Beans, beans, the magical fruit (or technically, legume). The more you eat, the more…protein, iron, and fiber in your system (so, yes, maybe also more toots.) We love beans indiscriminately—for their nutritious benefits, sure, but mostly for their versatility and adaptability when it comes to cooking.
But let’s focus on black beans, given they’re arguably one of the most multifaceted in bean-genre. These little guys span dishes in cultures from East Asia to South America. Black beans are found in various forms, from dried, to canned whole beans, to refried, and, one of our favorites, fermented paste used in comforting stir-fried noodles, that simply can’t be replicated or replaced.
Black beans can become the hearty, pseudo-meaty star of any dish, like smoky falafel-inspired veggie burgers or a big pot of chili. They’re also happy to play the role of fortifying, supporting actors in everything from pork tacos to tofu and vermicelli noodle soup.
Did you just add black beans to your grocery list? Thought so. Here are 27 ways you can use them for dinner tonight (and tomorrow, and the day after…).
1. Congrí (Cuban Black Beans & Rice)
This Spanish chorizo-studded dish, involves cooking beans and rice together to create a crisped texture, unique to this Cuban staple. It can be eaten as an accompaniment to ropa vieja, or as recipe developer Taryn Pire remembers, simply inhaling it as an entrée when her dad cooked it for her growing up.
2. My Favorite Black Bean Dip
Incorporate this thick spread into tacos, burritos, nachos or quesadillas, or go at the bowl with every tortilla chip in your arsenal. The secret ingredient? Coffee. Balanced with a little sugar, coffee provides a subtle bitterness that makes this Costa Rican dip irresistible.
3. Black Bean Orange Peel Edamame
Gently salty, delicately sweet, fully addicting. This easy-to-munch snack is glazed with fermented black beans and fragrant orange. Cook the edamame with the pods on (and pop out the beans into your mouth with your teeth) or if that’s too much work, simply use pre-shelled beans.
4. Jajangmyeon (Korean Black Bean Noodles)
In Korea, this noodle dish is delivered within minutes of ordering—it’s that popular. Throw it together in your own kitchen by sautéing fatty pork belly with umami-packed roasted black bean paste, and you’ll have slurpable noodles within minutes too.
5. Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad With Chile Dressing
This flavor- and texture-packed salad has a refreshing crunch from raw bell peppers, a bright freshness from cilantro, and spicy kick thanks to the chile dressing. Creamy beans and roasted sweet potatoes provide some bulk to round out the salad into dinner.
6. Instant Pot No-Soak Black Bean Soup (With Alllll of The Toppings)
No need to remember to soak dried black beans for this recipe (because really, who ever remembers to do that?). Just plop the beans into the Instant Pot and forget all about them. Less than an hour later you’ll have a comforting, filling soup. And don’t forget the cheesy, pickled, crunchy toppings!
7. Dark Black Beans
Inspired by the color of the beans, recipe developer Cara Eisenpress raided her pantry for any and all things dark. She grabbed bittersweet chocolate, adobo chiles, soy sauce and balsamic. The result could’ve been strange, but instead savory with an elusive note of sweetness. May we suggest lime juice-drizzled avocado and yellow rice to complete the meal?
8. Black Bean Rancheros
Vegans and non-vegans alike will devour this meatless, dairy-free breakfast option. Sweet, plump corn and zesty cherry tomato salsa decorate the tortillas to bring you colorful (in appearance, and flavor) rancheros.
9. Black Bean & Corn Burgers
Chile, paprika, and cumin bring on an earthy, smoky heat for these veggie burgers. Grill, bake or pan-fry—these meatless patties can handle any cooking method you throw at them.
10. Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad
Recipe developer Alexandra Stafford takes inspiration from Cook’s Illustrated and Heirloom Beans to create this tangy, crunchy salad. She suggests brining the dried beans in just a bit of very well-salted water, instead of soaking them, which allows them to cook more evenly.
11. Smoked Tea Black Bean Noodles with Pork
“Fermented black beans + lapsang souchong + pork = LOVE,” savorthis says of their comforting, savory recipe. We can’t disagree. Lapsang souchong is a smoky black tea that compliments the fermented, intensely umami black beans and nutty, earthy soba.
