Looking to make an amazing, hearty meal but you’re missing the main ingredient – black beans ? Or maybe you don’t like black beans ? Or beans at all ? No worries, there’s quite a few things you can use instead of black beans.
These are very traditional beans, common in Latin America and are a prominent feature of many dishes. If you’re looking to make such a dish but just can’t find black beans, then take a look at the substitute list we got for you. We’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for !
Best black bean substitute
The best substitutes for black beans are kidney beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, lentils, soybeans, chickpeas, and peas. If you’re using beans for protein, you can also use mushrooms, tofu, or ground soy.
We’ll do out best to cover all the possible substitutes for black beans, depending on what you need them for. Keep in mind that black beans stain everything black. If you’re looking for that dark broth some of these substitutes won’t offer it.
Black bean texture and flavor are somewhat similar to meat. They’re very dense and they don’t break down easily, easily replacing meat. This makes them a great addition to any vegan or vegetarian recipe.
And because they produce such a dark color when cooked, they could even be mistaken for ground beef if you don’t pay attention. Now let’s see the substitutes you can use.
These are the first and most obvious choice. A bit larger than black beans, but just as dense. They don’t break down, and this makes them a perfect replacement.
In terms of flavor they’re very similar, except they’re not traditional in many Latin American dishes. Still, they’re easy to come by.
Black-eyed peas/California blackeye
If you want some of that black color, you can find it in black-eyes peas. Otherwise known as cowpeas (the black spot looks like spots on a cow), these are a little softer.
Looking nothing like their black counterparts, pinto beans are those cream colored, speckled beans you often find canned next to the kidney beans. Just as large as black beans, pinto beans are a very good substitute. Same texture and density, only they look different.
They’re a popular addition to chili con carne and tacos.
These may not be your first choice, but hear us out. Soybeans have a meatier flavor than black beans, and they definitely retain their shape and texture. They also cook faster.
If your recipe doesn’t need you to really mash the beans (although we guess you could), then soybeans will do the trick. Despite their green look, they’re completely ripe and good for cooking.
Alright, what if soybeans aren’t your thing ? Try chickpeas. Not the same flavor as beans, we know, but at least they’re closer than soybeans and they will puree wonderfully.
If you’re looking to change things a little, lightly fry some canned chickpeas until they get a nice golden color. This will get them a slightly caramelized flavor and improve the entire recipe.
If lentils are all you’ve got hen by all means use them ! Just keep in mind that they’re softer than black beans, so you should be careful to not overcook them.
In the case of canned lentils, there’s no point in adding them to the broth to cook for more than 10 minutes, otherwise they fall apart. And if you’d like your dish to look delicious, try the red lentils. The green ones give a sickly gray-brown color that’s hard to make look good.
Ah, yes, peas. Maybe not your first choice, or second, or third. But depending on your recipe and how picky you are, they could work very well. We recommend the canned peas, as they’re slightly sweet and cooked just right.
These work best if you’re using them as-is, in a salad or a cold platter, or something that doesn’t require too much cooking.
Protein substitutes for black beans
Okay, what if you need black beans as a protein substitute and really don’t want to use any sort of bean on this planet. No worries, there’s lots of things you can use as a protein substitute. Here are the most common ones, and the ones we find are easiest to get a hold of.
Soy, ground soy
Yes, soy again ! But this time it’s ground soy. It looks like a very pale ground beef, and if you season it just right it will even taste like ground beef. Or chicken. Or duck, or whatever you need it to be.
Ground soy is just textured soy protein, a by-product of making soybean oil. The soybeans are ground into a paste, and then pressed for their oil. The resulting paste is dried, and then sold as TVP (textured vegetable protein). You can find it in large chunks, or ground into granules that you soak in water.
If you get the ground version, you can easily fake ground beef in a taco or chili con carne !
Yet another popular option when it comes to replacing meat, mushrooms are plentiful, easy to find, and you can even chop them very very small like ground beef. Again, it really depends on what you needed the beans for. you can cut or chop the mushrooms to your needs exactly.
A great thing about mushrooms is that they darken everything you cook. So if you really wanted that black bean broth that gets super dark, them mushrooms are they way to go. Even if you just use a few mushrooms alongside another substitute from this list, they will work.
You can try soft or firm tofu, it will work just the same. The only difference is what you expect to get from it. Firm tofu is a great option if you want to replace black bean’s firm texture. Then you just need to cube the tofu and it will be a great replacement.
Peanuts are an interesting choice, and they will give your dish a nice flavor. You can use them in a combination with several substitutes from this list if you like. The best thing about them is they’ll give the meal a nice crunch, even if they’ve been cooked through. We recommend using peanut only in something like a stew or chili.
Add some rice to any bean dish
Black beans are really one of the most protein-heavy beans out there. So no matter what you replace them with, other beans will come short. There’s a workaround for that, though.
A good idea is to add rice to any bean dish you’re making. Plain white rice will work, but we recommend brown rice. Soy and rice+bean and some of the most complete vegetal proteins you can find or combine, and they will provide a seriously filling meal.
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.