzuki beans in red bean paste. Red bean paste made with kidney beans can be used to make fillings for Asian bread such as red bean buns, red bean bread, or even in siopao, Buchi, and other such sweets.
If you have mung beans on hand, they can also be used as a replacement for adzuki beans. Mung beans are small green beans that look very similar to azuki beans. These beans are native to India and widely cultivated in Asia.
Mung beans are slightly sweet, nutty, and earthy in terms of their flavor and do well in savory dishes but also in some sweet dishes like mung bean paste!
The overall taste of the dish will surely be altered, but you can use 1 cup of green mung beans to replace 1 cup of adzuki beans or a 1:1 conversion ratio.
If you have no azuki beans, but you have pinto beans, use these beans instead. While pinto beans definitely lack the sweetness of azuki, they are quite good in vegetable soups, stews, dips, chili, and even in casseroles. Read more about pinto beans and their substitutes here.
Cannellini beans can also be used to replace adzuki beans, especially in savory recipes. Cannellini beans are nutty and earthy like adzuki, but lack the sweetness. These beans are good for adding to stews, mash, bean soups, and even stir fries to name a few.
Like the other substitutes above, cannellini beans will change the flavors of your dish. Nonetheless, it can work quite well.
Cannellini beans can also replace adzuki beans in red bean paste. In fact, cannellini beans can also make a very delicious white bean paste. I bet you didn’t know that!
Making white bean paste is as easy as making red bean paste. You just need to follow the same instructions but replace the red adzuki beans with cannellini beans instead. Also, unlike azuki beans, it is important to soak these in water and peel off the skins with your fingers before proceeding to make the bean paste.
White bean paste is less ‘beany’ than red bean paste but works equally well as a great filling for Asian sweets.
1 cup of cannellini beans is enough to replace 1 cup of aduki beans.
Black beans, also called black turtle beans are another good substitute option for azuki beans in certain recipes. Black beans which are creamy and mild tasting can be used to add to vegan stews and soups, stir-fries, and bean salads, and even used to make sweet recipes like black bean paste!
Use 1 cup of black beans to replace 1 cup of azuki beans.
Great Northern beans
Like cannellini, great northern beans are another type of bean that can be used as an alternative to adzuki beans. Great northern beans are nutty and mild which makes them suitable to use in savory dishes. If you don’t mind the different look that these large white beans will add to the dish, then these beans are a good bet.
Another suitable alternative for red beans is butter beans. if you have those beans on hand, use them in the same way you would cannellini beans. They work great in soups, mash, stews, casseroles, and salads although the texture and flavor will be different than that of adzuki beans.
Butter beans will also work well as a replacement for adzuki beans in red bean paste. You can do so by soaking the butter beans, then removing the outer skin. Once this is done, proceed with making a simple white bean paste also called shiroan, that can be used as a filling for all manner of Asian sweet pastries and desserts such as moon cakes or manju.
Like the paste made with cannellini beans, this version made with butter beans is less ‘beany’ than the typical red bean paste, so be aware of this. If you want to know more about the alternatives for butter beans read here.
Black sesame seeds
Another ingredient you can use in the event that you have no adzuki beans is black sesame seeds. Black sesame seeds are nutty and earthy and can be used to make a sweet black sesame seed paste filling that can replace red bean paste in recipes like sticky rice cakes for example.
Split yellow mung beans
Yellow mung beans or yellow split mung beans are another worthy adzuki bean substitute. Yellow mung beans have a nutty and slightly sweet flavor which makes them not unlike adzuki beans. These work great in soups, curries, and stews and can also be used to make a mung bean filling that can be used in place of red mung bean paste in recipes like mooncakes, sesame balls, hopia, and other Asian sweets.
One cup of yellow mung beans can be used to replace 1 cup of adzuki beans or a 1:1 ratio.
These are 9 really effective ways to replace adzuki beans in both savory and sweet recipes. So, if you’re looking for ways to use more accessible varieties of beans in place of azuki beans whether you’re making some stew, curry, or bean paste, then these options listed above are your best bet!
And the best part is that you are sure to have at least a few of these beans right in your pantry or kitchen so you do not have to make a grocery run!
Feel free to share in the comments which adzuki beans substitute you used and in what recipe!