Roman Beans vs. Pinto Beans: Differences & Which Is Better?

Roman Beans vs. Pinto Beans
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Have you ever tried to tell roman and pinto beans apart? Characterized by their speckled appearance before cooking, both lose those marks after you cook them. So what are the differences between roman and pinto beans? 

Roman and pinto beans are similar in appearance, taste, and nutritional values, but they are not the same. The fact that roman beans are higher in proteins and lower in saturated fats makes them the better option in the battle for the better legume of the two (but only slightly). 

Nonetheless, these two legumes are a great addition to your daily diary as they offer an array of nutrients and vitamins essential for a healthy life. Roman beans are less commonly found in US stores, especially in the cooked form (normally, you can find them dry). The good thing is that, given their similarities, you can easily substitute roman beans with pinto beans without needing to change your original recipe. The same is true the other way around, meaning you can use roman beans as a substitute for pinto beans.

Roman Beans vs. Pinto Beans: What Are the Differences? 

As already said, roman beans, also known as cranberry beans, are very similar to pinto beans. What sets them apart? And, more important than that, how can you distinguish them? How can you know which one is the better choice for your diet? Worry not, bellow I’ll give you a few tips on how to tell them apart like a pro. 


As for appearance, these two beans are very similar in terms of taste. They both have a creamy texture once cooked, and they both have a nutty flavor. Roman beans have a strong chestnut taste, while the taste of pinto beans, still nutty, is a more earthy flavor. Not being associated with any specific flavor makes pinto beans one of the most versatile legumes you can find. Still, as I said above, the taste is quite the same, making it very easy for you to tell them apart in a blind test. 


Roman and pinto beans look almost the same. Before being cooked, these two types of beans are known for their cream/white color and specks. The difference? There are two ways of differentiating roman from pinto beans: one is the fact that roman beans are slightly larger than pinto beans, and two is the color of their specks. While for pinto beans, the small streaks are brown, in roman, or cranberry beans, the dots are a combination of magenta, black, and red (thus the cranberry name association). 

Both of these beans have one very interesting characteristic regarding their color. It changes after the beans have been cooked. After cooking, both roman and pinto beans have a very similar appearance: the specks disappear, and they become a darker, even, brown color. 

Roman Beans vs. Pinto Beans


Roman and pinto beans can be found in a variety of dishes. You can have them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Pinto beans are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, and you’ve probably found them as a filling for burritos, tostadas, or tacos. Being the most popular dried beans in the United States, pinto beans can also be eaten whole or mashed as a side dish.

On the other side, Roman beans are used in salads, soups, and polentas. They are also great when used for baked beans recipes. 


In terms of nutritional values and health benefits, roman and pinto beans can be at the top of the list of the most nutritious beans. Both of them are low in saturated fats and high in protein, fiber, iron, and potassium, making them the perfect addition to a healthy diet. [1] [2

One serving of roman beans has approximately half the necessary daily protein intake. Why is protein important? Because it is essential to convert food into energy and to help with the production and strengthening of muscles, cells, and tissues.

Low in calories and high in fiber, roman beans will help you manage your weight as they will work as an appetite compressor. [3] Haven’t you realized that you feel fuller for longer every time you have beans? The reason behind that is the fiber.

A high potassium count will work for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, as potassium will help strengthen the blood cells around your heart. [4

In conclusion, roman beans are a great source of essential nutrients and vitamins that promote health as a whole and improve your immune system.   

Packed with vitamins and minerals and high in protein and fiber, pinto beans offer very interesting health benefits such as: 

  • High in fiber, 1 cup of pinto beans represents around 50% of the daily recommended intake of fiber per day, which is a great way of keeping a healthy gut and high levels of energy throughout the day.
  • Source of antioxidants known for their anticancer benefits.
  • Low Glycemic Index, which means they contribute to better blood sugar control. 
  • Contribute to weight loss as their high amounts of proteins and fibers will help you feel fuller for longer. [5]


Navy Beans vs. Pinto Beans: Differences & Which Is Better?

Roman Beans vs. Pinto Beans: Which One Is a Better Choice? 

Higher in proteins and fibers and lower in saturated fats, roman beans could answer this question. On the other hand, pinto beans are higher than roman beans in almost all essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium. However, the differences between the two cannot be considered significant, which means that both these legumes are excellent choices. 

Being very similar, nutritiously wise, and also in terms of flavor, the good thing is that you can swap between the two without any added effort. Now that you know all of these facts about roman and pinto beans, the next time you make your supermarket list, I’m sure you’ll add either one of these. Independently of your choice, it will always be a good one. 

Can You Substitute Roman Beans With Pinto Beans? 

Again, given their similar nutty notes, roman and pinto beans can be used in place of one another. Even though roman beans have a slightly stronger flavor than pinto beans, you don’t need to change anything in your recipe if you plan on using roman beans as a substitute for pinto beans. The same is true the other way around. 

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