Difference Between Black and Pinto Beans

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 28, 2023


Difference Between Black and Pinto Beans

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Black beans and Pinto beans are a kind of bean stemming from leguminous plants. They have high nutrient value and can be mixed with many other dishes. From the outside, they differ greatly in their physical appearance. One is black with white spots, while the other is brown with white spots. Besides their physical appearance, these two beans differ in their origin, nutritional content, cuisines, texture, flavour, usage etc.  

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Black and pinto beans belong to the same legume family. However, they differ from each other in their area of origin, physical appearance, texture, taste, and usage. Black beans originated in the American continent and were brought into Europe by Spanish scholars. They are smaller in size compared to pinto beans. Their outer appearance is black with white spots. Black beans have a slightly sweeter taste and have a more intense flavour. They are firm and sturdy in texture, which makes them an ideal ingredient for soups. Black beans are often used in Caribbean and Latin American cuisines.

Pinto beans originated in Peru and Brazil. When the indigenous tribes of these areas migrated, they took the beans with them. Hence, the beans were transported to Western countries like the United States and Mexico. Pinto beans are bigger compared to black beans. They commonly appear in a brownish-pink colour with white spots. Pinto beans give a nutty and earthy taste. Its flavour is comparatively subtle. Pinto beans have a soft texture, which makes them easier to mash. Refried beans are a popular choice for pinto beans.

Difference between Black Beans and Pinto Beans in Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonBlack BeansPinto Beans
OriginOriginated in the American continents and was exported to Europe by Spanish ExplorersOriginated in Peru and Brazil and was transported to the American continents by the indigenous tribes
SizeSmaller than pinto beansBigger than black beans
ColoursBlack with white spotsBrown, Yellow, Pink, Greenish, White-Pink, etc.
FlavourIt has an intense flavour with an earthy, slightly sweet taste. It has a subtle flavour with a nutty and earthy taste.
CuisineLatin American, CaribbeanAmerican, Brazil, Northern Mexican
Popular dishesBlack Bean Soup, Feijoada, Rice and BeansBurrito Fill, Refried Beans
Different available formsDried, CannedRefried, Canned, and Dried

More on Black Beans

Another name for black beans is “turtle beans.” This nickname is because of their turtle-shell-like surface appearance. They originally existed in Central and South America. During the 15th century, Spanish explorers exported the black beans to Europe.

Origin of Black Beans

Black beans are part of the Fabaceae/Leguminosae family. The Fabaceae is a plant family which mostly consists of beans, peanuts, peas, and lentils. Black beans were consumed as food even 7000 years ago. It was the primary ingredient of meals in South America and Central America. Black beans were introduced to Europe by the Spanish explorers. From Europe, the beans were exported to Asian countries via the Silk Road.

Varieties of Black Beans

Black beans are of different types. Some of the varieties are named below,

  • Black magic
  • Blackhawk
  • Domino
  • Raven
  • Condor
  • Black Turtle, etc.

Key Characteristics of Black Beans

Shape and Size

Their shape resembles that of kidney beans (boat-like appearance). Black beans have an average length of 1/8 inch, but they can grow up to ½ inch in length. Their size is homogenous to oblong peas. They are comparatively smaller, sturdier, and firmer than pinto beans.


They typically have a dark and shiny outer appearance. The colour before cooked is black with white spots on the surface. After the black beans are cooked, their hue can change.


Black beans have a creamy and crunchy texture. They are often related to having a mushroom texture. Unlike pinto beans, black beans can retain their firmness when they are cooked. This feature makes them a perfect addition to use in hot soups.

Flavour and Taste

Black beans when eaten, give an earthy and slightly sweet flavour. The flavour is often enhanced with onion, cumin, garlic and bay leaf. Compared to pinto beans, black beans have a more intense flavour.


They grow during the spring season and in areas with slit loams or slightly acidic clay.

Nutritional Value of Black Beans

Black beans have great nutritional value. They are rich in fibre and protein. In addition, they contain essential vitamins (B1 and B9) and minerals (magnesium, folate, potassium). Black beans, like pinto beans, are low in cholesterol and fat. These features make black beans a healthy choice to opt for when planning balanced diets. The vitamins B1 and B9 present in black beans help to maintain healthy blood cell function and nerve function.

A half cup of black beans contains the following nutrients,

Calories114Iron1.8 mg
Fat0.46 mgMagnesium60 mg
Protein7.62 gPhosphorus120 mg
Carbohydrates20.4 gSodium0.85 mg
Fibre7.5 gZinc0.96 mg
Calcium23.2 mgFolate128 mcg
Vitamin K2.8 mg

Different Methods to Consume Black Beans

  1. Black beans are mixed with rice and consumed in many countries as a simple meal.
  2. They are the main ingredients in black bean salad. Black bean is mixed with vegetables, and grains to create a nutritious salad.
  3. Black beans are mixed with vegetables, meats, and herbs to make black bean soup.
  4. They are used to make black bean dips and spreads, for example, hummus. This can be served as a snack or as an appetizer.
  5. They are combined with patties in burgers to make vegetarian or vegan burgers.
  6. They add flavour, nutrition, and texture when mixed with other dishes such as quesadillas, casseroles, and enchiladas.

