5 Easy Substitute for Pinto Beans That You Should Know

Pinto beans are one of the most consumed legumes because they can be flexibly used in a variety of dishes. The pinto bean is a beautiful oval-shaped bean with cream-colored shells and specks of browns. When cooked, the beans turn pink.

Pinto beans are very popular in South America and Latin America. It is also the bean of choice for the famous Mexican re-fried beans recipe.

Apart from that, pinto beans can be cooked in variety of ways. You can mash the beans and turn them into dips, or use them for soups and and baked dishes.

Sometimes, you don't have enough pinto beans for dishes, you can also substitute for pinto beans by others. Let's read "5 Alternatives to Pinto Beans" below to discover.



Like most legumes, you need to soak pinto beans before cooking. Soaking is an essential step to reduce the amount of oligosaccharides in beans, a type of sugar that increases the risks of flatulence.

There are two methods in soaking pinto beans. First, you can place pinto beans in a bowl of water and let sit overnight. Alternatively, you can boil the beans for a few minutes in a pot then let stand for two hours before cooking.

Pinto Beans are Good for Your Health


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Pinto beans are rich in fiber which helps bring down cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Pinto beans are best combined with whole grain rice to produce an almost fat-free yet protein-rich meal.

Since pinto beans are rich in fiber, they also help clean the digestive tract and preventing digestion-related disorders like diverticulosis. Additionally, fiber in pinto beans are also great in preventing coronary heart disease.

Lastly, pinto beans are rich in minerals like folate, magnesium and potassium which lend the body numerous health benefits.

How to Enjoy Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are very flexible legumes and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.

1. Beans and Rice


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You can cook and consume the beans with rice and some vegetables plus a drizzle of olive oil. Simply add in your favorite seasonings for a hearty, filling and easy-to-prepare one-pot meal.

2. Beans in Tortilla


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You can also use cooked pinto beans to fill in your tortilla wrap. Simply add in some sliced avocados, cilantro and cheese then broil in the oven. This makes a hearty snack or light lunch.

3. Pinto Beans Chili


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Pinto beans are also often turned into chili recipes and stand in place for kidney beans.

4. Mashed Beans for Dips and Spreads


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In many Mexican and Southern American recipes, pinto beans are first boiled then mashed and seasoned with herbs. The mashed beans can be used as dip for sliced vegetables and spread for sliced bread.

5 Substitute for Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are cheap and are often available the whole year round in the dried and canned form. But if your store doesn’t have them, what can you substitute for pinto beans? Well, here are 5 beans you can use.

1. Anasazi Beans


The Anasazi beans are newly-discovered, yet they’re actually ancient. The bean was discovered in the dwellings of the now-extinct Anasazi civilization which the bean was named after.

The Anasazi bean is a close relative of the pinto bean in both color and texture. While relatively smaller than the pinto bean, the Anasazi bean also has a cream-colored skin with specks of purple.

The Anasazi beans also have a creamy taste like pinto beans, but with hints of meatiness and sweetness. The Anasazi beans are great alternatives especially for rice and baked bean recipes.

2. Kidney Beans


Another suitable alternative in the absence of pinto beans are kidney beans. Kidney bean, like the name implies, looks like kidneys. These beans are often available in both dark and light colors but with slight differences in their textures.

Light-colored kidney beans are so much like pinto beans in terms of texture. They both mash easily. Dark-colored kidney beans have slightly tougher skins. While you can still mash red kidney beans, they tend to take more time and effort compared to light-colored ones.

Dark red kidney beans are a more popular choice especially when making chilis compared to light-colored kidney beans.

However, you can use both types of in salads and rice-based recipes. Kidney beans are also popular alternatives to pinto beans especially in countries where beans are used extensively, such as Brazil and Mexico.

3. Black Beans


There are several types of black beans, but the most suitable substitute for pinto beans is the black turtle beans.

The beans are oval-shaped and smaller in size. When cooked, the black turtle beans can turn deep brown or purple . Interestingly, the beans spread their spreads color to the rest of the pot.

As for the taste, black turtle beans have a slightly sweet yet earthy flavors and just the slight hint of mushroom-like taste.

While you can use black beans in place of pinto beans in many dishes especially in soups and stews, you also need to take note that the skins of black beans tend to come off easily. Consider cooking black beans directly without soaking.

4. Borlotti Beans


Borlotti beans are a specific type of kidney beans with pinkish skin and streaks of reds and browns. Commonly used in Italian dishes, the Borlotti beans are known for their sweet taste and smooth texture.

Borlotti beans are also used in South American regions as a substitute for pinto beans in especially in making soups and stews.

These beans have delicate and somewhat sophisticated flavors that they would fare well as its own dish, but they’re also equally delicious as a side dish.

When served with potato and garlic, the borlotti beans are the bean of choice for whipping up the classic Italian dish, pasta e fagioli.

5. Chickpeas


Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are medium-sized beans which are squarish in form rather than the typical oval shape of many other types of beans.

Chickpeas are also one of the common substitutes to pinto beans mainly because they’re widely grown and cultivated in many parts of the world.

Chickpeas are often used in soups in Mexican cuisine, but they’re also often used in making two of the most popular dishes in the Middle East: Falafel and Hummus.

Like most beans, chickpeas are often soaked and boiled. When cooked, chickpeas has a slight hint of nutty flavor.

Cooking Beans


Beans are very popular ingredients in many cuisines around the world. Regardless of the bean you use to alternate with pinto beans, there are some things you need to remember when preparing and cooking beans in general.

First, most beans require pre-soaking before they hit the cookware. Eating unsoaked beans increases the risks of flatulence.

Many varieties of beans contain some amount of oligosaccharides and soaking helps reduce the amount of this sugar when the beans cook. Additionally, soaking also helps soften and cook the beans faster.

Another lesser-known secret to cooking beans is to add your seasonings and spices at the near end of the cooking time to prevent the beans from toughening.

Whether you intend to mash the beans later on or not, make sure to test the texture of several beans first before putting out the fire. Some beans may cook quicker than others, and you’d want to have all the beans cooked uniformly before serving them.



Pinto beans are flexible, cheap and healthy and they are an excellent option for several dishes. If you’ve just run out of pinto beans in your pantry, you might as well use other available beans with almost similar characteristics with pinto beans.

Swapping out your beans from time to time introduces new discoveries in the kitchen and brings a new experience to your taste buds.


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Hello, I’m Sheila Hutton, housewife, mother of two kids, foodie, and blogger who calls California home. Ever since I graduated college and quit my accounting job of five years, family and food have been in the forefront of my mind, which inspired me to launch my very own food blog called Chili Every Day in 2017.

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