SaVanna Shoemaker, RDN

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Black Soybeans: Nutrition, Carbs, Prep, & Taco Night Black Soybean Recipe

A photo of black soybeans with a lime wedge on a white plate. Text reads "What Are Black Soybeans (& Are They Keto)?"

Curious about black soybeans and if they’re keto-friendly? Read on!

As a Southern girl, I love beans. They add so much heartiness to winter and fall foods, and they make the best cold salads for the summer too. Not to mention, they’re like little pillows of flavor in whatever you add them to.

Sadly, beans are pretty high in carbs. So, I had to say farewell when I switched to keto. (Not gonna lie, though, I do indulge in a good bowl of bean-full taco soup when my parents’ make it while I’m visiting. Life advice: never turn down a bowl of your dad’s taco soup.)

Fortunately, black soybeans let me have my beans and eat them, too — even on a low carb diet.

Below, we’ll deep dive into what these hard-to-find beans are and how to use them. I’ll also share a recipe for keto black soybeans that’s perfect for your next taco night.

What are black soybeans?

Black soybeans are exactly that: soybeans that have a black exterior. With the exception of their darker-colored hull, though, they’re pretty identical to conventional yellow soybeans. They’re low in carbs and loaded with protein and fiber.

The magic of these soybeans is that they have a milder, more bean-like taste than the regular ones — which makes them the most perfect low carb substitute for beans of all kinds.

Until fairly recently they weren’t commonly used in the states, but they’re a popular food in Korea.

Unless you happen to have a natural grocer or an Asian grocer nearby, you’ll probably have to order them online.

Black soybeans nutrition

Here’s what you’ll get from 1/2 cup of canned black soybeans [1]:

  • 130 calories
  • 11 grams protein
  • 5 grams fat
  • 11 grams carbs
  • 6 grams fiber

Black soybeans are chock full of good stuff, like protein, healthy fats, and fiber. That means they’re extra filling (and this is something I can personally attest to).

They’re also loaded with nutrients. Just one serving provides 15% of your daily needs for zinc and magnesium, two essential minerals that can sometimes be difficult to get from plant-based foods.

Additionally, black soybeans get their dark hulls from compounds called anthocyanins. These antioxidants can help neutralize unstable free radical compounds that cause damage to your body at a cellular level [2].

Are black soybeans keto?

Black soybeans are PERFECT for low carb diets… including keto!

At just 5 grams of net carbs per serving (that’s total carbs minus fiber, since fiber is indigestible), black soybeans can totally be part of your keto diet — as long as you stick to a single serving.

Compared to beans that can be upwards of 30 grams of net carbs per serving, black soybeans are an excellent way to enjoy your favorite bean dishes without all the carbs.

Downsides

Like other high-fiber foods, eating too many of these (especially if you’re not used to lots of fiber) can cause some… unpleasant digestive issues, shall we say.

But what I really want to dive into is the soy debate, and if it’s something you need to be concerned about.

The soy controversy

Soy is in everything these days. Soybean oil. Soy lecithin. Textured vegetable protein. (Yup, it’s soy!)

The major concern a lot of people have with soy is that it contains phytoestrogens, or plant-based compounds that mimic the hormone estrogen [3].

For men in particular, this can be cause for concern, as high levels of estrogen in men can cause some health problems. However, elevated estrogen levels can cause issues for women, too [3, 4].

Fortunately, most current research indicates that eating soy is OK in most cases. Glyphosate exposure may be a concern, but you can circumvent this by buying non-GMO soy [5, 6].

My personal recommendation? Try to minimize your exposure to highly processed foods made with soy, as they’re usually not great for you anyway. But because they’re a minimally processed, whole foods form of soy, I highly doubt that black soybeans will expressly cause you harm (unless you’re allergic or you choke on them), so having some every once in a while seems totally fine in my book.

But if you’re not comfortable with it? Skip em. You do you!

For more reading on this topic, I highly recommend reading the “soy” section of Diet Doctor’s food policy.

Black soybeans with cilantro and a lime wedge on a white plate.

