Spodoptera littoralis (Boisd) is globally recognized as a destructive polyphagous insect pest of various crops in the world. It is commonly managed by chemical pesticides, which can cause deleterious effects such as environmental pollution, toxicity to non-target organisms and the emergence of secondary pests. Hence, investigations into alternative pest control strategies such as the use of resistant host plant cultivar against S. littoralis is important. This study aimed to explore the nutritional performance of S. littoralis larvae in dependence on total anthocyanin, flavonoid, and phenol levels across 11 bean cultivars (Phaseolus and Vigna spp.) under laboratory conditions. The results revealed that the Mashhad cultivar accumulated the highest amount of total phenols (13.59 mg ml−1), whereas Yaghout and Arabi cultivars posed the lowest total phenols contents (1.80 and 1.90 mg ml−1, respectively). Across larval instars (third to sixth), the highest consumption index and relative consumption rate were recorded on the Mashhad cultivar. The lowest values of efficiency of conversion of ingested food and the efficiency of conversion of digested food of total larval instars were detected in the larvae which were reared on the Mashhad cultivar. Likewise, the lowest value of the index of plant quality (IPQ) was obtained in the Mashhad cultivar; however, IPQ was figured out at the highest level in the Arabi cultivar. Our findings show that the differential accumulation of secondary metabolites would change the nutritional quality of plants for S. littoralis. Based on the findings, the Mashhad cultivar may serve as a candidate for either integrated pest management or breeding programs aiming at controlling this pest.