7 Easy Ranch Style Beans Substitute Ingredients

Putting together your own ranch-style beans recipe? Here are 7 ranch-style beans substitute ingredients to help you put together the ultimate recipe.

Ranch-Style Beans Substitutes

Ranch-style beans are a unique blend of ingredients: Pinto beans, chili, cumin, tomatoes, and oregano. They blend together to make a truly unique flavor and go great with popular favorites like street tacos, ranch huevos, and even chili.

However, finding this popular bean recipe ready-made outside of Texas however can sometimes be a challenge, which is why some chefs make their own. Obviously, this has its benefits in that you can create in batch and, let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun.

We’ve all been in a situation though where we can’t find a crucial ingredient, and for a dish as specific as ranch style beans that can often seem to spell the end of your cooking efforts.

Today we’ve pulled together a list of the best ranch style beans substitute ingredients to pull you out of a pickle.

best ranch style bean substitutes

Kidney Beans

We’re kicking this list off with the most crucial ingredient to any bean recipe: The beans themselves.

Pinto beans have their own distinct flavor, which is what makes ranch beans so great. However, they’re not always the easiest to get a hold of outside of Texas. So we need to find a substitute that’s as close as possible to the real deal.

Enter kidney beans. Both the light and dark red varieties of the popular bean make for a great alternative, closely matching in flavor and texture to the sometimes elusive pinto. They pack in enough flavor to not be overwhelmed by the other ingredients, and they’re filling enough to form the perfect centrepiece to the recipe.


Anyone au fait with cooking will know that there are so many chili varieties out there, many incredibly different in both strength and flavor, that it’d be unwise to blindly swap one kind for another.

However specifically for ranch beans we’re after a smokey kind of flavor. This starts to limit our options, and points us in the direction of ancho chilies.

These can easily be found in whole or powder form, and for the purposes of making ranch beans both are equally fine. Although be sure to remove the seeds if you use them in their whole form – we don’t want our ranch beans to be too spicy!


This inclusion might seem a bit silly as it’s unlikely you’ll ever find it difficult to find these in your local store, but just in case you’re making these on a whim at home but don’t have any fresh tomatoes in stock then it’s good to have a backup.

Obviously canned tomatoes are just as fine (just be sure to drain them), but as an absolute last resort you can use tomato paste or even… ketchup.

I’m likely to incur the wrath of many people with this, but ketchup can indeed make an ok (emphasis on ‘ok’) replacement for tomatoes.

Just be sure to be careful as some brand of ketchup use a lot more sugar than others, and we don’t want our bean recipe to be too sweet.


ground cumin

One of my favorite spices, and one that is often irreplaceable. Cumin adds a beautiful smokiness to anything its added to, and it’s this quality that makes it difficult to find a good substitute for.

However there are a couple of ingredients that will save you should you be fresh out of the magical spice.

Powdered coriander is here to save you. I know not everyone is a fan of coriander though, so caraway seeds will also work brilliantly.

Onion and Garlic

Again, it might be unlikely that you are running low on either but it does happen so it’s good to have a backup up your sleeve.

Like with many other recipes, onion and garlic give ranch beans its tang and thus plays an integral part.

Ideally, we’d always use fresh but if you’re out of that then powdered versions of either are also a great replacement. Because we’re after the flavor that both provide rather than their texture


Also important to note that if you have used ketchup as a tomato replacement, then you should really limit the amount of sweetener you put in this recipe otherwise it’ll be far too… well, sweet.

Most ranch bean recipes will call for brown sugar, which is a fantastic ingredient as it not only is a terrific agent that thickens the sauce, but it also matches perfectly with the spiciness of the chilies.

While unrefined sugar also makes a good replacement, I’d recommend using molasses as it works brilliantly to thicken the sauce. Just a word of warning: Be very careful with how much you use. Try to work it in slowly as you will only need a very small amount.


Just like cumin, this one is hard to replace. Its distinctive flavor really makes it stand out.

I won’t lie: It’s very difficult to find a like-for-like replacement in terms of flavor, however you can make do with basil or thyme.

Just be careful: If you’re thinking about both cumin and oregano. Replacing both might give your beans an odd flavor, so try to replace just one.