A Gentle Reminder That a Can of Beans Gets You Halfway to Dinner

January  9, 2018

There are so many reasons to soak your beans—but saving time is not one of them. Call me impatient (or a poor planner), but I never remember to give my dried chickpeas, pintos, or navy beans a bath the night before I cook. Instead, 10 times out of 10, I notice halfway through cutting an onion that I want to add some red or black beans to my stew.

With a flick (or two) of a can opener, soups and salads and sandwiches go from hours to just minutes away. It’s one of those dinner shortcuts I just can’t quit. And, thankfully, I don’t have to. These 11 dishes are just as tasty with either homemade or canned beans. So, go ahead and save soaking for another day because you're having beans tonight.

Do you use canned beans? Or are you a bean-soaker for life? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Daniel Pincus
    Daniel Pincus
  • Annada Rathi
    Annada Rathi
  • btglenn
Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


Daniel P. January 10, 2018
I prefer dried beans, and the best way to prepare them is in a pressure cooker. Add some aromatics such as celery, onion, carrots, garlic, and ayleaf, and you have fabulous beans in about a half an hour. It’s so easy and so much less expensive than buying canned beans. I use the cooking chart in the pressure cooker book by Lorna Sass.
However, it is a good idea to have some canned beans around just in case. When using them I always rinse and soak them in water.
btglenn January 12, 2018
I'm with you! I cook a large quantity of beans flavored to taste, then freeze the cooked beans in portions-sized containers. Just as handy as cans, but tastier and cheaper if you are on a budget. My freezer has portions of white beans and pintos, ready to go.
Annada R. January 9, 2018
Check out Though I'm a diehard fan of soaking beans, in this recipe I've come up with a way to achieve the texture/creaminess of soaked beans along with the convenience of canned ones.