Black Beans vs Pinto Beans, What is the Difference? (Plus Nutrition)

When it comes to eating healthier with a well-rounded, healthy diet rich in plants, we don’t want to forget about beans! With over 400 different types of beans, from white beans to navy beans to great northern beans and roman beans, there seems to be a type of bean named for every color, size, and place you can imagine!

With so many varieties of beans to choose from, let’s narrow it down and look at two of the most popular beans in American cuisine, black beans vs pinto beans.

When it comes to deciding between these two popular beans, the most common questions are:

What is the difference between black beans vs pinto beans? Which one is more nutritious?

Let’s dive in and find out more!

Black Beans

Black beans are a variety of common beans and part of the legume family. The most common variety of black beans is the black turtle beans or turtle beans because of their hard, shiny shell that can slightly resemble that of a turtle.

Black beans have been introduced throughout the world but are native to the Americas. They are especially popular in Latin American and Cajun cuisines. They are commonly used in stews, soups, and dips, as well as salads, and served along with rice. They are readily available at most grocery stores as dried beans and canned beans.

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are also a variety of common beans and part of the legume family. Pinto beans are the foundation for many Latin American dishes. They are the most popular bean consumed in the United States.

Pinto beans can become incredibly soft and creamy when cooked, which allows them to break down and blend into recipes and foods easily. This makes them a great choice for soups, dips, and vegan burger alternatives. This is also what makes pinto beans the traditional choice when making refried beans. Refried pinto beans are a staple in traditional Mexican cuisine.

Differences Between Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

The biggest difference between black beans and pinto beans is how they look and how they taste. Pinto beans are also softer than black beans when cooked. Pinto beans have a slightly sweeter taste, while black beans have an earthier flavor. When it comes to nutritional values and benefits, black beans and pinto beans are fairly equally healthy-we’ll dive into the nutritional specifics below.

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans Taste

Cooked black beans have a creamy and soft texture, with a mild flavor that is subtly strong yet slightly sweet. Black beans can be a versatile bean going great in many dishes, allowing their flavor to be influenced by the other ingredients and spices they are cooked with.

Cooked pinto beans are small but full of flavor. They have a creamy texture and a nutty, rich, earthy flavor. Pinto beans also have a mild enough flavor that they will blend in well with various ingredients they are cooked with.

Are Black Beans or Pinto Beans Healthier?

Overall when it comes to nutritional values and benefits, black beans and pinto beans are equally healthy. The nutrition chart below provides a side-by-side comparison for specific nutrients.

If you are looking to integrate more specific nutrients into your diet, there are some slight differences between the two for you to consider, which are noted below. If you are someone looking for which one is healthier as part of an overall well-rounded diet, you can let your taste buds decide which one is more enjoyable and, therefore healthier for you!

Black beans have an edge when it comes to the important nutrient, magnesium, coming in at 9% more RDI, thiamine at 6% more, and 11% more copper.

While both pinto beans and black beans are an excellent source of folate; Pinto beans provide 10% more RDI of folate. Pinto beans also provide 14% more vitamin B6 and 4% more potassium.

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans Nutrition

Nutritional Value for one cup cooked black beans (172 grams) and one cup cooked pinto beans (171 g).

This chart shows the % RDI (recommended dietary intake) for daily intake.


Black Beans NutritionPinto Beans Nutrition
Calories227245
Fiber15 grams or 60%15.4 grams or 62%
Protein15 grams15.4 grams
Copper40%29%
Folate (vitamin B9)64%74%
Iron20%20%
Manganese38%39%
Magnesium30%21%
Phosphorus24%25%
Potassium17%21%
Thiamine (vitamin B1)28%22%
Vitamin B66%20%
Vitamin C0%2%
Zinc13%11%

Health Benefits of Black Beans and Pinto Beans

Black beans and pinto beans both hold many health benefits, all the more reason to eat these beans up!

Antioxidants: Both black beans and pinto beans are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect against free radicals and fight disease.

Heart Health: Black beans and pinto beans are great for heart health. The folate, antioxidants, and magnesium can help lower blood pressure. They may also lower the total amount of cholesterol and levels of “bad” cholesterol in your blood, decreasing heart disease risk factors.

Dietary Fiber: The high fiber content of black beans and pinto beans helps control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Dietary fiber also helps to improve gut health. Fiber is also important in heart health.

Low Glycemic Index: Black beans and pinto beans rank low on the glycemic index scale, meaning they can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans Protein

Like most beans, black beans and pinto beans are both great sources of protein. Black beans and pinto beans have about an equal amount of protein. Black beans containing 15 grams of protein per one cup, and pinto beans containing 15.4 grams of protein per one cup of cooked beans.

How to Cook Black Beans and Pinto Beans

Both dry beans and canned beans can be easy to cook with. Canned beans should always be rinsed before use. Dried beans also need to be rinsed but soaked as well before cooking. Beans are best when soaked for 8 hours (or overnight) before cooking. If you are in a time crunch, though, there is always the quick soak method, in which you can bring the beans to a boil in a pot of water for two minutes, remove the pot from heat, and let stand for an hour. Drain and rinse before cooking.

Beans can be cooked in a pressure cooker, slow-cooker, or on the stovetop. For the stovetop, having already pre-soaked and rinsed the beans, add beans to a pot of water with at least three times as much water as beans. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for an hour to two hours. Beans should be tender when pierced with a fork.

Whether you decide on black beans or pinto beans (or even another type of bean), black beans and pinto beans are packed full of fiber, protein, and nutritional benefits. They make a great addition to several dishes, from soups and stews to chili and salads. You can’t go wrong with their versatile flavors and nutritional value.

Black Bean Substitutes

Wouldn’t you know it? Pinto beans actually make a great substitute for black beans. Great northern beans are another great option to use as a substitute for black beans. Both pinto beans and great northern beans have a similar texture as black beans while also having a versatile flavor that allows them to pair well in various dishes.

Pinto Bean Substitutes

Pinto beans and pink beans have many similarities, making pink beans a great substitute for pinto beans. Red kidney beans and cranberry beans also make great pinto bean substitutes.

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Author Biography

Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about finding freedom with food here.