Navy Beans vs Pinto Beans: What’s the Difference?


While they aren’t the same color, navy beans and pinto beans have a lot in common.

I’ve written a side-by-side comparison of these 2 beans in terms of taste and nutrition, so you can figure out when to include each of them in your diet over the other.

Are Pinto Beans and Navy Beans the Same?

Both pinto beans and navy beans are part of the “common bean” family (Phaseolus vulgaris) and have similar nutritional profile, but pinto beans and navy beans are not the same.

Taste of Navy Beans vs Pinto Beans

navy beans

  • Navy beans – Most well known for being the go-to bean in baked or BBQ bean recipes. They have a mild flavor and really soak up flavors from sauces, along with having a soft and creamy texture.
  • Pinto beans – A pale bean with creamy but “chunky” texture, and a bit of a nutty taste. They are a fairly versatile bean that can be used as a substitute for most other beans in a pinch.

Can I Use Navy Beans Instead of Pinto Beans?

Navy beans are one of the best substitutes for pinto beans in a recipe. They will fill the bean role in the recipe without introducing a new overpowering flavor or texture.

On the other hand, pinto beans are also a good substitute for navy beans and are one of the few other types of beans that still make good baked beans.

Nutritional Value Comparison

Most beans have similar nutritional profiles, and that includes both navy and pinto beans.

Let’s see how similar they are with a direct comparison.

All data below is for 100 grams of cooked beans, which works out to a bit over half a cup.


There is no significant difference between these beans when it comes to their macronutrients:

  Navy beans Pinto Beans
Energy (kcal) 140.1 143.0
Protein (g) 8.2 9.0
Total Lipid (g) 0.6 0.7
Carbohydrate (g) 26.0 26.2
Fiber (g) 10.5 9.0
Sugars (g) 0.4 0.3

There’s almost no difference in the macronutrient profiles of navy and pinto beans.

Vitamins and Minerals

Not surprisingly, they also have very similar vitamin and mineral content.

I’ve included all the nutrients that are available in either in significant amounts. They are ordered by the general RDA for an adult (note that your specific RDA may differ based on age and gender).

  RDA Navy beans Pinto Beans
Folate (µg) 400 140.1 172.0
Manganese (mg) 2.3 0.5 0.5
Potassium (mg) 2000 389.0 436.0
Phosphorus (mg) 700 144.0 147.0
Thiamin (mg) 1.2 0.2 0.2
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 1.3 0.1 0.2
Iron (mg) 18 2.4 2.1
Magnesium (mg) 400 52.7 50.0
Selenium (µg) 55 2.9 6.2
Zinc (mg) 11 1.0 1.0
Choline (mg) 550 44.7 35.3
Calcium (mg) 1200 69.2 46.0
Vitamin E (mg) 15 0.0 0.9
Riboflavin (mg) 1.3 0.1 0.1
Vitamin K (µg) 75 0.6 3.5

Other than a small difference in folate and calcium, most of the differences are negligible.

The only important takeaway is that both navy and pinto beans are packed with vitamins and (mostly) minerals, and are healthy foods.


Pinto beans do have slightly more of a few vitamins and minerals than navy beans, but overall their nutrient profiles are very similar.

What Are the Differences Between Navy Beans and Pinto Beans?

Navy beans and pinto beans are 2 of the most similar beans.

They have a similar taste and can be substituted for each other in most cases. Their nutritional profiles are almost identical as well.

In other words, eat more of whichever bean you prefer most, or mix it up so that you don’t get bored of them.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.

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