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What is a Pink Bean?

By C. Ausbrooks
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pink beans are small, pale, pinkish-brown colored, oval-shaped beans, popular in the Western United States and the Caribbean. They are commonly referred to as chili beans, but may also be called by their Spanish name, Habichuelas Rosadas. The most well known pink bean is the Santa Maria pinquito, which literally means pink and small. These are grown commercially in Santa Maria, California, USA.

Pink beans have a smooth, meaty, and almost powdery texture, and a semi-sweet, delicate taste. They are available either dried or canned, and can typically be found in supermarkets where other beans are sold.

Kidney beans, red beans, and pinto beans are all viable substitutions for the pink bean, in most every recipe. These beans are very similar to pinto beans, but are rounder and smaller. Most commonly, they are used to make refried beans and chili con carne, but are also popular in soups and stews.

The pink bean is harvested when it is young and still tender, before being dried for use in cooking. To prepare these beans, they must first be soaked in water overnight, and then drained. Typical cooking time is around 1.5 hours on the stove top, or 6-8 minutes in a pressure cooker. They are generally cooked with oil or fat, and salt, and then added to other dishes.

Some varieties of the pink bean include the O’dham bean, and the Sedona bean. The O’dham bean is a bush variety that grows natively in the Arizona desert in the Western United States. It has been cultivated since the early 18th century as an important food source in the area. The Sedona bean was developed by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station in the United States, and was released in 2005. It is an upright, disease-resistant cultivar.

Pink beans are a very nutritious and low-fat food, containing only 149 calories and 0.5 grams of fat per 3 ounces (100 grams). High in protein, these beans are a good choice for vegetarians, or anyone trying to increase protein intake. They are also a good source of potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, and calcium.

The shelf life of pink beans is indefinite, as long as they are dried and stored in a cool, dry place. However, after one year, cooking time will increase in order to produce a tender bean. It’s recommended that any dried bean be used within the year, but they still may be cooked and eaten safely after this time period.

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Discussion Comments
By anon295170 — On Oct 04, 2012

My daughter put these in the shopping cart and I had no idea what they were. Glad I looked them up since I am going to make chili soon.

By anon119543 — On Oct 18, 2010

I just ate for the first time a tasty plate of pink beans from a re-fried can of frijoles and so I got to this site to find out their food value and ways of serving the pre-cooked or canned ones. I am not so sure though, of the effect of canning on these delicious beans.

By anon101922 — On Aug 05, 2010

I also purchased pink beans thinking they were pinto beans.

By anon89600 — On Jun 11, 2010

Just cooked me up a batch of pink beans, that I picked up by mistake, thinking they were pinto beans. They look almost like pinto beans, just lighter in color, more delicate in taste, but still full-flavored.

By anon55888 — On Dec 10, 2009

wow! i would like to try it oh and they look good

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