What Is the Difference Between Peas and Beans?

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Beans and peas. They both enter the world covered in green pods, and once liberated from their secure little container, these two sorts of seeds may resemble one another! Peas and beans are little powerhouses that come in round or ovular shapes. They may either sprout a totally new plant or serve as a nourishing snack for both humans and animals.

Peas, beans, and other pod-producing plants such as lentils and alfalfa are all members of the Fabaceae family of flowering plants, generally known as the legume family. Several legumes seem to be quite distinct from one another, yet there is the example of peas vs. beans. What are the distinctions between these two?

Let’s look at how these two delectable pods are similar to one another and what distinguishes them as we talk about peas vs. beans!

What Are Peas?

Peas are members of the Pisum sativum species, and there are a few primary types. Peas are the green seeds found inside the pods of pea plants, which are the fruits of pea plants. Its exterior pod is edible in certain circumstances, while just the peas within are consumed in others. It should be noted that there are several legumes that use the pea name without truly being peas. For example, the black-eyed pea technically belongs to the bean family, which we’ll get to in a bit.

Although the pea technically satisfies the definition of a bean (a seed inside a pod), the term pea refers to members of the Pisum sativum family, thus we may consider the pea to be its own thing.

A bush kind of pea plant grows low to the earth, but a pole variation climbs up and around its surroundings. Pea vines have small, thread-like endings that may coil around adjacent things, helping the plant to support and elevate itself as it develops.

Peas Through the Years

Peas have likely performed one of the most essential roles throughout history of all fruits and vegetables. They have not only been a mainstay of the human diet for thousands of years, but they have also helped to develop our grasp of science and technology!

In the mid-nineteenth century, Czech scientist Gregor Mendel popularized peas by meticulously studying them to advance the discipline of genetics. But, almost 100 years later, peas were at the vanguard of Clarence Birdseye’s frozen food revolution, which made fresh produce more available to people all over the globe.

Types of Peas

Considering all of their popularity throughout history, you’d think we’d have an abundance of peas to select from. According to popular belief, there are only three varieties of real peas:

  • English peas have no edible pod and are sometimes known as shelling peas or garden peas.
  • Snow peas: a variety of sugar pea with a flat and wide edible pod.
  • Sugar Snap Peas: Another form of sugar pea with a thick and crispy edible pod.

What Are Beans?

The bean family is most often associated with plants of the genus Phaseolus, particularly the species Phaseolus vulgaris, generally known as the common bean. This species generates a number of variants that are very distinct from one another. Yet, there are many additional beans that do not fit into this category, therefore the name bean is significantly more broad than the phrase pea!

The basic line is that beans have edible seeds (the actual beans) that grow within an exterior pod that may or may not be eaten depending on species and maturity.

Some beans are consumed fresh while still young, while others are allowed to completely mature before being dried. Dried beans are a staple meal in cuisines all over the globe because they provide a high amount of plant-based protein, making them an inexpensive and healthy meat substitute.

Bean plants, like pea plants, may grow in bush or pole types. Although bush beans seem to be more prolific, the fact is that they produce all of their yield at once, as opposed to pole beans, which produce fewer fruit at once but have a longer window for output.

Do Beans Have Toxins?

This is a typical issue, since you may have heard about the significance of soaking beans before cooking to eliminate toxins. As it turns out, the culprit is a single poison known as phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin. Don’t worry, we’re not going to force you to pronounce it, and to be honest, we didn’t either. This virtually incomprehensible term, on the other hand, is one worth discussing!

Lectins in general are known to cause intestinal irritation, which is why beans are the punch line of so many jokes. Nevertheless, phytohaemagglutinin is a form of lectin that has very severe repercussions, causing food poisoning-like symptoms after just a few beans! Red kidney beans contain the greatest amounts of this chemical, followed by cannellini beans and black turtle beans.

The good news is that heat eliminates this toxin, making the beans safe to consume. Here is where the soaking of beans comes into play. Soaking beans for many hours before to cooking helps to eliminate some of the lectins while also lowering total cooking time. Just be sure to throw away the water they bathed in and not reuse it! Cook the beans for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature until they are tender. The outer shells of the beans should be tender, and the inside should be creamy all the way through.

Types of Beans

Unlike the three pea kinds, the sorts and classifications of beans are significantly more numerous and difficult! To make things easier, we’ve divided them into three groups and included some frequent examples of beans in each:

Beans from the Genus Phaseolus:

  • Black beans, sometimes known as turtle beans, are lustrous, black-shelled beans that are used in Latin American cooking.
  • Kidney beans, which may be deep red or speckled, are often used in meals such as chili and the classic Creole dish red beans and rice.
  • Pinto beans have a speckled look and are often used to produce refried beans.
  • Cannellini beans, commonly known as white kidney beans, are nutty and creamy and are often used in traditional minestrone soup.
  • Lima beans have a light colour and a creamy smoothness, earning them the nickname “butter beans”!
  • Cranberry beans, also known as borlotti beans, are undoubtedly the most gorgeous, with bright pink coloring on the seed pods and the beans themselves that regrettably fades as the beans cook.
  • Green Beans: rather than referring to a particular kind of bean, the word “green beans” refers to any form of bean that is plucked and consumed before it reaches maturity. The pods are green and edible at this time, and the seeds are mushy and undeveloped. To refer to yellow-podded beans, green beans are also known as French beans, string beans, haricots verts, and wax beans.

