Pinchot has worked extensively as an audiobook narrator, with over 100 recordings as of 2014. AudioFile magazine recognized him as Best Voice in Fiction & Classics for his 2010 renderings of Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965), Karl Marlantes's Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War (2009) and David Vann's Caribou Island (2011).
Pinchot was born in Manhattan. His mother, Rosina (ne Asta) was an Italian American and a typist, and his father, Henry (originally Poncharavsky) was of Russian descent and a bookbinder, who was born in New York and raised in Paris. His younger brother, Justin is also an actor. He was raised in Southern California, where he graduated from South Pasadena High School at the top of his class and was appointed valedictorian. He earned a full scholarship to Yale University, where he was placed in Morse College and graduated magna cum laude. Pinchot began his Yale career in fine art, but after he was cast in a college play, a casting director discovered him, which resulted in his film debut, Risky Business.
In 1999, Pinchot spent a great deal of time in Harford, Pennsylvania, restoring the circa 1839 mansion of former Pennsylvania state Senator Edward Jones. He purchased six properties in the small, rural town of 1,300 "in an effort to revive the town's 19th-century aesthetic".
Pinchot appeared in several feature films, such as Risky Business, Beverly Hills Cop, The First Wives Club, True Romance, Courage Under Fire and It's My Party. Fisher Stevens asked Pinchot to play Ben Jabituya in the 1986 film Short Circuit, but Pinchot was fired. He also played Dennis Kemper in the short-lived NBC sitcom Sara and Balki Bartokomous in the long-running ABC sitcom Perfect Strangers.
In 2008, Pinchot published his novel The Learners in audio editions, author Chip Kidd's followup to The Cheese Monkeys. He also voiced Max, the fully restored Black 1964 VW Beetle, in the 2009 Volkswagen "Das Auto" campaign. In 2009 and 2014, Pinchot narrated over 100 audiobooks, in which he won a number of awards. In 2010, Pinchot read the audio version of the novels Matterhorn and Blood Oath. For the Blackstone Audio collection Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels and Short Stories, he provided a reading of several stories, including Highsmith's memorably creepy novel Strangers on a Train. He was chosen by Audible.com as their 2010 Narrator of the Year. On February 12, 2012, Pinchot starred in a home restoration show on DIY Network The Bronson Pinchot Project. The program is based on his hobby of restoring old homes using salvaged materials.