Ormond Beach Restaurant Blog

A Quick Guide to Black, Pinto & Refried Beans


Beans are an important staple in Mexican food. Our dishes include a variety of black, pinto, and refried beans to add flavor and texture. You probably already know that beans are a great source of protein. They’re also a great option to enjoy meatless Mexican dishes if you prefer vegetarian foods. But do you know the difference between black and pinto beans? And are refried beans good for you despite the name? Keep reading to find out.

Black Beans

Black beans are always black, whether they are raw or cooked. They contain a creamy white center and are especially popular in Latin American cuisine. You may find black beans in Cajun food as well. Black beans are often included in rice and bean dishes and in black bean soup. You can find these beans in canned and dried form, but we serve them freshly cooked at Agave Mexican Restaurant.

Black beans are smaller than pinto beans and have a firmer or al dente texture. They are great for use in soups, because they don’t absorb as much of the moisture as other beans. When pinto beans are subjected to high heat, they are more likely to get mushy, but black beans remain firm. Black beans are also known as turtle beans and were named for their color, which remains constant in cooked and uncooked form.

Pinto Beans

If this was a popularity contest, pinto beans would win hands-down. They are the most popular type of bean in the United States as well as in northwestern Mexico. These beans are brown in color with white spots, but they turn pink when they are cooked. Pinto beans are used in whole or mashed form as the most common filling for delicious burritos, but you may also prefer them as refried beans. Refried beans are also used in dips.

Pinto beans are great for mashing. Their texture is similar to that of a boiled potato. Pinto beans received their name for their color. “Pinto” is the Spanish word for “painted”, because the beans look like they have white spots painted on them when they are uncooked.

Which Is Better?

We really don’t like to judge, but there are certainly differences between these two types of beans. Pinto beans contain slightly more carbohydrates than the black beans, but both types are virtually free of fat, especially when you compare them to other types of food. As far as preparation time goes, it’s similar for both beans. You must cook them for at least an hour in boiling water, unless you let the beans soak for several hours before you start making dinner. Beans are a great way to add some protein to your diet, which is one reason why they’re included in most Mexican dishes.

If you’re having soup, you’ll probably prefer the black bean variety. Otherwise, pinto beans are more common, although not any less delicious than their darker counterparts. We invite you to try both kinds here at Agave Mexican Restaurant, but you can also stick to your known favorites. Now that you know more about these beans, it’s time to answer your concerns about refried beans.

Are Refried Beans Healthy?

When you hear the word “fried”, you probably don’t associate anything healthy with it. Generally, most foods that are fried are not good for your waistline, either, including the most notorious of them all: French fries. But refried beans are a little bit different. One, you’re talking about beans, which are a protein and not a carbohydrate. Two, refried beans include a few simple ingredients with many surprising health benefits.

Refried beans originated in Mexico, where they’re known as “frijoles refritos”. This term actually translates to well-fried beans. To make them, you only need pinto beans, onion, garlic, and bacon fat or lard. Granted, most things made with bacon fat or lard aren’t healthy, but refried beans don’t contain a lot of fats and still have the original nutrients found in the beans. During the heating process, the beans are mashed and then seasoned.

Refried beans contain a lot of important nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamin C. The pinto beans also include polyphenols, which inhibit the growth of cancer cells. One caveat with refried beans is that the canned version includes a high amount of sodium. That’s why we recommend eating the fresh version at Agave Mexican Restaurant. They taste better and are better for your health.