Amazing Recipes To Make With A Can Of Beans

Beans can often get a bad rap as a lowly and thus easily overlooked food. But these humble morsels have a lot going for them. First and foremost is the diversity. There are hundreds of different types of beans in the world, each with its own unique flavor, meaning there's a bean for every kind of dish you can think of cooking up. But that's just the start. Beans are incredibly healthy, containing ample amounts of fiber, protein, and other nutrients and minerals. They've also been shown help control body weight and boost heart health. 

Now that we've sung beans' praises, how do we get more of them in our diet? We all have cans of beans that have been sitting on our pantry shelf for months — or years — gathering dust. It's easy to consider them an afterthought ingredient at that point and not the most exciting food to center a dish around. But a simple can of beans provides unmatched flavor, texture, and heartiness that can elevate any dish to the next level. And we have a list of just those dishes for you. From chili two ways to a couple of unique Mexican meals, these are a few amazing recipes to make with a can of beans.

Cincinnati chili

Chili is always a favorite of both eaters and chefs — it's hearty, delicious, and easy to make. This recipe for Cincinnati chili only amplifies those characteristics. If you're unfamiliar, the Cincinnati version of chili differs from a traditional take on the dish in two notable ways. First, it uses a unique spice blend containing cinnamon and cloves. Secondly, it's served over top of spaghetti, making it an even more filling meal. 

The recipe has just four steps. To start, cook the ground beef in a large skillet. Once done, add in the other ingredients, including garlic, onion, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices. While that's simmering, cook the pasta. When everything is ready, serve the chili on a bed of spaghetti, top with cheese and chili beans, and dig in!

Taco casserole

If you're a taco fan — and who isn't? — looking for a slight change of pace but the same delicious flavor, we present this recipe for taco casserole, which is essentially a taco-flavored lasagna. The dish includes a can of black beans plus many of the ingredients you're familiar with, like ground beef, corn tortillas, onion, salsa, and shredded Mexican cheese. 

After your ingredients are prepped, begin assembling the casserole by placing four corn tortillas on the bottom of the casserole dish. Top that with half of the beef mixture and black beans, as well as some cheese and black olives. Repeat another layer, then finish with more tortillas and remaining cheese and olives. Once assembled, bake the casserole for 20 minutes, add any toppings you heart desires, and get it while it's hot!

Copycat Popeyes red beans and rice

Fried chicken gets most of the limelight at Popeyes, but you shouldn't sleep on the chain's other dishes, including its red beans and rice. And thanks to this copycat recipe, you can now recreate the dish without leaving your home. A few notes before you get started: The recipe utilizes an Instant Pot, but if you don't have one, you can simply use a Dutch oven and increase the cooking time. Also, although the dish calls for red beans, kidney beans can be substituted in without altering the flavor much at all.

Aside from the eponymous red beans and white rice, you'll also need bacon, onion, garlic, Cajun seasoning, liquid smoke, and chicken broth or stock. Once all your ingredients are cooked and prepped, put them all (except the rice) in an Instant Pot and set on high pressure for one hour. To give the bean mixture the perfect texture, use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash about half the beans. Spoon the beans over a bed of rice and enjoy!

Mexican shepherd's pie

We all know and love the English delicacy known as shepherd's pie, an unbeatable combination of ground beef, vegetables, gravy, and mashed potatoes. Or should we say nearly unbeatable? This Mexican shepherd's pie takes the traditional dish and incorporates some south-of-the-border flavor to create a delicious, unique dish you didn't know you needed.

The Mexican ingredients in this shepherd's include black beans, red bell pepper, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. One component that's the same, however, is the mashed potatoes, which is where you'll start when making this dish. To make the filling, start by cooking the vegetables – onion, peppers, zucchini, corn, and beans — then add cooked ground beef. The flavorful sauce is a combination of flour, butter, chicken broth, and chipotle peppers. The vegetable mixture gets added to the sauce and then spread out across a casserole dish. Top with your mashed potatoes and cheese, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, and your Mexican shepherd's pie is complete!

Slow cooker chicken enchiladas

If you're a Mexican cuisine enthusiast, you likely have enchiladas penciled in to your dinner rotation. But as tasty as the dish is, enchiladas can be rather time-consuming to make and not ideal for busy weeknights. That is, unless you allow a slow cooker to do all the work.

This slow cooker chicken enchiladas recipe is the perfect dinner solution for weeknights. The enchiladas, made of shredded chicken, black beans, onion, Mexican cheese, corn tortillas, and enchilada sauce, get assembled directly in the slow cooker. Then you can finish any after-work errands while the Crock Pot does its magic. After an hour, you have a delicious, hearty Mexican dinner ready to go!

3-bean vegetarian chili

When you think of dishes you can make with a can of beans, chili is probably your first thought, and with good reason. You can feed the masses with a pot of chili made entirely from ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. The stars of this 3-bean chili are, of course, the beans: kidney, black, and pinto. As for the other components, the recipe calls for garlic, onion, salsa, tomato sauce, chili seasoning, and olive oil. One of the many great things about this recipe is how easy it is to customize. Feel free to adjust the spiciness by using mild spices and salsa, or go the opposite direction with some cayenne pepper. Don't like garlic? Skip it.

Making this 3-bean chili couldn't be easier — everything goes in the same pot to cook. Once it's done, ladle the chili into bowls, and add the toppings of your choice! 

Mexican breakfast casserole

Looking for a unique breakfast? This Mexican breakfast casserole has the spiciness to awaken your senses in the morning and the heartiness to power you through the day. Don't have the time to put together a casserole in the morning? No problem — you can make this dish in advance, keep it in the refrigerator, and warm up a slice before you run out the door.

The recipe is easier to follow than you may think. Mix together cooked chorizo, a dozen whisked eggs, squares of corn tortillas, black beans, cheese, green onions, tomato bouillon powder, jalapeño, and salsa. Then pour the mixture into a baking dish and into the oven for 50 minutes. The casserole can be your breakfast for the week or feed the household if you're willing to share.

Enchilada soup

Have you ever been in the mood for the savory, spicy flavors of enchiladas but not so much for the heaviness of the classic Mexican dish? If so, meet your new favorite recipe: enchilada soup. The recipe delivers the same great taste of traditional enchiladas but in a bowl instead of wrapped in a tortilla. It's also an extremely versatile dish. The spiciness of the soup can be amped up or dialed down, the chicken can be removed to make it vegetarian, and it holds up well as a side dish or a meal on its own.

Another appetizing feature of this enchilada soup recipe is its simplicity. Add all the ingredients, including a can of black beans, to a pot and bring to a boil, then let simmer for ten minutes. You can have the meal prepped, cooked, and on the table in just 20 minutes!  

Bean dip

Bean dip is always a favorite party treat, so having a good recipe in your pocket will make you one popular guest. And this bean dip recipe is so delicious, it will have people thinking you spent hours on it, even though it takes just 40 minutes and contains only four ingredients: refried beans, cream cheese, Mexican cheese, and taco seasoning. To whip the dip together, simply mix together the cream cheese, beans, and seasoning, spread across a baking dish, sprinkle on the cheese, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. When the time is up, break out the tortilla chips and get to dipping!