a hand holding Pinto Beans

No Pinto Beans? No Problem! These 7 Ingredients Make Great Replacements

Pinto beans are widely utilized when making an assortment of Mexican dishes, and the flavor and texture that they can contribute to a hearty stew are unmatched. Pinto beans are unquestionably delicious and versatile, but it can be a real bummer when you open your cupboard and see that you’re out of pinto beans. Fortunately, there are plenty of ingredients that make for tasty pinto bean substitutes in a pinch.

What are the best pinto bean substitutes? The best pinto bean substitutes are other varieties of beans such as navy beans, black beans, kidney beans, and more. Those not fond of beans can also use alternatives such as chickpeas or lentils in place of pinto beans.

As is the case with many beans, pinto beans do not have a strong flavor profile, instead acting as a vessel for the seasoning of a dish. An additional consideration regarding pinto beans is that they practically melt in your mouth when cooked correctly, so with this in mind, here are the 7 best substitutes for pinto beans:

1.     Navy Beans

Navy Bean

Navy beans are perhaps the best substitute for kidney beans available given that they are cooked in similar ways and feature comparable flavor profiles. Despite their similarities, these beans are quite different in terms of their nutritional properties, with navy beans having far more Vitamin C and pinto beans dominating the calcium and potassium categories.

Like their pinto bean counterparts, navy beans are fantastic in stews and soups, making them an ideal substitute in dishes such as these. They are not an optimal replacement for pinto beans in Mexican dishes, but they would definitely work if better options weren’t available.

2.     Black Beans

Black Bean

When you discover that you’ve run out of pinto beans, there’s a good chance that you’ll have some black beans on hand that can be used as an alternative. If you’re searching for a pinto bean substitute in a Mexican recipe, then black beans are among the best options.

These two beans are fairly similar when compared on a nutritional scale, but black beans have more magnesium and zinc compared to pinto beans. Those that have eaten black beans in a dish know how versatile they could be, so they can work as an alternative for pinto beans in just about any dish.

3.     Kidney Beans

Kidney Bean

Though much larger than pinto beans, kidney beans possess a similar taste and a texture that is almost as creamy as that of a pinto bean. Working well as an alternative in Mexican dishes and dishes like chili or gumbo that are cooked in a broth or another liquid, kidney beans are a terrific choice if pinto beans aren’t available.

Comparing the nutritional profiles of the two beans, pinto beans have more fiber, while kidney beans have more Vitamin K. Those that do use kidney beans will have to be aware that they will want to use fewer kidney beans than they would pinto given the large size of kidney beans.

4.     Great Northern Beans

Great Northern Bean

Similar to navy beans, great northern beans are white bean that makes for a wonderful pinto bean substitute. Great northern beans are known for being delicious additions to a soup or stew due to the fact that they are sizable beans that are a bit more solid than pinto beans when cooked. So, when using great northern beans, don’t expect a texture that is quite as creamy and smooth as a pinto bean.

Though pinto beans feature plenty of terrific health benefits, great northern beans have higher nutrient concentrations in just about every category, making them an even healthier alternative to pinto beans.

5.     Black-eyed Peas

Black-eyed Pea

Another splendid alternative to pinto beans is black-eyed peas. Their name is misleading as they are, in fact, beans rather than peas. Black-eyed peas have a fairly neutral flavor just as pinto beans do, but some describe a subtle nuttiness that accompanies the taste of black-eyed peas.

Black-eyed peas have more protein per serving compared to pinto beans, but pinto beans have more fiber. Black-eyed peas have a texture that is denser than that of pinto beans, so they are not ideal for Mexican food but they do provide a nice addition to soups or stews.

6.     Chickpeas


The go-to substitute for many who aren’t fond of typical beans, chickpeas have a creamy texture and somewhat nutty flavor. While technically beans, chickpeas have a different flavor and shape than pinto beans, but they have similar health benefits. Chickpeas have double the fiber per serving compared to pinto beans, while pinto beans have more potassium.

Both chickpeas and pinto beans are delicious when cooked and pureed into dishes, so those in need of a refried bean substitute can look to chickpeas for help.

7.     Lentils


Lentils come in an assortment of varieties, but no matter the type, they are an excellent substitute for pinto beans. Though much smaller than pinto beans and not as creamy, lentils can certainly be used as a substitute for pinto beans in many dishes, and they’ll be especially appealing to those that are not interested in any type of beans.

Lentils have far more folate than pinto beans, while pinto beans contain more calcium. Though lentils may not be ideal in a chili given their small size, they could certainly serve as an exceptional substitute in Mexican dishes.

 Pinto beans are a yummy, versatile ingredient in a wide array of different dishes. While it would be convenient to constantly have pinto beans on hand, this is an unrealistic expectation. Luckily, there are plenty of tasty alternatives for pinto beans for those that find their pinto bean stock to be depleted.

Some of the alternatives such as black beans and lentils are great substitutes for pinto beans in Mexican dishes, while others such as black-eyed peas and navy beans are better suited for soups and stews. No ingredient is a perfect replacement for pinto beans, but there are plenty of substitutes for anyone that finds themselves in a pinch.

Pinto Bean

7 Best Pinto Bean Substitutes

Seasonal and Savory
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2


  • Navy Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Great Northern Beans
  • Black-eyed Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils


  • From the list of substitutes above, pick your favorite to use in its place.
  • Use your imagination and be creative with these substitute recipes!

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