The Best Black Bean Substitutes

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Not having black beans at home is not a reason to put off cooking a hearty Texan chili con carne or some spicy Mexican tacos. Luckily, there are a number of substitutes for black beans.

What are the best black bean substitutes? The best black bean substitutes are other bean varieties, such as kidney beans, pinto beans, and Great Northern beans. If you don’t like beans, you can use chickpeas and lentils instead of black beans. Other substitutes that work for specific dishes are cauliflower and nuts. 

In this article, we will tell you all about black bean substitutes and when to use them. You will also learn how to substitute black beans in baking, as well as popular dishes such as chili con carne, enchiladas, tacos, and more.

Uses of Black Beans in Cooking

There are several ways you can incorporate black beans into your diet. There are a lot of meals you can make with black beans and a few different ways you can prepare them.

Here are some popular black bean dishes:

  • Soups
  • Stews and casseroles 
  • Salads
  • Dips
  • Sauces 
  • Enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, etc.
  • Side dishes

You can also use black beans in baking. You can use puréed black beans to bake brownies, fudge cakes, chocolate cakes, and cookies. 

7 Best Black Bean Substitutes 

If a recipe calls for black beans and you don’t have any at home, you can substitute them with another ingredient. Black beans have a rather mild flavor.

The flavor of dishes made with black beans largely depends on how you season the beans and what other ingredients you add to them. 

Here are the seven best substitutes for black beans:

Substitute Best For 
1.Kidney beansStews, salads, dips, soups, sauces, wraps
2.ChickpeasDips, stews, soups, sauces, salads
3.Pinto BeansSalads, dips, stews, casseroles, wraps
4.Lentils Salads, soups, stews, 
5.Great Northern beansSalads, dips, stews, soups, wraps
6.Riced Cauliflower Stews, casseroles, dips 
7.NutsSalads, fillings

Keep in mind that a neutral flavor is certainly an advantage when looking for a substitute for black beans, as it is not easy to find alternatives to products with specific flavor profiles. 

1. Kidney Beans 

Black beans and kidney beans are interchangeable in many cooking tasks, as they are very similar in terms of their nutritional value and flavor. Kidney beans are as nutritious as black beans as well.

There are only a few differences between these two bean varieties, one of the most significant differences being the very high vitamin K content in kidney beans. There is a smaller amount of vitamin K in black beans. 

Both kidney beans and black beans are rich in folate, calcium, iron, thiamin, magnesium, and potassium. They even contain the same amount of phosphorus, manganese, and copper. 

As far as the flavor is concerned, kidney beans have an even milder flavor profile compared to black beans. They are also slightly softer than black beans. 

You can use kidney beans to make salads, dips, stews, sauces, wraps, and soups. 

2. Chickpeas

If you don’t like beans and want to substitute black beans in the recipe with something of a similar nutritional value, chickpeas are your best bet. 

Firstly, both chickpeas and black beans are high in dietary fiber and potassium. Secondly, both are a rich source of vitamin B6 and B9.

Moreover, chickpeas contain a higher amount of these essential substances. And lastly, chickpeas, similar to black beans, are a good source of protein and such minerals as calcium and iron. 

The best part about chickpeas is that they are neutral in flavor. While chickpeas do have a slightly nutty flavor, it is not overpowering. Additionally, chickpeas pair well with most foods and are widely available. 

You can use chickpeas in nearly any recipe that calls for black beans. Chickpeas will work perfectly for dips, stews, soups, and sauces. 

The only thing to keep in mind when substituting black beans with chickpeas is that chickpeas are higher in calories. 100g of chickpeas contains nearly 165 calories, while the same amount of black beans has only 90. 

3. Pinto Beans 

Pinto beans are widely used in Mexican-style cooking. These speckled beans have a more distinct flavor compared to black beans. They taste richer, have nutty notes, and are creamier as far as the texture is concerned. 

As for the nutritional value, pinto beans are similar to black beans in terms of protein and fiber content. The carbohydrate content in pinto beans is higher. The fat content is also twice as high compared to black beans. 

The good thing about pinto beans is that they will work as a substitute for black beans in almost all recipes. You can use them to make salads, dips, stews, and casseroles. 

4. Lentils

Another great substitute for people who don’t like beans are lentils. Lentils will provide you with the needed amount of protein and fiber. In fact, plant-based protein is higher in lentils. 

As far as the calories and fat content are concerned, you have nothing to worry about when eating lentils. They aren’t more calorific than black beans and are similarly low in fat. 

There are different colors of lentils you can use instead of black beans, from khaki to brown, yellow, orange, or red. You can even find black lentils! All lentils will work as a substitute for black beans in salads, soups, and stews. 

What lentils you will choose to use instead of black beans is a matter of preference. However, we recommend considering the flavor profile of the lentil variety you want to substitute for beans.

While all lentils have an earthy flavor profile, yellow and red lentils have nutty notes too. 

Additionally, if you are thinking about using lentils instead of black beans, keep in mind the fact that lentils take shorter to cook compared to dried black beans. 

5. Great Northern Beans 

Great Northern beans, despite their white appearance, are one of the best bean varieties to substitute black beans, as they have a similar texture.

They also have a mild flavor similar to black beans. Thus, you can add other ingredients and spices to the dish to make these white beans taste the way you need them to.

While Great Northern beans will make your dish look slightly different, they are a great alternative to black beans in almost all recipes. You can use Great Northern beans in salads, stews, dips, wraps, tacos, and soups

6. Riced Cauliflower 

Are you surprised to find cauliflower on the list of the best black bean substitutes? As strange as it may seem, cauliflower is a great alternative to black beans. 

