Pinto vs Black Beans: Nutrition, Appearance, Taste & More

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Beans, beans, beans.

There are so many different types of them, all with unique flavours and textures that can be incorporated into some fantastic cuisines.

In this article, we’ll be comparing two types: specifically black beans versus pinto beans.

Differences in Appearance

Pinto and black beans are both oval-shaped, medium-sized beans, but this is where their physical similarities end. Apart from their size and shape, the appearances of these beans are wildly different from one another.

Firstly, pinto beans have a light brown exterior which is dotted with flecks of red. Interestingly, the beans get their name from their paint-splash appearance –  ‘pinto’ in Spanish means ‘painted’.

However, when pinto beans are cooked, they lose this unique exterior and instead turn pink.

Black beans, as the name suggests, are matte black in color but have a fleshy white inside. If you choose to soak and boil black beans, some of the coloring will leak into the water and make them slightly lighter. However, they will still retain their dark, rich color.

Taste Differences

Both pinto and black beans are incredibly delicious and have very different tastes to one another.

To begin with, pinto beans have a creamy, nutty taste and are often described as having ‘earthy’ flavour notes. They work extremely well as fillings for burritos or in a chunky vegetable soup because of their smooth, refreshing taste.

Black beans can be described as rich and meaty in flavour and are often used as meat substitutes because of this quality. To further season pinto and black beans, they are sometimes cooked with meats such as ham or bacon (which is fried before being added to the beans).

However, the flavour of these beans on their own is more than tasty enough!

Texture Differences

The biggest difference between these two types of beans (aside from their appearance) is their texture. Because of their different textures, black and pinto beans are each individually suited towards different culinary dishes.

Pinto beans are much softer and easy to mash in comparison to black beans. Due to their soft nature, they are often used in dips or dishes that have creamier textures.

On the other hand, black beans have a meatier, crunchier texture and can be used in soups and other hot dishes without becoming soft – unlike pinto beans which would crumble and dissolve under high heat.

They remain much firmer when boiled in comparison to their pinto bean counterparts.

Black beans are not as creamy as pinto beans and can add a harder, grainier texture to dishes that they are incorporated into.

Origin Differences

Pinto beans are a staple which originates from Peru in Mexico. Through the migration of Indian trades, these tasty beans were discovered by many people all across Central and South America.

Black beans are native to Central and South America, where they have been a popular food item for over 7000 years. Today, both black and pinto beans have spread from their origins and are used widely all across the world in many dishes.

Use in Different Cuisines

Both black and pinto beans are a hearty and healthy foodstuff that can be found in many dishes.

Pinto beans are often used in Mexico or North America, where they can be incorporated in a wide range of meals. For example, the beans can be easily mashed due to their soft texture and eaten in broth, soups and dips.

Pinto beans are commonly fried and used alongside meats and salads as a filling for burritos. In addition, thanks to their high protein content, pinto beans can be used as a meat replacement.

Black beans have a multitude of uses in cuisines. They are popular in salads as they add a contrasting crunchy texture to softer vegetables. The remarkable little beans can also be mixed alongside herbs and spices into vegetable bean burgers.

There are many other popular dishes in which black beans can be used. These include black bean soup, vegan chilli and quesadillas, as well as salsa and dips.

Nutrition Differences

The nutritional content of pinto and black beans is incredibly similar.

In terms of calorific content, pinto beans contain slightly more calories, at around 245 per cup, in comparison with black beans which contain 227 in the same quantity.

They both contain a lot of starch and fibre, which means that the beans are great to put into dishes to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Pinto and black beans also contain a large amount of protein.

Therefore, these tasty beans can be used as meat replacements for vegetarian or vegan meals in order to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Due to the similar quantity of nutrients and calories in pinto and black beans, both types can be used interchangeably in cooking without worrying about differing nutritional intake.

Cooking Differences

Pinto and black beans both require the same cooking process. The dry versions of the beans must be prepared by boiling them using a stove, or by using a pressure cooker.

Whilst cooking the beans, herbs and spices such as chilli and garlic can be added for extra flavouring.

To make it easier to cook the beans, it is often recommended to soak them in plenty of water for 6-8 hours beforehand so they are softer.

Once they are cooked, they are usually seasoned with salt. The water which the beans are cooked in is often added to soups to add more flavouring.

However, if you are in a rush, pinto and black beans can be quickly prepared by using their canned versions. These can simply be heated in a microwave and served instantly, although the slower method of cooking them from dry certainly heightens their flavours.


Black beans and pinto beans have vastly different appearances and textures and can be used in many dishes.

They both lend themselves well to a plethora of cuisines, are cooked in exactly the same way and offer a remarkably similar nutritional content to one another.

So, the choice is yours – cooking with either one will create some amazing, nutritious dishes!