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The 10 Best Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas are a delicious and nutty legume, widely grown in tropical regions.

They often appear in stews, curries, and side dishes.

But what are the best substitutes for pigeon peas if you can’t get them or don’t like the taste?

What are the best alternatives for pigeon peas? The best substitutes for pigeon peas include split peas, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, butter beans, cannellini beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, and cranberry beans. Each of these has their own unique flavor and texture that will work well in most recipes as a substitute for pigeon peas.

Making a recipe that calls for pigeon peas but don’t have any in your pantry?

Don’t worry!

These 10 substitutes offer a flavorful, nutrition-packed alternative that will ensure your dish still tastes great!

Let’s take a look at how to pick the right substitute for your recipe.

What Are Pigeon Peas?

Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas, also known as red gram or arhar dal, are a type of legume that is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

They are a staple food in many countries, including India, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Pigeon peas are a good source of protein, dietary fiber, and various vitamins and minerals.

Pigeon peas are small, round, and beige in color, with a distinctive black spot on one end.

They have a nutty flavor and a slightly grainy texture.

Pigeon peas are used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, curries, and salads.

NamePigeon Peas
Scientific NameCajanus cajan
Other NamesRed gram, arhar dal
Nutritional ValueHigh in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals
TextureSlightly grainy
Culinary UsesSoups, stews, curries, salads
Regions of CultivationTropical and subtropical regions of the world

The 10 Best Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas are a popular legume around the world due to their sweet and earthy flavor. They work well in soups, curries, stews, and salads.

However, if you can’t find these beans in the grocery store or need to switch things up for dietary reasons, there are plenty of options out there.

Here are ten great substitutes for pigeon peas:

1 – Red Lentils

Red Lentils

Red lentils are a highly versatile legume and perfect stand-in for pigeon peas.

Their nutty flavor and creamy texture make them an ideal addition to many dishes.

When cooked properly, red lentils can be used as an excellent substitute for pigeon peas in soups and stews.

2 – Chickpeas


Chickpeas are one of the most popular legumes out there because of their mild flavor and high nutritional value.

They work great in a variety of dishes such as salads, curries, dips, and more.

When used as a substitution for pigeon peas, chickpeas provide similar flavors while adding their own unique taste that sets them apart from other types of beans.

3 – Black Beans

Black Beans

Black beans are full of antioxidant compounds which make them an excellent choice for those looking for a healthier option when replacing pigeon peas.

These dark-colored legumes have an earthy flavor with hints of nuttiness that perfectly offsets many ingredients like rice or salsa.

Whether they’re used as part of a main dish or side dish, black beans offer the same great taste as pigeon peas do.

4 – White Beans

White Beans

White beans have become increasingly popular due to their soft texture and slightly sweet taste that pairs well with almost any ingredient imaginable.

They’re perfect when combined with olive oil or garlic in pasta dishes or soups.

As far as substitutes go, white beans offer the closest texture to pigeon peas while also providing a milder flavor profile compared to other types of beans mentioned here.

5 – Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans pack quite a punch when it comes to nutrition thanks to their high fiber content and numerous vitamins and minerals they contain like vitamin K1 or zinc.

Their meaty texture makes them an excellent replacement for pigeon peas in various dishes such as chili con carne or burrito bowls.

Kidney beans provide similar earthy flavors without losing out on any essential nutrients your body needs daily.

6 – Green Peas

Green Peas

Green peas are a classic accompaniment to countless recipes, offering both nutrition and deliciousness.

Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber—plus boasting an array of antioxidants—green peas are a great way to get more nutrition into your meals.

The addition of green peas can also provide increased sweetness and crunch.

To substitute green peas for pigeon peas in a recipe, use the same amount stated in the original recipe.

7 – Lima Beans

Lima Beans

Lima beans belong to the same family as pigeon peas but offer distinct differences in terms of flavor and texture.

These beans contain a higher concentration of magnesium and iron than pigeon peas; they boast a milder flavor profile with more sweetness than their counterpart.

Using lima beans requires slighter modifications to cooking time as well as smaller portions per serving due to their larger size compared to pigeon peas.

8 – Navy Beans

Navy Beans

Navy beans are similar in shape and size to their cousin the lima bean but offer a different flavor profile that is slightly nuttier than that of lima beans.

Plus they have fewer calories per cup compared with either lima or pigeon peas—making them an ideal choice for anyone watching their weight while still wanting robust flavor in their dishes.

When substituting navy beans for pigeon peas, use one cup of navy beans for every two cups of pigeon peas called for in the recipe.

9 – Mung Beans

Mung Beans

Mung beans are small, round legumes that come from Southeast Asia.

They have long been prized for their earthy flavors and unique textures which make them ideal for soups, curries, salads, stir-fries, and other dishes alike.

As versatile as they are flavorful, mung beans require only slight adjustments when used as a substitute for pigeon peas such as shorter cooking times due to their smaller size and more delicate nature when cooked over heat.

10 – Adzuki Beans

Adzuki Beans

Adzuki beans are sweet yet starchy legumes that originate from East Asia.

They have been a staple in traditional cuisine for centuries due to their unique characteristics, such as sweet flavor profiles combined with starchy textures.

Adzuki beans are perfect for adding dimensionality to dishes like risotto or macaroni salad.

When using adzuki beans as a substitute for pigeon peas, adjust your ratios accordingly.

Use one cup of adzuki beans for every two cups of fresh or frozen pigeon peas called for in the recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are pigeon peas similar to?

Pigeon peas are similar in texture and flavor to other legumes, such as black beans, kidney beans, and white beans. They can be used interchangeably in many recipes.

Are pigeon peas and chickpeas the same?

No, pigeon peas and chickpeas are not the same. They are two different types of legumes with distinct flavor profiles and textures. Chickpeas are round and beige in color with a nutty flavor, while pigeon peas are small, round, and beige with a distinctive black spot on one end and a nutty flavor with a slightly grainy texture.


In conclusion, while pigeon peas are a popular and nutritious legume, there are many great alternatives available for those who cannot find them or prefer not to use them in their cooking.

Red lentils, chickpeas, black beans, white beans, kidney beans, green peas, lima beans, navy beans, mung beans, and adzuki beans are all excellent substitutes for pigeon peas, each with their own unique flavor and texture.

Whether you are making soups, stews, curries, or salads, these legumes can add depth and richness to your dishes while providing a healthy dose of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.

The 10 Best Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

The 10 Best Substitutes for Pigeon Peas

Are you wondering what to use as a substitute for pigeon peas? Look no further! This post has got you covered. As a fan of pigeon peas, I know how frustrating it can be when you can't find them at your local grocery store or market. That's why I've compiled a list of the 10 best substitutes for pigeon peas that you can use in your cooking. From red lentils to adzuki beans, each alternative has its own unique flavor and texture that can add depth and richness to your dishes. So, whether you're making a hearty soup or a spicy curry, these substitutes can help you achieve the same delicious taste and nutritional value as pigeon peas. So, let's dive in and explore these alternatives together!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • Red Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Black Beans
  • White Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Green Peas
  • Lima Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Mung Beans
  • Adzuki Beans


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.