What do Pinto Beans Look Like? A Visual Guide

Pinto beans are a popular and nutritious food that can be used in a variety of recipes. As their name suggests, they have a speckled, mottled, or spotted appearance that distinguishes them from other types of beans. They are also known by other names, such as frijoles, borlotti beans, and cranberry beans. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what pinto beans look like and how to identify them.

Pinto beans are a type of legume that is similar in size to kidney beans. They are oval-shaped and measure approximately 1/2 inch long. Their color can vary, but they are generally beige or light brown with mottled markings that can range in color from light beige to dark brown. Pinto beans are commonly used in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, and they are often used in dishes such as chili, refried beans, and bean salad.

The History of Pinto Beans

Pinto beans have been cultivated for thousands of years and have a long history in Mexico and South America. They were introduced to Europe in the 15th century by Spanish explorers and became a popular food crop in many countries throughout the world. Today, they are a staple food in many regions of the world, and they are known for their versatility and nutritional benefits.

Pinto Bean Varieties

Pinto beans come in a variety of types and sizes, each with their own unique characteristics. Some of the most popular pinto bean varieties include:

  • Bush midnight
  • Redhawk
  • Sierra
  • Rio Zape

Each variety of pinto bean has its own distinct taste and appearance, but they are all generally similar in size and shape.

How to Identify Pinto Beans

Pinto beans can be found in most grocery stores and are often sold in dry or canned form. When looking for pinto beans, look for the following characteristics:

  • A speckled or mottled appearance
  • An oval shape that measures about 1/2 inch long
  • A beige or light brown color with mottled markings that range in color from light beige to dark brown
  • A firm texture that holds its shape when cooked

Pinto beans can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, pressure cooking, or baking. When cooked properly, they have a creamy texture and a slightly sweet flavor that is mild enough to complement a wide range of other ingredients.

Pinto Beans Nutrition

Pinto beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and many essential vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked pinto beans contains approximately:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 245
Protein 15.4g
Fiber 15.4g
Iron 4.4mg
Magnesium 120mg
Phosphorus 382mg
Potassium 746mg
Thiamine 0.4mg
Niacin 2.1mg
Folate 294mcg

Pinto beans are also cholesterol-free and low in fat, making them a healthy addition to any diet. They are especially popular among vegetarians and vegans who rely on plant-based protein sources to meet their nutritional needs.

Pinto Bean Preparation and Cooking

Pinto beans can be prepared and cooked in a variety of ways, depending on your personal preference and the recipe you are making. Here are some preparation and cooking tips to keep in mind:

Preparing Pinto Beans

  • If using dry pinto beans, rinse them in cold water and remove any debris or stones.
  • Soak beans in water overnight or for at least 4 hours to soften them and reduce cooking time.
  • Drain and rinse beans before cooking.

Cooking Pinto Beans

  • Place beans in a large pot and cover with water or broth.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours, or until beans are tender.
  • Season with salt and other seasonings to taste.
  • Pinto beans can also be cooked in a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or baked in the oven.
  • Cooked pinto beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

How to Incorporate Pinto Beans into Your Diet

Pinto beans can be used in a wide variety of dishes to add flavor, texture, and nutritional value. Here are some ideas for incorporating pinto beans into your diet:

  • Add cooked pinto beans to soups, stews, and chili.
  • Mash cooked pinto beans and use as a filling for burritos or tacos.
  • Puree cooked pinto beans and use as a dip or spread.
  • Add cooked pinto beans to salads for extra protein and fiber.
  • Bake pinto beans into casseroles or meatloaf.
  • Use cooked pinto beans as a topping for baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.


Pinto beans are a versatile, nutritious, and delicious food that can enhance the flavor and nutritional value of a wide variety of dishes. With their distinctive speckled appearance, they are easy to identify and commonly found in most grocery stores. Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, or just looking to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, pinto beans are a great addition to any meal.


  • Are pinto beans the same as kidney beans?
    No, pinto beans are oval-shaped and have a speckled or mottled appearance, while kidney beans are larger, kidney-shaped, and usually red.
  • Are pinto beans healthy?
    Yes, pinto beans are a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and are a healthy addition to any diet. They are especially popular among vegetarians and vegans who rely on plant-based protein sources.
  • Do pinto beans need to be soaked before cooking?
    While it is not necessary to soak pinto beans before cooking, it can help to reduce the cooking time and make them more digestible. Soaking beans for at least 4 hours or overnight is recommended.
  • How long do cooked pinto beans last in the refrigerator?
    Cooked pinto beans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


1. “Pinto Bean Production in New Mexico,” New Mexico State University
2. “Nutrition Facts for Cooked Pinto Beans,” Self Nutrition Data
3. “How to Cook Pinto Beans,” Allrecipes
4. “Pinto Beans Nutrition Facts,” Verywell Fit
5. “Pinto Beans: Benefits, Nutrition, Side Effects, and More,” Healthline

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *