21 Meals That Start With a Can of Beans
Why We Love Canned Beans So Much
Canned beans are under-sung heroes. We always keep a few cans on hand in the pantry—they're an endlessly adaptable resource for quick weeknight meals. Beans are fiber-rich, budget-friendly, and just dang tasty, so we've collected our favorite meals that start with you guessed it, a humble can of beans.
20-Minute Black Bean Burgers and Pickled Onion Slaw
Don’t we all need a great 20-minute veggie burger recipe in our back pocket? These burgers also work with any other canned bean variety, so you can venture beyond black beans. The dressing for the Pickled Onion Slaw is fairly mild, allowing the pop of the pickled onions to shine. Try to slice the cabbage as thinly as you can; the fine shreds have a terrific texture, wilting down slightly after standing for 10 minutes with the dressing.
Skillet Red Beans and Rice
Look for trinity blend (a mix of onion, bell pepper, and celery) with the prepared produce. Or make your own with 3/4 cup onion, 3/4 cup celery, and 1/2 cup bell pepper.
This hearty yet healthy Italian classic features humble ingredients that make a big impact. Escarole is transformed by heat, changing from a bitter green into something soft, mellow, and sultry. If you crave extra crunch, use fresh green beans instead of canned. If you can’t find escarole, substitute an equal amount of coarsely chopped lacinato kale, red kale, or Swiss chard. Parmesan cheese lends savory depth and body to the broth, while accents of pancetta add richness. As with most soups, the longer it sits, the better it gets, making this a great make-ahead option. Bonus: One serving delivers more than a quarter of the day’s calcium and almost 30% of your daily potassium goal.
Black Bean Tostadas
These hearty black bean tostadas prove that vegans know how to party! Creamy refried beans, crispy plantains and tortillas, and charred summer veggies add up to a fiesta of flavors and textures that will make this dish a regular in your recipe repertoire. Look for a smoky chipotle salsa at your grocery store—a dollop ties all the flavors together. If you can’t find plantain strips at your local grocery or Hispanic specialty market, you can get them online. Or use plantain chips—just use a little less, as they tend to be slightly higher in fat and sodium.
White Bean and Vegetable Bowls with Frizzled Eggs
This easy bowl of brothy goodness is loaded with both veggies and umami depth--it's comfort food you can feel good about. It's also great for times when the food budget is tight, as it costs only about $11 for 4 servings. One-bowl dinners are a great way to solve the "What's for Dinner?" question that strikes daily. This flavorful option offers up a vegetarian option. The eggs add great protein and staying power to the veggie-heavy dish. The ingredients are similar to what you find in a traditional chili, but the results are anything but. Grab a bowl and enjoy.
Lemony White Bean-and-Arugula Salad
An quick salad with cannellini beans lends healthy plant-based protein to your meal, and a simple DIY dressing keeps sodium low by using less salt than bottled versions you'll find in the grocery store.
Kicky Black Bean Burgers
If you don't have a food processor, you can sub about 2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs for the torn bun.
Shrimp and Black Bean Tacos
These healthy shrimp tacos come together quickly for a tasty, weeknight-friendly dinner. A hefty amount of toasty cumin adds deep flavor to quickly seared shrimp, while a wee bit of ground red pepper punches above its weight, contributing a fair amount of heat. Don’t worry, though—once the shrimp gets tossed into corn tortillas with avocado, rice, and beans, the heat is muted so the tacos are perfectly seasoned.
White Bean Soup with Garlicky Croutons
This simple cold-weather soup is an easy go-to when you crave comfort—creamy and full of body, yet not as heavy as other dairy-based soups. The golden color of the broth comes from the sautéed onion and carrot; keep an eye on the mixture as it cooks to make sure it doesn't overbrown. Make the croutons and stem and chop the kale while the soup simmers.
Farro Burrito Bowls
This colorful grain bowl is a great make-ahead option for lunches or warm summer evenings. To cook the farro, simmer 1 cup uncooked unpearled farro in about 6 cups water for 25 minutes or until slightly chewy, and then drain, cool, and refrigerate. The bowls are delicious at room temperature, but you can also heat the beans with a splash of chicken stock and reheat the vegetables in a sauté pan with 1 or 2 teaspoons of oil. Cold eggs are best for soft-boiling so the yolk stays slightly runny after the whites are set. Add straight from the refrigerator once the water starts to boil.
