15 Ways to Use Beans

Since everyone has been stocking up on non-perishables during the pandemic, I thought it would be fun to do a mini-series with several ways to use single items. And since I haven’t been able to find any dried beans during my last 3 trips to the grocery store, I thought I’d start with those. (And also because I’ve overheard people at the store saying they buy the canned beans because they don’t know how to cook dry beans). Seriously, the directions are on the package. Yes, it takes a bit of time, but everyone has that right now anyway right? It’s really not hard.

My intention for this post is interaction! If you think of ways I don’t have listed here, share your ideas in the comments! Let’s help each other use those beans.

1- Let’s start with the possibilities of hummus.

Hummus is so easy to make. Google any recipe. And since it’s a combination of beans and olive oil, it keeps you full because it has both fiber and healthy fats. It pretty much starts with garbanzo means (also called chickpeas), olive oil, garlic, salt, and a bit of lemon. Real hummus also has tahini, but I’m not a fan so I leave that out. The thing is, you can play hummus up so many ways! Try using a different bean altogether! I like to use white beans with pesto or fresh herbs. You can add sun-dried tomatoes or basil or citrus. The list is endless.

And how should you use it? Traditionally you use it as a dip. Many people use crackers, pita, or pretzel chips. Those are totally fine and delicious. But I also like to use veggie dippers. Any hard veggie like carrots, celery, beet or turnip slices would work well. Hummus is a great way to make fresh vegetables more filling. But you don’t have to use it as a dip! Hummus is also good as a condiment on a sandwich or wrap. It ups the flavor game of your sammie big time and can even replace mayo!

2- Adding bulk to soup.

With meat being a little harder to come by, beans can take their place in soups. Or maybe you like vegetable soup or other meatless soups and just want it to be more filling. Add beans! You can add beans to almost any soup. You could even add white beans to carrot soup and blitz them up a bit so they give it creamy, thicker consistency. Whether whole or mashed, beans can add bulk to your soups!

I also have a recipe for crockpot garlic ham and white bean soup here on the blog.

I also have a recipe for taco soup on the blog which has beans as well.

3- Chili

You can add almost any bean to a chili. Pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, white beans (especially in white chili)…they all work. You can make your chili vegetarian if you need to, or still add beans to meaty chili. You can also use beans to fill in for just a portion of the meat so you can stretch it. Does your recipe call for two pounds of ground beef? Use one pound of beef and one pound of beans.

Our family’s favorite chili uses lots of beans and can be made in the crockpot. Find a recipe for it here!

4- Beans and Cornbread

Ok, so I recently moved to the south. Beans and cornbread are a thing here. It’s a simple meal and the leftovers keep well. The beans themselves are really cooked simple with a little bit of bacon and some salt and pepper. Also, I was thinking that if cornbread ingredients weren’t available, they would also go decently with biscuits.

5- Just beans- as a main or side dish

So instead of putting them in something like a burrito or soup, you could just make beans the main dish. Think about your seasonings for this one. A black bean would work well with Mexican flavors – add in chili powder, cumin, and cilantro. White beans would work well with a curry powder concoction. Just think about a bean you have on hand, and the flavor profile that would work with it.

6- Beans, greens, and bacon

I have been eating greens (either kale or collard greens) fried in bacon grease and sprinkled with salt for breakfast several times a week for months. I am not the huge kale fan that everyone else is, but I have become addicted to it cooked this way. The other day, I was making this in the morning. I normally have eggs or sausage with it. I found myself thinking about the current food shortages and thought to myself that I could add bacon (not just the grease), and beans to this to make it a meal itself if I didn’t have eggs or sausage. And before you get on me about bacon grease being unhealthy, I fork out the money for pasture-raised, uncured, no-nitrate bacon. I am darn well using every part of that package I pay for!

7- Salads

Hear me out here. Greek salads have had beans in them for quite a while. You get a green salad with meat and/or beans (usually in a vinegar dressing) olives, tomato, cucumber…whatever you like in your Greek salad.