12. Black Beans & Rum (for Poor Poets and Others)
Rum-drunk beans make for a killer burrito filling, baguette topping, egg accomplice. This recipe is a real chameleon, as it can be made with meat or slant vegetarian (with a vegan option, too). Dark, spiced rum is preferred but these beans will accept any variety of the rum you’ve got.
13. Super (Bowl) Chicken & Black Bean Nachos
It doesn’t need to be “game day” to chow down on these hearty nachos. All you need: 15 minutes and 24 ounces of cheese (yes, 24!). Presto—an impossible-to-stop eating hefty layered snack (or, let’s be honest, meal.)
14. Black Bean With Mango & Chile Powder Salad
This speedy salad is inspired by the Mexican street snack of luscious mango dusted in spicy chile powder. Here, black beans join the party to make this dish a hearty side.
15. Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burgers
Black beans, oats, and quinoa come together to form satisfying meatless patties with a pleasantly crunchy exterior. To intensify the Southwestern flavors of the patty, the yogurt sauce incorporates smoky, spicy chipotles in adobo and tangy dijon mustard.
16. Country Style Vegetable Soup with Fermented Black Beans & Tofu
This San Francisco Chinatown-inspired soup layers generous amounts of Asian greens and chewy vermicelli noodles in a fragrant, delicately sour broth. Fermented black beans impart a smoky, salted depth that would be difficult to mimic with any other condiment.
17. Cremini Mushroom, Black Bean, & Corn Chili
An earthy black bean chili base is accentuated by a touch of cocoa and coffee. Sweet, crunchy corn adds a textural counterbalance while cremini mushrooms impart a meaty body. It’s equal parts soul-stirring and belly-filling.
18. Grilled Salmon with Black Beans
Allowing the beans to marinate in a fragrant mixture of tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic infuses them with an extra flavor boost necessary to stand up to rich salmon.
19. Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos with Black Beans & Avocado
Don’t be afraid to pile these layered tacos high. The ground pork is seasoned with toasted smoky spices, creamy coconut, and hit with tangy pineapple and black beans at the end. A deeply flavorful foundation for all the toppings—avocado, cilantro, sour cream, or whatever floats your boat.
20. Black Bean-Chipotle Falafel Burgers
Who better to consult than Joe Yonan, cookbook author of Cool Beans, when looking for a bean-based burger? He recognized that the “original” veggie burger was falafel, which inspired the creation of this burger. Crisp edges without a mushy center are all we ask for in such a patty—his solution is to soak the beans overnight, but not cook them before forming the patty. Now that’s cool beans.
21. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Chipotle Black Beans & Greens
If you’re short on time (or brainpower), look no further than this quick and easy dinner from Assigning Editor Rebecca Firkser. Highly versatile sweet potatoes demonstrate their potential as a hearty main dish when topped with smoky, spiced black beans, cheese, avocado and other classic nachos toppings.
22. Spicy Black Bean & Quinoa Salad
Whip up this nourishing salad in minutes, with staples you probably have in the pantry. Food52ers rave about the original recipe, but share numerous adaptations with other fresh ingredients, like corn and mango.
23. Vegetarian Arepas With Avocado & Plantains
When recipe developer Kendra Vaculin first had an arepa at Bonnaroo, she considered them transcendental. Was it the glow that music festivals cast on everything? Nope! She still makes the fluffy corn cakes at home. Top these with spiced black beans and caramelized plantains, and you’ll see what she means..
24. Short Rib & Pumpkin Chili
The ingenious flavor combination of a mole-inspired fall chili led this recipe to be an unmistakable winner of “Best One-Pot Meal.” You’ll never want to make chili without luxe, fatty short ribs again.
25. Steak & Bean Torta
Trade taco Tuesday for tortas this week. A quick steak marinade, flash-pickling of onion and jalapeño, and mashing of earthy black beans results in a rich, satisfying Mexican sandwich.
26. Wintry Mushroom, Kale & Quinoa Enchiladas
The classic duo, earthy quinoa and black beans, come together again to add protein to this vegetable-heavy (and totally vegan!) enchilada recipe. A sauce that’s rich in spice and delicately sweet completes this filling, rolled-up package.
27. Nacho-Inspired Sandwich With Chiles Rellenos
Some brilliant minds (Food52 editors) came together to invent a sandwich that’s loaded with all the ingredients of a seven-layer nacho dip. We have them to thank for this masterpiece. No more sneaking chips into your sandwich—the recipe actually calls for cheese-laden chips placed inside the bun.