40+ Recipes That Start With a Can of Beans
Next time you find yourself saying, "There's nothing to eat," pull that can of beans out of your pantry. You know, the one you keep stashed for emergencies. That can may not look like much now, but if all these canned bean recipes can prove something, it's that you've got a whole lot of potential in your hands. You could take a simple, more obvious route, like a soup or chili, or incorporate them into a more elaborate dish, like baked chicken, pasta, salad, casserole, or even Alfredo sauce. These recipes that all start with a can of beans will inspire you to make the most of what's in your pantry and enjoy every single bite.
Cuban Black Bean-and-Yellow Rice Bowls
Don’t think you can get a filling, flavorful meal in just one bowl? We’re here to prove you wrong. Brighten up dinnertime with this colorful, customizable meal. Start with bowls filled with yellow rice, black beans, and plantains, and then let everyone add their favorite toppings. If your family loves avocado, make sure you have enough to go around. You’ll be floored by how much flavor fits into one bowl of this meatless meal. This simple recipe will be on your table in just 50 minutes, and every bite has sweet, spicy, salty, and savory notes. If you’re new to cooking with plantains, we have a tip from the Test Kitchen: Plantains are ready to cook when their peels turn black on the outside, so buy them black or let them ripen before cooking. Many grocery stores sell heat-and-serve frozen plantains too. You’ll love the sweet crunch the plantains give this colorful dish, so gather the family around the table and tell them to dig in.
Three-Bean Pasta Salad
We combined two potluck classics—pasta salad and three-bean salad—to make one tasty new side dish. Blanched celery is the unexpected star in this side dish; it has a tender-crisp texture and bright green color. Swap out the canned beans for your favorite cooked field peas.
Smoky White Bean Soup
Soups are the most comforting dishes for fall and winter nights. But if you want to do homemade soup right, you have to spend hours letting the broth simmer or leave it in the slow cooker all day. Not anymore! You might not believe us, but this Smoky White Bean Soup is ready from start to finish in just 25 minutes. That’s less time than it takes Mama to put her face on! Not only is this recipe super quick, but it cooks in one pot. A 25-minute, one-dish recipe that’s comforting and filling is a winner in every sense of the word. This recipe starts with one of our favorite things—bacon—but only one thick-cut slice of bacon, so make it an extra thick slice. This recipe is so easy because that you’re not chopping your time away. Pre-chopped onion, pre-chopped celery, one minced garlic clove, and a teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme are next in the pan, and they cook right in the bacon drippings. Talk about yum. Add chicken broth, cannellini beans, one chopped and seeded plum tomato, one bay leaf, salt, and pepper, and you’re done. Really, we wouldn’t lie! This soup only simmers for eight minutes after it’s brought to a boil, and it’s ready to eat. This recipe is so easy to whip up the fastest lunch or dinner ever, and you can make it ahead to take to work for the most comforting brown-bag lunch in the office.
BBQ Chicken Bean Dip
Step aside, Buffalo chicken. Move it along, basic bean dip. The game day dip to rule all game day dips has arrived. This bold yet balance BBQ Chicken Bean Dip has so much going for it: It’s easy to make, you likely have most of the necessary ingredients on hand, and most importantly—this cheesy chicken appetizer will be a winner with any crowd. The barbecue sauce used in to make the dip couldn’t be easier to mix up, and it’s one you can come back to again and again for all of your BBQ needs; however, if you want to shave a few minutes off the recipe, you can certainly use your favorite bottled sauce instead. We suggest topping the dip with cheese towards the end of baking in order to prevent the dip from becoming too greasy.
Venison, Sausage, and Black Bean Chili
Venison's robustness makes this dish stand out. Use jalapeño-flavored or andouille chicken sausage to lend fire to the dish, or blunt the spice with mild goat cheese, or substitute sour cream.
Radish, White Bean, and Olive Salad
This quick side is all about texture, from the meaty olives to the creamy cannellini beans and crunchy radishes. The mild bean makes the salad a great match for nearly any main.
Cheesy Chicken and Pinto Bean Taco Skillet
If you’re in need of a simple, tasty dish that works for a weeknight meal, consider that need fulfilled. This skillet dish is effortless to throw together and super customizable—you can use black beans or kidney beans instead of pinto. If you’re not in the mood for chicken, try shredded pulled pork from your favorite BBQ place. You can tailor the toppings as you see fit, so keep an open imagination. Serving is simple: just put everything on the table and let everyone make their own tacos.
Easy Smoky Black Beans
Since everything else in this menu requires a bit more of your attention, it's good to have one dish that's simple to prepare. These gussied-up canned beans get a savory flavor boost from garlic, smoked paprika, and cumin, then a finishing touch of lime juice and cilantro adds freshness. If you'd like to incorporate a little heat, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder or ground red pepper, and toast along with the other spices and the garlic.
