Black beans and pinto beans are two types of popular legumes. What are the similarities and differences between the two? In this post, I review black beans vs. pinto beans, their flavor profiles, texture, cooking techniques, and more, so that you can decide which type of bean is best for your intended purpose.
Black beans and pinto beans are popular legumes that are used in a variety of different cuisines. They are both nutrient-rich plant sources. But you may be wondering what the difference is between these two common bean types. Do they have different flavor profiles? Is one better than another in a particular recipe? How does their nutrition content vary? In this article, I will explain both the similarities and differences between these two popular beans, including flavor, texture, cooking method, origin, and nutrition comparison. You’ll learn everything you need to know about these two types of beans so that you can make an informed decision when you prepare your next recipe.
Flavor Profiles of Black Beans vs Pinto Beans
Black Beans have a dense bite and a strong flavor. They are hearty, yet small in size with an oval shape. As the name indicates, they are black in color. When bitten into they have a lighter internal color. They are also referred to as the black turtle bean.
Pinto Beans are larger in size. They have a tan color with speckles of brown. In Spanish, pinto means painted. This refers to the different colors on the outer shell. They have a nutty, earthy, creamy flavor, that is milder than black beans.
The Texture of Black Beans vs Pinto Beans
Black beans have a hearty and dense texture, while pinto beans have a creamy texture.
Black beans are great for dips and stews because they hold up well when cooked in a broth or chili. Pinto beans, on the other hand, are excellent for spreads because they are easily mashed together to create a creamy base. That is why they are frequently used to make refried beans, or used as a filling in burritos.
Black beans are dense and sturdy.
Pinto beans are soft and creamy.
Cooking with Black Beans and Pinto Beans
You can buy canned black beans or pinto beans, or you can prepare dried beans to use in your favorite recipes. The taste of both beans is much improved if you prepare dried rather than use canned. If you are preparing dried beans it is important to remember to soak them overnight. This helps to soften the beans which allows them to cook more quickly, but it also reduces and helps to release the sugars in the beans that later cause gas.
Preparing dried black beans and pinto beans is a similar process. The main difference is that pinto beans need to cook a little bit longer because they are larger in size.
How to Prepare Dried Black Beans:
Step 1: Rinse and sort the beans, removing any stones or other debris.
Step 2: Add the beans to a large bowl. Cover with 3-4 inches of water above the beans. Soak the beans overnight or for 8 hours at room temperature. Place a dish towel over the top while soaking.
Step 3: Drain the beans from the water they soaked in overnight. Transfer them to a large pot. Cover with 4 inches of fresh water. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 1-2 hours, or until the black beans are softened.
Step 4: Drain any excess water, and add to your favorite recipes.
How to Prepare Dried Pinto Beans
Step 1: Rinse and sort the beans, removing any stones or debris, and remove any beans that are deformed or shriveled.
Step 2: Add the beans to a large bowl, and cover with 3-4 inches of water. Soak the beans overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours at room temperature. Place a dish towel over the top of the bowl while soaking.
Step 3: Drain and rinse the beans. Transfer the beans to a large pot. Cover with 4 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 2-2 ½ hours.
Step 4: Remove the beans from the heat. Drain any excess water. Use in your favorite recipes.
Types of Cuisines
Both black beans and pinto beans can be used in a variety of different recipes and types of cuisine. They are both versatile beans with a nice flavor and texture. However, black beans and pinto beans have some differences when it comes to the typical types of cuisines they are used in most often.
Black beans are most often used in Latin American cuisine. For example, they are frequently used in Brazil, Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic, with black beans being at the forefront of some of the most popular dishes in these countries. Some of those dishes include feijoada, Moros y Cristianos, gallo pinto, and pabellón criollo. They are often used to make black bean soup with traditional spices and Southwestern and Caribbean dishes prepared with cajun spices and simmered with onions.
Creamy pinto beans are used most often in Mexican recipes such as refried beans, a filling for burritos, and as a bean dip. In addition, they are also a staple in Brazilian cuisine and are used in many recipes along with rice.
Origin of Black Beans and Pinto Beans
Both black beans and pinto beans originated in South America.
Black beans were grown in South America, but brought to other parts of the world in the early 15th century, most likely through the Silk Road and Spanish Explorers. They then made their way to Europe and Asia. Black beans are frequently used in Indian cuisine.
Pinto beans originate from the South American country of Peru. The beans migrated to Central and North America likely from trading.
Both black beans and pinto beans are legumes. This means that they come from a plant that grows in a pod, and produces beans within that pod. Other legumes include lentils, peas, and other types of beans like kidney beans and white beans. These same beans can also be used as seeds to grow more plants.
Black beans and pinto beans are both very nutritious. They are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals while low in calories and fat. But their nutrition profile varies slightly.
|½ cup Cooked Black Beans||½ cup Cooked Pinto Beans|
|Fat||.5 grams||.5 grams|
|Carbohydrates||20 grams||22 grams|
|Protein||8 grams||8 grams|
|Fiber||8 grams||8 grams|
|Sugar||.28 grams||.28 grams|
|Calcium||23 mg||39 mg|
|Folate||128 msg||147 msg|
|Magnesium||60 mg||23 mg|
|Iron||1.8 mg||2 mg|
|Potassium||305 mg||373 mg|
|Phosphorus||120 mg||125 mg|
As you can see both black beans and pinto beans have similar calorie and fat counts. As well as the same amount of protein and fiber. The main differences between the two are in the vitamins and minerals they provide. Pinto beans have a slightly higher amount of calcium, folate, and potassium. And black beans have a slightly higher amount of magnesium. Both are nutritious choices to add to your diet!
The health benefits of incorporating beans into your diet, including both black and pinto beans include reduced risk of heart diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. They are a great source of folate which helps produce healthy red blood cells. Rich in antioxidants, beans can help prevent certain types of diseases. In addition, they can improve your overall gut health, and curb your appetite.
Black beans and pinto beans are both legumes used in a variety of Latin American, Mexican, Southwestern, and even Indian recipes.
Black beans are smaller in size, robust in flavor, heartier in texture, and work best in stews, chilis, and curries. Pinto beans are larger in size, brown in color, mild in flavor, have a creamy texture, and work best as dips, spreads, and fillings for burritos and wraps. Both reign from the South American region and were brought to other parts of the world through trade routes and explorers.
Each type of bean can be purchased either canned or dried. Preparing both types of dried beans is similar. Both require soaking overnight and then simmering on the stovetop for 2 or more hours.
Black beans and pinto beans also have a similar nutritional profile. Both are low in calories and fat, while high in protein and fiber. They differ most distinctly in their nutritional content of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, and magnesium.
Choosing which bean is best for your recipe will depend on whether you’re looking for a sturdy bean or a soft bean. Black beans will hold up well against other ingredients and maintain its shape and texture. However, if you’re looking for a creamy mild flavored bean that is easy to spread, then opt for pinto beans.