7 Best Substitutes for Black Beans

Black beans are a popular ingredient in Mexican and South American cuisine.

It is an awesome, flavorful legume that can be used for anything from salads to stews. With a mild, yet versatile flavor, black beans can be adapted to fit any dish.

While black beans are definitely an excellent part of a balanced diet, here are some black beans substitutes that you may want to consider if you’re looking for a slightly lower carbohydrate intake.

The best substitutes for black beans are Kidney Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Pinto Beans, Riced Cauliflower, Nuts, and Great Northern Beans.

What Are Black Beans?

Black beans are shaped like flattened disks or tubes that have a shiny black exterior. They may be hard to spot among other ingredients in the pantry because they’re so dark, but you can find them easily by smell.

Make sure to look at the color of your beans before using them in a recipe!

Black beans are a variety of common beans you can find in your local grocery store. They have a mild, yet slightly nutty flavor that is easy to adjust with seasonings or spices. Besides their earthy flavor, black beans are high in protein and dietary fiber.

Black beans are sold both dried and canned. Soaking dried black beans reduces the cooking time but will also reduce some nutrients. You can also cook dried beans in a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time.

Moreover, black beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber and minerals like manganese, copper, iron, and phosphorus. They are also an excellent source of protein, having about 15 grams per cup (cooked).

However, depending on the recipe, black beans may also be higher in carbohydrates than some other ingredients.

There are a lot of meals you can make with black beans as the star ingredient, but there are also many tasty options if you’re looking to make a meal without them.

7 Best Substitutes for Black Beans

Here are seven of my favorite substitutes for black beans when cooking Mexican or South American cuisine.

1. Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are a great substitution for black beans when cooking South American dishes. They have a similar earthy flavor and creamy texture that is very complementary to the dish you’re preparing.

You can use them in place of black beans in curries, chilis, soups, salads, or stews!

Like black beans, kidney beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber and protein. They have more protein than most other bean varieties and are a great source of folate and manganese.

To substitute kidney beans for black beans in your recipe, use the same amount as you would for black beans. You can also look at similar recipes with kidney beans as their primary ingredient to get an idea of how much to use.

A lot of people confuse kidney beans with red beans as they both look similar. But there are some important differences between red beans vs kidney beans you should know.

2. Chickpea

Chickpeas are a great substitute for black beans. They have a very neutral flavor, making them an excellent addition to most dishes.

Hummus is one of the most popular ways to eat chickpeas, but they’re also a good substitute for black beans in curries and soups!

The main reason that chickpeas are a good substitute for black beans is that they have an almost identical texture, especially after they’ve been cooked.

It may be easier to transition into using chickpeas if you’re looking for something that has the same ‘mouth feel’ as black beans.

To use chickpeas in place of black beans, simply reuse the same amount as the recipe calls for. They will go well in chili, curry, salads, soups, and more!

Similar to kidney beans, there are many recipes out there that use chickpeas as their main ingredient. This means you can use those recipes to help determine how much to use when replacing black beans with chickpeas.

3. Lentils


Lentils are the perfect substitute for black beans if you want something that is high in protein and dietary fiber but also has a neutral flavor.

The texture of lentils is quite similar to black beans, so they’ll feel right at home in your favorite Mexican recipes.

With lentils, you can make curry, taco salads, soups, or one-pot meals!

If you aren’t planning on making a Mexican dish anytime soon, don’t worry! Lentils make a great substitute for black beans in any recipe! But remember, lentils are softer than black beans so you should not overcook them.

4. Pinto Beans

If you want to add some protein and fiber to your meal while keeping the flavor on the milder side, pinto beans are a good alternative for black beans. They have a different texture than black beans, but will still get along nicely in Mexican dishes.

In the same way that you can use kidney beans and chickpeas as substitutes for black beans, pinto beans are a good substitute for black beans in soups, curries, or one-pot meals!

Pinto beans have a milder flavor than most other legumes, which makes them a popular choice in Mexican cuisine.

