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7 BEST Substitutes for Beans in Chili: Flavor Boost

Chili has long been a favorite dish of Americans.

It is traditionally made with meat, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, or tomato sauce and spices, but the recipe has many variations.

If you are looking for a low-carb alternative to eating chili, beans might be the answer.

Many recipes can use beans in chili as an ingredient.

The problem is not everyone likes meat with their chili.

This means you need to find alternatives to using beans in chili while still having a delicious meal on your table.

There are many alternatives to using beans in chili.

Different alternatives will create a more desirable taste for you and your family, depending on the recipe.

In this article, we will discuss five different alternatives for using beans in chili.

The 7 Best Substitutes for Beans in Chili

the best substitutes for beans in chili

Every chili recipe will be slightly different, but some are constants in all chili recipes.

These include ground beef or turkey, onions, corn, tomatoes, and chili powder.

Beans are also often included in homemade chili recipes.

Because beans can be difficult to digest for many people, there are several alternatives to using beans when making a chili recipe at home.

1 – Lentils


Although lentils themselves do not have a strong taste, they are high in protein, iron, and fiber.

Lentils often absorb flavors from the food they are cooked with.

Therefore, it’s important to be careful when adding spices to your meal.

The best option is to add foods that are mild in flavor or compliment the flavor of the lentils.

There are several different types of lentils.

For example, red lentils are orange when they are cooked.

Brown and green lentils have a nuttier flavor than the other varieties.

Black lentils have an earthy taste.

Each of these has different cooking times.

These ranges depend on whether or not they will be split or whole.

Although they can cost more than traditional beans, lentils are a great substitute.

2 – Quinoa


Quinoa is a pseudograin, which means that it’s technically not a grain at all.

Therefore, quinoa is gluten-free.

In addition, this pseudocereal contains high amounts of protein and fiber.

It also has more calcium than milk does in the same serving size.

Quinoa is easy to prepare and takes around 20 minutes to cook.

It absorbs flavors easily but can taste quite bland if not seasoned properly.

As with any ingredient, whether or not the quinoa you are using will be flavorful depends on your recipe.

Still, this pseudocereal will likely make an excellent addition to any chili.

3 – Tofu


Another substitute for beans in chili is tofu, which is made from soybeans.

Because of how it’s processed, tofu is an excellent source of calcium and protein.

Tofu has a very different texture than most people are used to.

For this reason, many people don’t enjoy cooking with it.

However, if you use it the right way, tofu can be a great addition to your chili.

Tofu is often used as a meat substitute because it has the texture of meat after it’s cooked.

For this reason, tofu is commonly used in stir-fry dishes or other recipes that include ground beef or turkey because it absorbs flavors well.

4 – Plantains


Plantains are a great substitute for beans if you love chili but want to try something new.

Although they’re starchy like potatoes and yams, plantains don’t taste sweet when they’re cooked.

They have a similar flavor to potatoes when they’re cooked.

The best options for cooking plantains are boiling, baking or frying.

Plantains are a staple in many African countries and Latin American countries.

You can also find them in most Asian or Caribbean grocery stores.

5 – Rice or Sorghum

rice or sorghum

Rice and sorghum are slightly controversial alternatives to beans.

They’re not the best option for people who want to avoid gluten, but they can be a healthy choice compared to traditional chili ingredients like beef or turkey.

Both rice and sorghum thicken the flavor of the dish while providing carbohydrates.

Depending on your health needs and personal tastes, rice or sorghum may be a good choice for people that want to put their spin on traditional chili by using something different than beans.

6 – Mushrooms


Mushrooms can make an interesting addition to any chili recipe because they absorb flavor easily.

Similar to lentils and tofu, mushrooms also have great nutritional value.

You can find mushrooms canned or dried.

Dried shiitake mushrooms are a favorite for many chili recipes because they have a strong flavor with other spices and vegetables in the dish.

When using dried mushrooms, it’s important to soak them first before adding them to the rest of your ingredients.

This will help them to reconstitute and absorb all of the flavors.

7 – Peas & Split Peas

peas split peas

Both peas and split peas are excellent sources of protein.

They’re very versatile, which means that they can be used in various dishes.

This includes chili, of course.

Peas and split peas are a great flavor boost to any vegetarian chili recipe.

They’re easy to prepare, as well as healthy.

The only downside is that beans have a longer cooking time than most people would prefer from a chili ingredient.

So if you want to put them in your chili, it’s recommended that you soak the peas overnight before cooking the dish.

substitutes for beans in chili

The 7 Best Substitutes for Beans in Chili

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings


  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu
  • Plantains
  • Rice or Sorghum
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas u0026 Split Peas


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Follow the substitution ratio to determine how much is required in your recipe.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @EatDelights or tag #eatdelights!

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