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From kidney beans to lentils, legumes are a filling, heart-healthy ingredient that are easy to work with in the kitchen. One lesser-known option, mayocoba beans, can bring a smooth, creamy texture to several dishes.

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What Are Mayocoba Beans?

Mayocoba beans are medium-sized legumes with a pale yellow or ivory color that are indigenous to Peru. Mayocoba beans have various names in English and Spanish, including canary beans (or canario beans), Mexican yellow beans, and Peruvian beans (or Peruano beans).

The cooked beans have a creamy texture and a mild flavor on their own, and can easily absorb the flavor of other ingredients in the cooking process. They’re a great substitute for any mild-flavored legume, including pinto beans, black beans, cranberry beans, great northern beans, white beans, cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans), or even lentils. Mayocoba beans are naturally high in protein, fiber, and iron, low in fat, and cholesterol-free.

5 Ways to Enjoy Mayocoba Beans

Mayocoba beans are a common ingredient in numerous dishes, including:

  1. Simmered with flavorings. The most common way to eat mayocoba beans is as a flavor-packed side dish. Simmer the beans in a large pot (or a pressure cooker) with several cups of water and the flavors of your choice. Traditional flavorings include onions, garlic, Mexican oregano, cumin, chicken stock, and jalapeños.
  2. Refried. With their buttery texture, mayocoba beans make wonderfully creamy refried beans. To turn mayocoba beans into refried beans, simply simmer them on low or medium heat, then sauté them in a couple of cups of the simmering liquid with a spoonful of lard (or other fat, like oil). As they sauté, use a masher or a large spoon to mash the beans to your desired texture.
  3. Vegetarian tacos. With their high-protein content, mayocoba beans make an excellent substitute for meat in vegetarian tacos. Simmered, mashed, or refried, you can spoon them onto a tortilla and top with other taco ingredients, like lettuce, cabbage, pico de gallo, corn, cilantro, cotija cheese, salsa, or sauces.
  4. Bean soup. Mayocoba beans are a popular base for hearty bean soups. Simmer mayocoba beans with flavoring, then add chopped vegetables, potatoes, or meat and enjoy hot.
  5. Chili. Any white-bean chili can substitute mayocoba beans for the white beans. To make mayocoba-bean chili, simmer them in a pot (or slow cooker) with seasonings and broth, then mash them slightly and add meat or vegetables. Top with shredded cheese, corn, or chiles and serve warm with tortillas, chips, or cornbread.

3 Tips for Cooking Mayocoba Beans

If it’s your first time working with mayocoba beans, here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Start with dry beans. While it is possible to find canned mayocoba beans at the grocery store, canned beans usually have added sodium, are extremely soft, and pricier than dried beans. Starting with dried beans allows you to control the sodium content and cook them to your desired tenderness.
  2. Check your rinsed beans for rocks. During the harvesting process, beans can become mixed up with small rocks or other pieces of debris. When you begin working with dried beans in the kitchen, always pour them into a bowl and rinse them to check for rocks or foreign material before adding them to your pot to cook.
  3. Experiment with soaking. Home chefs are divided on whether they prefer to soak mayocoba beans before cooking or cooking from dry. If you soak them in water overnight, they’ll cook faster; if you start cooking with them dry, they’ll cook slower. Experiment with the different methods and see which you prefer.