Best Canned Food Recipes – Better Homes & Gardens

Karla Walsh is a Des Moines, Iowa-based freelance writer, editor, and former fitness instructor who balances her love of food and drink with her passion for fitness. (Or tries to, at least!) She holds a double major in magazine journalism and kinesiology from Iowa State University. She also passed her level one sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers, received her personal trainer certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and group fitness instructor certification through the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). She's covered health, food, fitness, psychology, beauty, and beyond for more than 12 years. In addition to, her writing has been published in AllRecipes, Runner's World, Shape and Fitness Magazines, as well as on,,,,,, and more.
Think outside the box with our best canned food recipes. Featuring beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, coconut milk, crab, and so much more, these globe-trotting canned food recipes prove that budget-friendly pantry staples can transform into a restaurant-quality meal.
“So fire. Make this today,” BHG reader Erika shares with her five-star review. Since this is a canned food recipe (broth, beans) rich in pantry staples (lentils, quinoa, dried spices), with just a few fresh items for accents, it’s a breeze to whip it up today. Try this easy vegetarian dish as a me meal prep bowl, or follow our directions to transform the same base ingredients into a zesty veggie burger.
Bored by your usual way to cook eggs? Spice things up and make those eggs even more of a meal by pairing your scramble with brothy beans that have been infused with a just-right amount of spice by way of store-bought harissa paste. (Admittedly, that last item is more often sold in a jar than a can, but the beans and broth fit the theme!) Rich in protein and ideal for any meal of the day, we suggest pairing this easy skillet recipe with toasted baguette or pita to scoop up every last drop.
Transform four cans of butter beans into a vegan main dish with an impressive 15 grams of protein. Garlic, jarred roasted red peppers, smoked paprika, a pinch of saffron, and bay leaves infuse each bite of this easy canned food recipe with a surprising amount of flavor. While we call for 2 pints of fresh grape tomatoes, you have our full permission to swap in canned cherry tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes to make this an even simpler pantry solution.
In case you haven’t noticed a theme yet, beans are one of our favorite—and one of the most versatile—canned food recipe staples. Here, we give them the dessert treatment in unexpected yet totally delicious homemade brownies. Canned black beans and applesauce team up to replace the butter or oil; lending a lusciously fudgy texture while matching the hue of the cocoa powder. Picky eaters will never notice the sneaky protein-boosting, calorie-lowering swap.
If you think vegan dinners can’t be hearty enough to satisfy meat-and-potatoes-devotees, this wholesome option might just change your tune. Complete with a buttery (microwave) “baked” sweet potato, creamy canned cannellini bean-based hummus, and a refreshing herb-spiked salad, each plate is packed with color and flavor. Plus, it’s “super-easy to put together,” BHG home cook Marcy says. “A perfect vegetarian meal. My husband, who is a big meat-eater, loved it too!”
This Indian-inspired dish is usually made with chicken, but for a vegetarian variation that just so happens to fall under the canned food recipe umbrella, too, try this twist. Although it’s not exactly traditional, it is a definite dinner possibility any time of year thanks to a bounty of frozen fare, canned foods, and pantry staples. Fresh onion, garlic, and cilantro are all you need to grab at the store to round out the dish that features canned tomatoes, broth, and chickpeas, jarred tikka masala simmer sauce, and frozen peas. Yes, please!
Canned pumpkin and chickpeas join forces for the most autumnal-flavored falafel you’ll ever taste. Infused with warm cumin and coriander, plus bright lemon juice and cilantro, each tender bite is spiced-right and surprisingly satisfying. Tuck a few of these “fall-afel” inside a pita, layer atop a grain bowl or salad, or form them into a larger format (around 3 inches wide) and enjoy burger-style.
While the pork gets naming rights, what makes the meat super-moist, succulent, and flavorful is found in your pantry. This stew is a multi-can recipe; showcasing 6 cups of canned chicken broth and 2 15-ounce cans of hominy. Invest just 20 minutes of prep time in the morning to snag those ingredients, some dried chiles and garlic, and a few other budget-friendly ingredients. Allow the posole to simmer in the slow cooker, and come dinner time, you’ll be treated to fork-tender pork inside an ultra-savory stew.
You might be more familiar with seeing crab cakes on restaurant appetizer menus. But the seafood patties are surprisingly easy—and affordable—to make at home if you have canned lump crab meat on hand. Seasoned with Old Bay, helpd together with egg, mayp, mustard, and pretzel crumbs, then coated and crunch-ified with more crushed pretzels, these high-protein cakes are one of our favorite air-fryer apps. Enjoy them dunked in the tangy mustard-mayo dipping sauce as a snack. Or to make these a meal, tuck a couple inside a halved, toasted baguette for a pretzel-crusted crab cake po’ boy!
In addition to ground turkey, of course, and a handful of spice cabinet MVPS, a whopping six(!) cans help get you started on this Panera copycat recipe. Tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, kidney and garbanzo beans, corn, and chicken broth make it a cinch to stir together this canned food recipe with short notice—and in short order. Eight servings of the cozy stew can be on your table in less than an hour.
Take a break from jarred marinara. This easy homemade sauce asks for less than half an hour from your schedule, yet tastes like it simmered all day. Start with four cans of diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, then layer the canned food recipe with spice and complexity by way of a splash of dry red wine, a pinch of crushed red pepper, briny capers, fresh basil, and lightly-caramelized onions and garlic. Try it tossed with pasta, on pizza, as a dipping sauce for breadsticks, or as a poaching liquid for eggs or fish filets. But honestly, it's scrumptious enough to eat by the spoonful.
Take regular rice to the next level with one canned item, one pantry staple, and one fresh produce pick. Ideal to pair with Thai, Indian, or nearly any recipe that calls for a base of regular rice, this coconut rice earns its name from the fact that it’s cooked in ½ cup water and a can of non-dairy unsweetened coconut milk. Once the liquid is absorbed, fluff the rice with a fork, fold in chopped green onions and toasted flaked coconut, and you might just have your new go-to grain.
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