But it’s not just Greek salads. Think about your old fashioned three bean salad with a vinegar dressing. This would not only be a great use of beans, but could be added seamlessly into a green salad to make it more hearty.

I was also thinking the other day the old fashioned bean salad would be good with an Asian twist. Think sesame oil, rice vinegar, maybe some cilantro and soy sauce….I’m getting hungry. This would work especially well with white beans. Hey! A new beans and rice! Instead of refried beans and Spanish rice, think Asian white beans and jasmine rice. I’m going to have to try this.

8- Tuna

You know those Italian tuna salads that aren’t mayo based? That’s what I’m thinking here. Chunks of tuna, white beans, capers, red onion…This would be great on a sandwich, crackers, with veggie dippers, or in a green salad to make it a meal. And now that I’m thinking of it, people have been stocking up on the tuna too. You’re welcome.

9- Black Bean Salsa

If you have my cookbook you already have this recipe. Page 166 of the print version – shameless plug here. 😂 But I’ll leave this recipe below for everyone. This is something I used to make almost every week and take to work for an easy lunch because it kept for a few days. I’ve eaten it with chips but normally I eat it with veggie dippers. Again, a great way to get in fresh veggies but feel satisfied for a long time.

10- Vegetarian tacos

I’m not a vegetarian, but I’ve eaten some great vegetarian tacos! And since I can no longer buy enough meat in one shopping trip for my family for a week, we’ll be having more vegetarian meals. There are some great black bean tacos and sweet potato tacos out there. Google black bean tacos. You won’t regret it.

11- Falafels

Falafels are a middle eastern bean ‘meatball’. They are made with mashed beans and spices that are rolled into small balls or disks and fried. Then you put them in pita bread or lavash wrap with veggies and the yogurt sauce. They are truly delicious.

12- Loaded nachos

I’ve noticed the chip isle still pretty well stocked in all the craziness. So nachos with beans instead of meat could make a filling and fast supper for those of you who are still out in the workforce. Load up your sheet pan with chips, liberally sprinkle on cheese layered with beans, then bake until the cheese melts. Top with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, whatever you like that you can still get your hands on.

13- Bean burgers

I’m going to say this. Our family loves bean burgers, but we in no way use them to replace regular burgers. Get that out of your mindset. They don’t taste the same. However, bean burgers are really good. They’re easy to make and they’re filling. There are several recipes on the net. I usually don’t like the texture of the ones with cornmeal, but other than that I’ve tried several I liked.

14- Black bean brownies

Need a chocolate fix? Google black bean brownies. They’re actually pretty good. I can say they still taste a bit beanie. Some people swear they can totally replace a regular brownie. I disagree. But they are surprisingly good.

15- Bean salads

I mentioned these as part of other things above but I wanted to point them out separately. Especially since a few weeks before this all hit The Domestic Geek on YouTube posted a video with 3 bean salad recipes. There was a more traditional one, an Asian one, and a cowboy version. Not your grandma’s bean salad people.

Bonus #16 – Black Bean and Rice Bowl with Cilantro Lime Avocado Crema

While I was typing this post my daughter asked if she could make this for dinner this week. If my 11 year old can make this for the family, so can you. She got it from a kid’s cookbook. It’s pretty much black beans, rice and corn sauteed together in some Mexican spices. Then the crema is blitzed and drizzled on top.

You’re next! List your ideas for beans below so everyone knows what to do with their bean stash over the coming months!

And let me know what other ingredients I should do these posts with. Rice is next on my list. What else did everyone stock up on that you need ideas for?

Print Recipe
Black Bean Salsa
Use some of your beans in this salsa, filled with fresh veggies and packed with flavor. Eat with tortilla chips if you like, but using veggies dippers you can turn this into a filling lunch or light dinner.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
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  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside. Mix the other ingredients (except chips or dippers) in a salad bowl. Pour the dressing over and mix again. Enjoy!
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  1. April on March 25, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    Looking forward to trying several of these!

    • alicia on March 25, 2020 at 9:20 pm

      Great! Hope you love them!

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