The language of beans

Learn what the descriptors of bean flavor and texture mean. We use these terms to describe specific qualities, and they're consistent throughout the site. This lexicon is continuously evolving.

Texture descriptors


CREAMY: Like Great Northern and navy beans, soft texture when cooked, and may fall apart in cooking. These beans are great for "gravy" to be served over rice, in soups (where they help lend body to the broth), and for mashing.

FLOURY: Some beans have virtually the same texture as a baked potato -- light and airy, fine particles. These beans typically mash well, making them a terrific choice for bean dips, spreads, and other uses.


MEALY: Like lima beans, a starchy interior that changes to creamy when chewed. Holds its shape when cooked, so good for casseroles, or dressed with butter or olive oil before serving.


MEATY: Like kidney and black beans, moderately firm texture that stands up to long cooking and retains its shape in soups, chilis, casseroles, and pot beans. Tender to the tooth, with a thin to moderate skin.