Pinto Beans vs. Kidney Beans: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Published: Last Updated on
Pinto Beans and Kidney Beans

Pinto and kidney beans are both legumes (from the family Fabaceae). They are the same plant species, namely Phaseolus vulgaris, which is otherwise called the common bean. These beans have zero trans fats and full of protein, fiber, and other vitamins. They are recommended for heart disease prevention since they lower cholesterol levels.

Pinto beans and kidney beans are also good substitutes for meat in your meals. Those who watch their food intake for weight loss purposes may also find pinto and kidney beans great at reducing hunger pangs while providing digestive system support.

In the United States, pinto beans are most widely produced. Both pinto and kidney beans are two of the most inexpensive ingredients you can use to cook high-protein dishes.

What’s the difference between pinto beans and kidney beans? The three main differences lie in their size, shape, and color. Kidney beans are large, kidney-shaped, and light to dark red in color. Pinto beans are smaller than kidney beans. They are oval in shape and have either a pinkish, brownish, or reddish-brown speckled color.

What are Other Differences Between Pinto Beans and Kidney Beans?

There are more differences between pinto beans and kidney beans. Firstly, pinto beans are plump or thicker than kidney beans.

Secondly, they differ in taste. Pinto beans have an earthy or nutty taste, while kidney beans have a slightly sweet taste.

Thirdly, they differ in texture. Pinto beans are creamy in texture, while kidney beans are meaty or firm.

Fourthly, they differ in cooking time. Since kidney beans are firm and more dense, they require more cooking time compared to pinto beans. It takes 1.5 to double the time you cook kidney beans compared to cooking pinto beans. Remember that when you make substitutions.

Lastly, kidney beans are harder to digest than pinto beans. Be careful when consuming kidney beans as they can make you flatulent. You can avoid gastric problems such as gassiness by soaking kidney beans in water overnight. Discard the water and boil them in fresh water. Discard the first boil, and boil them again for a second time with fresh water.

Can You Substitute Pinto Beans for Kidney Beans?

Yes, pinto and kidney beans have a similar taste and texture. You can substitute one for the other in recipes. Remember to cook pinto beans for a shorter time when substituting for kidney beans. Likewise, cook kidney beans for a longer time when substituting for pinto beans.

Make sure that the red kidney beans are sufficiently cooked because undercooked kidney beans can be toxic. Some suggest that soaking raw beans in water for at least 5 hours before cooking them ensures that all residual toxins are removed.

When Do You Use Pinto Beans and Kidney Beans in Recipes?

Since both are legumes that have quite the same taste and texture, you can use one in place of the other in most recipes. However, it is best to use kidney beans for recipes that take a long time to cook.

Kidney beans also absorb and blend with other flavors of your dish, so they are indeed great for using in recipes that require a longer cooking time. Hence, kidney beans are your best choice for cooking stews or soups, chilis, and salads. Try jambalaya and baked beans using kidney beans.

Choose pinto beans if you’ll be doing some mashing or light cooking. For instance, pinto beans are great for preparing hummus and other dips. Latin or Mexican cuisine favors pinto beans in many of their recipes.

Why not try making your own pork and beans at home?

Here is an easy way to do it:

  1. Choose your beans. If using dry beans, soak them overnight. Boil using fresh water. Discard the water and boil for a second time. Discard the second boiled water.
  2. Slice some bacon or pork rashers and fry them. Keep some of the grease.
  3. Sauté some chopped onions and minced garlic in bacon grease.
  4. Add your cooked bacon or pork rashers.
  5. Add your choice of beans (1 pound).
  6. Add your bottled/canned tomato sauce.
  7. You may add some ketchup if you like.
  8. Add brown sugar or molasses to sweeten your pork and beans.
  9. Season with salt, pepper, and chili according to your preference.
  10. Add some water.
  11. Bring to boil and simmer for about an hour until the beans are cooked and soft enough to your liking.

You can use as much bacon or pork rashers, garlic, and onion as you like. And you may use the following proportions for a tasty pork and beans dish: 1 part tomato sauce: ½ part water: ½ part ketchup.

How to Store Pinto and Kidney Beans

Store your beans in a dry and airtight container. Keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place.

How Long Can You Keep Leftover Beans?

It is best to consume cooked beans after preparing them. For the best taste, keep leftovers for no more than 3 days in the refrigerator. If you want, you can freeze them (in small packs) on the day of cooking. But remember to cool them first before storing your cooked beans in an airtight container and putting them in the freezer.

Bring out and reheat only what you plan to consume. Do not eat foul-smelling beans, and discard funny-looking or moldy beans.

Final Thoughts

  • Pinto beans and kidney beans are both legumes of the Family Fabaceae.
  • Kidney beans and pinto beans are of the same plant species, called Phaseolus vulgaris or the common bean.
  • Pinto beans are smaller than kidney beans.
  • Kidney beans are shaped like a kidney, while pinto beans are oval.
  • Pinto beans are brownish, pink, or streaked reddish brown in color.
  • Kidney beans are light red to dark red in color.
  • Pinto beans cook faster than kidney beans.
  • Kidney beans are firm and more dense in texture.
  • Pinto beans are creamy in texture.
  • Pinto beans have an earthy taste, while kidney beans have a slightly sweet taste.
  • Kidney beans are harder to digest than pinto beans.

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