Substitutes for Chili Beans

There is nothing I enjoy more than eating chili beans with baked potatoes. It is a very fulfilling meal. Besides baked or roasted potatoes, you can also enjoy chili beans with other meals like tacos and salad. 

Different people prepare chili beans in different ways. Personally, using beef chili sauce is my favorite. You can, however, use other types of condiments like ground turkey chili sauce. 

You can buy chili beans from the store or make some from scratch. Canned chili beans are ready-made, and most people prefer them. We all love it when the work is simplified for us. 


There may come a time when you want to cook chili beans, but you do not have them. What do you use then?

You can use various substitutes if you do not have chili beans. These substitutes are lentils, beef or pork, tofu, texturized vegetable protein, tempeh, portobello mushrooms, and peas.

Also, Check-Out: Substitutes for Ranch Style Beans

Chili Beans

In simple terms, chili beans are pinto beans that have been soaked into a chili sauce.

Mostly, people use beef chili sauce, but they also use turkey chili sauce. If you don’t have access to pinto beans, you can use black beans or kidney beans. 


Chili beans are a well-known delicacy in the United States. I am almost sure you have heard about them or eaten them. You can buy them from the nearest grocery store if you have not. 

The most common way that people enjoy this delicacy is by eating it with rice. If you are like me and want to experiment, you can develop exciting ways to enjoy chili beans. You can eat them with tacos, grilled sandwiches, or salads, to name a few. 

These beans are widely sold in supermarkets and grocery stores. It is easier to buy canned chili beans. They will make the cooking process more straightforward. 

You can also make chili beans from scratch at home. It would be best to have beef or turkey chili sauce and pinto beans. You can also use either kidney beans or black beans, as I have mentioned above. 


The Substitutes

When looking at chili beans substitutes, we will concentrate on what you can use if you do not have beans for the chili. What else can you use with your chili if you run out have beans?

You can use various alternatives. I will discuss them below. Keep on reading to know them. 

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1. Pork or Beef


Beef or pork are some of the best substitutes for chili beans. Relacing beans recipe that requires chili beans with beef or pork works wonders. 

You will still use the chili sauce. When it is time to use the beans, you will use the beef or pork in its place. 

These types of meat have the same nutrient composition as chili beans. They are all proteins. Thus, they make excellent alternatives, especially if you are interested in something with proteins. 

These two make sweet replacements for chili beans for meat fanatics like me. I love meat, and I especially find it sweet with tacos. 

Meat is available everywhere, and most likely, you have a chunk in your fridge if you are not a vegetarian. So, if you want to make chili beans and find you do not have the beans, you can use the meat. I would advise you to boil the beef before use to tenderize it. 

2. Lentils


Lentils are an excellent substitute for beans in chili. They belong to the same category of legumes. Lentils, however, cook faster than beans, and if you are in a hurry, you can use them. 

They are also a perfect choice if you hate beans for some reason. They are sweet and will give you the same nutritional benefits as beans. 

These legumes have equal amounts of nutrients and carbs as beans. This fact can be a good deal if your interest is something like beans. It is, however, bad if your interest is something with low carbs. 

To replace beans with lentils, you can cook them in two ways. First, you can cook the lentils directly with all the spices and add chili. Secondly, you can boil the lentils and cook them with the chili as you would the beans. 

3. Textured Vegetable Protein


Textured vegetable protein is another excellent chili bean substitute. It is rich in proteins and fiber. It resembles meat, and most even confuse them. It is frustrating to think you are eating some beef only to realize it is not. 

Manufacturers make TVP from soy; thus, high in proteins and fiber. TVP is also a cheap choice and is available everywhere. 

In case you are looking for a cheap alternative, texturized vegetable protein is a great option. 

Also, Check-Out: How To Fix Over Salted Beans

4. Tofu


Tofu has an outlook of a cheese bar. It is white, and people make it from soy milk. The soy milk is cuddled and left to harden, resulting in tofu.

It is a perfect substitute for beans in chili. It has the ability to absorb moisture, and therefore when you soak it in chili sauce, it absorbs it perfectly. 

This substitute has no flavor of its own. When you use it in chili, it completely absorbs the flavor of the chili sauce, giving you a perfect taste. 

It has a low carb level as compared to beans. Supposing you want to replace the beans with a low-carb alternative, tofu is a perfect replacement.

5. Peas


Beans and peas have different tastes. Beans have an earthy flavor, while peas are crunchy and sweet. They are both legumes and have the same nutrients. 

Peas are an excellent substitute for beans in chili. To cook them, you can boil them and cook them as chili beans. Otherwise, you can cook the peas first and serve them with chili. You can also pour the chili on top of the peas. 

Another reason why peas are an excellent substitute for chili beans is that they are widely available. You might have them in your pantry already. 

If you find that your recipe requires you to use chili beans and you do not have beans, you can use peas. The taste will be different, but it will be like you are eating the same thing. Peas are a good option if you dislike beans. 

6. Portobello Mushrooms


Portobello mushrooms have the best reasons why they are excellent substitutes for chili beans. They take a short time to cook, have low carbs, and are easily digestible. 

Beans have a lot of gas, and some people have digestion problems after eating them. Maybe this is the reason you are looking for a substitute. If so, portobello mushrooms should be your option. 

These mushrooms are becoming famous by the day due to their texture. They are meaty and chewy. Most people, especially vegetarians, are replacing meat with these mushrooms. 

It is not hard to come across portobello mushrooms. They might be pricy than other options on this list, but they will be worth your while. 

7. Tempeh


I came across tempeh just the other day, and I was not disappointed. It is close associate with tofu. They both come from soy; only tempeh is made from the entire soybean. People ferment the soybeans and let them solidify to make tempeh. 

It is easy to cook and replace chili beans in a recipe. You might never have heard of tempeh, so it is always my pleasure to introduce it. 

To replace the beans, you should add tempeh at the end of your cooking. Doing this will yield the best results. Tempeh is a nutritious substitute and contains proteins, just like beans. 

In case you want to substitute chili beans with something new, try out tempeh. 


Bottom Line

It is always my pleasure to help you with your cooking. There must be a reason you are looking to substitute chili beans in a recipe. As usual, I have your back. 

I have covered the best substitutes for chili beans that I know.

After going through them, I hope you have found at least a replacement or two that you can use if you do not have chili beans. Good luck. 

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