How To Make Canned Beans Taste Amazing

How To Make Canned Beans Taste Amazing

Eating cheaply isn’t as easy as “cooking it yourself”. Besides the cost of the groceries, cooking takes time, and ” if you’re working multiple jobs or long hours to support yourself or your family ” you might not have an excess of hours.

This is why it’s important to find convenient, quickly-prepared foods, and to learn how to make them taste good. Canned beans may not seem like the sexiest dinner option, but they’re filling, versatile, and can come together into a meal in under half an hour.

Here are some of our favourite ways to make them downright delectable.

Simmer them in olive oil

Drain your beans ” I like navy beans for this ” and add them to a pan with enough olive oil to just cover them. Add in a few cloves of garlic, some salt (depending on how much your beans were seasoned in the can), and your favourite herbs (rosemary, thyme and tarragon are mine), and simmer them over medium heat until they’re warmed through.

The creamy, flavour-infused legumes are then ready for mixing into a simple pasta, or to be enjoyed on a thick pieced of toast with some wilted greens.

Don’t want to use that much oil? Simply sauté them in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (or butter) with some garlic and shallots.

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Season them with a blend

Buying a lot of individual spices can really add up ” especially if you’re just starting out building a spice rack ” so it’s good to have a blend or two you can use to flavour everything. I’ve found that blends that were meant for meat are particularly helpful when the beans are the star of the dish.

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Add just a little meat

When used as an accent, rather than the main ingredient, a little bit of meat can be a very cost effective way to add a lot of flavour to a batch of beans. Just a few grams of chorizo or bacon provide a good hit of savoury smokiness to a can’s-worth of beans.

Add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh herbs (such as coriander, or maybe even some garlic sprouts or fried leek greens), and scoop “˜em into your mouth with warm tortillas.

Refry them

Refrying your own pinto beans is a cheap and easy way to upgrade your nachos, as you can choose the fat and seasonings, but you can actually refry any bean to turn it into a creamy and comforting mashed version of itself.

Just heat some aromatics (bay leaf, garlic and oregano are all great choices) in a sauce pan or small Dutch oven with a tablespoon of your favourite cooking fat (schmaltz and bacon grease are particularly flavour forward), and add a (drained) can of any bean of your choosing.

Cook “˜em until they start to disintegrate, remove the bay leaf and any herb stems, and mash until you get the consistency of your dreams. (I take an immersion blender to mine.)

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Make a dip

I have nothing against eating chips and dip for dinner, especially if the dip is a hearty bean dip.

Take any can of drained beans, and add it to the food processor with a big tablespoon of something creamy (labneh, sour cream and tahini all work), along with a teaspoon or two of some acid (vinegar or lemon juice) and a drizzle of honey (or some other sweetness).

Add in a pinch or two of garlic or herbs, or sprinkle in a good spice blend. Whirr it all together in the food processor, top with fresh herbs, and enjoy with chips, toast points or pita bread.

This article has been updated since its original publication.


  • Fry some chopped onions and cumin in oil. Add your beans, salt + chilli to taste, cook for a bit. Dress with coriander. That’s the basic Indian hack to canned beans.

  • corriander


    Also this article is really confusded about what it wants to be. Is it offering tips on how to use a cheap ingredient (beans in this case) effectively? If it’s an economy article – then who the fuck keeps lebnah, tahini, fresh herbs or honey in the pantry?

    And beans in pasta? That’s straight up student food right there, and not in a good way.

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