Tex-Mex meets tater tots in this easy, inexpensive, and all-around comforting one-dish dinner. Our spicy twist on the classic tater tot casserole consists of a succulent ground beef filling—featuring creamy black beans, crisp-sweet corn, cheese, and mild green chiles for a kick—topped with crispy tater tots, and finished with a drizzle of an addictively spicy and tangy sour cream sauce. Top this fiesta of a casserole with fresh garnishes, such as avocado, tomato, jalapeño, and cilantro, and it’s as perfect to serve at your next football feast as it is for a casual weeknight meal. We use 85/15 lean ground beef for this recipe and recommend that you do not go with anything leaner, as the higher fat percentage both contributes to the filling’s rich flavor and keeps it from drying out while baking.
Air-Fried Chile Chicken Chimichanga
This lightened take on chimichangas only tastes indulgent. Perfect for lunch or dinner, the golden, toasted tortilla gives way to a creamy, rich, and chewy interior. For an even crispier exterior, feel free to rotate the burrito more than once. We used Ole Extreme High Fiber, Low Carb wheat wraps—you can find similar wraps at the grocery store. These can easily be prepared in bulk ahead of time. All you have to do when you want to eat them is brush them with butter, air-fry, and serve.
Creamy White Bean Fettuccine Alfredo
Pureed with flavorful aromatics, white beans shine as a dairy-free hero, delivering creamy, rich body to our vegan Alfredo sauce. Whether you follow a vegan diet, you’ve cut out dairy, or you’re simply looking for a delicious (low-fat) new pasta dish to add into your rotation, you’re going to love this flavorful white bean Alfredo. The nutritional yeast is a key ingredient of the sauce, as it provides a near-cheesy umami flavor, so it’s worth picking up even if it’s not already a staple in your pantry.
Spicy Clam, Chorizo, and White Bean Soup
The classic Spanish combination of briny littleneck clams—the smallest and most tender of the clam clan—smoky chorizo, and tender white beans come together in seamless soup harmony. Turn this liquid lunch into a robust meal with our quick and easy garlic bread—perfect for sopping up every last drop.
Slow Cooker Bourbon-Peach Baked Beans
Skip the canned baked beans in favor of our fuss-free version, which saves up to 300mg sodium per serving. Adobo sauce and bacon build a smoky backbone, while peak-season peaches offer sweet contrast. Bonus: The beans will stay warm in a covered slow cooker for up to 2 hours after being unplugged.
Pressure-Cooker Beef-and-Bean Chili
Four Bean (and One Pea) Salad
We’ve updated the tired three-bean staple with a wonderful variety of textures, colors, and shapes. It’s a gorgeous salad that you’ll be proud to serve at your next backyard barbecue. Charring the snap peas and edamame adds robust flavor notes that complement the zip of the dressing and the mild taste of the green beans.
Sesame-Ginger-Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Sesame, especially toasted sesame oil, is a key flavor in many Asian cuisines. It makes sense that tahini would fit here too, especially as a finishing touch for roasted sweet potatoes with Sriracha.
Black Bean Tostadas with Cabbage Slaw
Look for salty crumbly fresh Mexican cheese—queso fresco—near other fresh cheeses. Swap crumbled feta or shredded Jack cheese in a pinch. Look for crunchy premade tostada shells near the taco shells. Use up the extra shells as a base for a batch of after-school nachos, or break them into pieces and use in place of tortilla chips. For even more veggie goodness and an extra punch of flavor, try adding a few slices of creamy avocado and a sprinkle of charred corn kernels.
Plan to put this easy and comforting vegetarian pozole on repeat all season long. The vibrant stew offers the smoky, delicately spicy, and bright flavors characteristic of traditional pozole, simply without the pork. Fresh spinach and red kidney beans add color and hearty texture, while also upping the iron and protein content of the pozole. So whether you or loved ones follow a meat-free diet or are simply looking to cut back a little on the animal protein, it’s a perfect (not to mention, perfectly simple) dish that’s sure to impress.
Red Pepper, Corn, and Black Bean Chowder
Savor this Mexican-inspired chowder made with corn, black beans, red pepper, and onion. Top with a spoonful of sour cream or 2% Greek yogurt, a sprinkle of cilantro, and one lime wedge.
Broccoli-and-Cannellini Bean Salad
Add protein to your broccoli salad with the addition of canned cannellini or other white beans.
Creamy Spinach Chickpea Soup
Curry, ginger, and mint give this soup a kick, while puréed chickpeas make it hearty enough to eat as a main course. For the best texture, purée until silky smooth.
Jalapeño Popper Bean Dip
Think beyond tortilla chips for this crowd-pleasing dip. You don't want to deny guests the deliciousness of chips, but those can get a little heavy; supplement with veggie dippers to keep things lighter overall. We suggest mini sweet peppers because their sweetness helps offset the heat of the jalapeños.
Zucchini and Bean Burritos
The bean mixture acts as a barrier between the tortilla and the zucchini, so the burritos stay crisp.
Heavenly Taco Pie
This taco pie is a great alternative to a build-your-own taco bar. It can be made ahead of time and baked off right before the party. Just slice it up and set out some traditional toppings, buffet-style so everyone can customize. Be sure to let it stand before serving, as that’s the key to everything holding together.