Cooking

Black soybeans are a great, low carb and high fiber alternative to black beans, or pretty much any kind of bean. I personally use them in chili and taco soup all winter long. They also make excellent refried beans. Because of their color, I think they may clash with dishes like white chicken chili, but if the color doesn’t bother you then you can certainly give it a try!

The texture is “not quite bean,” I’d say. I think they’re a fine substitute, but they don’t get as tender as beans do during cooking.

Dried

Full disclosure, I’ve never actually cooked with dried black soybeans before.

But essentially, they cook up just like dried beans. Be sure to sort them, then soak them overnight and rinse them really well prior to cooking.

Canned

I really like canned black soybeans. They are oh-so-convenient and time-saving, which I’m always on board for. The brand I use is Eden Organic.

Here are my two key tips for cooking with them:

  • After you open the can, dump it straight into a colander and rinse the beans very well. The liquid they’re canned in is seaweed based… and smells like it.
  • Cook the drained beans in at least some liquid so they don’t get crunchy on the outside. For easy refried beans, I cook the soybeans in a little bit of water, butter, and spices before I mash them up. It’s not perfect or authentic, but it’s tasty and gives me a little more variety.
A can of Eden Organic black soybeans.

Where to buy

My favorite place to buy canned black soybeans is Vitacost. And no, no affiliate links here (for now) — I just really love Vitacost AND they happen to sell black soybeans for loads cheaper than other sites (including Amazon), even factoring in the cost of shipping.

I actually have about 10 cans in my pantry right now. When my stockpile gets below 5 it’s honestly kind of a crisis.

Buy Eden Organic Black Soybeans (Vitacost)

FYI, if you’re interested in trying the dried ones, Vitacost sells those too.

Buy Shiloh Farms Organic Black Soybeans (Vitacost)

Mexican style black soybeans with cilantro and a lime wedge on a white plate.

Keto Taco Night Black Soybeans

SaVanna Shoemaker, RDN
These keto-friendly Mexican style beans (made with black soybeans) are a perfect low carb addition to taco night.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings 3 1/2-cup servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 stalks green onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 can Eden Organic black soybeans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chicken bone broth
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the green onion and garlic and cook until fragrant and soft.
  • Add in black soybeans, chicken bone broth, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off, about 7-10 minutes.

Notes

These are the perfect side dish and you can mix up the flavors endlessly to complement any main course. They’re also a great addition to tacos or taco bowls. If you prefer a refried beans, mash your black soybeans after cooking. You may need to add a little bit more chicken bone broth and butter to keep them smooth.
Nutrition Information: per 1/2 cup serving
  • Calories: 165
  • Fat: 10 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Total carbs: 10 grams
  • Fiber: 8 grams
  • Net carbs: 2 grams

Here’s the direction I took my most recent batch of these beans in: a taco bowl with cauliflower rice, ground beef, shredded chicken, avocado, cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and cilantro. YUM!

A taco bowl containing cauliflower rice, shredded chicken, black soybeans, cheese, sour cream, avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, and a lime wedge.

Takeaway

  • Black soybeans are soybeans with a black outer hull and a milder taste than conventional soybeans.
  • They’re rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber — making them super filling.
  • Because of their low net carb count, black soybeans are the perfect bean substitute for keto.
  • You may be concerned about the soy, whole food versions (like black soybeans) are much healthier than highly-processed soy-based foods.
  • Canned or dried, they can be used to sub out beans in pretty much any recipe, although they are firmer and have more of a bite than regular beans. They’re especially great in chili, with tacos, or to make refried beans.

Hi, I’m SaVanna, a freelance writer and registered dietitian.

I’m crazy obsessed with meal planning, cooking, and keto – and that’s what you’ll find on this blog! As a busy WAHM of 2, I’m constantly trying to strike a balance between quick and easy, carb-conscious, kid-friendly, and picky-husband-approved meals. And personally, I think I do all right. Be sure to browse through my recipes and nutrition posts for some family-friendly meal inspo and tips for low carb success!

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