Black Beans Vs Pinto Beans: Are They Same or Not?

In today’s day, people are becoming more and more aware and cautious over what type of food they are consuming, and so more and more people are now adding beans to their daily diets. The two most common types of beans are black beans vs pinto beans.

Both these bean types have great nutritional values and are delicious when cooked right. However, not many people know exactly what distinguishes one type of bean from the other.

To answer questions, such as whether or not you can use pinto beans if the recipe calls for black beans or which type of bean is healthier than the other. Here is everything that you need to know about their similarities and differences. 

1. Appearance 

This is the first difference that anyone would note between the two types of beans and the most distinguishable feature. 

Black Beans

Black Beans

Black beans are quite small in size and have an oval shape. As the name suggests, black beans are also black in their exterior and have a center that is light cream in color.

Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans, on the other hand, are much larger in size than black beans in both height and width. Their exterior is also light caramel in color with tan marks.

However, unlike black beans which don’t lose their black color after being cooked, pinto beans tend to lose their pigmentation after being cooked.

2. Flavor Profile 

The next feature that you can use to distinguish the difference between black beans and pinto beans is their flavor profile. Of course, even though both are beans, both have their own distinct flavor profiles.

However, despite their obvious differences in flavors, both beans tend to pair incredibly well with different types of spices, such as cumin, as well as different herbs, which include chile and cilantro. 

Black Beans

The flavor profile of black beans is much heartier and quite rich. They also tend to have a hearty texture with a dense and strong flavor profile. One can almost describe the black beans are grain-like or crunchy when it comes to their consistency.

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans have an earthy and creamy flavor profile. They are also much softer as compared to black beans. The flavor profile of pinto beans is much more rounded, which makes it suitable for most people’s tastes.

The great thing about the flavor profile of pinto beans is that they tend to take on the aromatic profile of the ingredients that you cook them with, which makes them incredibly versatile in recipes. 

3. Texture 

The texture of the beans is an important aspect to take into account when figuring out whether you can use both the beans interchangeably within a recipe.

Black Beans

The texture of black beans is known to be quite sturdy, which contributes to their dense flavor profile. This texture is what makes black beans much more ideal to use in dips and soups than pinto beans.

This is because black beans are able to withstand much higher cooking temperatures are able to absorb and retain moisture from other ingredients, such as broths, without getting too watery and, more importantly, mushy. 

Pinto Beans 

Unlike black beans, pinto beans have a texture that tends to be much softer. As mentioned before, they are also quite creamy. The creamy flavor profile coupled with the soft texture makes them ideal for when you are making fillings or even spreads.

Unlike black beans, pinto beans are much more sensitive to moisture and, therefore, tend to get much mushier. Therefore, making them ideal for mashed dips or dips with a creamy texture.

This also makes them the perfect choice for spreads containing refried beans, also known as frijoles refritos.

4. Origins

To understand why both the bean types are different, one must understand how both the beans were sourced and where they come from. Although both black beans and pinto beans are sourced from South America, their origins do diverge. 

Black Beans

While originating from South America, black beans, within the 15th century, during the Age of Exploration, were brought to Europe. This was accomplished by Spanish explorers who have come into contact with the indigenous people residing in South America.

Eventually, black beans made their way to Asia and are used in several Indian and Pakistani dishes in today’s day. This was most likely accomplished using the Silk Road. 

Pinto Beans 

Pinto beans originated from Peru and are likely to have been spread to North America through inter-tribal trading as well as migrating tribes in South America.

Sources claim that the harvest and consumption of pinto beans in both Central and South America date all the way back to 3000 BCE.

5. Cuisines

Both black beans and pinto beans tend to be quite versatile and are used in a wide variety of different regions as well as national cuisines. Of course, due to the differences mentioned above, each bean is ideal for different types of cuisines. 

Black Beans

Black beans are used as a staple in Creole, Caribbean, and Cajun cuisines, and, of course, who could forget the trademark black bean used in chili and gumbo within the South-Eastern region of the United States.

Black beans are quite popular as a side dish with rice and soup. They are also used as the star ingredient in Central and South American, Cuban, Venezuelan, and more dishes.

They are also quite popular in Brazil and are the star ingredient within their national dish, which is known as feijoada. 

Pinto Beans 

Pinto beans, on the other hand, are used as a staple within Mexican and South-Western American cuisines. Due to their nutty flavor profile, black beans are ideally used in quesadillas, burritos, and, of course, tacos.

Similar to black beans, pinto beans are also used in Brazilian dishes. However, they are much more predominantly used in Brazil and served on the side with meat and rice.

6. Nutritional Facts

Both black beans and pinto beans are incredibly healthy and are used as staples within well-balanced diets. This is because both beans are high in proteins and fibers, which provide you with incredible amounts of vitamins and minerals.

This helps keep you satisfied throughout the day. In fact, research has found that those who tend to consume a high quantity of beans tend to have lower levels of cholesterol and a lower chance of heart attacks.

Here are some ways in which the nutritional value of both black beans vs pinto beans differ. 

A. Calories 

While one cup of black beans contains 227 calories, the same amount of pinto beans contains 234 calories. So, if you are trying to obtain a caloric deficit, pinto beans might be the ideal choice out of the two. 

B. Sodium Content

While lower in calories, pinto beans are known to have a higher sodium content than black beans, so if you are someone who needs to keep an eye on their sodium intake, black beans are the better choice. 

C. Fat Content

Similar to having a higher sodium content, pinto beans are also known to have a higher content of fat within a single cup as compared to black beans.

However, it is important to note that both black beans and pinto beans, on a general scale compared to other ingredients, have a lower fat content and higher nutritional value, making them incredibly heart-friendly.

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans: Which Is Better?

In terms of their nutritional value, black beans have a slight edge as compared to pinto beans. So, black beans are denser in their nutritional value. Of course, this in no way means that pinto beans are not a healthy choice.

More specifically speaking, both black beans and pinto beans contain a healthy dose of potassium, Vitamin B1, iron, magnesium, manganese, and even phosphorous. Although, when a gram of each bean is compared, black beans have a higher dose of nutrients.

This is because black beans have a higher content of proteins and fiber within a single cup. Not to mention that black beans have less starch and carbohydrates as compared to pinto beans.

In fact, black beans also have a higher amount of antioxidants, which helps our bodies in fighting off harmful bacterias.

In the United States of America, you are very likely to purchase and consume the canned version of both black beans and pinto beans, which have been precooked and can be eaten straight out of the can.

However, if you would like to go for a more fresh route within the cooking and consumption process, you can also find these beans in their raw form. The cooking process of both black beans and pinto beans is the same, where you will have to boil them for more than an hour till they are soft.

The traditional cooking process is much more high maintenance, where you will have to soak them overnight or for a minimum of six to nine hours before you boil them. The soaking allows the beans to become soft and edible at a much faster rate.