Skillet Chicken Breast with Beans and Greens
Our Skillet Chicken Breast with Beans and Greens is truly a one pan wonder. Our Test Kitchen came up with this tasty, family friendly chicken dinner which comes together in a single skillet. Packed with protein, loaded with fiber, and just 390 calories per serving, Skillet Chicken with Beans and Greens makes a healthy dinner any night of the week. This recipe is oh-so-versatile too—swap out the turnip greens for collards or kale. Use pinto beans, black beans, or chickpeas instead of cannellini beans. You can make this meal even heartier by serving the chicken and vegetables over cooked rice, whole grains (like quinoa, brown rice, or farro) or orzo pasta. Whatever you do, don’t forget to add a dash or two of hot pepper vinegar at the end. The tang and heat of this Southern pantry staple makes the dish sing, and also adds tons of flavor while keeping the dish light and fresh.
Pesto Chickpea Salad with Summer Squash
Stop searching, because we’ve got the best 15-minute summer side dish right here. The fresh aroma of basil, the nutty flavors from raw squash and pungent red onion all combine for a taste that perfectly reflects the season. The chickpeas offer a little more substance, making it hearty enough to leave you satisfied, which the light, lemony dressing and Parmesan make your taste buds happy. Bonus points if you can pick your own basil and squash from your garden.
Brisket-and-Black Bean Chili with Cilantro-Lime Crema
This hearty, richly spiced chili is made in a slow cooker so it’s easy to prepare and transport if you’re traveling for game day. Instead of bowls, set out mugs and let everyone help themselves to the chili and crema.
Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken and Black Bean Soup
This filling and flavorful soup is ideal for a chilly evening. Freeze leftover chipotle chiles and adobe sauce in a flattened Ziploc bag for future use. Want to make it in your Instant Pot? Click here for the recipe.
Orecchiette With Cauliflower, Walnuts, and White Beans
This filling, vegetarian pasta dish features bright flavors, beans and walnuts for protein, lemon for brightness, roasted garlic for depth, parsley and mint for refreshing herby punch. My most staunch meat-lovers adore this dish, and I have shared the recipe numerous times. For a vegan version of this recipe, use Barilla orecchiette and use the substitutions below. This dish can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature and can made up to two days in advance—just reheat, covered, in a low oven. The roasted garlic and cauliflower can be made up to three days in advance.
Easy, Breezy, Not-Quite-Refried Beans
When I have time to make myself breakfast—and, you know, not just shove some cereal in my mouth—I tend to mix it up: Pancakes and roasted fruit one day, toasted oatmeal the next, a pile of eggs and diner toast after that. But there's been one stronghold in my repertoire—and that is a pot of really good, really filling beans.
I know, I know. People think beans are boring. And they can be! But these beans are cooked down with smashed garlic and a knob of butter and a hearty splash of hot sauce. They're like refried beans, without the lard or the time commitment. They're super inexpensive, and you probably have everything that you need for them in your pantry already.
I smear them on breakfast tacos for a creamy, salty protein boost. I'll eat them piled in a bowl, topped with a soft-boiled egg and a sprinkle of feta or parmesan. I'll add them to grains and roasted vegetables from yesterday's dinner to make a sort of breakfast bowl. They can be a topping, or the main event. They're pure, no-stress comfort food. They make you feel hugged from the inside.
Here's how you can make these beans yourself:
Easy, Breezy, Not-Quite-Refried Beans
Adapted from this recipe by Orangette
Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas
These quick and easy zucchini enchiladas are an easy weeknight family favorite whether you’re vegetarian or not. They feel light and healthy, but they’re still filling and satisfying. The secret is all in the homemade sauce: chunky tomatoes and onions, minced garlic, chili powder, honey, and ground cumin make a huge difference here, so don’t skip it. Plus, it’s even better the next day. Try serving with rice, quinoa, diced or sliced avocado, sautéed onion, a dollop of sour cream, or a squeeze of lime juice.
Slow-Cooker Spanish-Style Chickpeas
Although these pork and black bean nachos require a bit more attention than your basic platter of loaded nachos, they’re well worth the effort. These are the nachos to make when you really wanna go next-level and impress a group. With the succulent pork, Swiss cheese and mustard sauce, and bread-and-butter pickles, this crowd-pleasing play on a Cuban sandwich packs a powerful load of flavor. Although they may seem out of place at first glance, the briny-sweet pickles are a perfect balance for the savory pork and the funky Swiss cheese sauce. As for the homemade refried black beans, you’ll never look back once you try them. Going for refried beans is one of our favorite pro-tricks when it comes to building a superior plate of nachos; they’re creamy, flavorful, and actually stay on the chip! We’ve linked to a pork recipe in the ingredient list below that would be excellent for these nachos (let’s be real, it would be excellent for just about anything), however, this roasted pork shoulder is time intensive to prepare—so if you’re not up for that, you can definitely use cooked, shredded pork (without sauce) from your favorite local BBQ joint or supermarket instead.