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Pinto beans are a staple in many Mexican dishes, but what do you do if you’re out of them or don’t have the time to soak and cook them? Luckily, there is plenty of pinto bean substitutes that will still give your dish the same or similar flavor. Check out this guide to find the best substitution for pinto beans in your favorite recipe.
What Do Pinto Beans Taste Like?
Pinto beans, a popular legume in Mexican cuisine, have a nutty flavor when cooked, although the flavor can vary depending on how it is prepared. They are often boiled and mashed for a savory-tasting refried dish with Spanish roots.
Pinto beans can also be used in hearty stews, soups, and chilis, providing an extra real earthiness to the dishes. Fresh green pinto bean pods can also be eaten straight off the plant, but this is not as common since most people can’t find them fresh. All in all, pinto beans deliver ample amounts of flavor when cooked, which makes them a great addition to numerous recipes.
Pinto Bean Substitutes You Gotta Try
If you are using a canned bean substitute no need to worry about soak and cook time. But if you decide to cook one of these beans, I highly recommend reading up on them. Some need a long soak time, while others don’t. This goes the same for cook time.
If you have never soaked your uncooked beans before then I encourage you to give it a try. We soak all our beans in baking soda before making them. It helps break down different acids in the beans, making them easier to digest and cook! And that’s just a couple of the benefits.
Pink beans are an excellent substitute for pinto beans because they have a mild nutty flavor and creamy texture. The two types of beans are very similar in size and shape, making pink beans a great option when substituting for pinto beans.
The main difference between the two varieties is the color; pink beans are slightly darker than pinto beans. They usually require less cooking time than pinto beans, so it’s important to adjust your recipe accordingly.
Small Red Beans
Small red beans offer a slightly sweet taste with a firm texture that holds up well during cooking. While small red beans look like large red kidney beans, they are actually smaller in size and have a more intense flavor than their larger counterpart. Small red beans take longer to cook than other substitutes on this list which makes them ideal for soups and stews.
Red Kidney Beans
Red kidney beans have a nutty and slightly sweet flavor that gives dishes an extra layer of depth and richness. They are larger than both pink and small red beans but similar to pinto bean size. When substituting red kidney beans for pinto in recipes such as refried bean dips or chilis, make sure to taste as you go.
You may have to adjust the seasoning because red kidney beans have a different flavor profile than pinto.
Anasazi Beans offer an incredible combination of nutty sweetness with a hint of earthiness from their mealy texture. These unique little legumes resemble pink or small red kidney beans but have a unique speckled pattern on their skins that sets them apart from other types of bean varieties out there. Anasazi Beans hold their shape well during cooking making them perfect for salads or side dishes where you want the full bean intact instead of mashed up into refrieds or soup mixes.
Borlotti beans, which are also known as cranberry or Roman beans, are an heirloom variety of kidney bean that is popular in Italian cuisine. These beans boast a delicate flavor as well as a slightly nutty texture. In addition to being used in soups and pasta dishes, these same beans can be dried or frozen for later use.
When fresh, borlotti beans have vibrant magenta shells paired with white-streaked interiors, giving them the signature appearance that often serves as a distinguishing factor in traditional recipes. They have been cultivated for hundreds of years and have become a beloved staple in many modern-day recipes due to their flavor and versatile applications.
What About Black Beans?
Black beans are a type of legume that is popular in many Latin American dishes. They are small, oval-shaped beans with a glossy black or dark purple hue and a dense texture. High in fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates, black beans are an excellent source of nutrition and can be added to a variety of meals for purpose. When cooked on their own, black beans produce an earthy flavor and creamy texture that goes well with bold ingredients such as smoky chiles and peppers. Black beans are also commonly used to make burritos, stews, chili, or refried beans.
They are not really a good substitute for pinto beans in the sense of comparing the two. BUT black beans tend to pair well with Mexican and Latin cuisine, and if that’s what your recipe originates from, then it is possible that black beans could work for you. Use discretion, but don’t worry about taking a risk!
My Final Thoughts On Substitutes for Pinto Beans
Whether you’re looking for an alternative to pinto beans or want something new and exciting in your meals, there are plenty of options out there! From pink beans to Borlotti beans, each variety offers its own unique flavor profile, which can transform any dish into something special! We hope this list has inspired you when it comes time to pick out your next batch of dried legumes! Bon appetit!