How many cups are in canned black beans?

Canned black beans are a pantry staple for many home cooks. They are shelf-stable, nutritious, budget-friendly, and versatile. Black beans are packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients like folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium. They have a rich, earthy flavor that pairs well with Southwest and Latin American cuisine. But when a recipe calls for canned black beans, how much should you use? The answer depends on the size of the can.

Common can sizes for black beans

Canned beans come in a few standard sizes:

15 oz can

This is the most common and widely available can size for canned beans, including black beans. A 15 oz can contains about 1 1/2 cups of drained black beans.

16 oz can

Some brands package their beans in 16 oz cans instead of 15 oz. A 16 oz can contains approximately 1 2/3 cups drained beans.

19 oz can

Larger 19 oz cans are also reasonably common. They contain around 2 cups of drained black beans.

29 oz can

Extra large 29 oz cans are available at many grocery stores as well. They contain 3 to 3 1/2 cups drained beans.

So in summary, standard can sizes for black beans are usually 15 oz, 16 oz, 19 oz, or 29 oz. The number of drained cups will vary:

15 oz can About 1 1/2 cups drained
16 oz can About 1 2/3 cups drained
19 oz can About 2 cups drained
29 oz can About 3 to 3 1/2 cups drained

Factors that affect cup measurements

The cup measurements listed above are approximations. The actual amount can vary slightly depending on a few factors:

Bean size and shape

Black beans come in many sizes and shapes. Smaller beans may pack more densely into a cup measure. Larger, irregularly shaped beans may not fit as compactly.

Liquid in the can

Canned beans are packed in a salty liquid brine. Some cans drain more liquid than others when poured into a strainer. More liquid remaining on the beans translates to a lower cup measurement.

Degree of draining

For the cup measurements above, it’s assumed the beans are drained thoroughly in a strainer. But the amount of drain time can make a difference. Lightly drained beans retain more liquid, decreasing the cup yield.

How beans are measured

The way you measure the beans can also impact the volume. Scooping beans out with a cup measure vs. pouring beans into a measuring cup yields different results.

So while the general cup conversions above are useful guidelines, the exact amount may be a little more or less depending on the specific can and measuring method. When precision matters, it’s wise to check the package for the actual drained cup yield.

Nutrition information

In addition to volume, examining the nutrition label on canned black beans can provide useful insights:

Serving size

Labels indicate the serving size by volume (usually 1/2 cup) and weight. Comparing the volume and grams helps determine the density and appropriate cup conversion.

Total carbohydrates and fiber

Because beans are high in carbs and fiber, these numbers offer clues about bean size and moisture content. More carbs and fiber align with denser, drier beans.

Sodium content

The sodium indicates how much brine is absorbed by the beans. Higher sodium generally means more liquid retention.

So by cross-checking the nutrition numbers with the listed serving size, you can get a rough sense of how many cupfulls each can may realistically provide.

Cup equivalents for common recipes

Certain popular recipes relying on canned black beans typically call for a certain can size. Here are some common examples:

Black bean soup

Many black bean soup recipes use 2 (15 oz) cans, which provides around 3 cups cooked beans.

Black bean burgers

For making 8 burgers, most recipes use 2 (15 oz) cans, or 3 cups cooked beans.

Black bean dip

A 15 oz can (1 1/2 cups) or 16 oz can (1 2/3 cups) is sufficient for most black bean dip recipes serving 4-6 people.

Black bean salad

For 4 side salads portions, most recipes call for a 15 oz can (1 1/2 cups) of beans.

Burritos or enchiladas

For 6 fillings, you’ll need 2 (15 oz) cans, or around 3 cups cooked beans.

So in many common recipes, assuming a standard 15 oz can, plan on using about 1 1/2 cups of drained beans per can. Adjust amounts as needed based on your specific can size and bean yield.

Tips for measuring canned black beans

Here are some useful tips for successfully measuring canned black beans:

– Check the can’s front label for the actual drained cup yield, if listed.

– Pour beans into a mesh strainer and shake gently to drain excess liquid before measuring.

– For greatest accuracy, gently spoon beans into a dry measuring cup and level off the top.

– Scooping beans directly from the can may compress them, giving a lower measurement.

– 1 cup beans weighs approximately 190 grams on a digital kitchen scale.

– For casual cooking, approximate 1 1/2 cups per 15 oz can or 1 2/3 cups per 16 oz can.

– Reduce amount by about 1/4 cup if beans will be used in a soup or stew where some liquid will be absorbed.

– Open and measure beans first so you know the exact yield for the recipe.

Cup equivalents for dry black beans

In addition to canned beans, many recipes call for dried black beans that require overnight soaking and lengthy cooking. As a reference:

– 1 pound (16 oz) dried black beans = about 2 1⁄4 to 2 1/2 cups dried
– After soaking and cooking, 1 pound dried beans = 5 to 6 cups cooked beans

So when working with dried beans, plan on approximately 2 1/2 cups dried or 5 1/2 cups cooked beans for every pound. Measure dried beans by weight for most accurate results.


Canned black beans are called for in many favorite recipes like soups, dips, salads, and more. But determining the right quantity can be tricky since bean size and liquid content varies. For best results, check the can label for the actual drained cup yield. Or estimate around 1 1/2 cups drained beans per 15 oz can, and make adjustments as needed based on your specific can and measuring method. With a little trial and measuring, you’ll determine the ideal canned black bean amounts for all your cooking needs.

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