Get Out of Your Dinner Rut: 6 Creative Ways to Use Black Beans

Get Out of Your Dinner Rut: 6 Creative Ways to Use Black Beans

It’s all too easy to fall into a black bean recipe rut. Try out our 6 favorite recipes for quick and easy black bean meals that won’t get boring!

  • By Leila Kalmbach
  • April 4, 2020

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, pantry staples such as black beans are in high demand, and with good reason. They’re a great protein source that doesn’t require refrigeration until they’re opened (or cooked, if you’re starting from dry). And they make a great addition to vegetarian meals in particular — something many of us are eating more of these days, since meat is harder to come by in the grocery store. 

But beans can quickly get boring if you make the same ol’ recipes week after week. (Plus, who among us is not guilty of letting leftover beans go bad in the fridge?) Right now it’s all the more important not to waste food, and that’s why we’re such a fan of these recipes that use black beans to create very different flavors and types of meals. Yes, there’s more to beans than just rice and beans, and our recipes will show you how to keep things exciting, no matter how many days in a row you eat black beans!


Don’t have black beans on hand? Sub any other type of beans and your meal will still turn out great!

You can also use dried beans, an even more budget-friendly option. Learn all about cooking beans from scratch in this post.

1. Skillet Enchiladas

Who doesn’t love the indulgent flavors of enchiladas? It’s no surprise that this meal is a Cook Smarts community favorite. It pairs classic chicken, onions, and cheese in a red sauce, and adds kale and black beans to make the dish healthier and heartier. While black beans are typically served on the side of enchiladas, we love this twist that gives you a little bean in every bite — without getting overwhelming. The best part is that turning enchiladas into a skillet meal reduces the amount of time and effort you’ll spend cooking, so you can get to the good part sooner — eating!

2. Two-Bean Summer Veggie Chili

Warm weather doesn’t have to mean the end of comfort-food classics like chili! This version featuring summer veggies combines black beans and kidney beans for a high-protein, meat-free meal, but it’s easy to sub in whatever beans or veggies you have on hand. Coriander, cumin, and paprika elevate the flavors from simple to simply delicious.

3. Honey Adobo Chopped Chicken Salad

Black beans are practically required in a Southwestern salad, and this one is no exception. The great part is that if you’re just not a huge fan of beans, they don’t overpower a dish like this because there are so many other great flavors and textures balancing them out. This meal comes together in just 30 minutes thanks to the spicy, smoky adobo dressing working double duty as a marinade for chicken. Don’t want to deal with cooking chicken? You can easily make a vegetarian version by keeping it simple and letting the beans function as the main protein in the salad. Either way, the prep is super simple — chop a few veggies, rinse a can of beans, and the meal is halfway to the table!

4. Shrimp Tacos with Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Salsa isn’t just for tomatoes! The simple but tasty black bean and corn salsa in this dish is everything you want your beans to be — a little bit salty, a little bit of fresh spice from jalapeños, with the crispness of lime to finish them off. Beans add some extra protein to a salsa without seeming out of place or like you’re trying too hard to force them into a meal. Though bean and corn salsa can be used as a side dish to a lot of Mexican, Southwestern, or Tex-Mex meals, we particularly like it heaped on these shrimp tacos that get rave reviews from Cook Smarts users. Here, the shrimp and salsa is topped with avocado and bright, citrusy chimichurri sauce.

5. Cajun Chicken with Veggie & Black Bean Quinoa

Black beans don’t have to be the star of a meal; you can easily add them to a side dish, such as in the black bean quinoa of this meal. Though pairing corn and bell pepper with black beans is pretty common, the addition of Cajun seasoning makes this dish taste totally different from most other black bean recipes, and drizzling it with a creamy yogurt sauce containing lemon zest, honey, and paprika adds yet another unexpected dimension. If quinoa’s not your thing, black beans can be added to orzo pasta, barley, or farro instead. Mixing beans with a grain tones down some of the bean-y intensity while still getting the great nutrition of black beans and adding flavor to the grain.

6. Southwestern Breakfast Wraps

This meal has four things going for it: 1. It takes just 25 minutes, start to finish. 2. Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?! 3. BACON. And 4. It’s a fantastic way to use up some of the black beans in your pantry. I mean, come on! Have we found the perfect dish or what? Bell pepper, spinach, and salsa add some colorful nutrition, while eggs and sour cream make these wraps feel like decadent comfort food. We love throwing black beans on breakfast tacos or wraps, where the star flavors shine (did we mention that bacon?) and the beans add nutrients without stealing the spotlight. 

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6 Creative Ways to Use Black Beans | Cook Smarts6 Creative Ways to Use Black Beans | Cook Smarts6 Creative Ways to Use Black Beans | Cook Smarts

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