Pinto Beans vs. Kidney Beans [Difference & Nutrition]

When you find yourself standing in front of the beans at the grocery store, you may wonder which beans are the best: best tasting, best nutritionally, lowest cost. Pinto beans and kidney beans are two common types of beans used in many different recipes.

In this article, we have broken down the details of these two healthy, useful, and delicious beans so you can make the best decision about which one to chose.

Pinto beans and kidney beans come from the same family of legumes. Due to their high levels of protein and other nutrients, they make a good substitution for meat in vegetarian and vegan meals.

While you can substitute pinto and kidney beans for each other in recipes due to their similarities in nutrition, they do have some noticeable differences.

Pinto beans are smaller, softer, are a light tan or pale pink color, and have a nutty flavor. They also cook more quickly than kidney beans. Kidney beans are larger, kidney-shaped, have a meatier texture, and are a deep red, pink, or white color. Of the two, pinto beans are also easier to digest.

What follows is a detailed description of pinto and kidney beans, their nutritional value, instructions on cooking and storing them properly, and recipes to try.

Quick Navigation

What’s The Difference Between Pinto & Kidney Beans

Both light red and dark red kidney and pinto beans are native to Central America and Mexico.

White kidney beans (cannellini beans) are native to Italy. All these varieties are part of the common bean taxonomy. 

Pinto Bean and Kidney Bean Color and Size

Pinto beans are small, plump, ovals that are light tan with darker tan stripes or spots. Once they are cooked, the spots fade and the beans are a uniform color of gray to tan. 

Kidney beans are larger than pinto beans and are commonly available in light red and dark red varieties.

You can also find a related white bean that is labeled “white kidney bean” or cannellini beans. They are shaped like a human kidney, thus the name. 

Pinto Bean and Kidney Bean
Colourful Pinto Bean and Kidney Bean

Pinto Bean And Kidney Bean Texture And Flavor

After soaking and cooking, pinto beans are soft and creamy. Aside from including them in soups and stews, the soft texture makes pinto beans perfect for recipes that require the beans to be mashed like refried beans for in making vegetarian burger patties.

Pinto beans have a mild earthy, slightly nutty taste. Their mild flavor makes them ideal for taking on the other flavors of a dish. 

Regardless of their color, kidney beans have a much firmer, meatier texture than pinto beans.

Dark and light red kidney beans are a bit drier than pinto beans and have a slightly sweet flavor. White kidney beans are a bit more like pinto beans in flavor: earthy and nutty.

Both red and white kidney beans will take on the flavor of the stronger ingredients in the dish.

All the varieties of kidney beans’ firm texture make them ideal for use in soups, stews, and salads.

Nutritional Information

per 1 Cup of Cooked

Dried Beans

Pinto 

Red Kidney

White Kidney

Calories245225242
Fat1.1 g.9 g.6 g
Carbohydrates44.8 g40.4 g44 g 
Fiber15.4 g11.3 g11 g
Protein15.4 g15.3 g17 g
Vitamin K7% DV19% DV14% DV
Thiamin22% DV19% DV17% DV
Vitamin B620% DV11% DV12% DV
Folate74% DV58% DV36% DV
Calcium8% DV6% DV4% DV
Iron20% DV22% DV15% DV
Magnesium21% DV19% DV26% DV
Phosphorous25% DV24% DV28% DV
Potassium21% DV20% DV21% DV
Zinc11% DV12% DV22% DV
Copper19 % DV19% DV55% DV
Manganese39% DV38% DV78% DV

Nutrition Information For Dried Pinto Beans

The following nutritional information is for dried, soaked, cooked beans with no additional ingredients added.

One cup of pinto beans cooked in plain water contains:

  • 245 calories
  • 1.1 g fat
  • 44.8 g carbohydrates 
  • 15.4 g fiber
  • 15.4 g protein
  • Vitamin K 7%
  • Thiamin 22%
  • Vitamin B6 20%
  • Folate 74%
  • Calcium 8%
  • Iron 20%
  • Magnesium 21%
  • Phosphorous 25%
  • Potassium 21%
  • Zinc 11%
  • Copper 19%
  • Manganese 39%
Pinto Bean
Pinto Bean

Nutrition Information For Canned Pinto Beans

One cup of canned pinto beans contains

  • 180 calories
  • 40 g carbohydrates
  • 14 g fiber
  • 12 g protein
  • 80 mg calcium
  • 3.6 mg iron
  • 600 mg potassium
  • 800 mg sodium (varies depending on the brand)

What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Pinto Beans?

