Best Canned Beans

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Every Southern pantry should have a can of these beans.

Lisa Cericola

I’m convinced that if you have a can of beans in your pantry, you’re halfway to dinner. There have been many, many “lean” nights in our kitchen where I find myself desperately rummaging through our cabinets, trying to pull together a coherent meal, like the world’s saddest episode of Chopped. Pickle relish…orzo….chocolate chips…coconut milk. And then I spot the can of beans lurking all the way in the back and a plan comes together.

That plan might mean crisping up a can of chickpeas until they are golden and toasty, and stirring them into pasta with olive oil and chile flakes, or tossing them onto some canned tuna and lackluster mixed greens hiding in the back of the refrigerator for a fast and filling salad. Or it might mean creamy white beans sautéed with frozen spinach and garlic, mixed into couscous. Or black beans jazzed up with cumin and lime, mixed into steamed white rice or folded into a corn tortilla with some caramelized onions. These quick and cheap meals aren’t worthy of my Instagram feed, but they satisfy more than hunger. They make me feel like a culinary MacGyver.

While the bean varies, the brand is always the same: Goya. I’ve tried nearly all of them, and by far, Goya’s canned beans are flavorful and evenly cooked—tender but not mushy or grainy. And they are almost always fully intact. Nothing’s more depressing than opening a can full of broken beans, even if they are destined for your food processor. (Goya chickpeas make great hummus.) My one tip is to drain and rinse the beans thoroughly before using them—like most canned beans, the liquid in the can is viscous and a little salty.

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There aren’t many pantry staples that are healthy, dirt cheap, endlessly versatile, and still taste great. Which is why I toss a few more cans of Goya beans into my shopping cart during my weekly grocery run. No matter how crazy the rest of the week is, or how bare my pantry becomes, there are beans, and there will be dinner.