Chickpea and Kale Curry
Embrace the comfort of Indian flavors with a 25-minute curry that also happens to be vegan. This meatless main offers plenty of protein thanks to quinoa and chickpeas, and boasts 40% of your daily fiber goal. Coconut milk lends velvety richness, while a mix of peanut butter and spices give the sauce rich flavor. A flourish of fresh herbs at the end brightens and freshens the dish.
Ham, Kale, and White Bean Soup
The water used to cook a pot of beans is really liquid gold, infused with aromatics and thickened with starch from the beans. It makes perfect sense to give the cooking liquid a second life as the broth for the soup (and save the trouble of rinsing and draining). The ham hock will season the broth and the beans as they cook; you won’t need additional salt once they are done. Instead of cooking the kale and carrots in the soup, give them a quick sauté and stir them in at the end so they retain their vibrancy.
Fresh and fast, this meatless main redefines the art of convenience cooking. We toast the bread in the oven, but if you already have the grill cranked up, this salad easily transitions to an outdoor dish. If your bakery carries whole-grain ciabatta, use it for a nutrition boost.
Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup
Mild cannellini beans give the soup body and protein without distracting from the rich sweet potato flavor. Chopped apple and Greek yogurt on top add a tart and tangy contrast. Nutrition abounds in versatile sweet potatoes; plain potatoes need much more dressing up.
Charred Broccolini and Onion Chickpea Bowls
Eating more plant-based meals is easier to do when they’re as tasty and quick to prepare as this one. Much of the deliciousness comes from charring the broccolini and the onion wedges in a super-hot cast-iron skillet; those deeply browned, crisp edges impart incredible flavor with no additional fat, sodium, or calories. And talk about a weeknight dinner workhorse—canned unsalted chickpeas are fast, convenient, and hearty. We just toss them with a lemony dressing to perk up their flavor.
Pasta with Chickpea Sauce
Onions, carrots, and garlic cook in olive oil until buttery soft, then get blended with chickpeas and water to form a deeply savory puree that coats pasta beautifully. It’s a satisfying dish that just happens to be vegan. Try to let the blender run for a minute or two when pureeing the ingredients; the smoother the sauce, the better the dish. A flourish of fresh herbs at the end brightens and freshens the dish; you can use all parsley or all basil if you don’t have both on hand. Serve with Blistered Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes.
BBQ Chicken-and-Black Bean Tacos
This family-friendly dinner comes together easily. A kid-friendly mix of quality convenience items and bright produce imparts fresh taste with minimal legwork. A probiotic-rich stand-in for sour cream, yogurt offers creaminess and helps bind the toppings. Rotisserie chicken, one of the most versatile supermarket proteins, makes for a fast and fresh meal—or, just use leftover BBQ chicken from Tuesday night's supper.
Kale-and-Chickpea Grain Bowl With Avocado Dressing
This veggie-heavy bowl is loaded with crunch and color, thanks to crispy carrots and chickpeas, fresh kale, and a vibrant avocado dressing. It also delivers more than 50% of your daily dose of fiber, key for weight loss, energy, and healthy digestion. Bulgur, also called cracked wheat, is a quick cooking whole grain. These bowls would also be excellent make-ahead lunches. Pack the avocado mixture separately, adding a little water to thin it as needed.
Pumpkin Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
The ultimate vegetarian chili powered by fall flavors. Sweet potato, black beans, and plenty of aromatics simmer in a velvety, pumpkin-infused tomato broth that is ultra rich and comforting. A pinch of cinnamon and dash of chipotle chili powder add a robust flavor profile that will warm you up from the inside out. Add any pumpkin-flavored beer you like. As far as toppings, the sky is the limit. We swoon over a hearty dollop of 2% Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro, and green onion.
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 Ziplock bag for future use.
Three-Bean Miso Chili
Craving an adventurous upgrade from the classic beef-and-tomato-based chili? Then look no further. This recipe combines three varieties of budget-friendly beans for textural contrast, along with a kitchen sink’s worth of aromatics. Miso is the ticket to achieving pronounced depth in this vegetarian soup, while peanut butter helps build body. Find white miso in the refrigerated section near the produce. To make this dairy-free, use coconut yogurt in place of Greek yogurt to amp up the creaminess. Bonus: One serving delivers half your daily fiber goal.