Lower Cholesterol and Improved Heart Health

The ample amounts of fiber in cooked pinto beans help to slow your digestion so that you can absorb all the nutrients from your food.

Studies have shown that soluble fiber reduces cholesterol and helps improve heart health. 

Packed With Protein

One serving of pinto beans has about 15 grams of protein. Protein helps your body regenerate cells, in the skin, muscles, and organs.

Pinto beans are a good source of protein in a vegetarian or vegan diet. One cup of pinto beans offers about ⅓ of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of protein.

Folates For Red Blood Cells

Pinto beans are high in the B vitamin folate. This vitamin is crucial for the proper development of red blood cells and in the creation of DNA.

It is an essential vitamin for pregnancies as developing babies need folate to prevent neural tube defects. One cup of pinto beans has more than half of the daily allowance of folate.

Nutrition Information For Dried Red Kidney Beans

One cup of light red or dark red kidney beans contains:

  • 225 Calories
  • .9 g fat
  • 40.4 g carbohydrates
  • 11.3 g fiber
  • 15.3 g protein
  • Vitamin K 19 %
  • Thiamin 19%
  • Vitamin B6 11%
  • Folate 58%
  • Calcium 6%
  • Iron 22%
  • Magnesium 19%
  • Phosphorous 24%
  • Potassium 20%
  • Zinc 12%
  • Copper 19% 
  • Manganese 38%
Kidney Beans
Dried Raw Red Organic Kidney Beans

Nutrition Information For Dried White Kidney Beans

1 cup cooked White Kidney Beans (Cannellini Beans)

  • 360 Calories
  • .5 g fat
  • 62 g carbs
  • 10 mg sodium (varies depending on the brand)
  • 24g protein
  • 4% DV Calcium
  • 15% DV Iron
  • 20% DV Potassium

Nutrition Information For Canned White Kidney Beans

1 cup (½ can) of White Kidney Beans (Cannellini Beans)

  • 220 Calories
  • 180 mg sodium (Varies depending on the brand)
  • 40  g carbohydrates
  • 10 g fiber
  • 16 g protein
  • 120 mg calcium
  • 7 mg iron

Nutrition Information For Canned Dark Red Or Light Red Kidney Beans

1 cup (about ½ can) of kidney beans

  • 185 calories
  • .75 g fat
  • 389 sodium (varies depending on the brand)
  • 16% DV Potassium
  • 34 carbohydrates
  • 35 g protein
  • 10% DV Calcium
  • 36% DV Iron

What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Kidney Beans?

Low Glycemic Index

Kidney beans take longer to digest than other carbohydrates, therefore they are less likely to cause a blood sugar spike after eating than other foods with large amounts of carbohydrates. Bean starch has an overall beneficial effect on leveling blood sugars.

Dietary Fiber

Kidney beans may be helpful in managing weight due to their fiber content. When the fiber reaches your gut, it ferments, creating short-chain fatty acids which improve the health of your colon. 

Vitamins And Minerals

Folate (folic acid) is especially helpful during pregnancy for the prevention of neural tube defects.

One serving of kidney beans provides about 22% of the DV needed for folate. Kidney beans also rank high in iron coming in at about 22% of the DV.

However, if you have problems with anemia, you may have difficulty absorbing the iron from beans due to their chemical composition.

Kidney beans are a good source of copper, a trace mineral that is harder to come by in western diets. 

Are Kidney Beans Toxic?

Dark red and light red kidney beans contain the protein phytohaemagglutinin. This protein is in many kinds of legumes, but it is especially high in red kidney beans.

If kidney beans are eaten raw, it can result in vomiting and diarrhea. Extreme cases may require a hospital visit. 

Making sure that kidney beans are safe to eat is simple. Soak the beans overnight (8 hours minimum), then drain and rinse the beans.

Next, cover with clean water (4 cups of water for 1 cup of beans) and boil vigorously for 30 minutes.

