If you’ve just noticed that you’re out of black beans at the last minute, then you’ll be super glad to find these 10 easy ways to substitute for black beans with items in your pantry!
What are black beans?
Black beans are a legume that are oval, small and jet black in color, with a velvety-smooth texture and a mild flavor once cooked. Black beans are very popular in Mexican and Brazilian recipes.
Uses of black beans
Black beans have many uses in cooking and can be used to make all these recipes listed below plus a lot more!
- Bean salads, bean burgers, enchiladas, salsa
- Chili, refried beans, black bean burritos
- Beans and rice, soups, stews and so many more
And besides all the uses of black beans, the best substitutes for black beans are dried black beans, red beans, kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas, soya beans, lentils, great Northern beans and black eyed-peas.
Now that you know which beans can be substituted for black beans, below, I’ll discuss each item in more detail and also discuss which recipes each item is best suited for as well as the substitution ratios for each item.
12 easy ways to substitute for black beans in a pinch
Dried black beans
When people speak of black beans, they’re mostly referring to the canned black beans. Therefore, one of the best substitutes for black beans is dried black beans.
These of course are not as convenient as the pre-cooked black beans found in a can. But, in a pinch, you can use these as a replacement in all dishes that call for black beans including refried beans, rice and beans, and grilled bean burgers to name a few.
Note, dried black beans need more time to cook as they’re very hard, so be prepared to spend more time cooking them so that they become tender. You can learn how to cook dried black beans here.
Substitution ratio: 1 1/2 cup canned black beans = 1/2 cup cooked dried black beans
Besides the color and shape of kidney beans, they do have a different flavor profile than black beans.
Kidney beans are more flavorful with a slight sweetness rather than being mild in flavor like black beans.
Regardless of this, kidney beans are another great choice for replacing black beans in a pinch as they’re meaty and dense, like black beans.
Use kidney beans to replace black beans in chili recipes, stews, or even in some salads as these beans hold their form rather well and won’t break apart easily when cooked.
Substitution ratio: 1 cup cooked black beans = 1 cup cooked kidney beans
Many people think that red beans and kidney beans are one and the same, but they’re actually not as red beans are smaller, have an oblong shape, are more pinkish red and have a smoother texture than kidney beans.
Red beans are another bean that can be swapped with black beans in many recipes as they are tender and creamy once cooked which is quite similar to cooked black beans.
Because red beans are smooth and creamy like black beans, they do a great job at replacing black beans in recipes like beans and rice, enchiladas, stews, refried beans and more.
Substitution ratio: 1 cup cooked black beans = 1 cup cooked black beans
Another easy substitute for black beans are black eyed peas. Black eyed peas are a bean that has a dense and firm texture when raw, but once cooked, it softens up to become tender and has a nutty, earthy, starchy and savory flavor that works great in many recipes.
Black eyed peas are often said to taste like starchy potatoes and they will change the flavor of a recipe. However, in a pinch, you can use them in some recipes that call for black beans.
I assume you will not substitute black eyed peas for black beans in a recipe like black bean burger, but, for many other recipes, especially stews, soups, and chili, they are okay to use if you’ve ran out of black beans and only have these in your kitchen.
Substitution ratio: 1 cup cooked black beans = 1 cup cooked black eyed peas
If you’ve got pinto beans in your kitchen, here’s another substitute you can use.
Pinto beans has a nutty, rich, earthy and creamy flavor which is unlike black beans, but, it does have a creamy and smooth texture which is just like black beans. Thus it is a great alternative for certain recipes that call for black beans especially in recipes like refried beans, burritos, soups, stews, dips, chili, baked beans and more.
Substitution ratio: 1 cup cooked black beans = 1 cup cooked pinto beans
Lentils and black beans are nothing alike in terms of taste or texture. But, in a pinch, lentils will work in certain recipes that call for black beans like some bean soups, or some chili recipes.
Lentils taste earthy, peppery, or sweet based on the kind you use. And, while the flavor of the recipe that uses lentils instead of black beans will be stronger, you can rest assured that it will taste delicious.
Substitution ratio: 1 cup cooked black beans = 1 cup cooked lentils
Soya beans are another great black bean substitute that can work in many recipes that call for black beans.
Soya beans are mild in flavor just like black beans which means that it can can work in recipes where it absorbs the flavors from other ingredients.
And, while soya beans are somewhat firm when cooked, rather than velvety like black beans, they will work wonderfully to replace black beans.
Substitution ratio: 1 cup cooked black beans = 1 cup cooked soya beans
Can chickpeas be substituted for black beans? Yes, it can be. Chickpeas taste like pinto beans and are creamy and somewhat mild in flavor. But, unlike black beans chickpeas are more grainy in texture.
Chickpeas are great for topping salads, or in soups and stews as well as chilis to replace black beans.
Substitution ratio: 1 cup black beans = 1 cup cooked cooked chickpeas
Great Northern Beans
Great Northern beans are another great alternative for black beans. They’re white but, they are nutty, somewhat mild and absorb flavors from seasoning and other ingredients as easily as black beans do.
Also, once cooked, they’re soft and somewhat creamy which is another similarity they share with black beans.
When it comes to recipes like purees, soups, stews, these beans are great for swapping with black beans. Also read more on how to substitute for great northern beans to see how these two beans can be used in place of each other!
Substitution ratio: 1 cup cooked black beans = 1 cup cooked great Northern beans.
Navy beans are very similar to Great Northern Beans in terms of its mild flavor and creamy texture and so, they also make a great substitute for black beans.
Navy beans are great at absorbing the flavors around them so they will work well in recipes like bean salads, taco soups, vegetable soups, chili recipes, baked bean recipes, salsa, enchiladas and more.
Substitution ratio: 1 cup cooked black beans = 1 cup cooked navy beans
Favorite black bean recipes
These are some of my favorite black beans recipes:
Now that you know exactly how to replace black beans in just about any recipe, which black bean recipes are you going to be making? Feel free to share with me in the comments below!