8 Best Pinto Beans Substitutes

Among the many beans out there, one is called the pinto beans.

As a crop production, they are the most famous beans in several parts of the world, including the USA and Mexico.

Roasted pinto beans in a metal bowl

If the new recipe asks for pinto beans, and you cannot find them in the nearby market, do not worry.
Here we list the 8 best substitutes for pinto beans that will never disappoint you. So, follow the post to know what you can use as an alternative to pinto beans in specific recipes.

What are Pinto Beans, and How Do They Look and Taste?

Like most common beans, Pinto beans are brown, medium-sized legumes. They have an earthy taste and a creamy, smooth, almost sweet flavor that goes well with various foods making them versatile. Another name for pinto beans is frijol pinto, which means "painted bean." Due to the abstract design on their surface, they are also known as speckled beans or strawberry beans. They can easily be bought as canned or dry beans from the market. We can cook most canned pinto beans immediately. However, the dried pinto beans are rigid;

Therefore, they must be soaked overnight or at least for 5-6 hours . Alternatively, you can use this Instant Pot Pinto Beans recipe to make them in less than an hour.

Being high in fiber and protein, pinto beans are used frequently in stews, soups, salads, and
typical cuisines such as refried beans.
Pinto beans are also an excellent filling for various tacos and burritos. They work well as ameat alternative in most meals, and on the other hand, pinto beans complement most beef and pork meals perfectly.

8 Best Substitutes for Pinto Beans in Recipes 

What Can I Use Instead of Pinto Beans? If you want the perfect pinto beans alternative, use the following beans in any pinto beans recipe and get almost the same taste, flavor, and texture.

1. Black Beans 

Black beans are first on our list of the 8 best substitutes for pinto beans because both beans are more than similar.

Black beans are medium to small in size with taste and texture, the same as pinto beans, which makes them excellent pinto bean alternatives.

Moreover, black beans have less cholesterol, more fiber, protein, and antioxidants, which is another reason to put them on top of the best pinto beans' replacement list.

It is best to replace pinto beans with black beans in tacos, burritos, soups, broths, and huevos rancheros.

The Thing to Remember: Any meal in which black beans are cooked or mashed will take on a dark hue because black beans are naturally black. Thus, be prepared for a slight change in the visual aspect of your dish.

2. Navy Beans

Navy beans are more petite than pinto beans. They even have a gentler creaminess than pinto beans. Yet, they are a suitable pinto bean alternative because they have a similar flavor, texture, and boiling time.

Navy Beans

Navy beans are the most mashable beans among this list of pinto beans replacements. Therefore, they are great for refried beans that require mashed pinto beans.

Suppose your recipe calls for pinto beans as an addition rather than the main course. In that case, go for navy beans in place of pinto beans.

The Thing to Remember: Like pinto beans, they soften as they cook, so you won't need to change the timing of any recipes.

3. Red Beans

Red beans are little beans that are well-known in Chinese and Japanese cuisines. They are also known as adzuki beans.

Red Kidney Beans

The sweet flavor of red beans contradicts the buttery taste of pinto beans. Yet, they can be a pinto beans' robust replacement for savory meals such as beans and rice, curries, grain bowls, and hummus.

Furthermore, red beans can replace pinto beans in dishes with a sweet component, such as sweet potato beans or barbecue beans.

The Thing to Remember: Red beans can also substitute eggs in gluten-free or vegan baking, besides adding sweetness to the dessert.

4. Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans, named after the Piedmont town of Canelli, are commonly known as white kidney beans. They originated in Italy.

Although Cannellini beans are slightly rougher and larger than pinto beans, they have proved to be a possible pinto beans substitute.

These vibrant and adaptable beans are a perfect substitution for pinto beans in pasta with beans or soups.

They include just the proper amount of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates to keep you energized and satiated all day.

Moreover, there are many cannellini beans substitute options you can use as well.

The Thing to Remember: Cannellini beans are rigid. Soak them overnight before cooking if you want them to be as soft as pinto beans.

5. Borlotti Beans

Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry or Roman beans, are widely used in Spanish and Italian cuisines.

These beans are frequently confused with pinto beans because of their appearance, taste, and nutritional profile. They're speckled/mottled, medium in size, buttery or creamy, tasty, and healthy.

With Borlotti beans' high fiber, iron, and protein levels, you won't miss out on anything from pinto beans. These beans add an extra layer of creaminess to any dish if adequately cooked.

The Thing to Remember: Borlotti beans taste best when served with savory, garden-fresh foods such as antipasti or anything with lemon juice and olive oil.

6. Lima Beans

Lima beans, also known as Peru beans, are one of the earliest cultivated beans. They are commonly found in recipes such as creamed lima beans and succotash.

While pinto beans are brown in color, lima beans are completely green. However, lima beans' buttery and creamy flavor makes them a solid pinto beans replacement.

These 'butter beans' have an exceptionally smooth texture and are highly starchy, making them a full meal.

The Thing to Remember: Lima beans are bright green, making them the ideal pinto bean substitute in salads and side meals.

7. Kidney Beans

Although kidney beans are more challenging to find than pinto beans, they are a good pinto bean substitute in various recipes.

While they are darker in color and larger in size than pinto beans, many Mexican meals, including tacos, refried beans, and casseroles, use kidney and pinto beans interchangeably.

Kidney beans are also an excellent substitution for pinto beans in soups, stews, chili, gumbo, and masala.

Their protein, iron, potassium, and magnesium contents are nearly similar. So, don't be afraid to utilize kidney beans instead of pinto beans.

The Thing to Remember: Kidney beans take time to soften, so it is better to replace them with pinto beans in slow-cooking recipes such as stew and chili.

8. Chickpeas

Who thought so? But, yes! Chickpeas are an excellent alternative to pinto beans because they are easily accessible and do not have a sharp taste.

Chickpeas originated in the Middle East, but they have spread worldwide, having a huge impact. Chickpeas have an earthy, nutty flavor and a flesh color comparable to pinto beans.

Due to their bland taste, Chickpeas are the best replacement for pinto beans in soups and salads.

For more info, check out what do chickpeas taste like.

The Thing to Remember: Chickpeas are best cooked with various sauces and spices because they are bland on their own.

Pinto Beans FAQs

What is the Best Substitute for Pinto Beans? 

Because they have a similar texture, flavor, and size, black beans or black turtle beans are the best pinto beans substitute in chili or other cuisines.

Are Pinto and Borlotti Beans the Same?

Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans, are frequently confused with pinto beans because they are both medium-sized mottled or speckled beans. However, they both differ not only in properties but in appearance too. Borlotti beans are mainly tan with red or pink specks, whereas pinto beans are brown and beige.

Are Cannellini Beans the Same as Pinto Beans? 

No, Cannellini and pinto beans are not the same thing. Cannellini is Italian in origin, whereas pinto beans are Mexican. They differ in appearance, cooking time, nutritional profile, and general application in recipes.

Can I Substitute Cannellini Beans for Pinto Beans? 

Although Cannellini beans and pinto beans are quite different types of legumes, both can be used interchangeably in many recipes because they are similar in flavor.

Can I Substitute Pinto Beans for Great Northern Beans? 

Pinto beans, as well as navy beans and lima beans, can be used as Great Northern bean substitutes in baked bean recipes to give your meal the same mild flavor.


Pinto beans are famous worldwide and full of flavor beans. However, you can replace pinto beans' taste, texture, and nutritional content with other beans available on our list of best substitutes for pinto beans.

Black beans are an excellent alternative in all situations, although red beans and adzuki give distinct flavors and brilliant hues. Experiment with these pinto bean swaps, and you're bound to find a favorite or two.

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