Black Beans in Different Cuisines

  • In Brazil, black beans are used to make their national dish, “feijoada.”
  • In Cuba, it is used to make “Moros y Cristianos.” Additionally, it is also eaten with white rice.
  • In Costa Rico and Nicaragua, black beans are used in gallo pinto.
  • Black beans are used to make the base for “pabellon criollo,” a Venezuelan dish.
  • In the Dominican Republic, it is used to make “Moro de Habichuelas Negras," which is a variation of the Cuban Moros y Cristianos.
  • In Mexico, black beans are eaten in raw form. In addition, it is integrated into their famous dishes, “tostadas (tortillas are fried and topped with refried beans),” “huevos rancheros (tortillas are fried and topped with eggs, salsa, and refried beans.).”
  • In the United States, black beans are the key ingredients in black bean soup and burritos.

More on Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are named thus because of their outer mottled brown and white appearance. On the surface, they have a resemblance to a painted or “pinto” horse. Looking into history, pinto beans have existed since 3000 B.C. They have their origins in Peru and Brazil, from where they were transported to other parts of the world. They are a common food item in Central and South America (the United States and Mexico). People usually consume pinto beans mashed or whole broth.

Origin of Pinto Beans

Pinto beans, like black beans, belong to the Fabaceae plant family. They were originally cultivated in the highlands of Peru. When the indigenous tribes of this area migrated to the Midwest, they took the seeds along with them, thus making them available on the American continent.

Currently, the United States and Mexico are two of the biggest markets for pinto beans.

Varieties of Pinto Beans

  • Othello
  • Burke
  • Quincy
  • Santa Fe
  • Maverick
  • Alava
  • Grand Mesa
  • Lariat
  • Kodiak

The Etymology of Pinto Beans

In the Spanish language, the word "pinto" translates to "painted." This references the beans' outer brown appearance and white spots.

In Brazil the beans are called “Feijao carioca”, thus named because of their similar outer appearance to a pig cultivar with the same outer appearance.

In certain South American countries, pinto beans are known as “Poroto frutilla”, which means “Strawberry beans.”

Key Characteristics of Pinto Beans

Shape and size

The shape of pinto beans is oval. Compared to black beans, they are slightly larger, creamier, softer, and rounder. Pinto beans have an average diameter of ¼ inches.


Pinto beans have a sort of mottled surface look. They appear in different colours like brown, yellow, pink, greenish, white-pink, etc. The most common colour is reddish brown with white spots. However, despite the different colours, all uncooked pinto beans can be identified by their coloured spots. When the beans are cooked, these spots will disappear and the beans look more pinkish in appearance.


Pinto beans have a mushy and soft texture when cooked. This makes them an ideal ingredient for making dishes that require a creamy consistency.

Flavour and Taste

Pinto beans have a nutty and earthy flavour. Their flavour is more mild and subtle compared to black bean’s flavour.

Cultivation and Harvest

Pinto beans grow better in areas with warm climates. They require rich and fertile soil for optimal growth. Harvest occurs during the autumn season.

Nutritional Value of Pinto Beans

Pinto beans have high nutritional value. Some important nutrients contained in pinto beans are protein, iron, calories, vitamin B1, fibre, minerals, etc. In addition, they are low in cholesterol and fat.

A half cup of pinto beans contains the following nutrients,

Fat0.55gPhosphorus125 mg
Protein7.52Sodium0.86 mg
Carbohydrates22.4 gZinc0.84 mg
Fibre7.7 gFolate147 mcg
Calcium39.35 mgVitamin K2.99 mg
Iron1.79 mg

Different methods to consume pinto beans

  1. Pinto beans can be eaten separately as a side dish or they can be mixed with other food items like garlic, spices, and onions, to add flavour.
  2. Pinto beans can be cooked to make dips and spreads. These are eaten as appetizers or snacks.
  3. They are mashed and used in tacos, burritos, etc.
  4. They are highly used in Mexican dishes, where they are mixed with other food items like cheese, rice, and salsa.
  5. They are added to meats, herbs, and vegetables when cooking soups and stews.
  6. Pinto beans are added to salads to make them a more nutritious and well-balanced meal.
  7. Pinto beans function as a vegetarian alternative for patties in burgers.

Pinto Beans in Different Cuisines

In America, Pinto beans are found in Mexican-style dishes like frijoles refritos, etc.

In Brazil, they are eaten along with meat and rice.

In Costa Rican cuisine pinto beans are used to make “gallo pinto,” which is a dish cooked with rice and beans.

Cooking Black or Pinto Beans

When dry and raw, black beans and pinto beans need to be boiled in approximately three cups of water for at least one hour. If you want to lessen the cooking time, pre-soak the beans in water for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

Black and pinto beans are also available in canned form. These are pre-cooked; therefore, they only need to be reheated before consumption.

Main Differences between Black and Pinto Beans (in Points)

  • Black beans originated in the American continent and were transported to Europe. Pinto beans originated in Peru and were transported to America.
  • Comparatively black beans are smaller in size than pinto beans.
  • Black beans have a black outer colour with white spots. In contrast, pinto beans can have different colours like Brown, Yellow, Pink, Greenish, White-Pink, etc. Brown with white spots is common.
  • Black beans have a sweet taste and intense flavour strength. Pinto beans have a nutty and earthy taste with subtle flavour strength.
  • Black beans remain firm and sturdy even after cooking. Pinto beans become softer after being cooked.
  • Black beans are often used in Caribbean and Latin American cuisines. In contrast, pinto beans are more popular in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine.


In short, both black beans and pinto beans are extremely nutritious and delicious. They can be added to different kinds of dishes to increase flavour and nutrient content. They mostly differ in their physical appearance, but the nutritional value remains almost the same for both beans. They are also low in cholesterol and fat, making them a healthy diet choice.


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"Difference Between Black and Pinto Beans." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 17 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-black-and-pinto-beans>.

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