Beans From Other Genera

The list of beans is by no means exhaustive! There are several additional legumes that humans consider beans but are botanically classified as belonging to distinct genera. Mung beans and black eyed peas (called peas but officially beans!) are both members of the genus Vigna. Fava beans, often known as wide beans, are in the genus Vicia, but the garbanzo bean (also known as the chickpea!) is in the genus Cicer.

Beans Which Are Not Actually Beans!

Finally, there are items named beans that are not even members of the legume family! Cocoa beans are the seeds of a berry-like fruit, while coffee beans are the seeds of a coffee cherry-like fruit. Vanilla beans are really vanilla pods, which are the fruits of a certain variety of orchid and contain hundreds of tiny black specks that are the vanilla seeds!

Comparing Peas and Beans

Now that we have a solid grasp of peas, beans, and the many forms of each, we can look at how these legumes are similar and, more importantly, how they differ!

Similarities Between Peas and Beans

  • Peas and beans are both members of the Fabaceae family, popularly known as the legume family.
  • Beans and peas come in climbing and dwarf kinds, which means they can grow up and over structures like a fence or a trellis, or they may spread low and close to the ground.
  • Fresh pea pods and immature bean pods may be quite similar in appearanceslender and green with a prominent seam through the centre.
  • Peas and beans are both edible seeds that grow within the fruit (the pods!) of their respective plants.

Key Differences Between Peas and Beans


Although peas and beans belong to the same family, their categorization similarities end there since they belong to separate genera. Peas are classified as Pisum, while beans are classified as Phaseolus.

Growing Preferences

These two plants may seem identical, but they have quite distinct growth requirements! Beans love hot, sunny conditions, but peas prefer colder temps. Certain peas, such as snow peas, may even withstand frost exposure and can therefore be planted in the shoulder season between winter and spring, while beans thrive well into the summer months.


While all bean pods start off green, immature beans and peas may seem quite similar. But, when beans and peas develop, the distinctions become clear. The majority of pea pods are green, with a few purple or yellow varieties, and the peas within are nearly usually green.

Bean pods, on the other hand, come in a wide variety of colors and textures, including the pods themselves as well as the seeds inside. Bean pods may be green, brown, purple, yellow, green, or a combination of hues, while beans can be white, black, yellow, or red, and can have hot pink tie-dye patterning, as in cranberry beans!

Cooking and Eating

Any of the pea kinds is wonderful raw and may be eaten right from the plant; however, peas have a relatively limited shelf life. As a result, canned and frozen peas are quite popular since they extend the shelf life of fresh peas.

Green beans, which are the young and immature pods of bean plants, may be eaten raw; however, beans in any other form, whether fresh or dried, must always be cooked owing to the lectin concentration. Several beans, such as kidney and pinto beans, are dried as a preservation strategy since it allows them to last for years on the shelf.

Final Thoughts on the Differences Between Peas and Beans

While peas and beans are two of the most common legumes, as you can see, they are not made equal!

Although it is conceivable to have a pea pod and a young bean pod next to each other and not know which is which, the fact is that these two podded vegetables are quite different. Although there are only three kinds of peas, the number of bean variations is almost infinite, and they come in a broad range of colors and patterns.

Do you want to know how to prepare beans or peas? Check out our favorite bean dishes, such as our Black Bean Tacos, and learn how to cook peas.


Is a pea and a bean the same thing?

Although they are both members of the Leguminosae or Fabacae family, beans and peas are wholly separate plants with different genus and species.

Are green beans and green peas the same?

Green peas that have not been dried before eating are classified as starchy veggies. Green beans are in the subgroup of other vegetables, which also includes onions, iceberg lettuce, celery, and cabbage. Beans, peas, and lentils (collectively known as pulses) are the dried edible seeds of legumes.

Are green beans a bean or a pea?

It explains why green beans aren’t technically beans. Since the green bean plant’s fruit is in the form of a pod, green beans are technically legumes rather than beans. Some popular legumes you may not have thought of include asparagus beans, soybeans, black-eyed peas, and sugar snap peas.

What is beans and peas?

Beans, peas, and lentils (commonly known as “pulses”) are MyPlate vegetable subgroups that contain the dry seeds of legumes. Legume is the scientific word for a kind of plant that produces pods.

Why do Jamaicans call beans peas?

While it is named rice and peas, it is prepared with beans! This term came about because Jamaicans call red kidney beans peas, despite the fact that other types of beans are called beans.

What makes a pea not a bean?

Peas are typically spherical, while beans come in a broader range of forms. The color of non-pea beans also varies greatly. Peas are predominantly green and have little variation in color. A pea plant’s stem is normally hollow, while beans have a robust stem structure.

What is the healthiest bean you can eat?

5 Heart-Healthy Beans and How to Eat Them
Black Beans: An Antioxidant-Rich Home Staple…
Chickpeas: A Delicious Legume That May Help You Maintain a Healthy Blood Sugar Level.
Navy beans are a high-fiber food that lowers the risk of heart disease.
Pinto Beans are inexpensive and simple to prepare.
Jul 26, 2022: Soybeans: ‘Meat Without Bones’

What do chefs call green beans?

Boil or simmer until the vegetables are barely soft. Haricot Vert, French meaning Green Beans, is another name for French Beans. These fragile beans must be gathered one at a time by hand. Chefs love French beans because of their delicious taste and attractive look.

Are snap peas just green beans?

String beans, snap beans, green beans… Whichever name you pick, they are all the same and in season! Green snap beans are classified as bush or pole beans depending on their growth characteristics.

Why are some beans called peas?

In truth, the linguistics underlying these terminology is quite complicated, adding to the confusion. A pea is technically a member of the bean family, but it refers to the seed of a plant in the Pisum sativum family.

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