One of the most popular beans in North America, the pinto bean is a variety of common bean. It’s usually mashed and then refried, or eaten whole.
While different types of beans are best for different dishes, there are plenty of great stand-ins for pinto beans.
The best substitute for pinto beans is undoubtedly black beans. If you don’t have any of those on hand or want to try something new, cannellini beans, navy beans, white beans, and kidney beans also make for great options.
Depending on your dish, you’ll want to try different beans as a substitute for pinto. Below are the 5 best substitutes for pinto beans.
1. Black Beans
Black beans, as you might imagine, are black. They will also leak their color to whatever it is you’re cooking, giving it a slightly grey-ish or purple tinge. So, keep that in mind when adding black beans to chili, soup, or stew, as your broth will be slightly darker.
Their color won’t affect the taste! You’ll still end up with a delicious-tasting dish when substituting black beans for pinto beans – it just might look a little different.
They’re an easy substitute for pinto beans, as they can be cooked quickly. Their skin softens easily, and you won’t need to soften them beforehand.
2. Cannellini Beans
Also known as white kidney beans, cannellini beans are closest to traditional kidney beans in size and consistency. They’re not the most exact substitute for pinto beans, and that said, they can still be a great alternative with the right dishes.
Cannellini beans are most popular in Italian food. If you’re making an Italian soup or pasta, cannellini beans are the best substitute for pinto beans.
You’ll need to soak these beans overnight before working with them. This is because they are larger in size than pinto beans, with tougher skin.
You should also pre-cook these beans separately before adding them to your dish for the best result.
3. Navy Beans
Navy beans get their name from their time as a staple food in the US Navy in the 1800s.
They’re also known as the key ingredient in Boston Baked Beans, a sweeter, regional
Navy beans are similar in texture to pinto beans. If you’re looking for a bean in a dish where it won’t be the star ingredient, navy beans are a good option.
Similar to black and pinto beans, navy beans will get very soft when they cook. They’re the perfect addition to a dish that needs an extra protein kick.
4. White Beans
While these beans are larger in size, these beans have one of the most delicate flavors out there.
Also known as Great Northern white beans, these are some of the more popular beans because they pair well with just about anything.
These beans work best when mashed, or when paired with vegetables. You can also eat them cold, and in salads.
White beans are used all over the world, and they are most popular in French and Mediterranean cuisines. This is due to their mild flavor, and ability to pair well with other foods.
5. Kidney Beans
Although different in size and texture, pinto beans and kidney beans can often be used interchangeably. They are also often used together in dishes.
Kidney beans are much larger and firmer than pinto beans. They work best in dishes where they are simmered or cooked for a long period of time.
They’re quite hearty, making them an excellent addition to chili, stew, or soup.
While red kidney beans are most commonly found, white or pink kidney beans are the most similar to pinto beans. This is because they are softer and more similar in texture.