Canned Beans Five Ways

These five tasty meals can easily be made from a common pantry staple: canned beans. 

By Matthew Kadey 

Beans are a hearty, healthy alternative to meat – and you likely have some in your pantry.

A Journal of Nutrition study showed that a bean-based meal can be just as satisfying as one based on beef. “The fiber and protein in beans can help fill you up on fewer calories and keep you satisfied for longer,” says Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “Beans also have many essential vitamins and minerals, such as folate, potassium, magnesium and iron.”

Canned beans can be high in sodium, though, so rinse and drain them to lower the sodium levels.

Here are five ways to make a tasty, nutritious meal with ingredients you may already have on hand.


Instead of using meat in tacos, heat pinto beans quickly in a skillet with taco seasoning to taste, and fill shells with the beans. Top with salsa. Depending on what you have, you can add chopped avocado, corn, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes or cilantro.


Black beans make great patties. In a food processor, pulse together a can of black beans with breadcrumbs, an egg and seasonings like garlic and chipotle chili powder. Form into patties and grill or pan sear about 5 minutes per side.


Take any meatloaf recipe calling for ground meat and replace the meat with a couple of cans of kidney beans. Pulse together all of the ingredients in a food processor before scooping into a loaf pan. You may need an extra egg to add structure, and consider mixing in barbecue sauce or tomato paste to add moisture and flavor. Bake about 40 minutes 


Make lunchtime healthier by mashing together a can of chickpeas with avocado, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, sliced scallions, fresh lemon juice and smoked paprika. Pile on bread or stuff into pita halves along with baby spinach. 


Instead of ground beef, stir a can of cannellini beans into a skillet with sautéed mushrooms, onion and garlic. Add your favorite pasta sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Serve over whole-grain pasta.

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