5 BEST Pigeon Peas Substitutes in Recipes

Have you ever heard of pigeon peas? A go-to ingredient in Caribbean and African cuisine, Pigeon Peas are a versatile and nutritious vegetable.

While they add flavor to stews and curries, they are also used as a side dish due to their firm texture and mild taste if you’re looking to incorporate more of these flavorful peas into your meals but don’t know how we’ve got the answer.

Not only will we show you how to cook with Pigeon Peas, but we’ll also discuss the five best substitutes if this pantry staple isn’t readily available.

Let’s get cooking.

What is Pigeon Pea?

The pigeon pea, also known as Cajanus cajan, is an edible legume found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Native to Africa and Asia, it has been cultivated since ancient times by Indian, African, and South American cultures.

It is an annual plant with a flexible stem reaching heights up to eight feet tall.

Its small yellow flowers can self-pollinate and bear clusters of oblong brownish-green seeds.

Pigeon peas are used in many dishes within their native countries and can become a nutritious meal capable of feeding large amounts of people.

Their texture is similar to that of steamed beans with a mild earthy flavor that pairs well with spices like turmeric or chili powder.

While it is commonly found canned or dried, freshly harvested pigeon peas should be used whenever possible for a more distinctive taste.

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The seeds can be boiled, fried, or grounded into flour for many delicious recipes, including dal or curries.

All in all, this bean offers excellent dietary benefits and plenty of culinary potentials.

5 BEST Pigeon Peas Substitutes in Recipes

If you’re looking for an alternative to pigeon peas in your recipes, you’ve come to the right place.

Pigeon peas are a small, dark-colored legume native to South India and Sri Lanka, commonly used in curries and stews.

While they are highly nutritious and flavorful, they may not always be available or suitable for certain dishes.

Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives available to give your recipes a unique twist.

1 – Chickpeas

Chickpeas are versatile and delicious legumes that add valuable plant-based nutrition to any dish.

A staple in Indian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and North African cuisines, these nutty-flavored beans provide a creamy texture when cooked.

Whether you’re making hummus or adding them to chilis and stews, chickpeas are sure to brighten the flavors of your favorite dishes while delivering an impressive dose of iron, fiber, and protein.

If you’d like to switch up your pulse game, why not try substituting chickpeas for commonly dried pigeon peas? Although different in taste and shape, both are among the healthiest legumes you can cook with.

2 – Black Beans

Black beans are a great food to experiment with in the kitchen.

Rich in fiber and protein, black beans are versatile and can be used as a side dish, an entree, part of a salad, or even added to the soup.

Their flavor is mild and earthy – slightly sweet with a touch of smokiness – whilst their texture is firm yet tender when cooked properly.

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Black beans are often thought of as highly comparable to pigeon peas, so if you’re ever short on the latter, then black beans can make for a great substitute.

With their ability to hold up well in numerous recipes, give black beans a try the next time you need some extra substance in your dishes.

3 – Lentils

Lentils are a delightful pantry staple voted to steal the show.

Nutritious and incredibly versatile, this unassuming little legume is highly regarded for its unique texture, delicious taste, and ability to absorb flavors from other ingredients.

Often found in many curries and soups in South Asian cuisine, lentils elevate any dish it is added to.

Cooked lentils can be easily swapped into recipes calling for pigeon peas due to the similar nature of their texture – perfect for making traditional Caribbean-style curries and stews.

Health-conscious food lovers have been raving about this amazing little legume lately, and with good reason – it’s easy to see why they’ve taken the world by storm.

4 – Lima Beans

Lima beans are a type of starchy legume that add nutrition and creamy texture to dishes.

They have a mild taste, so they often take on the flavor of the dish they are included in.

These beans are harvested during the summer months and can be eaten either shelled or frozen.

If you prefer them cooked, boiling is usually the best method since it brings out some sweetness in the beans.

Additionally, Lima beans make an excellent replacement for pigeon peas when cooking Southern cuisine.

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Simply replace any recipe calling for pigeon peas with equal parts Lima beans, mimicking similar textures and nutrients without changing too much from the original recipe.

5 – Kidney Beans

Kidney beans, also known as Rajma beans, have a lovely nutty taste and dense, meaty texture.

These robust-looking beans are often used in Indian cuisine, especially in North India.

Boil the kidney beans before eating them to make them easier to digest.

Minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and iron can also be found in generous amounts in these red beans.

Whether you use them as an accompanying side or main dish, they are always a firm favorite when it comes to any meal containing kidney beans.

If you don’t have access to kidney beans for a recipe that calls for them, you can easily substitute with pigeon peas – which have a similar taste and virtually the same cooking time.


In conclusion, if you’re looking for a substitution for pigeon peas in your recipes, there are plenty of great options available.

From black beans to lentils and lima beans to kidney beans, all these legumes have the potential to add delicious flavor and texture while also offering an array of health benefits.

So next time you find yourself out of luck when it comes to pigeon peas, why not give one of these five alternatives a try in your favorite recipes?

5 BEST Pigeon Peas Substitutes in Recipes

5 BEST Pigeon Peas Substitutes in Recipes

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 – Chickpeas
  • 2 – Black Beans
  • 3 – Lentils
  • 4 – Lima Beans
  • 5 – Kidney Beans


  1. Choose a preferred substitute from the provided list.
  2. Follow the cooking instructions for the selected substitute.
  3. Use the correct proportion of ingredients when preparing the substitute.

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