It’s because cauliflower has a mild flavor with slight sweetness and nuttiness. Also, it pairs nicely with a range of vegetables. You can also add different spices to cauliflower to achieve the desired flavor in the dish.

It is recommended to add a spicy kick to the dish when using cauliflower instead of black beans. 

You will need riced cauliflower or cauliflower divided into small pieces whenever you decide to use this vegetable instead of beans. Riced cauliflower will create a texture similar to crushed beans. 

You can use cauliflower to make stews, casseroles, and dips

There are two things to keep in mind when substituting cauliflower for black beans. First, it cooks much faster than black beans. And second, its nutritional value is very different from that of black beans.

Cauliflower contains fewer calories and carbs and is not as rich in minerals and vitamins. It’s worth mentioning, however, that cauliflower contains loads of vitamin C. 

7. Nuts 

Another peculiar alternative for black beans are nuts, namely cashews and walnuts. Nuts will certainly add a brighter flavor to the dish compared to the mild flavor of beans.

When substituting black beans with nuts, pay attention to the substation ratio. Consider using half the amount of nuts as the recipe calls for black beans, as nuts contain more calories and can make the dish too heavy.

You can use nuts in salads. Walnuts can be a great and unusual replacement for black beans in taco filling as well.

How to Choose a Black Bean Substitute

When you find out that you don’t have black beans at home in the midst of the cooking process, you may need to experiment with whatever substitute you have at home. 

In other cases, when you want to substitute black beans with another ingredient because you simply don’t like black beans or can’t find them where you live, you may need to pick an alternative based on your needs. 

Firstly, if you want to achieve a similar flavor as with black beans, your best bets are other bean varieties, such as kidney beans, pinto beans, and Great Northern beans. 

Secondly, if all you are looking for is the texture that black beans provide, you can use not only beans but also chickpeas. In certain cases, such as dips, riced cauliflower will work too. 

And lastly, if it is the nutritional value that you care about, you can go with chickpeas, lentils, and even nuts. But kidney beans are as close as you can get to black beans as far as the nutritional value is concerned. 

The Best Black Bean Substitute in Baking 

Many people find the use of black beans in baking peculiar, but black beans are especially popular in baking brownies.

Puréed black beans have the right color for brownies and other chocolate cakes and cookies. They contribute to reaching a moist and fudge-like texture that’s perfect for brownies.

Additionally, they have a neutral flavor and make the dessert lower in calories.  Puréed beans are used in baking to cut down the fat and flour.

So, conversely, the best substitute for puréed black beans in such baked goods as brownies are fat and flour

If you decide to substitute the beans with fat, i.e. oil or butter, you can do so in a 1:1 ratio. With some mixtures, you may need to add flour to reach the desired consistency. 

You can also use chickpea and kidney bean purée for baking. 

The Best Substitute for Black Beans in Mexican Food

Black beans are one of the most popular ingredients in Mexican cuisine. You are likely to come across them whenever you decide to make such popular Mexican dishes as tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. 

Luckily, there are a number of substitutes for black beans for all your favorite Mexican dishes. You can surely use other bean varieties in tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. But what if you don’t like beans? 

While beans are characteristic of Mexican cuisine and leaving them out will surely affect the overall flavor of the dish, you can always experiment to make your meal fit your preferences.

You can use chickpeas instead of beans and get the best of both worlds – neutral flavor that you can customize and similar nutritional value. Lentils and riced cauliflower will also work well in some Mexican-style wraps. 

As a black bean substitute for tacos, the most unique substitute option is walnuts. While walnuts are often used to make vegan taco meat, you can use a small amount of them instead of black beans for nutrition. 

For enchiladas that call for black beans, chickpeas are the best option. Enchiladas and vegan burritos with lentils are another take on your favorite Mexican dishes. 

The Best Black Bean Substitute in Chili 

Chili, the ultimate hearty stew that everyone loves, is often made with black beans. If you are craving chili but don’t have black beans in your pantry, you can use any other bean variety you have at home. 

We have another article on the best beans for chili, but we’ll give you a few tips here as well.

You can use kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, Great Northern beans, or cannellini beans to make chili con carne. If you want to skip the beans because you don’t like them, chickpeas are your best bet. 

Black Beans: Benefits and Uses

Black beans are pea-sized legumes widely used in Mexican, Caribbean, and South American cuisines.

As black beans are legumes, it is only natural that they are a rich source of protein and fiber. They are also packed with minerals and vitamins.

Here are some of the health benefits of black beans:

  • Black beans may promote bone health. They contain such minerals as iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, which all contribute to having a stronger bone structure. 
  • Black beans may lower blood sugar levels. This makes black beans a good product for people trying to manage diabetes. 
  • Black beans may promote heart health. Black beans are rich in fiber, potassium, and essential vitamins as vitamin B6 and B9. They also have a cholesterol-lowering property, thus promoting heart health. 
  • Black beans may lower blood pressure. You may eat foods with an excessive amount of sodium and no health benefits. Black beans, on the other hand, contain very little sodium (as long as they are the dried variety or a low-sodium canned option). Foods with low sodium content may lower blood pressure. 
  • Black beans may improve digestion. It is no secret that black beans contain a high amount of fiber. Thus, having them in your diet could improve your digestion if you’re lacking in fiber. 

As a disclaimer, we need to mention that black beans are a health-boosting addition to a balanced diet and should not be the only source of these nutrients that you consume.

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