Looking for substitutes for black beans? Maybe you don’t have any on hand and need a quick replacement? No matter the circumstances, here are some quick and easy swaps you can make!
- What are Black Beans?
- How Black Beans are Most Commonly Used
- Why Replace Black Beans?
- Black Bean Substitutes
- Bean-Free Substitutes
- How to Choose a Substitute
- Frequently Asked Questions
Black beans have many health benefits are a great source of protein, fiber and are rich in antioxidants. But sometimes you need a substitute! I've included the best black bean substitutes for every occasion down below- I'm sure you'll find one that will help you out in a pinch!
If you're looking for more ingredient substitutions, check out the following: The BEST Coconut Substitutes for Every Occasion, Easy Italian Seasoning Substitute, 25 Easy & Delicious Almond Butter Substitutes.
What are Black Beans?
Black beans also known as black turtle beans are a legume that can be used in so many ways! They are typically found in recipes such as tacos, stews, and burritos but can be used in baking as well.
Black beans are a common ingredient in many different recipes- especially South American, Mexican, Spanish, and Caribbean dishes.
You can easily find canned black beans that can be used immediately or dry beans that need to be soaked and then cooked at almost every grocery store.
How Black Beans are Most Commonly Used
Black beans are part of the legume family and are a fairly common ingredient found in many different dishes. They are full of plant-based protein and high in fiber.
There are many reasons to eat black beans but also reasons where you may need a replacement which we will cover shortly.
Black beans can be used to make the following recipes:
- Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas, Nachos
- Beans and Rice, Stews, Chilis, Black Bean Soup or Tortilla Soup, Refried Beans
- Salads, Bean Burgers, Wraps
- Black Bean Sauce made from fermented black beans
- Baked goods like brownies
Why Replace Black Beans?
If you're searching for a black bean substitute, look no further! Maybe you're making brownies that call for black beans and just realized you're out!
Or you're prepping your dinner and just checked the pantry for that can of black beans you swore you had?
If you dislike black beans, you'll also find a perfect black bean substitute that will complete the recipe you've been wanting to make.
Or if you simply dislike beans in general, scroll to the bottom for bean-free black bean substitutes!
Whatever the circumstances are that lead you to need a substitute, I have over 15 ideas that will work in a pinch.
Black Bean Substitutes
1. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are my personal favorite and one of the best substitutes when looking to replace black beans in certain recipes.
They are different colors and shapes and are even different in flavor but they work well in the same types of recipes.
Pinto beans are creamier in texture than black beans but taste great in tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, and in enchiladas- they can be kept whole in soups and stews or mashed into refried beans.
2. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are meaty in texture and on the dense side- unlike pinto beans but quite similar to the texture of black beans which makes them the perfect substitute. They hold their shape and don't break down as easily. They are mild in flavor and taste different than black beans but will work well as an alternative!
Red kidney beans are a wonderful alternative to black beans when making recipes such as chili, stew, and even bean salads.
3. Red Beans
Red beans are similar to kidney beans but they are indeed different beans despite both being red in color.
They break down when cooked and are creamy in texture which makes them wonderful for recipes like rice and beans, stews, soups, and refried beans.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are a great addition to the topping of salads but are famously known for being blended into hummus.
Chickpeas have a mild flavor which makes them a good substitute for black beans in a wide variety of dishes- they can be used in tacos, soups, or in bean salads. They can also be pureed in to a smooth texture and used in baking.
5. White Beans
White beans are another great replacement for black beans! They have a creamy texture and come in many different varieties- Navy beans, Great Northern Beans, Cannellini Beans, or Lima Beans.
White beans are a great alternative for recipes that require blending into dips but work well as salad toppings, in soups, or in stews as well.
Lentils will work as a replacement for black beans in most cases- just be careful not to overcook them or they will get mushy! They work well in stews, soups, tacos, enchiladas, or to top off salads.
They come in a bunch of different colors and varieties- green lentils, red lentils, brown lentils, black lentils, and yellow lentils. The one you use will depend on the recipe you are making.
7. Black Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are in fact beans even though they are called peas. This type of bean wouldn't be my first choice but I'm adding it because it can work in a pinch!
