12 Substitutes for Pinto Beans You Should Know

Pinto beans are one of most popular types of beans in Mexican, American and Spanish recipes. They come with light brown color, and compared to many other types of beans they have a softer and creamier texture when cooked. 

When choosing a bean substitute, you should consider the taste and the texture of the chosen alternative. These two important things refer to the substitutes for pinto beans too

You can find either dried or canned versions of pinto beans but if neither are available, check the alternatives offered in this guide.  

Best Pinto Beans Substitutes To Try

1. Navy Beans

The best thing about navy beans is that they can be used instead of pinto beans in almost all cooked dishes. You can mostly use them with pork meat.

Navy beans can substitute pinto beans in pinto chili recipes as they are cooked the same way as pinto beans. You may often meet navy beans in spicy Mexican meals which means that it tastes similar to pinto beans.

Navy beans offer a light taste and smooth texture, due to which you don’t need to soak them overnight. However, if you want to make them cook faster, you may soak them in cold water for 4 hours. 

2. Black Turtle Beans

If the color doesn’t matter then another great choice can be black turtle beans. They taste sweet and mild.

Usually they require more time to be well-cooked than pinto beans but they do provide a similar taste. You can replace them with pinto beans in soups, stews, and salads.

It is important to know that black beans tend to change the color of the dish into a darker shade, so if you don’t want to have a darker color for your dish then you may opt for another substitute.

3. Kidney Beans

There are light and dark kidney beans between which darker ones have a thicker skin. So, you may cook them longer.

Although they differ from pinto beans in size and texture, they are still one of the best beans to use instead of pintos.

Kidney beans are a good match to choose because there are some recipes where kidney beans and pinto beans are used interchangeably. They come with a similar taste and can provide your dishes with the desired mild flavor.

These beans are easy to find in stores and you may even have them in your pantry. So, check it before you may look for other pinto bean substitutes. 

4. Borlotti Beans / Cranberry Beans

Borlotti beans or cranberry beans come with beige to pink color accompanied with reddish pigments. They have a nutty sweetness and go well with a number of dishes including both cold and hot meals.

Borlotti beans are popular in Italian, Mexican and Portuguese recipes. You can mix them with different spices and sauces such as garlic, tomato and chilies.

You can safely season these beans with the same species as pinto beans. They also taste good with sausages, bacon, pumpkin soups and stews.

To shorten the cooking time you’d better soak them overnight and then cook. The best part about borlotti beans is that they keep their shape even when reheated.  

5. Adzuki Beans

Adzuki beans have a Japanese origin. They are more popular in Asian cuisines. These small beans have a juicy red color which looks good in savory dishes, salads and especially in desserts. 

One of the most important things to know about adzuki beans is that they require 2-4 days to be soaked in water. Then you can use them even raw as they become smooth and so delicious. 

Choose adzuki beans to replace pinto beans in salads, savory dishes, hummus, breads, curries and soups. They have a sweet, mild and nutty flavor.

6. Great Northern Beans

Great Northern beans are especially popular in Northern America. They are white beans with a medium-sized shape but smaller than pinto beans. They have a mild nutty flavor and can substitute pinto beans in several meals. 

Since these beans have a kind of sweetness, you may add some spices to stabilize the taste. Great Northern beans go well with ham, meats and vegetables as well as soups, stews and salads. 

These beans are perfect on their own and you can just cook them, add spices and butter and eat them like pinto beans. 

7. Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans are usually used in Italian dishes. They have a creamy texture when cooked and you can cook and use them the way you use pinto beans. The only thing that may matter is its color. 

These beans have a milky white color which becomes creamier in dishes. It tastes like pinto beans and can replace pintos. More often we see cannellini beans in pastas, bruschetta and salads. Make sure you soak them 5 hours before cooking.

8. Lima Beans

The softest beans you can ever meet are lima beans. They are often called butter beans because when they are cooked and mashed they become so subtle and creamy that they look like butter. 

They best substitute pinto beans in side dishes but you can choose them for other recipes too. Just keep in mind that they are subtle in texture and taste velvety and buttery.

These beans come with an exotic green color which will make your dish more attractive. 

9. Anasazi Beans

If you have the chance to purchase anasazi beans, then I am here to tell you that you are going to love them more than pinto beans. While it is not easy to find these beans, they are great substitutes for pintos. 

Compared to pinto beans, anasazi beans are sweeter and can be used in stews, soups, salads and savory dishes. 

10. Black-Eyed Peas / Cowpeas

Black-eyed peas or the so-called cowpeas are a type of bean rather than pea. The name comes from the appearance: a black-eyed pea has a white color with a black dot on it which looks like an eye. 

They offer a mild and neutral flavor that can be enriched with spices. You can use them instead of pinto beans in soups, stews and slow-cooked dishes. However, compared to pinto beans cowpeas have a stronger flavor and some saltiness. 

11. Chickpeas

If you are looking for a pinto bean substitute which is not actually a type of bean, then here are chickpeas. Perhaps you have a special reason not to use beans in your recipes but it may look kind of empty without it.

Then, consider chickpeas as pinto beans substitutes. 

Just like pinto beans, chickpeas also require soaking to be cooked fast. You can use them in soups and salads.

12. White Beans

Sometimes white beans are considered the same as Cannellini beans or the Great Northern Beans but both are just a type of white beans. If these are not available in your region you can choose any pale or white-colored beans instead of pintos. 

White beans are healthy and they are rich in folate which is good especially for pregnant women. They have a nutty taste and texture when cooked.

FAQs on Pinto Beans

Do you have to soak pinto beans before cooking?

If you want to cook pinto beans faster, then it is recommended to soak them overnight for the best result. However, if you don’t have that much time to wait, you can soak them for 2-4 hours. 

Why use dry pinto beans instead of canned?

While it is easier to use canned beans, dry beans are tastier. So, if you have the chance to use dried pinto beans in your dish, then don’t substitute them with canned ones. 


Perhaps you may find other substitutes for pinto beans but here we have shared the best alternatives to help you narrow down your choice and pick only the most suitable options.

Try to use your personal cooking experience when playing with substitutions and maybe you’ll reach a better result. 

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