10 Ways to Use Up a Can of Beans

Written by Anna Pashkova, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-EP / Reviewed by Chef Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD, FAND

Did you open a can of beans but not use them all? I’ve gathered 10 delicious ways to use up a can of beans, including recipes for chili, soups, dips, casseroles, tacos and hummus.

A colander filled with chickpeas

What makes beans so special?

Canned beans are one of the best pantry staples to have on hand, whether that’s pinto, black, kidney, cannellini or any other type of bean. They’re nutritious (filled with fiber, protein + micronutrients), inexpensive and make a simple addition to any meal.

Because they’re budget friendly and shelf stable, they are the perfect ingredient to “bulk up” any meal and stretch the meal (and your dollar) further. Many cans of beans cost less than a dollar and can easily be added to taco meat, casseroles and soups!

Whether you’re looking to use up the cans you’ve stocked up on or wanting to use up an already opened can, here are 10 different ways to use up a can of beans.

Fun and delicious ways to use up a can of beans

Sheet Pan Chili Nachos

The perfect weeknight dinner recipe that’s super customizable with your favorite toppings. These nachos use both black and dark red kidney beans, but you can swap them with what you have on hand — even if that means slightly less or more than what the recipe calls for.

The other main ingredient is homemade chili and cheese. If you want to level it up, add diced avocados, fresh cilantro, green onion, sour cream or Greek yogurt, salsa and anything else your heart desires.

Chili Nachos on a sheet pan made with black and dark red kidney beans.
(Black + Dark Red Kidney)

Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup

A comforting and delicious soup made with cannellini beans, cheesy tortellini, Italian sausage, and spinach. It’s hearty and wholesome with a little bit of spice and only takes less than 25 minutes to make.

Pair it with some crusty bread and you have one incredibly quick dinner! This is another recipe where you can easily use more or less of the beans depending on what you have on hand.

Tortellini soup in a white pot made with cannellini beans.

Cowboy Texas Caviar

The BEST appetizer, snack, side dish or whatever you want it to be. No matter what way you choose to eat it, once you start, you won’t want to stop.

Black beans are paired with black-eyed peas, canned tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, onion and cilantro before being mixed in a super easy tangy “vinaigrette” dressing. It’s no-cook and only takes 10-15 minutes to whip up!

Cowboy caviar in a white bowl with tortilla chips made with canned black beans.

7 More Ways to Use Up Canned Beans

Cheesy Taco Pasta

This pasta is the ultimate one pot dish loaded with ground beef (or chicken or turkey!), black beans, tomatoes, spices and cheese can be topped with avocado, Greek yogurt and cilantro.

You can also switch things up by using different meat, beans, toppings and adding in any other veggies you have on hand to make it your own.

Now that’s how you please the entire family!

Cheesy taco pasta on a plate made with black beans.

Taco Lettuce Cups

More tacos, please! But this time let’s toss everything in lettuce cups because…. why not? It’s a great way to get more greens in your diet and is crisp, light and fresh.

Basically instead of using taco shells, you can wraps your taco filling and toppings inside a crisp lettuce leaf. You can use lettuce cups for so many dishes, including these cauliflower walnut wraps, these cashew chicken cups and of course, these taco lettuce cups.

Taco lettuce cups on a plate made with black beans.

Chicken Taco Casserole

I mean, why not make an enchilada casserole loaded with pinto beans, then top it all with cheesy tortilla chips? Yes, please! You can also swap in black beans if you don’t have any pinto on hand.

I revamped this recipe a few months ago and added cheesy tortilla chips to the top because… why wouldn’t you add cheesy tortilla chips to the top?!

Chicken taco casserole in a white dish

Chickpea Veggie Burgers

I always have several cans of chickpeas in my pantry because you can throw them on salads, make them into falafel or make veggie burgers like this one! The food processor basically does all of the work here with tons of garlic and lemon flavor infused into the patty.

Slap one of these burgs on a whole wheat bun with tomato, avocado, lettuce and spicy mayo!

Chickpea veggie burgers on a tin

Chicken, Poblano & Roasted Sweet Corn Soup

Soup season is year-round in my opinion, and this one showcases so many pantry staples and is loaded with chicken and poblano peppers. You can add more or less beans depending on what you have on hand, but black beans are perfect in this recipe.

Serve it with a handful of crushed tortilla chips, crumbled queso fresco and some microgreens and voila! You have yourself a nutritious bowl of summer soup.

Chicken, Pobllano and Sweet Corn Soup

Chicken Shawarma with Hummus

Everyone loves hummus and this recipe is to-die-for. A mix of chickpeas, tahini, garlic and olive oil, you can serve it with easy homemade shawarma or go dipping with veggies or pita. It’s always so good.

Traditionally, shawarma is made on a spit rotisserie, but since most of us don’t have that option at home, I’ve written an oven recipe so we can all make shawarma!

Hummus and Chicken Shawarma

Vegetable Minestrone

You can make this soup recipe year round, but it features fresh zucchini which makes it a soup you can also enjoy in the summertime if you have loads of it sprouting up in your garden. No matter when you enjoy it, it’s chock full of beans and veggies.

And it doesn’t have to be summer to make this. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, making this a year-round recipe.

Summer Vegetable Minestrone
(White beans)

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