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Which bean is best for chili?

Hey there! I'm recipe developing a super simple bean chili. I've nailed down the method and other ingredients (such as chili powder, onion, and poblanos). The only remaining Q is: Which bean? Right now, I'm torn between pinto (creamy!) and kidney (classic!). Which would you prefer? And why?

Food Writer & Recipe Developer at Food52

asked about 1 month ago

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19 answers 1495 views
Katie Macdonald
Katie Macdonald

Assistant Editor at Food52

added about 1 month ago

Ooh, definitely kidney (but I'm always a fan of classic flavors)!

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Nancy
Nancy

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added about 1 month ago

All are good, and give slightly different flavors/textures.
From experience and hearing people talk about them, would have guessed kidney beans much more eaten than pinto, so would have recommended pinto to encourage something new.
But looking at statistics in usa to 2016, pintos are consumed about 5-6x volume of kidney beans (2.65 lb vs 0.47 lb). So that argument goes away.
On taste and texture, I favor pinto beans.

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Smaug
added about 1 month ago

Kidney beans are too sweet- they may be classic in New York, but Pintos are much more used in the southwest. Of course, neither bean chili nor chili powder is highly regarded there.

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Eric Kim
Eric Kim

Eric is the Senior Editor at Food52

added about 1 month ago

Kidney for me!

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BerryBaby
BerryBaby

BerryBaby is trusted source on General Cooking

added about 1 month ago

I add three...white kidney, black and pinto, all canned and rinsed. Added the last hour of simmering.

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Lori Terwilliger
added about 1 month ago

Chili is one of those dishes, like BBQ, which seem to invite devotees of all camps to insist that their choice is the most authentic or best. Fact is, pinto, kidney, black, or small red beans all have a place, and your choice simply depends on either what you like best or what you have on the pantry shelf. True chili aficionados will insist that real chili contains no beans at all. Of course, they may well also grind their own choice selection of dried peppers, because pre-prepared chili powder is looked down on. For those mere mortals among us who simply would like a comforting bowl of chili on a cold day- I don't think it's that critical a choice.

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Smaug
added about 1 month ago

I don't think anyone particularly objects to the proliferation of spicy bean dishes, of which there are innumerable examples worldwide. It is more a linguistic matter than a culinary one- why (other than marketing, of course) label them as chili when they have no connection to the original dish? At the least, one would think that a dish called "chili" would have it's basis in chilis, which many of these recipes ignore almost entirely. Objections to chili powder are largely those of any sort of prepared spice blend of this type- you are not only ceding control of your dish to the preparer of the mix, which one might do for convenience (as one might by a can of chili), the spice blends tend inevitably to emphasize the cheaper ingredients- in the case of chili powders, usually dried onion and garlic, substances that there is really no excuse for. Ironically, recipes calling for it frequently add in the basic (and quite common) ingredients- cumin, oregano and powdered chiles, as well as fresh onion and garlic- the chili powder evidently primarily for the purpose of making sure they didn't miss anything. So by all means have a nice bowl of beans, but must we reduce the word to meaninglessness by indiscriminate use?

Liz D
added about 1 month ago

I like pinto & black beans, I think their flavors are more fitting for the spices in chili; kidney beans are too sweet for me. I'd use a mix of beans, especially if there's no meat, for the combo of colors, flavors & textures

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Gammy
added about 1 month ago

I typically add dark red kidney beans along with cannellini beans and never rinse the beans, I like the way the "juices" help thicken and flavor the chili. Never thought they were too sweet, but I will have to try pinto and black beans to taste the difference.

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Trena Heinrich
Trena Heinrich

Trena is a trusted source on general cooking.

added about 1 month ago

I make my chili with pinto beans.

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Ttrockwood
added about 1 month ago

I like a mix of different beans, usually kidney beans and black beans

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Gail Stringer
added 28 days ago

I use pinto, black and kidney beans.

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MMH
MMH
added 28 days ago

I like the mix of beans also. I add sweet corn. I like the contrast to the spice of a really hot chili and I never add meat.

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Mercergirl
added 28 days ago

For decades, my tradition was always kidney beans - I didn't even consider there was another option. Now I prefer a combination of kidney, black, and pinto. The different colors, textures, and flavors really add to the dish.

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Linda Thomas
added 28 days ago

Pinto the size and its creamy

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Kimberlee Frarey
added 28 days ago

Pink beans - texture and beautiful color, plus the sauce seems to adhere to the shape of the bean and this enhances the flavor of each bite

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normafahy@hotmail.com
added 28 days ago

Kidney. I mix far a slight. I don't like creamy beans in my chile. Sometime I add a little coffee to it

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Suzanne Smith
added 27 days ago

Santa Maria Pinquitos (available thru Rancho Gordo) only bean my family uses. Been the fav family chili bean since the 1960s.

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Laura De
added 24 days ago

I use pinto beans and avoid kidney beans which I consider too hard and sweet. I don't eat chili made with kidney beans if I can avoid it. There is a brand of pinto beans available in the south and southwest called "Ranch Style Beans" which are canned with a chili sauce. Since the chili flavor has marinated throughout the cooked beans, they are a nice ingredient for chili with beans; no rinsing required.

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