Finally, reduce the heat and simmer for about 2 hours, checking to ensure that the water doesn’t boil away and that the beans reach your desired level of tenderness. 

Do Pinto Beans Or Kidney Beans Tastes Better?

This is a tricky question as it is a matter of personal preference. You might consider the final recipe before deciding which one is better.

Pinto beans are softer and work best in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. They are softer, so in soups or stews that cook all day, they might lose some texture.

Pintos are good when you need a mashed or smashed texture. Kidney beans have a sturdier texture and hold up better in soups and stews that simmer all day or in cold salads that will be stirred.

What Do Pinto Beans Taste Like?

Pinto beans have a mild earthy, nutty flavor. The mildness allows this bean to pick up flavors of other ingredients in recipes.

Using pinto beans will add high-quality nutrition without changing the flavor of a dish.

What Do Kidney Beans Taste Like?

Light red and Dark red Kidney beans are a little bit sweeter than pinto beans. They also have a mild flavor that absorbs other flavors. Kidney beans are a reliable source of quality nutrients.

White kidney beans, or cannellini beans, taste like a combination of pinto and red kidney beans. They are slightly sweet like kidney beans and slightly earthy like pinto beans.

Are Pinto Or Kidney Beans Cheaper?

Beans, especially dried beans are quite inexpensive. Dried beans take more effort to prepare, but, when properly stored, they can stay good for years.

Canned beans are also inexpensive, but cost more per ounce than dried beans. The benefit of canned beans is that you do not have to soak them or boil them for 30 minutes. You can just open the can and add them to your recipe.

For the sake of consistency, we looked at the price of beans on the Wal-Mart website rather than at a local grocery store since that can vary. Prices were noted in March 2022.

Cost of Beans

Pinto Red Kidney 

White Kidney 

2 lb bag dried$1.84
15.5 oz can$0.72$0.72$0.72
1 lb bag dried$1.42$3.61

Cost of Dried and Canned Pinto Beans

A 2-pound bag of dried pinto beans costs $1.84. That breaks down to about 6 cents per ounce.

A 15.5 ounce can of store-brand pinto beans costs 72 cents. When you break that down, it is about 5 cents per ounce.

However, that weight also includes the water that the beans are packed in. Another thing to consider when you buy canned beans is that you cannot control the amount of salt and other preservatives in your beans. 

Cost Of Dried And Canned Kidney Beans

A 1-pound bag of light red kidney beans is $1.42. Broken down, that is just about 9 cents per ounce.

The store brand of dark red, light red, and white kidney beans are 72 cents per can, which works out to 5 cents per ounce. In this case, it is a little cheaper and easier to buy canned beans.

However, you can control the amount of sodium and seasonings if you cook them yourself from dry beans.

What keeps longer? Dried Or Canned Beans

When properly stored, dried beans will maintain their flavor and nutritional value for up to 5 years. Stored correctly, they may last indefinitely. The longer they are stored, however, the less nutritional value they have.

To keep dried beans for a long time, Store them in a cool, dry, dark place in an airtight container. If there is any moisture, the beans could rot. 

Canned pinto beans and canned kidney beans have an incredibly long shelf life. The date on the can is a “best by” date, not an expiration date. It indicates that the beans will taste best when used by that date.

You should properly store the cans in a cool dry area to maximize the shelf life. If you keep the cans cool and dry they should be good for 3-5 years and possibly longer. 

You should discard cans of beans that are swollen, severely dented, rusted, or leaking.

How To Store Dried Beans

Keep dried beans in an airtight container in a cool dry dark place. Tightly closed heavy-duty zip-top bags are a good choice for storing dried beans. You could also use plastic storage tubs or canisters with an airtight seal.

My favorite way to store extra dried beans is in canning jars. There’s no need to go through the process of canning them, just pour the dried beans in and tighten the lid.

Jars are easier to manage in your pantry than plastic bags, and since they are clear, you can see what is in the jar and how much you have. 

How To Know If Dried Beans Have Gone Bad

Dried beans are good to eat almost indefinitely, though they are best within five years of purchase. You can tell if the beans have gone bad by looking for any signs of moisture.

A damp atmosphere can lead to mold growth in your stored beans. You should also check to ensure that there are no weevils or other bugs in the stored beans.

