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12 Best Black Beans Substitutes to Make Delicious Meals

If you’ve ever looked for a meat-free dish or fancied cooking a vegetarian recipe, you’ll know that black beans are highly recommended for a variety of meals.

But what would you use if you’ve run out or you simply don’t like them?

We’ve come up with the best alternatives so you don’t have to search high and low for a substitute for black beans.

Are Black Beans Healthy?

Black Beans are a plant-based protein that is very high in fiber. They benefit things like your cholesterol levels, also known as an antioxidant, which is commonly found in fruit, vegetables, and legumes (black beans fall into the legume category).

Not only are they high in fiber and associated with lowering your blood pressure, but they are also a good gluten-free and meat-free option if you’ve decided to change up your diet!

black beans

Although black beans are considered a great alternative to certain foods, they do have their downsides.

Due to their richness in fiber, they take longer to digest than other legumes. They have also been known to give people gas and potentially an upset stomach.

These aren’t negative for your health specifically, but something you may want to look out for (or you’ve already noticed and want our list of alternatives).

What Can You Substitute for Black Beans

1. Chickpeas

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are an easy alternative to black beans. Commonly a beige color and round shape, they come with the same health benefits and are easy to prep for cooking.

They add a great amount of protein for those looking for a meat-free meal and can be a source of your recommended daily intake of Iron.

You can buy chickpeas already soaking or dry chickpeas, which you have to soak yourself before cooking.

If you are looking for a quick way to cook them, buying them in a can already soaking is a good idea. This means they’re ready to go when you are!

If you’re interested in the substitutes for chickpeas, simply click here.

2. Kidney Beans

kidney beans

Kidney beans have less fat than other beans and hold their texture well in a range of sauces and soups. They require the same cooking process, and the taste is arguably similar.

This is great if you’ve run out of black beans before cooking, but probably not what you’re looking for if you don’t like the taste of black beans to begin with.

3. Black-eyed Peas

black-eyed-peas

Black-eyed peas originated in Africa and are also known as the ‘Cowpea.’ They have a quirky black and white look and are popularly used in salad or soup recipes. They have an earthy taste that shares similarities to black beans.

You don’t have to soak black-eyed peas, which can make it an easier food to cook as an alternative to black beans.

4. Soybeans

soybean

Soy Beans are used in a wider variety of ways than other legumes. They are usually used to make foods like tofu and soy milk, but the bean alone is a good alternative similar to black beans.

They are the same size and shape as black beans and are a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine.

5. Northern Beans

navy beans

Northern Beans are known for keeping their shape better than other beans. This means they’re suitable for cooking something saucy!

Originated in South America, they are a great substitute for black beans in enchiladas and other South American dishes.

Northen beans have a nutty taste, perfect for adding extra flavor to your meals. They are a similar size and shape to black beans but with a milder flavor.

6. Pinto Beans

pinto beans

Pinto beans are a great source of protein, making these a successful meat-free option. They are naturally low in fat and contain a good source of fiber.

They have an earthy and nutty flavor, making them more flavorful than the black bean, but still a good substitute if needed.

Pinto beans have significant health benefits such as blood sugar control and have many antioxidants. They have also been known to help maintain a healthy bowel.

Pinto beans are of a softer variety than black beans, which is good for recipes that require a slightly mushier texture.

Don’t worry if you don’t have pinto beans on hand, there are still 17 substitutes for your choice.

7. Lentils

lentils

Lentils are a slightly different style of legume as they appear much smaller. Additionally, they are still very similar to black beans in health benefits and require the same amount of work cooking them.

They are popular in vegan dishes and make a great substitute for black beans in burritos and veggie burger as it is a great binder to hold other ingredients together.

8. Quinoa

quinoa pilaf

Quinoa originates from Peru and Bolivia. It was introduced for human consumption years after being food for livestock.

Fast-forward to now, and quinoa is one of the most popular vegan options as a meat alternative. It is an ingredient used a lot in cold dishes such as salads.

Quinoa has a softer texture than other black bean substitutes, which means it’s great for catching all those flavors!

9. Nuts

chestnuts

A good amount of flavor can be found in different nuts and can be used as a keto substitute for black beans, as a ketogenic diet requires low/no carbohydrates.

Most legumes do not fall into this category. Substitute your bean recipe for nuts, and you’ve got a healthy keto meal!

If you are looking for a substitute for fermented black beans, nuts are a great solution as they can be purchased salted or generally flavored. Fermented black beans are usually salted, making salted nuts the closest alternative.

10. Tofu

cut tofu

Although many recipes include black beans and tofu, tofu can act as a versatile meat-free option and replacement for black beans. You can alter the taste of tofu depending on your preferences and the style of the meal you’re cooking.

While tofu has a reputation for being bland on its own, what you do with it makes the flavor. Tofu can be soaked in different sauces and flavors, making it one of the more flavorsome options for black beans.

There are many health benefits to tofu which is why it has grown in popularity over the last few years. It is known to be a great source of protein and anti-inflammatory food.

11. Mushrooms

crimini mushrooms

If you’re looking for something that compliments other vegetables in a meat-free dish, or you don’t want to add a protein-based substitute, look no further than mushrooms.

Mushrooms, like Tofu, can be cooked in various ways to alter their taste, and there are a variety of different mushrooms to choose from, making them another worthwhile substitute.

Mushrooms don’t require a specific procedure for cooking, which makes them an easy alternative to black beans.

12. Tempeh

tempeh

Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is a great vegetarian/vegan option for many recipes. The taste and texture can be altered more than other alternatives to fit your cooking dish.

It is still low in carbohydrates and high in protein which are consistent health benefits with black beans and other legumes.

The easiest way to make tempeh taste great is to boil it first, then marinate and bake it. While this isn’t as easy as some other alternatives, it’s great for vegan dishes that require more than vegetables.

FAQs About Black Beans

Can I substitute garbanzo beans for black beans?

Garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) can be substituted for black beans! Although they have a different shape, size, and texture, they still make a good substitute.

Garbanzo beans are a great filler for cold recipes such as wraps or salads and can be marinated to taste differently in many recipes.

Can I substitute black beans for kidney beans in chili?

Kidney beans are a reliable alternative to black beans as they are similar in shape, texture and taste. They could be considered the closest substitute for black beans.

They can hold up in a saucy recipe and require the same type of prepping as black beans, making them a very similar alternative.

Can I substitute pinto beans for black-eyed peas?

The most popular substitute for black-eyed peas is the lima bean. However, pinto beans are still an acceptable alternative.

Lots of Mexican recipes used black-eyed peas. You could swap out black beans for black-eyed peas in a range of Mexican dishes.

Conclusion

Most black bean alternatives have a similar cooking process if they’re from the legume family.

Black beans have various substitutes you can use in recipes; other legumes are commonly used, but many other vegetarian/vegan options consider dietary requirements, such as the ketogenic diet.

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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