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9 Best Pinto Beans Substitutes

9 Best Pinto Beans Substitutes

Vegetarians and vegans sometimes run out of options when it comes to protein. It doesn’t seem fair that non-vegetarians have so many options, whereas we vegetarians get stuck with just a few! Are you a vegetarian like me looking for protein options? You should definitely consider beans!

There are so many types and varieties that you can choose from when it comes to beans! Whether it is fancy varieties like adzuki or the good old kidney beans, they are all extremely rich in protein. My favorite? Definitely pinto beans! But what if you run out of them?

You must be wondering, what can you actually use as an alternative? The best substitutes for pinto beans are navy beans, borlotti beans, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and lima beans. 

Pinto beans are very versatile. They can be used in any sort of recipe to add depth and, of course, protein! They are extensively used in most Mexican recipes. 

I am sure you must have considered adding pinto beans to delicious tacos or stews! But, how do you prepare for a situation when you are all out of them? In that case, this article is definitely worth a read. 

Before we get into the substitutes for pinto beans, let me tell you a little more about the bean itself!

What’s In The Post

Quick Peek: Pinto Beans

This section will help you with information on the flavor, texture, uses, and nutritional values of pinto beans.

What Are Pinto Beans?

Pinto beans are called ‘judias pintas’ in Spanish, which literally translates to speckled beans. They are off-white in color with red speckles. They are grown exponentially in Mexico and the South-Western United States. 

However, now they are grown in most parts of the world and have gained popularity in various cuisines. They hold their shape well after being cooked and are served both as a side dish or the main hero!

Describing Pinto Beans: Flavor And Texture

Pinto beans have a creamy and nutty taste with earthy flavor notes. Once cooked, they get a soft texture and turn pale pink in color. They are also very easy to mash!

Pinto beans, if cooked at very high temperatures, do tend to dissolve. Hence, it is important to cook them just for a sufficient time and not overcook them. 

One more good thing about pinto beans is that they are mild in flavor and absorb flavors very quickly. Hence, they never tend to overpower a dish. 

Uses Of Pinto Beans

As I mentioned earlier, pinto beans are very commonly used in most Mexican foods. They definitely make a great addition to your soups, stews, and salads. They are available in both dry and canned forms. 

Moreover, pinto beans make a very good filling for various tacos and burritos. They are the perfect meat substitute in most dishes. They work really well as a side for most pork and beef main courses. 

Pinto Beans On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Pinto beans, just like any other form of beans, are packed with protein and various other nutrients. They are also a great source of carbohydrates and fiber. They are rich in magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. Moreover, they contain almost no amount of fat. 

Being an excellent source of fiber, pinto beans are great for digestion. They can support blood sugar control and help with weight management too. They are also healthy for the heart. 

I think that was some useful information on pinto beans. Now without further ado, let us dive into the substitutes for pinto beans. 

9 Best Pinto Beans Substitutes

This section will help you learn all about the best pinto beans substitutes and how they can be used.

1. Navy Beans

Navy beans got their name after becoming a staple in the US Navy in the 19th century. They are a type of small white beans with a slightly flattened and oval shape. 

Navy beans have a similar creamy texture and a mild flavor, just like pinto beans. This makes them a good substitute for pinto beans.

They mash really well, just like pinto beans, and can be used in various dips, soups, and stews. They also make a great addition to various vegetarian recipes to add depth and protein to the dish.

2. Great Northern Beans

Great Northern Beans

Great northern beans are creamy white in color and small in size. They are often confused with cannellini beans. They are, in fact, quite closely related to kidney beans. 

Great northern beans absorb flavors really well, making them a great substitute for pinto beans. Since they are white in color, they might not work too well for recipes that specifically need pinto beans. 

If the color isn’t a problem, they can be used in any recipe that calls for pinto beans. They work best in soups and stews.

3. Borlotti Beans

Borlotti beans are sometimes also known as cranberry beans. They are medium to large-sized, hazelnut colored with red streaks. 

Borlotti beans have a unique chestnut-like flavor and have a slightly different flavor profile as compared to pinto beans. However, they can still very well be used as a substitute for pinto beans. 

Moreover, they have a creamy texture, similar to pinto beans. They make a great substitute for pinto beans, especially in zesty salads.

4. Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are usually quite different in texture than pinto beans. However, they are also used extensively in Mexican cooking, making them a good substitute. 

Kidney beans usually hold their shape really well after being cooked. This makes them a great substitute in recipes that need to be simmered for a long time, like soups and stews. 

Moreover, interchanging pinto beans with kidney beans will hardly make any difference to the recipe. This calls for them being a great substitute.

5. Black Beans

Also commonly known as turtle beans, these beans are small and have a tough, hard shell. They mash really well, just like pinto beans, making them a great substitute in various recipes. 

However, it is very important to remember that black beans usually impart their color to food. So, they might not work too well for recipes that are color specific. 

Despite that, they still work very well in recipes like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. This makes the two beans easily interchangeable. 

6. Adzuki Beans

Adzuki beans, also known as red mung, are small in size and red in color. They are widely cultivated and used in Asia. 

Adzuki beans usually make a great substitute for pinto beans in recipes that are paired with root vegetables. They are very similar in texture to pinto beans. They can also work well as a substitute for salads and tacos. 

7. Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans are very often confused with pinto beans. They have tender flesh with an earthy flavor and are soft and chewy. Having a similar taste and texture to pinto beans, they make a great substitute. 

Cannellini beans are most often used in Italian recipes due to their Italian origin. However, they can still work very well in Mexican recipes which use pinto beans. They also usually take the same amount of time to cook as pinto beans. 

8. Lima Beans

They are also commonly known as butter beans. They are starchy and have a notable buttery and creamy flavor. Due to their similar flavor profile, they are a good substitute for pinto beans. 

Lima beans are perfectly well in casseroles and stews due to their starch content. However, due to their smooth texture, they would work best in bean dips. 

9. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of the most commonly used beans worldwide. They are the most easily available beans in the market. They are usually available in both dry and canned forms. 

They have an earthy and nutty flavor with a smooth texture once cooked. They make a great substitute for pinto beans in any recipe. However, they work best in salads and bean dips. 

One pro-tip, if you buy canned chickpeas, don’t throw away the brine they come in! The brine can be used to make aquafaba. Aquafaba is a great substitute for any dessert that calls for egg whites. 

Short Recap

I am sure by now; you must have gone through the entire article. However, are you still confused about which of these substitutes would work best in your recipe? For that, let me break it down further for you. 

Most Suitable: The most suitable substitute for pinto beans would be great northern beans.

Easily Available: The most easily available substitute for pinto beans is chickpeas. 

Best Flavor Profile: Cannellini beans would give the best flavor profile when used in place of pinto beans. 

Final Thoughts

Now that we have come to the end of this article, I hope it has helped you with all the information you needed on pinto beans and their substitutes. Pinto beans are most extensively used in Mexican food. However, they can be used in any recipe possible!

All the beans given above are very worthy substitutes for pinto beans. Choose what works best for your recipe, and I am sure you are bound to cook up a storm!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Are pinto beans used in baked beans?

No, baked beans are not pinto beans but usually navy beans.

What beans are the closest to pinto beans in texture?

Black beans are usually the closest in texture to pinto beans.

Can I use pinto beans for pork and beans?

Yes, pinto beans would work very well with pork.

Are pinto beans rich in nutrients?

Yes, pinto beans are a great source of protein and carry many vital nutrients.


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