Finally, check that they smell alright. Dried beans don’t have much of a smell at all. If they smell rotten or rancid, you should discard them immediately.

Soaking and Cooking Pinto Beans

Pinto beans have the best texture when you soak them over 8 hours and then cook them slowly.

However, you can speed up the soaking time by boiling the soaking water. We’ve included instructions for both methods.

Overnight Soaking Method

1.Sort through the beans and remove any stones, other debris or shriveled beans. 

2.Pinto beans need to soak for 8 hours or overnight. 

3.Then, drain and rinse the beans. 

4.In a large pot, cover the beans with water and add your choice of seasonings. 

Quick Soaking Method

1.Sort through the beans and remove any stones, other debris or shriveled beans. 

2.Place them in a colander and rinse the beans thoroughly. 

3.Add the beans to a large pot with a secure lid. Cover the beans completely with water so that there are two inches of water above the beans. 

4.Put the lid on the pot. Bring the pot of beans and water to a boil and cook vigorously for 2 minutes. 

5.Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour.

6.Drain the beans through your colander and rinse thoroughly. 

Cooking Soaked Pinto Beans

1.Place beans, seasonings, and water in a large pot on the stove. Use 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans.

2.Cook for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Skim off any foam from the top of the water as the beans cook. 

Soaking and Cooking Red and White Kidney Beans

Kidney beans, regardless of the color, take longer to prepare and you must cook them thoroughly on high heat to reduce the phytic acid and phytohaemagglutinin in the beans (PHA).

PHA is a lectin (a kind of a protein) that is naturally occurring in plants. It is especially high in kidney beans.

When you ingest PHA it can make you sick. Therefore, you should cook the kidney beans properly to remove this toxin.

Overnight Soaking Method (Best Option for Kidney Beans)

Red, light red, and white kidney beans need to be soaked for 8 hours or more before cooking.

This helps to break down the PHA protein and reduce the chance that kidney beans will upset your stomach.

They will double in size, so be sure that your bowl is large enough to accommodate the size increase. 

1.Sort through the dried beans and discard any that are discolored or shriveled. Also, discard small rocks and other debris. 

2.Place the beans in a colander and rinse well.

3.Transfer the kidney beans to a large container and add room temperature water. Use at least twice as much water as beans.

4.Soak the beans for at least 8 hours. 

5.Drain the soaked beans through a colander and rinse well. Discard the soaking water.

Hot Soaking Method for Kidney Beans

1.Sort through the dried beans and discard any rocks, debris, or shriveled beans. 

2.Place the beans in a large pot. Add 4 cups of water for each cup of beans.

3.Bring the pot to a boil and continue boiling for 3 minutes.

4.Remove the pot from the heat and put a lid on the pot.

5.Let the beans soak for 4 hours. 

6.Drain and rinse the beans, discarding the soaking water. 

Quick Soaking Method for Kidney Beans

You can speed up the process even more, but you run the risk of a stomach ache. Follow the instructions for the Hot Soaking method, but only soak the beans for about an hour. 

Then, when you cook the beans, you will cook them a little longer, 2 ½ to 3 hours.

Cooking Dried Kidney Beans

1.Place the soaked and rinsed kidney beans in a large pot and add in 4 cups of water for each cup of beans. 

2.Bring the pot of beans to a boil and continue boiling vigorously for 30 minutes. This process will cook away the PHA and make the kidney beans safe to eat and easier to digest.

3.After boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours. You can add seasonings to the water at this point. If you need to add more water, boil it first then pour it in the pot with the beans while it is still hot so you don’t lower the temperature of the mixture.

4.Skim off any foam from the top of the water as the beans cook. 

5.Drain the cooked beans before using them in a recipe.

Try Some Pinto Bean Recipes

Pinto may lose their texture after cooking a long time so use them in shorter recipes, soups, Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, as refried beans, and as an alternative to hummus.

Refried Beans

You’ve probably had refried beans at a restaurant or in a bean burrito, but you may be surprised to know that they are easy to make at home.

When you cook your pinto beans, add in some additional seasonings and when they are done, drain the water (reserve a little bit) and mash with a potato masher or a fork. 

