Black Beans Vs. Pinto Beans

Last Updated on March 7, 2024 by Lindsay Delk, RDN

Beans are a staple food for many cultures around the world, and there are many varieties of these protein-rich legumes. Two popular types of beans are black beans and pinto beans. While both offer similar nutritional benefits, there are some differences between them that could make one more suitable than the other in certain applications. Let’s compare black beans vs. pinto beans.

This post was written by Lindsay Delk, RDN. It is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice or instructions given by your healthcare provider. 

A wooden bowl of pinto beans next to a spoon of black beans to show black beans vs. pinto beans

Benefits of Black Beans and Pinto Beans

Beans are a versatile food across cultures around the globe. And beans are nutritional powerhouses. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder beans have been a beloved ingredient in home kitchens for centuries.

High in plant-based protein

Beans are a great source of protein, which your body needs to build and maintain muscle mass, regulate hormones, provide efficient energy production, and keep your immune system strong. And beans are plant-based protein, making them a great choice for vegetarians and vegans.

Low fat

Beans are naturally low in fat, especially compared to other sources of protein, such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.

High in complex carbohydrates

The carbohydrates in beans are complex, so they provide sustained energy and can help to reduce feelings of fatigue and sluggishness throughout the day.

High in fiber and prebiotics

Beans are high in fiber and prebiotics. They are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber helps to regulate the digestive process. Prebiotics are special types of fiber that can help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Beans contain these prebiotics that nourish your good gut bacteria, improving gut health, mental health, and immunity.

Hands holding dry black beans in a heart shape

High in vitamins and minerals

Beans are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, especially iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, folate, and other B vitamins.

High in antioxidants

Beans are high in polyphenols, some of which are strong antioxidants. Antioxidants act as scavengers of harmful free radicals, preventing them from causing damage to cells and tissues in your body. Diets rich in antioxidants are linked to a lower risk for depression and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Delicious

Even picky eaters often enjoy the taste of beans. They have a mild flavor that you can enhance with seasonings. By adding beans to your meals, you can add more fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients without sacrificing flavor.

Inexpensive

Beans are a cost-effective option for adding more plant-based foods into your meals. Beans are economical, so they can work into any food budget.

Versatile and easy to prepare

Beans are versatile, and you can find them fresh, dried, frozen, or canned. They are easy to find and prepare. There are many ways to add beans to your diet to provide extra flavor, texture, and nutrition.

Black Beans Vs. Pinto Beans

Black Beans Vs. Pinto Beans Nutrition

The nutritional value of black beans and pinto beans are similar. The table below compares the top nutrients in these types of beans.

A comparison chart of the nutrition facts for black beans vs. pinto beans

Texture

Black beans and pinto beans have distinct differences in texture. Black beans have a dense, chewy texture that is firm when cooked. Pinto beans have a much softer texture than black beans when cooked. Because of their softness, pinto beans are often mashed to create creamy dishes like refried beans or bean dips.

While both types of beans can be used for similar recipes, the difference in texture can help determine which one you may prefer for certain dishes. For example, if you are making a chili dish, you may want to choose black beans due to their firmer texture while pinto beans would be best in a mashed bean dip due to its softer texture. It’s up to the cook to decide which beans will work best for their dish.

Taste

Black beans have an earthy, nutty flavor. They are often used in Latin American cuisine. Pinto beans have a milder flavor with earthy notes. They are more popular in Mexican dishes. The taste of black beans is more distinct than pinto beans because it has an earthier flavor that stands out more when cooked.

Ways to Add More Beans to Your Diet

  • Serve black beans or pinto beans as a side dish. Canned beans are cooked and ready to eat. Drain the canning liquid, rinse, season with spices or herbs of your choice, and heat.
Close up of cooked pinto beans
  • Whip up a batch of refried beans. Refried beans are one of the most popular Mexican dishes. Pinto beans are more common, but you can make refried black beans too. Just mash the cooked beans until they reach your desired consistency, then add some spices and seasonings to bring out the flavor.
  • Add beans to green salads, tacos, taco salads, and soups for extra protein and fiber.
Black bean, avocado, tomato, and red onion salad in a white bowl
  • Make a bean dip. Add different spices, such as cumin, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, or chili powder for flavor variations. Serve with cut vegetables or whole grain crackers as a healthy snack option.
  • Add beans to quinoa, rice, or other grains for a side dish. Stir in at the end of cooking to heat them through and season with herbs or spices.
  • Make homemade bean burgers with mashed black or pinto beans combined with bread crumbs and the seasoning of your choice (garlic powder, onion powder, and/or oregano). Form into patties and chill for about 30 minutes before cooking. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on a whole wheat bun.
  • Make a vegetarian version of chili by using beans instead of meat. Try black beans with diced tomatoes and bell peppers or a combination of black beans, pinto beans, and corn for a southwestern-style chili.
A bowl of bean and veggie soup next to a bowl of tortilla chips and a spoon
  • Mix beans with roasted red peppers, olives, artichokes, feta cheese, and olive oil for a flavorful Mediterranean-inspired dish.
  • Bake some bean brownies. Try replacing half of the traditional flour in your favorite recipe with mashed black beans for a delicious and nutritious twist on an old classic.
  • Add beans to smoothies for a protein boost.
  • Try these recipes for Roasted Tomato & White Bean Stew, Garlic Parmesan Edamame, and Cowboy Caviar.
Two salt shakers, one filled with pinto beans and one filled with black beans

FAQ about Black Beans Vs. Pinto Beans

Are black beans gluten free?

Yes, black beans are naturally gluten-free, so you can eat them even if you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. Make sure to read the label on any black bean mixes for any hidden gluten.

Are black beans healthier than pinto beans?

No, black beans and pinto beans offer similar health benefits. Both are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Both of these foods are great sources of plant-based protein and can be included in vegetarian or vegan diets.

Can dogs eat black beans?

Yes, dogs can eat plain black beans. But only serve your pup small amounts at any given time since eating too many could cause an upset stomach or other digestive issues.

Can dogs eat pinto beans?

Yes, dogs can eat pinto beans. Pinto beans contain essential nutrients that may benefit your dog. But feed them plain pinto beans in moderation.

Bottom Line

When comparing black beans vs. pinto beans, you will see that both are nutritious and versatile ingredients. They offer similar health benefits, but each has a unique texture and flavor that make them stand out on their own.

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