15 Ways to Use and Cook with Canned Beans

Beans are the ultimate convenience food: Inexpensive, shelf-stable, filling, and flavorful, they’re ready when you are to whip up easy meals in a flash. Here are just a few things you can make with a single can. And don’t worry too much about the type of beans you use. They’re all interchangeable in the following recipes.

Note: Drain and rinse canned beans before using them to reduce sodium.

1. Hummus

Hummus is not just for chickpeas! After rinsing and draining your can of beans, blend with ¼ cup lemon juice, 1 tablespoon tahini (optional), 1 clove minced garlic, and 2 to 3 tablespoons water.  

2. Taco Filling

Fork-mash with ½ cup prepared salsa for a chunky taco filling.

3. Dip or Sandwich Spread

Blend with 1 clove minced garlic, 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, oregano, or sage, and 1 to 2 tablespoons water or citrus juice.

4. Succotash

Warm with 1 cups frozen corn, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, ½ cup chopped green onions, and a little water.

5. Grain Salad

Fold into 2 cups cooked grains along with tossed salad fixings and your favorite dressing.  

6. Refried Beans

Mash with ½ cup water in a skillet. Stir in another ½ cup water, 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 2 teaspoons chili powder. Simmer, stir, and mash 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture thickens to a spreadable consistency. 

7. Pasta e Fagioli 

Toss with whole grain pasta shells and marinara sauce. 

8. Light Lunch Salad

Toss with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ¼ cup finely chopped onion, and ¼ cup finely chopped parsley, basil, or cilantro, and serve over greens.

9. Greek-Style Beans

Simmer with ½ cup crushed tomatoes, 1 minced clove garlic and ½ teaspoon dried oregano 5 to 10 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve with bread or rice.

10. Croquettes

Fold into 2 cups pancake batter with 1 small grated onion and ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, then cook like small pancakes and serve with salsa, guacamole, or pasta sauce.

11. Soup 

Simmer 1 cup canned beans with 1½ cups water, ½ cup chopped onion, 1 clove minced garlic, and 2 teaspoons ground cumin, covered, 10 minutes. Blend until smooth. Serve garnished with remaining ½ cup beans.

12. Cider Baked Beans

Combine drained beans with 1 cup unsweetened apple cider 1 quartered onion, 1 tsp. mustard, and 1 tsp. tomato paste in an ovenproof baking dish. Bake 30 to 40 minutes at 350˚F or until sauce has thickened. 

13. Cream Sauce 

Blend white beans with enough water or vegetable broth to obtain a saucy, creamy consistency, then use in place of cream and cream sauces in casseroles and pasta dishes. 

14. Beans and Greens 

Steam 1 lb. dark, leafy greens, 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and a good pinch red pepper flakes with 2 cups water or vegetable broth until tender. Stir in beans, and cook until heated through.

15. Meat Substitute 

Got a favorite meat-based recipe you’d like to rework for a whole-foods, plant-based diet? Check out How to Use Beans as a Meat Substitute in Any Recipe.  

More Tasty Recipes to Make with a Can of Beans

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About the Author

Headshot of Mary Margaret Chappell

About the Author

Mary Margaret Chappell

When Mary Margaret Chappell first started out in the plant-based food world as a writer, editor, and recipe developer, she was a bacon-loving former pastry chef who didn’t think she could ever cook without butter. Fourteen years, four cookbooks, dozens of cooking classes, and hundreds of recipes later, her favorite thing in the world is sharing the tips, techniques, and recipes that show just how easy and delicious whole-food, plant-based cooking can be. The former food editor of Vegetarian Times magazine has done away with her dependency on butter and is honing her skills at baking with natural sweeteners. Chappell lives in France, where plant-based eating can often be a challenge, but the fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes available are simply amazing. Find her on Instagram and Facebook.
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