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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Substitutes For Pinto Beans



Looking for a substitute for pinto beans? Luckily, you don’t have to skip recipes that list them as an ingredient.

You can use several replacements to give your dish a similar feel. We have listed some of the substitutes along with the main differences you’ll find in their sizes, textures, colors, nutritional content, and cooking time.

substitutes for pinto beans

Pinto beans are most often found in Mexican cuisine or as chili beans, but you’ll spot them in burritos, stews, bean soup, bean salad, chili, ranch style bean recipes, baked beans, and dips worldwide. Their earthy, nutty flavor with a creamy texture will give your dish a refreshing taste.

Even if you’ve spoiled them because you didn’t know how long pinto beans last and how to store them, there are other tricks that come in handy. You can still use substitutes for pinto beans, which we have listed here!

Top 5 Substitutes for Pinto Beans

1. Black Beans

Black beans in a pile on a white background
Black beans in a pile on a white background

Black beans come very close to pinto beans in flavor and size. However, their looks are widely different. Still, they are the best replacement if you run out of pinto beans.


The most obvious difference is the darker color with a white spot. If your recipe is heavily focused on the beans, you’ll end up with a black dish on your plate.


Black beans have a crunchier and grainier texture than pinto beans. Since they are harder, you can add them to soups and stews without losing their shape and getting all mushy.

On the other hand, pinto beans will fall apart and dissolve in the liquids when heated. Similarly, black beans keep their firmness when boiled, while pinto beans get crumbly.


In terms of the nutritional value, black beans take the win. They have 227 calories per cup, whereas pinto beans contain about 245 calories in the same amount. They also have more fiber, protein, antioxidants, and lower cholesterol.

Just like their pinto counterparts, black beans are naturally gluten-free. However, there is a chance of cross-contact due to the packaging methods.

To avoid traces of gluten, be sure to give your beans a good wash before using them.


The black bean is rich, meaty, and dense in flavor. They are sometimes used as replacements for meat.

Cooking time

Both types of beans have similar cooking methods for the most part.

However, when using dry bean, you’ll have to cook black beans for a little longer than canned beans. They are easier to undercook than canned pinto beans.

2. Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans in a pile on a white background
Kidney Beans in a pile on a white background

Kidney beans are another type of commonly found beans. Both varieties are versatile and full of flavor as far as the similarities go. Here are some notable differences.


You’ll find that kidney beans are larger than pinto beans. Just as the name suggests, they are kidney-shaped and have a light, sometimes dark-red color.


Kidney beans are dryer than the pinto type. Pinto beans are more on the creamier side.

Both are relatively soft in terms of firmness, but kidney beans are better at holding their shape. When cooked, pinto beans will soften up and crumble faster.


You might find kidney beans a beneficial replacement if you’re on a diet. They have 225 calories per cup.

Pinto beans have more fiber, with 1.4 grams of fiber content per cup. Kidney beans yield 11.3 grams of fiber in the same quantity.

This shouldn’t be a problem since there isn’t that big of a difference. If your diet has beans in the first place, you are getting a healthy amount of fiber!


Kidney beans have a sweet, meaty flavor. They aren’t as creamy or earthy as pinto beans, but you can still substitute them.

Even if they are used differently because of their tastes, it’s common to use them interchangeably.

Cooking time

The difference in sizes calls for variation in the time required to cook these beans. You can cook pinto beans in about 60 minutes.

On the other hand, kidney beans take 90-120 minutes to get ready.

3. Navy Beans

Navy Beans in a pile on a white background
Navy Beans in a pile on a white background

Navy beans are known for their use in BBQ or baked navy bean dishes, but you can use them in several recipes due to their mild taste and high nutritional content.


Navy and pinto beans are both similar in shape and size. Pinto beans are brownish, whereas navy beans are on the whiter side.


Like pinto beans, navy beans have a smooth texture and are soft. You may find their skin slightly thicker than the skin on pinto beans, but if your navy beans are processed well, you can achieve the same creamy texture as pinto beans.


In terms of caloric content, navy beans are better for weight loss. They have 140.1 kcal per 100 grams of cooked beans, and pinto beans have 143.0 kcal in the same quantity.

