I’m always intrigued when I hear about a way to substitute common ingredients with something unexpected. That’s exactly how I felt when I read that you can use beans to replace butter and oil in recipes! My curiosity was piqued, so I decided to do some detective work to figure out how it works, and give it a try for myself. The results were surprisingly delicious, and it seems to me like it’s an easy way to boost your protein intake while cutting fat and calories. Not bad, right?
Choosing Your Beans
- You can use just about any bean you want for this process, but many people prefer to use Great Northern beans. They won’t change the color of your final product, and they have a very neutral flavor too.
- For recipes that are darker in color, you could use pinto or black beans if you want! Pintos work well with spice cakes, and black beans are great in chocolate cake.
- And if you’re looking for the least expensive option, use dried beans! They’re super inexpensive and it’s easy to cook up a big batch in your crockpot. But if you’re just looking for convenience, you could also just use store-bought canned beans, since they’re already cooked.
How To Use Beans In Recipes
- For recipes that call for butter, substitute the same amount of cooked, whole beans. (They should break down easily when you mix them into your recipe, but you could always smash them up a bit with a fork beforehand if you’re concerned about it.)
- For recipes that call for oil, substitute the same amount of bean puree (see below).
- Cooked beans
- Blender or food processor
Add your cooked beans to your blender or food processor, along with a small amount of water.
Pulse or blend to make a paste (not too thick, but not too runny). If your mixture is too thick, add a bit more water until you get the right consistency.
Putting It To The Test
I decided some baking was in order to put this information to the test! We chose a boxed white cake mix to make a batch of cupcakes. We eliminated the 1/2 cup of oil called for on the box, and instead substituted 1/2 cup of our Great Northern bean puree. The cupcakes came out of the oven looking fluffy, moist, and delicious!
Then, just to double-down on our bean usage, we decided to whip up a batch of healthy chocolate frosting to go on top! The recipe comes from Kellie’s Food to Glow, and it was surprisingly delicious!
Black Bean Chocolate Frosting
- 1/3 cup cooked and rinsed black beans
- 1 1/2 Tbsp cacao powder
- 1 heaping Tbsp almond butter
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- Pinch of fine salt
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp warm water (if necessary to achieve a smooth texture)
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and mix well.
These unique, protein-rich cupcakes were a treat to eat, and they didn’t taste bean-y at all!
A Note About Texture
I will add that substituting beans into your recipes generally produces a more cake-y texture. If you’re the kind of person that likes a chewier texture, you may want substitute only half of the butter or oil rather than the full amount.