pinto beans alternative

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Are you making a recipe that calls for pinto beans? Are you also looking for some pinto beans substitute options? If you are, then you will be glad to learn about these 10 easy ways to substitute for pinto beans in a recipe. Keep reading to find out how!

substitute for pinto beans

Pinto beans also called strawberry beans or poroto frutilla are small beans from the Phaseolus vulgaris family. Pinto means speckled in Spanish and accounts for the appearance of pinto beans which are off-white in color with pale pink to reddish speckles all over the bean in its raw form. 

When cooked, Pinto beans have a flavor that is sweet and slightly nutty, with a creamy texture. They also lose their speckles and become reddish-brown in color when cooked.

Pinto beans are often used to make refried beans, burritos, tacos, chili, nacho dips, falafel, stews, and more.

But what if you’re making a recipe that calls for some pinto beans and you have none on hand? Can you find suitable substitutes for pinto beans?

The best news is that you can. All you need to successfully replace pinto beans is to find other beans that are slightly sweet and nutty with a creamy texture. There are more than 10 beans with those characteristics! 

To sum up, the best substitutes for pinto beans are cranberry beans, navy beans, Great Northern beans, Cannellini beans, black beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, and butter beans. However, we’ll discuss 10 of those below:

Best substitutes for pinto beans

Cranberry beans (or borlotti beans)

cranberry beans

Cranberry beans also called borlotti beans can be used as a substitute for pinto beans. Cranberry beans are oblong-shaped, and light brown in color with purple to pinkish speckles.

These beans can work to replace pinto beans because they’re slightly sweet and nutty in flavor with a creamy texture.

Use a 1:1 ratio of cranberry beans for pinto beans when preparing your dish.

Navy beans

Navy beans

Navy beans or pearl haricot beans are another great pinto beans substitute. These beans are small whitish beans with a light nutty flavor and creamy texture. 

Use navy beans in chili, tacos, enchiladas, and more. It is important to note that navy beans take between 45 and 90 minutes to cook compared to soaked pinto which takes between 45-50 minutes to cook.

Great northern beans

Great northern beans

If you have great Northern beans or common beans, these can also be used as a replacement for pinto beans. While they don’t look similar, great northern beans do have a mild, nutty flavor and become smooth when cooked which is somewhat similar to pinto.

Great Northern beans make a great replacement for pinto beans in dishes like chili, baked beans, bean salads, and more.

Cannellini beans

pinto beans

Cannellini beans can also be used to substitute pinto beans. Cannellini beans are mild, nutty, and earthy in flavor with a fluffy texture when cooked.

These beans are easily used in place of pinto beans in dishes like bean salads, stews, chili, dips, and even refried beans.

Black beans

Black beans as a pinto beans replacement

Black beans have a mild flavor and a velvety smooth texture when cooked. Due to this, black beans make a suitable substitute for pinto beans.

While black beans are black compared to the reddish-brown color of pinto beans, they can be used to make refried beans, bean salads, enchiladas, burritos, chili, and even soups.

Black beans take about 1 ½ to 2 hours to cook compared to the 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours it takes for pinto beans to be cooked, so keep this in mind when using them in place of pinto.

Red kidney beans

red kidney beans

While red kidney beans are more meaty and dense in texture compared to pinto beans which have a more creamy texture, red kidney beans do have a slightly sweet flavor which is somewhat similar to pinto. 

Both kidney beans and pinto beans take about the same time to cook which is 90 -120 minutes.

Use red kidney beans to replace strawberry beans in dishes like soups, salads, chilis, and even baked beans.



Chickpeas or garbanzo beans can also be used as an alternative to pinto beans. Keep in mind that garbanzo beans or chickpeas have a beany, earthy, and slightly nutty flavor with a creamy, mildly grainy texture.

Use chickpeas to replace pinto in dishes like salads, soups, and stews.

Butter beans

Butter beans

Butter beans are large white or cream-colored beans that make a good substitute for pinto beans. Butter beans are creamy rich, buttery beans that can be used in stews, bean salads, dips, and even chili.

Final thoughts

There you have it! 9 other easy to find beans that can be used to replace pinto beans in any recipe. Therefore, if you ran out of pinto in the middle of a recipe, or you’re just looking for alternatives, you can most likely find at least 2 of these in your kitchen right now!

And, while it is always best to use the exact ingredients recommended to make a recipe, sometimes, you just can’t find what you need and you don’t want to ran to the store so alternatives are the second best way to go!

Feel free to share in the comments which pinto beans substitute you used and in what recipe you used it!

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