1.Soak and cook 1 ½ cup pinto beans. This will yield 3 cups of cooked pinto beans.

2.When the beans have about 1 hour to 1 ½ hours left to cook, add-in, ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 cloves minced garlic, and  ½ teaspoon chili powder.

3.When the beans are done, drain the water, reserving about ½ a cup.

4.Mash the beans to your desired consistency. Add water if needed for moisture. If you want really smooth refried beans, like hummus, run the mixture through a high-powered blender.  

5.Taste and add additional seasonings as you like.

Alternatively, you can start with 2 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed. Cook them on the stove with the seasonings and a bit of clean water for about 10 minutes. Then proceed with step 3. 

Pinto and  Black Bean Burger Patty

There are so many vegetarian burger patties on the market, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose one.

Then you have to look at the ingredients to see if there are other ingredients you don’t want in your burger.

You can make your own burger patties with pinto beans for a delicious and nutritious burger. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (1 can) of pinto beans drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 2 cups  (1 can) of black beans; drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup sweet con kernels (optional)
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1/2 of a large onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs or gf bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs (or a vegan substitute)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (omit or replace for a vegan version)
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchup, mayo, or BBQ sauce
  • salt + pepper to taste

Instructions

1.Cook and drain pinto beans and black beans. (or drain and rinse canned pinto and black beans) 

2.Sautee onion, corn, and garlic in olive oil until onions are clear and soft. 

3.Remove from the heat. Add in the beans and seasoning. Gently mash the beans until they are about half mashed. 

4.Stir in breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine well.

5.Form into patties. Cook in a skillet or bake in the oven to set the patties. 

6.Serve as you would a hamburger.

What Are Some Kidney Bean Recipes To Try?

Best in things that take a long time to cook bc they hold their shape and texture longer than pinto. They absorb other flavors; stews, soup, chili, jambalaya, baked beans, bean salads

Tuscan Bean Soup – Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium-to-large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed clean, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, omit if sensitive to spice
  • 2 cans cannellini beans (White Kidney Beans), (4 cups cooked white kidney beans)
  • 2 cans Red Kidney Beans (4 cups cooked red kidney beans)
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) cavatelli, ditalini, elbow or small shell pasta of choice
  • 2 cups chopped Tuscan kale (tough ribs removed first), chard or collard greens
  • ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • Optional garnishes: Additional chopped parsley, black pepper, grated Parmesan cheese or light drizzle of olive oil

Instructions

1.In a large stockpot, sautee onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil. 

2.Add tomatoes, broth, water, bay leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes salt, pepper, beans, and kale. Simmer for 10 -15 minutes.

3.Add the pasta and continue simmering until the pasta has finished cooking.

4.Remove the bay leaves before serving.

5.Serve with parmesan cheese as a garnish and a crusty bread.

The soup is good in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This soup freezes well. Save individual portions in the freezer for easy reheating. 

Jambalaya

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 10 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces 
  • 2 cups (one can) drained and rinsed red kidney beans
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (16 ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon file powder
  • 1 ¼ cups uncooked white rice
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth 

Instructions

1.In a large stockpot or dutch oven, sautee onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic in olive oil. 

2.Slice andouille sausage and sautee it with the vegetables.

3.Add chicken and cook until the chicken is almost done.

4.Add in tomatoes, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 teaspoon file powder. 

5.Pour in chicken broth and 1 ¼ cups uncooked rice.

6.Give it all a stir, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer on low for 20 – 25 minutes until the rice is done. 

Can you Substitute Pinto Beans for Kidney Beans?

Yes! If you prefer one over the other, simply swap them out in the recipe. Just remember that kidney beans need a longer soaking and cooking time to remove the PHA that can upset your stomach. 

Final Verdict

Both Pinto and Kidney beans are healthy additions to your diet. Nutritionally, pinto and kidney beans are very similar.

They are both high in fiber, protein, and folates. Kidney beans have slightly more protein and pinto beans have slightly more folate.

Pinto beans cook just a bit faster since they have less of the PHA lectin which causes stomach upset.

If you are making a cold bean salad, kidney beans will hold up better in that as well due to their texture. Ultimately, it comes down to taste and preference as to which one is better.

Leave a Comment