The BEST Black Bean Substitutes (Plus Keto Option)
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Are you one of those home cooks looking for black bean substitutes? Whether you’re trying out a new recipe or want something different in your everyday meals, finding substitutes for black beans can be a little tricky. I know I have been there when I go into the pantry and realize I am out of black beans.
But don’t worry—we’ve put together this comprehensive list to show you all the best options to make delicious dishes without using black beans! You won’t even miss them. Read on to learn about the most popular, nutritious, and versatile ingredients that are perfect as replacements for black beans.
But before we do that, I find it super helpful to understand the ingredient we are swapping. So, let’s find out what black beans taste like.
What Do Black Beans Taste Like?
Black beans, or black turtle beans, have a distinct taste that is mild and not overwhelming. Noted for their earthy flavor, black beans offer a slight sweetness and subtle nutty flavor.
The texture is soft, yet they have a nice firm texture and chew. Making them excellent beans for soups, stews, chilis, and side dishes. Cooked precisely right, it can be firm and tender when combined with other ingredients like rice, tortillas, or tacos. When added to your favorite recipes, the unique flavor of black beans makes for an amazing meal!
Key Characteristics to Look For:
- Mild Flavor
- Tender beans that hold their shape
- It goes well with soups, stews, and Latin cuisine
Black Bean Substitutes
When swapping out black beans with another bean, it’s essential to note that all beans cook differently, and if you soak them prior, that even changes the cooking time. Please check a bean cooking reference like this one: Dry Beans and Legumes Cooking Chart. If you are using a canned bean, then no worries about cooking!
Here’s a tip: If you’re using dry beans as an alternative to black beans, it’s best to rinse the beans before adding them to the recipe. This will remove any debris from the beans and help them cook more evenly.
Appaloosa beans have a nice, firm texture and mild taste, making them a great substitute for black beans. This colorful bean is native to the Central American region, including Nicaragua and Mexico, with origins in Guatemala. Appaloosas can be eaten fresh from the pod but are often dried out, making them a popular choice for home-cooked dishes.
Showcasing unique shades of purple, brown, and white, this fun legume has an excellent texture for chilis, stews, or soups or is even tasty all on its own. Appaloosa beans have been incorporated into cooking traditions worldwide – whether it’s a salsa or a side dish, they’ll work great in your recipe!
Did you know there is such a thing as Calypso Beans? These beans are cute in my book! They are speckled black and white like a milk cow. They are ideal for use in a variety of recipes. They make an excellent addition to soups, salads, chili dishes, and hearty stews. Because of their firm texture and mild flavor, they work great when you are out of black beans.
Black Soybeans (Low-Carb & Keto)
I bet you didn’t think of black soybeans. This alternative to black beans also works great if you need to watch your carbohydrates for a low-carb or keto lifestyle. Black soybeans are packed with protein and fiber, making them an excellent choice for vegetarian dishes. Also, black soybeans have more of a nutty flavor than regular black beans, and once cooked, they can be used instead of black beans.
I do personally recommend picking up organic black soybeans as soy is a heavily sprayed crop and a GMO. Stick with organic for my most natural version of this awesome bean.
Small Red Beans
Small Red Beans are a great substitute for black beans. They are slightly smaller than most other beans and hold their shape well when cooked, so they work great for salads, soups, and stews. They have a mild flavor, and their creamy texture is perfect when paired with rice dishes like jambalaya, red beans, and rice. You could also try them as a side dish or as an ingredient in your favorite chili recipe when replacing black beans.
Pink beans are a great bean to use as a black bean substitute. They are slightly sweet with a nutty flavor that is subtle. Their texture is meaty, kind of like pinto beans. But Their creamy texture and mild taste make them versatile so that they can be added to most dishes like tacos, chilis, soups, or salads. They are even used to make refried beans.
Pinto beans are basically pink bean’s bigger cousin! When cooked, they have a delicate, nutty flavor and firm, meaty texture. Pinto beans can be used in most recipes that call for black beans when used in Latin cuisine. They work great to make refried beans, soups, stews, chili dishes, tacos, and other Mexican or Tex-Mex cuisines like burritos. And they are a great choice if you want to add more protein to your dishes without a lot of simple carbohydrates.
Beans I Don’t Recommend Using As A Black Bean Alternative
Sometimes we think a bean is a bean, and we can swap any bean for another. I mean, technically, you could do that. But the real question is, should you? These are a handful of beans I don’t recommend for black beans.
Garbanzo Beans – Also known as chickpeas, these are a great bean to use in a variety of recipes. However, they have their own unique flavor and texture that doesn’t work when it comes to black beans.
Lentils – Lentils are great for salads, soups, and side dishes but don’t work as a black bean replacement. They have their own unique flavor, color, and texture that don’t match at all.
Lima Beans – Also known as butter beans, these are much larger and lighter in color than black beans. While they make delicious additions to soups and salads, they don’t work as a black bean substitute.
My Final Thoughts On Substitutes For Black Beans
These are just some of the most popular substitutes for black beans, but there are plenty more to choose from. Depending on what recipe you’re making, you can mix and match different beans to get the texture, flavor, and color that best fits your needs. Just remember to check cooking times, as some beans may take longer to cook than others. And don’t forget to experiment a little and have fun with new recipes! With a little bit of creativity, you can make delicious dishes that are just as good or even better than the original black bean recipe. Happy Cooking!