They will change the overall flavor of the dish- they have more of a nutty flavor, almost earthy flavor so these aren't good in every occasion but could be a great option for stews and soups
8. Mung Bean, Soybeans, & Fava Beans
Mung beans, soybeans, and fava beans are less popular bean options but I wanted to include them just in case you have some in the back of your pantry that you forget about! If you do, you can easily use them in certain recipes.
Fava beans are great for adding to salads whereas mung beans and soybeans are best for stews.
Tofu is a great substitute for dishes like chili, enchiladas, tacos, and burritos. I recommend pressing the tofu, crumbling, seasoning as you would season beans, and bake until crispy and dried out. I have a recipe for Tofu Ground Beef that works wonderfully in many different dishes!
Tofu is a great substitute if you're just simply looking to add a protein in replace of black beans and not really worried about the taste or texture being similar.
Similar to tofu, tempeh is great to add volume and texture. Crumble and season just like you would black beans- this is particularly great for tacos, chili, or for the filling in enchiladas and burritos.
Cauliflower florets can be great to add volume to recipes. If you’re looking for a good burrito or enchilada filling- try cauliflower! I recommend tossing in seasonings and roasting until golden.
Cauliflower is also wonderful for bulking up salads or for blending into sauces.
Mushrooms have a meaty texture and can be great when diced and seasoned. Cook on the stovetop until the water has released and the mushrooms get some color.
This might be a unique option but it works! Finely chopped nuts, especially walnuts or cashew nuts, can add a nice texture and flavor to dishes- this is a great choice for mixing with mushrooms or other veggies.
Nuts can be used to make plant-based taco meat and veggie burgers in place of black beans.
6. Nut Butter
This might seem odd to include but nut butter works well in baking. Have you tried black bean brownies? The black beans are mashed into a fine puree and don’t add much flavor to the overall dish- just texture.
Creamy nut butter is a good choice for a baked good recipe like brownies, cookies, or cakes. If you’re nut-free, use a seed butter like sunflower butter made from sunflower seeds.
7. Canned Pumpkin
Just like nut butter, this is a unique addition but it's no secret that canned pumpkin puree is a dream in baking recipes! It will add a slight flavor of pumpkin but can be used as a replacement for black bean puree in baking recipes.
How to Choose a Substitute
So, you have the list of substitutes but how do you choose? Well, if you're in a pinch and dinner is already being prepared- go with the one you have already! If you dislike beans, pick one of the bean-free options that are best suited for the recipe you're making. Here are some ideas on how to pick the best option:
- If you're making chili, stew, or soup: Use kidney beans, red beans, or pinto beans!
- If you're baking brownies: Use nut butter like almond or cashew. If you're nut-free, go for sunflower seed butter or other nut-free spread.
- If you're making tacos, burritos, or enchiladas: Pinto beans are best! They can be mashed into refried beans or left whole. Season as you would black beans. Bean-free alternatives that are best for these dishes are crumbled tofu, riced cauliflower, or finely diced mushrooms- season the same way!
- If you need a salad topping: Use chickpeas or white beans to the top of salads or blend them into a bean dip.
- Black bean burgers: Use pinto beans, and chickpeas or skip the beans altogether and make a burger from vegetables, mushrooms, and ground nuts like walnuts.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best black bean substitutes are kidney beans, pinto beans, and Great Northern beans.
Nut butter, seed butter, or pumpkin puree are the best substitutes when replacing black bean puree in baking recipes. You could also use white bean puree.
Kidney beans, pinto beans, and red beans are the best alternatives for chili. For a bean-free option, I'd go for tofu or mushrooms.
Use pinto beans or kidney beans! For a bean-free option, I'd go for tofu or cauliflower.
Recipes You'll Love:
- Roasted Vegetable & Black Bean Enchiladas
- Crispy Cheesy Black Bean & Potato Tacos
- Spicy Three Bean Butternut Squash Chili
- The Best Chipotle Copycat Black Beans
- Homemade Hummus without Garlic
- Best Tofu Ground Beef (Vegan Beef Crumbles)
Thank you so much for reading to the end and I hope you found this article on black bean substitutes helpful. I would greatly appreciate it if you share your review in the comments below and leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on any of the recipes that you try. I really appreciate it- it helps me out so much! Don’t forget to add if you made any fun substitutions. Thank you!