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Best Pinto Bean Substitutes You Should Try

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Pinto beans substitutes

 Pinto beans are one of the world’s most popular beans, and they are available in many forms, including dried, canned, and premade products.  

The best substitutes are useful if you’re bored of using the same type of bean, find pinto beans cause you more stomach distress than other beans, or can’t find any for some unimaginable reason. 

Can pinto beans be substituted with other beans? In place of pinto beans, black beans are a better substitute because they taste similar and can be prepared easily. You can also choose from balck beans, borlotti beans, red beans, kidney beans and white beans.

In this article, we compare 5 of the best pinto bean substitutes on the basis of flavor, texture, and recipe use.

What Are Pinto Beans?

It’s the most common bean in North American households, and it’s near the top of the list in Central and South America as well. Pinto beans are even popular in other parts of the world; you can find them in almost every country. In terms of bean size, pinto beans are of average size, and they have a brown and beige pattern that’s quite attractive when they’re dried.

 The color evens out to a solid light tan or beige after they’re cooked, even if you buy them in a can. In South America, pinto beans are often referred to as fruitilla beans, which means strawberry beans. They sometimes appear pink when cooked and lose their speckles. 

They are also called pinto beans or painted beans, as in the case of a speckled pinto horse.

Besides these names, pinto beans do not have as many different names as other types of beans do. They’re often confused, however, with various beans such as cranberry or borlotti beans due to their similar appearance, or kidney beans due to their similar use in recipes.

We’ve outlined the top 5 pinto bean alternatives so that you can understand their similarities and differences as well as which bean to choose for your recipes.

Best Pinto Beans Substitutes

Since pinto beans are one of the most common beans in North America, they’re used in a wide variety of recipes, meals, and cuisines. It is just as popular to mash pinto beans as it is to cook them so that they become firm to add texture to a dish. All beans are nutritionally similar, so if you’re looking for an alternative to pinto beans, any of these substitutes will provide you with approximately one to two grams of both protein and fiber. A serving of pinto beans contains 98 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber. Pinto beans also provide the most protein of all the beans studied, with 8 grams per 28g container.

At 93 calories per serving, red beans have the lowest calorie count.  Borlotti beans and cannellini beans both contain 7g of protein and fiber per serving, but the average in both cases is 6g of protein and just over 5g of fiber. You may want to substitute other beans for pinto beans depending on what you’re cooking.

 Black Beans

In South and Central American cuisine, black beans are even more popular than pinto beans, though they can be substituted in almost all dishes. As their name implies, black beans are black. You should know this if you are substituting pinto beans in a recipe where color matters. If black beans are cooked or mashed with anything, then dips will take on an almost eggplant color. Soups and stews will have darker broths than they would with pinto beans, and pasta sauces will also be black. 

It is certain, however, that the sweet and soft black beans will taste great regardless of the circumstances. Rice and beans are typically made with red beans in the southern states of America. It’s hard to find a meal in Central America without rice and black beans at any time of day. When it comes to Mexican food, such as tacos, burritos, or even huevos rancheros, black beans make a perfect substitute for pinto beans.

Black beans are a great alternative to pinto beans because they cook quickly and their skin softens easily without soaking.

Borlotti Beans

The Borlotti bean is also known as the cranberry bean and Roman bean. Because they’re both medium-sized and mottled or speckled, they’re often confused with pinto beans.

Borlotti beans are tan with red or pink spots, while pinto beans are brown and beige. After cooking, both of them lose their mottled coloring.

Pinto beans are often described as buttery, and borlotti beans are a great substitute for them whenever this quality is noticeable in a dish because cranberry beans are also appreciated for their creamy texture. These Roman beans are very popular in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese cuisine, and they are ideal for fresh, zesty dishes that contain olive oil and lemon juice, like antipasti.

Red Beans

Red adzuki beans can be described as sweet if pinto beans can be described as buttery. When paired with sweet root vegetables or sweet sauces, adzuki beans are a great substitute for pinto beans. A great sweet and sour dish, a bbq sauce, or a rich sweet potato stew are all great choices. 

Small and relatively soft, they make an excellent addition to salads, tacos, and refried beans. They’re also great in Mexican cuisine and are actually most popular in Asian cuisine. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between pinto beans and red beans, we have an article dedicated to that topic.

 Kidney Beans

Pinto beans and kidney beans are often used interchangeably even though they differ greatly in size and texture. But they are both very popular in Mexican cuisine, so they are often used together. In chili, tacos, or refried beans, substituting one for the other wouldn’t be noticeable.

The kidney bean is quite firm and larger than the pinto bean. When they are used to add texture to dishes that need to be cooked or simmered for a long time, they are the best substitute. You can substitute kidney beans for pinto beans in any soup, stew, or chili that calls for pinto beans.

Pink and white kidney beans are softer and more similar in texture and consistency to pinto beans, but they’re less common than the red variety.

White Beans

White beans are some of the most popular beans on earth due to their delicate flavor and, despite their size, they aren’t as firm as kidney beans. 

Despite being grown all over the world, white beans are especially popular in French cuisine or Mediterranean dishes due to their mild flavor. Their richness absorbs well into French sauces, and they are mild enough to be eaten cold in salads for texture and heartiness. If you want to substitute Great Northern beans for pinto beans, pair them with vegetables or mash them. 

We also have compiled a guide that will help you choose beans for chili, if you are looking for the best one.


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