How to Replace Meat with Beans

It seems everyone is buying more of their groceries online these days, particularly the staples and dry goods. You can also conveniently buy beans online. In fact, beans make an excellent option to meat in your diet, especially if you are trying to make healthier choices. You just have to know which beans work best as meat replacement and how to make these substitutions. Below, we explore how to replace meat with beans according to the professionals at

Replacing Meat with Beans

Replacing the meat in your diet with beans does not have to restrict your diet. Instead, you can enjoy many of the same foods you typically enjoy without the excess cholesterol. Beans also provide protein you need when going meat-free, along with dietary fiber.

To make it easier to eat more beans as a replacement for meat, explore some of the insights below. Make your list and buy beans online to suit your favorite recipes. You will be surprised how much money you can save when choosing beans instead of meat, too!

Types of Beans to Use in Your Favorite Recipes

Some beans like edamame cook quickly because they are not dried. Dried beans like lentils only take about a half hour to cook. Still others, such as dried black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and Anasazi beans must soak overnight before cooking and then take four hours or longer to cook.

Some of the best beans to use as meat replacement include:

  • Garbanzo beans
  • Lima beans
  • Black beans
  • Black eyed peas
  • Organic adzuki

For a meaty texture, mix and match beans in your recipe. If the recipe already calls for beans, such as for chili or soup, add a different variety of beans as a meat substitute. The different textures create a more satisfying experience while also adding flavor and color. It is often a great idea to mix bean sizes, too.

When replacing meat with beans, use the same amount of beans as the recipe’s meat requirement. However, you should reduce cooking time to less than an hour because beans cook faster than meats.

To make hamburgers, combine your choice of cooked beans with eggs, bread crumbs, seasonings, onions and garlic in a food processor. Grind the mixture and form patties. Then, simply cook the patties on the grill or in a pan as you would typically cook your hamburger beef. Black beans work great for hamburgers and tacos while also providing a dark appearance for the traditional look of these meals. If you want to know more about healthy burger variations, you may read this comprehensive guide.

Bean Preparation

It is important to remember that some beans require soaking before meal preparation. For dried beans, soak them in water in the refrigerator for at least eight hours. If you plan on using beans throughout the week for multiple meals, cook a large batch and store them in the refrigerator for use as needed. Using fresh, frozen or dried beans is better than canned because of the high sodium in most canned varieties.

Do not be afraid to experiment with a variety of beans, even in recipes you have never prepared before. Make tasty dips for your chips, vegetables or fruit by mashing cooked beans and mixing in seasonings. You can also combine mashed beans with salsa, cayenne and black pepper. Chickpeas combined with cinnamon and honey make a great sweet dip for fruit. You can also use mashed beans for mock meatloaf, soups, casseroles, flavored rice mixes and salads. For a healthy snack or salad topping, roast a single layer of seasoned beans in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit on a cookie sheet until crunchy, usually about 35 to 40 minutes.

At first, you may experience some flatulence when adding more beans to your diet. But your body adjusts to the change over time and these effects decrease. You can reduce the tendency toward flatulence by rinsing your beans before cooking them, such as after soaking them or when pouring them out of a can. Use fresh water to boil them, too. The clean water rinses away some of the enzymes responsible for causing flatulence.

Classic Southwestern Chili in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Corn Bread and Cheddar Cheese

Lentils Are Easy to Swap for Meat

Lentils are tiny in size and colored green, brown and black. They make a great substitution for ground meat, such as for pasta sauce and sloppy Joes. Simply use 2 cups of cooked lentils for each pound of ground beef. Try to avoid cooking the lentils for longer than 30 minutes to retain firmness. When not overcooked, whole lentils look and feel more like cooked ground beef.

When you master your bean burger preparation, get more creative with the meat substitute. Shape the mock burger patties into simulated steaks, stew meat cuts and cutlets. You can freeze these cooked pieces and veggie burger patties to make food preparation easier.

Chickpeas Make a Great Chicken and Turkey Substitution

Chickpeas are naturally chewy. This attribute and their color make these beans an excellent stand-in for turkey and chicken meat. Make chicken or turkey salad sandwiches by coarsely mashing chickpeas as the poultry substitute. You can also blend chickpeas with breadcrumbs to make mock chicken nuggets that kids love. Try them in burgers or use them whole in your favorite soup and pot pie recipes. To substitute cooked chickpeas for turkey or chicken, simply use an equal amount to the poultry requirement in the recipe.

Bacon Bit Substitutes

When thinking about giving up meat, many people worry about missing the satisfying flavor of bacon. But you can substitute this meat with beans, too! Roasted beans can provide a smoky and crunchy experience that closely resembles bacon bits.

To make your mock bacon bits, combine 1.5 cups of any cooked beans except lentils with a tablespoon of smoked paprika, your favorite smoky spice blend or chili powder. Roast the mixture on a lined cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until slightly browned. After cooling the beans, you can use them immediately as a bacon bit substitute or store them for up to three days in an airtight container to keep them fresh and crisp.