One of my most concerned aspects while cooking is the nutrition in my recipes. I love making delicious meals from fresh ingredients but also healthy for my family.
That’s why most of my recipes contain lots of vegetables and beans, as they are super beneficial to our health.
However, I sometimes find myself in a position of lacking beans for my recipes, but I can still manage to cook the dish well. If you’re in the same situation, here are the best bean substitutes for your recipes!
Beans: Types And Nutrition
Before getting to know the substitute for beans, it is necessary to know a little bit about the bean’s background.
Beans, which is a type of legume, belongs to the Fabaceae family. Since ancient Greek time, they have been around in the world’s cuisine due to their rich flavor and nutrition.
In modern times, beans appear in almost every cuisine globally, especially in Mexican, Mediterranean, and Asian kitchens.
Beans are full of fiber, vitamin B, and proteins, which can decrease your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The nutrients can vary among each type of beans leading to different health benefits.
For example, chickpeas have low calories, which is perfect for losing weight, while soybeans are high in antioxidants that can reduce cancer risks.
As there are differences in nutrients and flavors among each type of beans, not every bean can be used in a recipe. Let’s find out the 12 most common types of beans in our cuisine:
- Black beans (black turtle beans): Velvety black outlook with soft, mild, and creamy flavor. Being famous in Mexican cuisine, black beans are used in burritos, tacos, and enchiladas. They can be in salads and side dishes in vegetarian diets.
- Cannellini beans: Large and creamy white look with a nutty and settled flavor. They are mostly in soups, pasta, salads, and side dishes.
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas): Similar to cannellini beans, they have a nutty and earthy flavor. They are perfect for salad, soup, and stew dishes.
- Kidney beans: Large and chili-colored outlook with a sweet and soft taste for your salads, soups, curry, and rice.
- Lentils: They have a meaty and earthy flavor which you can use in soups, stew, and side dishes.
- Pinto beans: Brown color with speckles on the outside. They have a similar taste to black beans, which are great for soup and chili.
- Soybeans: With a soft yellow look, soybeans have a nutty and creamy taste when cooked. You can see its appearance in curry and soups often.
- Fava beans: A green outlook with sweet, nutty, and slightly bitter taste for different types of soups.
- Great northern beans: White beans with a creamy texture and mild flavor, which are popular to use with smoky meats, soups, and stews.
- Lima beans: Similar look to fava beans, the beans have a sweet and nutty taste that complements meats, salads, succotash, and soups.
- Mung beans: With a mild and starchy taste, mung beans can be used as snacks in soup, curry, and salad.
- Navy beans (haricot or white pea beans): Similar to great northern beans outlook, they have a mild and creamy flavor which is common in baked bean dishes, soups, and stew.
Best Bean Substitute
Now that we know the flavor and texture of different types of beans globally, here is a list of bean alternatives for your daily meals.
1. Pork Meat or Beef
If you’re working on chili or non-vegan recipes, but you run out of black beans, it is best to add more ground pork or beef.
Meat is a great source of proteins, vitamin B, and minerals for your meals, a great bean alternative. Actually, in many recipes designed for vegans, replacing meat with beans is a common choice!
However, red meat can have a strong meaty taste that may ruin the character of the dish. The good news is you can decrease the taste by grounding them.
Grounded meat or beef has a milder taste with a soft and juicy texture that can mimic the beans’ flavors in soups, chilis, or enchiladas.
If you’re wondering, “what can I substitute for cannellini beans” in bean salad, then you’re at the right place. Nuts are a great substitution for garbanzo beans and cannellini beans due to their nutty and earthy flavors.
Certain nuts such as cashew or Marcona are common to find in the market. The only problem is they can be a little bit tougher in the raw form than regular beans.
You can make them have a softer texture to soak the nuts overnight in a large bowl of water.
When cooking, the needed number of nuts substituting beans can be shorter than the recipe’s requirements. In many of my efforts to replace beans in bean salads, I find that I only need 2 ounces of nuts in a recipe that asks for 8 ounces of beans.
Depending on how you like the nutty taste, you can play around with your recipes to know the right number for you.
For American-style recipes, I tend to choose peas when there are not enough beans in the fridge. Peas have a great popping green color with a medium soft texture.
Different types of peas might have different flavors, but they are sweet and savory overall.
Pea is a good source of protein, vitamin B, and minerals. Moreover, they are low in saturated fat and calories, making them a great ingredient to substitute for white beans and chickpeas in keto diets.
Another great ingredient to substitute for beans in chili is Tofu. This Chinese-originated food is made from soy milk shaped into square blocks.
To make Tofu, the manufacturer first produces soy milk from the soybeans by soaking them. Once they achieve the desired milk, they curl and press it into multiple blocks similar to cheese without acidifying.
The most common Tofu you will find in the grocery store is soft ones. They tend to have a pudding-like and silky white texture.
As they have a mild flavor, they are great substitutes for soup, requiring great northern beans and navy beans.
Besides, Tofu is a great source of protein and amino acids. They also have minerals and vitamin B, which is similar to beans.
Grains and beans are a great pair together in many recipes, such as hummus with pita bread, black beans with tortillas, and Creole-style red beans with rice because of their richness in protein.
They also have a soft texture with earthy notes to the dish if you use the right grains.
Certain grains like quinoa, sorghum, and wheatberries are greatly similar to the texture of the beans, which can be used to be black beans, lentils, or kidney beans substitute in soups and stews.
6. Extra Vegetables
If your recipe uses beans as a flavor enhancer instead of the main ingredient, you can substitute beans with more veggies. Increasing the vegetables can help balance out the missing portion and cover the bean role.
Such vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, and asparagus can replace the taste of green beans easily.
Although they cannot provide the same amount of protein that you can gain from grains, the mild, sweet, and slightly bitter taste of veggies can help emulsify your dishes like beans.
Moreover, green vegetables can add more nutrients to your recipes, such as vitamins, fibers, and minerals that are beneficial to our diet.
Lastly, a good alternative to Tofu and beans is Tempeh. Tempeh is a soybean-based food with high protein and fiber.
Similar to cheese, the Tempeh is fermented with a fungal culture to form a firm texture. Because of the high percentage of bacteria, you cannot use Tempeh in its raw form.
This ingredient is famous in Indonesian recipes such as sambals and kecap manis. The chunky texture with a mildly nutty and savory taste makes Tempeh a great green bean substitute.
For recipes asking for lentils and chickpeas as an additional ingredient like curry, salads, and side dishes.
1. Are Beans Keto-Friendly?
Beans contain many nutrients which are beneficial for our health. Therefore, they also carry a certain amount of carbs.
On average, a person who is on a keto diet tends to eat around 50 grams or less amount of carb per day.
When comparing the amount of carbs in beans which ranges from 4 grams to 25 grams, I can say that they are good to have in a keto diet.
2. How To Store Beans?
- Pour all your beans into an airtight container to prevent them from getting dry quickly.
- Place the container in a cool place without direct sunlight. They will be able to last for a year. If they’re dry because you leave them outside for too long, you can always soak them overnight before cooking.
As a home cook, I always want to ensure my family has enough nutrition in daily meals.
That’s why I love using ranch style beans, black beans, and white kidney beans in many of my recipes, as they are so high in proteins, fibers, and vitamins. However, you don’t always have them available in your kitchen.
After this post, I hope you find the best bean substitute for your recipes by now and continue your cooking journey with amazing bean dishes.