Difference Between Peas And Beans – The Answer Will Surprise You

Are you one of the people that misidentify beans and peas? Do you normally get confused about which of these two is a seed and which one is a legume?

The difference between beans and peas is something that many people have to grapple with day in day out. While peas and beans are members of the same family – Fabaceae – they have huge differences that you shouldn’t overlook.

I’ve been writing about different plants for as I can remember. That explains why I’m so passionate about beans and peas. I’ll be explaining the major differences between these two shortly.

Before that, let me first highlight some basics, which will help you understand the differences further.



Generally, beans are normally described as big seed plants. Many people use the term bean to describe the seed of the broad beans. The description is widened further to cover those that belong to the Phaseoulus genus such as runner and common beans.

Beans also consist of the pods of herbs and palatable seeds. Similarly, the other non-leguminosae seeds such as trees or shrubs are also considered beans since they resemble ordinary beans.

Other seeds such as vanilla beans also belong to the same group since they resemble the pods of natural beans. Different types of beans exist. Some of the most popular ones include broad beans, drying beans, runner beans and French beans.


Peas belong to the specie sativum and genus Pisum. In the typical cooking, peas are usually regarded as vegetables. While that might be the case, they’re still a naturally occurring fruit.

A good number of peas appear like round seeds within the pea pods. The crop thrives during cooler seasons. That explains why many people plant pea plants before the start of summer or during winter.

Nonetheless, the planting season depends on the specific location. On average, very pea is said to weigh roughly 0.1 – 0.36 gm.

Difference #1: Shape And Color

Peas are generally green and round.

Beans on the other hand are generally kidney shape. In terms of color, it depends on the variety.

All peas and beans are seeds that consist of two big cotyledons. The initial pair of leaves, which emerge, from new seedlings are utilized for storing nutrients of the new plant. A tiny plant embryo is nestled between two halves.

The entire thing is covered in a thick seed coat that keeps the entire package safe.

Peas and beans form inside a pod, which in some instances is edible and tender on its own. In many species, the peas or beans are detached from the pod. You can buy them separately.

Difference #2: Their Flavor And Use In The Kitchen

In the kitchen, peas tend to be considerably more delicate in terms of flavor and structure compared to beans. Peas have a brief shelf life. They can’t stay fresh for long.

Consequently, they’re canned or frozen. You barely need to cook any further frozen and canned peas. Other varieties such as split peas are specifically breed to be dried.

Bean varieties such as pinto beans and black beans are more robust. They take quite some time to cook. Furthermore, they have an earthier ‘beanier’ flavor and a starchier texture.

You preserve beans by drying. When it comes to cooking, you can soak them for a day prior to cooking or boil them directly for a number of hours.

Fresh beans equally have a short shelf life. Fortunately, you can store them while frozen. Frozen or fresh, you can boil or braise them in the range of 20-60 minutes

Difference #3: Botanically Speaking

Botanically speaking, ‘pea’, and ‘bean’ aren’t precise terms. Different sources provide different answers.

Generally, beans refer to seeds of plants within the Fabaceae family. The family comprises of all seeds by the name peanuts, lentils, beans as well as an array of plants, which aren’t used for food.

On the other hand, peas refer to seeds from the Pisum sativum species. Some scientists use the term ‘bean’ broadly. In such situations, they refer ‘peas’ as a type of bean.

Other scientists refer ‘bean’ only to certain new genus of Phaseoulus. The genus consists of most of the commonly eaten and grown beans like pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, lima beans and many others.

Several Fabiceae go by the name peas or beans including soybeans, chickpeas, mung beans, cowpeas, black-eyed peas, and fava beans. They all occupy different genera.

Difference #4: Nutritional Value

Nutritionally, peas and beans are very different. The specific nutrition value of a bean depends on the type. For instance, 100-gram servings of kidney beans contain 405 milligrams potassium, 127 calories, 9 grams protein, and 6 grams fiber.

The same serving of black beans contains 22 grams protein, 16 grams fiber, 1483 miligrams potassium, and 341 calories.

100 grams serving of peas contains 5 grams protein, 5 grams fiber, 244 miligrams potassium, and 81 calories.

Difference #5: Stem

The major difference between beans and peas has to do with their stems. While beans have solid stems, peas feature hollow stems.

Peas have stems that need trellises to serve as support and grow properly. Peas utilize their tendrils from their leaves to twine.

Most beans on the other hand twine themselves on their support. In this regard, unlike peas, beans don’t have tendrils.

Difference #6: Cotyledon Development Pattern

The cotyledon development pattern is different for these two. It’s different in the sense that for beans, the structures emanate from the ground. For peas, their cotyledons don’t emerge.

Beans, specifically those that that climb are normally sown within a wider range in terms of depth. Peas on the other hand aren’t as deeper. Theirs is around 25 – 50 mm.


In summary, we can conclude a number of things. While hollow stems characterize stems, their counterparts possess more solid stems. Generally, beans lack tendrils while peas utilize their leaf tendrils in order to twine.

Peas are usually treated as vegetables when it comes to cooking even though they might be ordinary fruits. Knowing and understanding all the differences of these two legumes is very important. The above are the major six differences between peas and beans.

Jessica Leary

I’m Jessica, I’ve been a foodie since I was young. That explains my passion for the food movement and food blogs. In addition to being a content creator and recipe developer, I’m also into food photography and blogging. I’m an exercise enthusiast, wine aficionado, and green smoothie addict. The fact that I’ve tried countless recipes is what makes me passionate about food blogging. I write on anything related to food.

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