5. Riced Cauliflower

Riced cauliflower can be a great ingredient in your Mexican dishes and is a fantastic substitute for black beans when you want to add something with less starch to the meal.

If you’re looking at one-pot meals like curry or chili, this may be an excellent option since it will absorb a lot of the flavors that you’re cooking with.

Depending on how much you want to substitute black beans for riced cauliflower, it may take some time to transition into this method. This is because they have similar textures and neutral aromas, but riced cauliflower has significantly fewer carbs than black beans do.

If you start substituting black beans with riced cauliflower, you’ll need to keep an eye on the ingredients in your recipe and make sure not to add too many carbs.

6. Nuts


Nuts are very healthy, but can also be used to substitute for black beans. Usually, people use nuts as a topping or garnish, but they work well in Mexican dishes too!

Almonds and cashews usually have similar flavors to black beans, so they’re a great option for one-pot meals like chili. Nuts are usually a topping or garnish in Mexican dishes, so you won’t usually need to add them to the entire dish.

A great thing about using nuts in your Mexican recipes is that they’re both high in protein and healthy fats! Make sure you aren’t adding too many carbs when substituting black beans with nuts.

7. Great Northern Beans 

Great northern beans are another great substitute for black beans because they don’t have a strong flavor. They’ll go well in soups, salads, or Mexican dishes if you want to add some protein and fiber!

Mexican recipes usually involve flavors like cumin and chili powder, so the milder white bean may be harder to pick out. If you’re looking to add more protein and fiber to your Mexican dishes, use great northern beans instead of black beans.

Remember that when cooking with great northern beans, they should be simmered for about an hour before eating. This is because they are harder than other legumes like black or pinto beans, so they need a longer cooking time.

Make sure you don’t overcook great northern beans because they’ll become mushy and will not have a pleasant texture in your dish!

That’s it! Making substitutions with your Mexican dishes can be a lot easier if you know what other ingredients you can substitute for black beans. As long as you’re paying attention to the flavors and textures, your dish will turn out great!

What does Black Beans Taste Like?

Some people say that black beans taste like dirt, while others find them to be sweet. Black beans contain many nutrients and fiber, which is what contributes to their earthy flavor.

People who haven’t tried them before may want to think twice before adding them to their Mexican dishes because it could be an acquired taste.

Are There Different Types of Black Beans?

There are many types of black beans that have different textures. The most common kinds are standard black beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans.

Depending on the dish you’re preparing, any of these three kinds of beans can be used as substitutes for each other!

Whenever you’re looking to substitute ingredients in a recipe, make sure to use beans that have a similar texture and flavor.

Are Black Beans and Red Kidney Beans the Same?

No, red kidney beans and black beans are not the same. Despite both being types of beans, you should never substitute one for the other! Black beans have a sweeter flavor compared to red kidney beans, which have an earthier taste.

In addition, many people with food allergies can usually eat black beans but may not be able to eat red kidney beans. If you love both types of beans, make sure to stock up on them and eat them separately!

What Are Canned Black Beans?

Canned black beans are a staple in Mexican cooking. They’re usually the easiest to prepare and have a mild flavor, making them perfect for many dishes!

When looking for canned black beans, it’s best to look for brands that only use one ingredient: black beans. Many brands may add extra ingredients like sugar or salt, so make sure to check the label before purchasing.

Canned black beans are also great because they’re usually pre-cooked and ready to eat. This is different than other types of legumes, which may require simmering or boiling for a longer period of time.

Are Canned Black Beans Already Cooked?

Canned black beans are already cooked, which makes them a staple in Mexican cooking. They’re usually pre-cooked and can be easily added to any dish!

If you have the time, soaking dried black beans overnight is a great way to reduce their cooking time when preparing your meal.

Black beans that have been soaked or boiled tend to have a more pleasant texture compared to those that have been cooked in a pressure cooker.

Final Words

Mexican is a popular cuisine, and black beans are often used as the staple protein. This article has explored how you can substitute different types of beans in your Mexican dishes without sacrificing flavor or texture!

Hope this article helps. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below if you have any questions!

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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