Navy beans are richer in fiber, but other than that, both have almost the same nutritional value.


Navy Beans are more subtle and mild when it comes to the flavor. You can utilize this to your advantage when you don’t want the beans to overpower the recipe.

Navy beans are good at absorbing flavors from spices and sauces. So, you can use them in many different dishes.

Even if they are a bit bland, their nutritional value makes them a great substitute for pinto beans.

Cooking Time

There isn’t much variation in the cooking time of both varieties. Both usually take up to 60 minutes to cook.

You can re-create the texture of pinto beans by cooking navy beans well.

4. Great Northern Beans

Great Northern Beans in a pile on a white background
Great Northern Beans in a pile on a white background

These beans are related to kidney beans. They have a mild, delicate flavor and make great substitutes not just for pinto beans but also for navy and cannellini beans!


Great Northern beans and pinto beans are both medium-sized and oval-shaped. Still, it’s easy to tell the difference between them just by looking.

The Great Northern bean is white, unlike the pinto type.


Unlike pinto beans, Great Northern beans have grains and tougher skin. They aren’t as creamy, so they are better at staying firm when heated.


A cup of cooked Great Northern beans has 242 calories, which is less than pinto beans. They have higher fiber content as well other nutritional benefits over pinto beans.


Great Northern beans are bland and soak the flavors of whatever they are added in. You should avoid using them in recipes where the flavor of beans is supposed to be stronger than the other ingredients.

Since they take up the flavors of the sauces, you can use them to add weight to your broth without bringing variation in the taste. Using them with other savory ingredients will allow them to emphasize their flavors.

Cooking Time

You’re going to love this one! If you’re ever running late and need a substitute for pinto beans, Great Northern beans will come in handy. They take half the time to cook.

However, remember that it’s easier to end up with a tougher end product. That’s why you need to season your Great Northern beans with salt once you’re done cooking.

5. Borlotti Beans

Borlotti Beans in a pile on a white background
Borlotti Beans in a pile on a white background

Borlotti beans are a great substitute for pinto beans because they are related. You may know these as cranberry beans.


They look very similar in size, but they have different colors. Pinto beans are beige, while Borlotti beans are red and white. They also have red spots similar to the ones on the pinto.


They have a soft, creamy texture, like pinto beans.

You can use these exactly how you would use their pinto counterparts in recipes. They will give you similar results without you having to alter the ingredients.


Borlotti beans are better than pinto beans in nutritional value. They are full of iron, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. They are cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and low in fat.


Both types have a mild, nutty flavor. Borlotti beans still take the win.

They have a slightly stronger flavor that can overpower any dish.

Cooking Time

Since both have the same size and texture, they’ll take the same amount of time to cook. You’ll get them done within 60-90 minutes.


What is the best substitute for pinto beans?

Black beans are the best substitute for pinto beans. They have similar sizes, tastes, and shapes.

Even if the textures are slightly different, they’re the closest you’ll get to pinto beans. Plus, black beans are super easy to prepare!

Are pinto beans the same as kidney beans?

Both of them come from the Phaseolus vulgaris species, also known as the common bean. They are rich in fiber and protein and can make great meat substitutes.

They are different in sizes, shapes, and colors. Kidney beans are larger, with a light red color. They are kidney-shaped (obviously!).

Pinto beans are small, oval in shape, and beige with brown speckles.

Can I substitute cannellini bean for pinto beans?

Cannelini beans are also called white kidney beans. They are similar in texture to the red kidney bean.

You can utilize them as a substitute for pinto beans since they offer many nutritional benefits and are filling.

Can I substitute pinto beans for chickpeas?

You can use them, but you won’t get the same results. They have different textures, sizes, shapes, and flavors.

You will have to cook chickpeas longer than the pinto bean, and their flavor will stand out in your dish if you don’t alter the ingredients accordingly.


While all these can be used as substitutes for pinto beans, they’ll give you slightly different results. That’s due to the variation in their sizes, textures, flavors, and colors.

Still, their calorie content and other benefits make up for the differences!

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Adeena Tariq

Adeena is a freelance content writer and cooking enthusiast from Pakistan. She is currently a business student, and when she wants a break from her studies, writing on her favorite topics and cooking yummy dishes are her favorite things to do.

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