Wondering how to use beans when faced with a surplus in the pantry? From black beans to chickpeas and canned beans to dried, here are the best ways to use beans.
It’s likely your kitchen is all of a sudden stocked with a lot of beans. Maybe you’re embracing the plant-based movement? Or maybe it’s what experts advise to keep in stock during a pandemic? Maybe a little from column A, a little from column B? Either way, welcome to the club!
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Why Beans? Why Now?
For starters, they’re the Methuselah of pantry staples. Dried beans have a shelf life of up to two years and canned beans for up to five years, though many would argue you can safely consume them well beyond those ranges.
But perhaps more importantly, they have tremendous nutritional benefits being rich in both protein and antioxidants. The song you loved as a child was not lying—they are quite good for your heart. (We’ll gladly sidestep discussion on the latter part of that ditty.)
And due to their neutral flavor, they’re adaptable to endless recipes making them a longtime staple in culinary culture worldwide. So ditch the idea that they’re only good to have around in times of crisis.
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First Things First
If you have dried beans, SOAK THEM, preferably overnight. Doing this majorly cuts down on cooking time and also helps prevent the skin from splitting. Check your packaging to verify soaking times (4-12 hours is the norm) and keep in mind too long a bath will negatively affect flavor and texture.
If you have canned beans, RINSE THEM. The liquid is mostly harmless (if not helpful in some cases; see: aquafaba), but it contains sodium, if that’s a concern, and also has a slimy quality that you generally do not want to add to any dish.
Now that you know how to prep them, go forth and enjoy these recipes that cover a wide variety of beans that can be transformed into tasty dips, snacks, sides, and mains.
Garbanzo Beans (aka, Chickpeas)
Forget paying a premium for store-bought hummus. As long as you have a food processor, it’s much easier than you might think to make your own and you can ensure every ingredient is all-natural. The only hard part is choosing how to spice up your creamy, tahini-spiked dip. Cumin and/or paprika are popular add-ins. Try using za’atar, a blend that includes sumac and sesame seeds, for a twist. For added heat, a pinch of cayenne does the trick. Get our Easy Hummus recipe.
You’re bored. You want a snack. Typically this ends with you eating something unhealthy in large, embarrassing quantities. Break that cycle and whip up these crunchy little morsels. Not only are they guilt-free, as they roast in the oven, your home will fill with the comforting scent of spices. Win, win, win. Get our Spicy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas recipe.
While this recipe doesn’t include all of the uncommon (in the U.S., anyway) ingredients within an authentic Indian chana masala, it’s the next best thing considering it’s much faster and easier to put on the table. It also makes brilliant use of other canned foods such as fire-roasted tomatoes and coconut milk. Feel free to substitute the fresh spinach with frozen (1 cup should do the trick). Get the Chickpea Curry recipe.
See more chickpea recipe ideas.
These black beans with a Caribbean flair are big on flavor thanks to a veggie and spice combo plus a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for a little tang. You’re gonna need an 8-quart slow cooker for this hefty batch, but it’s easy enough to scale down if you’re working with a smaller one. Try pairing these babies with juicy, garlicky Cuban Pork. Get our Cuban Black Beans recipe.
If you’re on the fence about investing in an Instant Pot, here’s a great reason to do so. Stovetop chili can takes hours to prepare but this pressure cooked pot of spicy, homey goodness is ready to go in only 90 minutes. It also happens to be entirely plant-based, so if you’re also on the fence about switching up your diet, start here and don’t look back. Get our Vegan Black Bean Chili recipe.
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Can’t go out to Sunday brunch? No problemo, amigo. These burritos have you covered and are perfectly portioned for a family of three, or one very hungry couple. Consider Tomatillo Salsa for the ideal topper. Get our Black Bean Breakfast Burritos recipe.
See more black bean recipe ideas.
Get it while it’s hot! You’ll be the hit of your quarantine gathering (no more than 10 people, please) with this classic and comforting crowd pleaser. If you have any left over (how would that even be possible?), it’s a more-than-welcome addition to any breakfast burrito (see above). Get our Warm Cheesy Bean Dip recipe.
There are a scant 10 ingredients in this one pot wonder. Of course, the pintos are the headliners but the standout co-star is chipotle in adobo. Just one pepper is needed to add spicy and smoky oomph to this satisfying side. Get the Mexican Pinto Beans recipe.
See more pinto bean recipe ideas.
Where’s the beef? Who cares! Not only does this chili take much less time to cook than its meaty counterpart, it’s healthier for you and you don’t have to sacrifice on flavor. Plus, you’ll still have plenty of leftovers to spare you from cooking the next day. Make it an all-kidney affair or bring black beans into the mix for some variety. Get our Vegetarian Chili recipe.
See more kidney bean recipe ideas.
Navy beans! Navy beans! Navy beans! Set sail for Lunch Lady Land with this nostalgic favorite that’s especially ideal for those who are watching their grocery budget. Ham hocks make a great addition— they’re a very inexpensive cut of meat, and when cured, pack a huge punch of salty, smokey porkiness. Go old school and work with dried beans (of course, giving yourself the proper lead time to soak them).You can toss in chopped carrots and/or celery for an appetizing dash of color, but the soup tastes delicious either way. Get the Nana’s Epic Navy Bean Home Bone Soup recipe.
Chard provides some crunch and a welcome bitterness to this winter favorite. Though not quite a full-fledged soup, it’s brothy so a bowl is certainly required. Don’t forget crusty bread to sop up each and every drop. Get our Braised White Beans With Chard recipe.
Need a quick and easy meal that will last you a long time? This 10 minute soup definitely fits the bill. If you’re looking to take advantage of some of those frozen veggies that are taking up valuable freezer space, now’s the time to use them. Get the White Bean Parmesan Soup recipe.
See more cannellini bean recipe ideas.
Veggie burger options may be a dime a dozen, but finding patties that actually taste good is a whole other story. Here’s a recipe that definitely definitely delivers, highlighted by a satisfying combination of black-eyed peas (which, for the record, are actually legumes) and cremini mushrooms. Together they offer a rich depth of flavor and a nice consistency. The burgers are easy to freeze so go ahead and prepare a large batch. Get our Black Eyed-Pea Vegan Burgers recipe.
When it comes to chili beans, black-eyed peas tend to be an afterthought. But this easy and healthy chicken-based version from Julie Turshen proves they should be elevated from Taboo to Fergie status. Don’t forget the secret ingredient: jarred jalapeño brine, which adds a welcome hit of acid to the pot. Get the Chicken and Black-Eyed Pea Chili recipe.
Related Video: How to Properly Store Leftover Canned Beans
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