27 Easy Ways to Turn Canned Beans into Dinner Tonight


We’re calling it: beans are truly the unsung hero of the pantry. This cheap, nutritious, vegetarian protein is a dynamo in the kitchen, and has been relegated to ho-hum three bean salads or playing second fiddle to meaty chilis for far too long. To prove how versatile they are, we’re showcasing some of the amazingly delicious ways you can cook with some of the most popular varieties out there: Black Beans, Chickpeas and White Beans.

Black Beans

Black beans, or Frijoles Negros as they’re known in Spanish, are native to Central and South America, where they’ve long been a staple of Latin American and Caribbean cuisine. These small beans are right at home in everything from soups and stews to even brownies (yep, we went there – it’s finally time to see what the hype is all about)! They’re most frequently served with rice, especially in Cuba and Venezuela. Pop Quiz time: What color are Black Beans? Answer: While they appear black when dried, they’re actually a deep purple, which can be seen more clearly when puréed or refried.

1. Homemade Vegetarian Chili

(image via Cookie + Kate)

2. Black Bean Burgers

(image via Gimme Some Oven)

3. Black Bean Enchiladas

(image via Home Chef)

4. Black Bean Soup

(image via A Cozy Kitchen)

5. BBQ Beef and Black Beans

(image via Budget Bytes)

6. Black Bean Brownies

(image via Chocolate Covered Katie)

7. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito Bowls

(image via Chelsea’s Messy Apron)

8. Cuban Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Bowls

(image via Home Chef)

9. Santa Fe Chicken and Black Bean Skillet

(image via Delish.com)


Pop Quiz Round Two: Why are Garbanzo Beans also called Chickpeas? The answer: Chickpea comes from the Latin word cicer, referring to the plant family of legumes, Fabaceae. If you call them Garbanzo Beans, you’re going with their Spanish name – look at us being all multi-lingual! Food facts aside, Chickpeas win our award for the most versatile legume: it can play the starring role in a number of global cuisines from Indian to Mediterranean, can turn into crispy crepe-like pancakes, and it’s cooking liquid, aquafaba, can be used as a vegan egg white substitute – which means it can transform into anything from meringues to mayonnaise!

1. Green Pea and Chickpea Falafel

(image via Sarah E. Crowder)

2. Chickpea Blondies

(image via Ambitious Kitchen)

3. Chickpea Piccata

(image via No Spoon Necessary)

4. Chickpea of the Sea Sandwiches

(image via Simple Veganista)

5. Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

(image via Emma Christensen)

6. Chickpea Pancakes with Kale and Fennel

(image via Bon Appetit)

7. Chana Masala

(image via Minimalist Baker)

8. Pasta e Ceci

(image via Smitten Kitchen)

9. Warm Chickpea Bowls with Lemony Yogurt

 (image via Bon Appetit)

White Beans

Heads up! Despite initial appearances, not all white beans are created equally. While the three most common varieties, Navy, Great Northern, and Cannellini can be used interchangeably in recipes, they do have some differences – namely in size and texture. In fact, Great Northern Beans are twice the size of Navy beans, which can most often be seen as the main ingredient in traditional Boston Baked Beans. Cannellini are a favorite in Italy, and are also known as White Kidney Beans in English speaking countries. Pop Quiz Round Three: Do you know how Navy beans received their name? Answer: they were a staple food of the U.S. Navy in the early 20th century, which in our opinion, probably makes them the most well-traveled bean of the bunch!

1. Pantry Pasta with Vegan Cream Sauce

(image via Bon Appetit)

2. Tuscan Ribollita

(image via 101 Cookbooks)

3. Slow Cooker Creamy White Chicken Chili

(image via The Chunky Chef)

4. White Bean Dip

(image via This Savory Vegan)

5. Easy Cassoulet

(image via The View from Great Island)

6. Sausage Greens and Beans Pasta

(image via Bon Appetit)

7. White Beans with Mushrooms and Marinara

(image via Budget Bytes)

8. Classic Minestrone Soup

(image via Cookie + Kate)

9. Garlic Shrimp and White Beans

(image via Bon Appetit)