Black Beans vs Pinto Beans: Health, Nutrition and Protein

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Ever since I went vegan, I’ve been eating a ton of beans.

Pinto beans and black beans are 2 of my favorites, and both are common beans, so I did a detailed comparison of the two to see which is healthier (among other things).

Like you might have guessed, they’re mostly similar, but there are a few differences.

Taste: Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

black beans vs pinto beans taste comparison

Side note: Black beans and black turltle beans are the same thing. Phaseolus vulgaris is the scientific name, but the common name differs based on the region you live in.

The biggest difference between these beans isn’t anything to do with nutritional content, but taste.

  • Black beans – Harder than pinto beans, and have a nuttier flavor and earthier texture.
  • Pinto beans – Softer and creamier. Much more versatile, and they pair well with most other flavors and aromatics.

Black beans can be eaten fairly plain, but due to their harder texture, they’re great for thick soups, dips, and salads. They go well with a lot of spices like chili powder, so they’re still great in chili or tacos.

Pinto beans on the other hand, with their creamy texture, are typically used for fillings and added to recipes like chili and burritos, just like kidney beans. They’re the most common type of beans used to make refried beans.

And because they have unique textures and flavors, pinto beans and black beans pair nice with each other to provide a bit of variety.

Neither are great for recipes like baked beans. For those, you’ll want some sort of white bean, like cannellini beans or great northern beans.

Protein Comparison: Black Beans and Pinto Beans

Let’s take a look at nutrition from a macro perspective, particularly the protein. Note that all nutrition values are for cooked beans.

 Black BeansPinto Beans
Serving size1 cup1 cup
Calories227245
Fat0.9 g1.1 g
Carbohydrates40.8 g44.8 g
Fiber15 g15.4 g
Protein15.2 g15.4 g

Neither have much fat, and have a moderate level of calories. It’s really hard to overeat them.

Both are great sources of dietary fiber, and are some of the best plant-based sources of protein, along with other legumes. Although, if you really want to maximize protein, consider soybeans instead (soybeans have a ton of protein, see bean nutrition comparison for details).

Each profile is pretty similar, but pinto beans have slightly more calories, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein than black beans.

Which is Healthier?: Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Again, the nutrition in both types of beans are pretty similar, although pinto beans give you a little bit extra overall.

Here’s a comparison of all the nutrients that are in either bean in reasonable amounts:

 Black Beans (%DV)Pinto Beans (%DV)
Serving size1 cup1 cup
Thiamin28%22%
Vitamin B66%20%
Folate64%74%
Calcium5%8%
Iron20%20%
Magnesium30%21%
Phosphorus24%25%
Potassium17%21%
Zinc13%11%
Copper18%19%
Manganese38%39%
Selenium3%15%

Beans don’t provide too much in the way of vitamins, but do have a lot of minerals.

Comparing black beans to pinto beans, most nutrient levels are similar, but pinto beans do have significantly more vitamin B6 and selenium. Not the most important nutrients, but a difference nonetheless.

The Main Differences Between Black and Pinto Beans

It’s not surprising that both types of beans are pretty similar when it comes to nutrition.

Beans and legumes are all pretty healthy and high in protein (green beans and to a lesser extent peas are the only exceptions).

I found similar things when looking at black beans vs kidney beans and pinto beans vs kidney beans. Both black and pinto beans are similar to red beans in general.

Overall, we saw that:

  • The nutritional profiles were very similar between both types of beans. Pinto beans are ever so slightly more nutritious overall, but it’s so close.
  • The biggest difference is in the taste. So if you like one bean over the other, you don’t need to worry about the nutritional aspects, just use the one you like best in your dishes.

In terms of cooking time from the original dried unsoaked beans, I’ve found that they both take about the same time as well, so I don’t think that’s a significant factor here.

If you need help finding a recipe for either, refer to my page of high protein vegan recipes, there are many for each type of legume (including other bean varieties like soybeans, adzuki beans, etc.).

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

3 comments

  • Thank you! This was EXACTLY the info I was looking for. P.S. I’m assuming the numbers are for 1 cup cooked beans, which you probably mentioned somewhere and I missed. I have taken to canning beans in quart jars and I just happen to use 1 cup dry beans as the baseline for a canned quart. Just bought 50 lb bag of black beans and 20 lbs of pinto beans, now that they are finally back in stock. For vegans, the 20 lb bag is a normal number. The 50 lb bag of black beans was the only large size they had. The dry bean hoarding here in USA during CoronaVirus time, really a surprise! Plenty of rice, but dried beans out of stock until a few days ago.

  • Thank you so much for the nutritional info. We use both in our dogs homemade food but with there being a shortage due to covid 19 hording, and we ran out of pintos, we’ll use strictly black beans of which we have a lot.