28 Cheap and Easy Recipes From Canned Foods

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young housewife preparing dinner out of a can in her kitchen
Photo credit: Anneka/shutterstock

There's no denying that canned goods help create quick, tasty, often money-saving meals. And while a diet relying wholly on processed foods isn't good, canned foods tend to be healthier today than they were a generation ago. With canned products, a little creativity can yield delicious and sometimes surprising results. From soup to nuts — and every course in between — here are ways to get out of the drive-through lane and back into the kitchen with cans.

cocktail bloody mary with ice on a wooden table
Photo credit: Ekaterina Kondratova/shutterstock

The classic brunch tipple relies on canned tomato juice as its main ingredient. Step up to the bar with "The Only Bloody Mary Recipe You'll Ever Need."

Recipe: Eater

pancakes of yam and kiwi
Photo credit: SKABARCAT/shutterstock

Save the trip to the diner. Cooks should be able to substitute canned sweet potatoes for fresh in any sweet potato pancake recipe, but this one takes out the guesswork. Combine with healthy cottage cheese, oats, and maple syrup.

Recipe: Cooking Light

healthy mango smoothies with mint on wooden background
Photo credit: Amawasri Pakdara/shutterstock

With canned, diced mango and canned evaporated milk — plus ginger, honey, and ice — you can whip up a sweet, frothy smoothie in less than five minutes. If mango doesn't sound good, use canned peaches instead.

Recipe: Cans Get You Cooking

tiny cheese and ham bites for snack
Photo credit: Anna Hoychuk/shutterstock

Start any party off on a tasty note with an appetizer made from a small can of crabmeat. Combine it with cheese spread and butter, spread onto English muffins, and bake. Cut into quarters for finger food.

Recipe: How Sweet Eats

homemade sweet cinnamon coated almonds ready to eat
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Everyone knows bars serve salty snacks to keep patrons ordering drinks. Since that's hardly the goal at a house party, mix it up with a sweet snack. Any canned nut can substitute for the suggested almonds.

Recipe: Allrecipes

bowl of homemade carrot soup with coconut milk and coriander
Photo credit: Iryna Melnyk/shutterstock

You don't have to go all the way to pre-made canned soups for a quick, delicious, and hearty soup from cans. This one uses canned carrots and canned coconut milk, enlivened with butter, thyme, curry powder, onion, and garlic.

Recipe: The Hungry Housewife

hearty winter minestrone soup and glass of water
Photo credit: Ezume Images/shutterstock

A hearty minestrone soup includes canned cannellini beans as well as bacon, carrots, onion, kale, and pasta. This 30-minute version can also be tailored to vegetarians.

Recipe: Stop & Shop's Recipe Center

hot vegetable salad: baked potatoes, brussels sprouts and chickpeas with parmesan cheese.
Photo credit: IriGri/shutterstock

A 15-ounce can of chickpeas is the key to this earthy offering pitched as an alternative to those suddenly ubiquitous kale salads.

Recipe: Prevention

spicy tuna salad and utensils on wooden background
Photo credit: suwijaknook6644689/shutterstock

Simulate a sushi restaurant experience in your home. A quick-to-make version of this popular dish features solid white albacore in water, veggies, and more, all smothered in sauce with a mayo-sriracha base that promises plenty of kick.

Recipe: Show Me the Yummy

brie and chicken sandwich with apple and marmalade
Photo credit: farbled/shutterstock

For a tasty Saturday lunch — or a hot snack for the kids after school — try a creative sandwich. Expect a little crunch from the apple and another thrifty ingredient, celery.

Recipe: The Spruce

homemade organic vegetarian chili with beans and cheese
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Think canned beans and you probably think of homemade chili. Red kidney beans and diced tomatoes are key — just load the ingredients into a slow cooker for a carefree bowl of spicy goodness, maybe substituting ground turkey for the ground beef.

Recipe: Southern Living

freshly baked homemade cornbread with butter melting on top
Photo credit: Marie C Fields/shutterstock

If you're a cornbread novice — or have very little time — try a tasty recipe that takes just four ingredients (including two kinds of canned corn) and five minutes of prep. It can be baked into squares or muffins to serve alone or alongside chili or stews. Add cheese or bacon for a more complex taste.

Recipe: Del Monte

seafood tomato-cream cream sauce
Photo credit: Piyato/shutterstock

Anyone can open a jar of prepared spaghetti sauce and call it a day. But take a can of Italian-style diced tomatoes and add spices, sugar, heavy cream, and butter and get credit for home cooking that dresses pasta in style.

Recipe:Allrecipes

photo of fresh cooked tomato sauce with olives and basil
Photo credit: Francesco83/shutterstock

Pitted olives and canned plum tomatoes, capers, garlic, and a few other easy (and inexpensive) ingredients make a classic Italian sauce.

Recipe: Genius Kitchen

risotto with asparagus and green peas
Photo credit: Lesya Dolyuk/shutterstock

A no-fuss recipe uses canned chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and takes only 30 minutes in a microwave for a palate-pleasing risotto.

Recipe: Good Housekeeping

thick slice bacon and iron frying pan
Photo credit: norikko/shutterstock

Turn a boring old canned ham into savory ham steaks. Maple syrup, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, and barbecue seasoning turn the everyday into something pretty darned tasty.

Recipe: Plumrose USA

homemade mexican chicken burrito bowl with rice and beans
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Enjoy one-pot-meal ease with a recipe that adds canned black beans and a diced tomatoes/green chilies combo to chicken, brown rice, and more for a zippy main course that can be on the table in a half-hour.

Recipe: Ready Set Eat

grilled pork and mushrooms with cream sauce on the rustic background
Photo credit: Andrew Pustiakin/shutterstock

Canned mushroom soup and canned mushrooms add a double-dose of flavor to this quick skillet dish.

Recipe: The Spruce

beef burger on desk
Photo credit: MariaKovaleva/shutterstock

Get ready to be the neighborhood barbecue star by grilling up juicy burgers with canned water chestnuts as a main ingredient.

Recipe: Ready Set Eat

cooked artichokes with parsley and parmesan, served in a clay dish on a wooden table
Photo credit: Dejan Stanic Micko/shutterstock

Stock up on canned artichoke hearts and anchovies next time they're on sale and have the key ingredients ready to make a casserole that's so quick and easy it was on TV's "30 Minute Meals."

Recipe: Rachael Ray

cranberry jam with orange peel, selective focus
Photo credit: Wiktory/shutterstock

Cranberry sauce isn't just for Thanksgiving. It's a year-round accent that, with an orange for juice, adds zest to pork and chicken.

Recipe: Down Home with the Neelys

close up of a bowl of rustic creamed spinach
Photo credit: zkruger/shutterstock

With three ingredients and five minutes of prep, this casserole-style side dish could not be easier to make. It's just canned spinach, sour cream, and fried onions — which also come in a can.

Recipe:Genius Kitchen

mashed potatoes topped with browned onion
Photo credit: Viktor1/shutterstock

In this potato dish, canned whole new potatoes are joined by Vidalia onions, butter, and plenty of spices in a dish that takes just 10 minutes to prep, then an hour in the oven.

Recipe: Allrecipes

clafoutis with cherry in ceramic form - french tart with cherry
Photo credit: Alexander Demyanenko/shutterstock

Add a French accent to the dessert course with drained, canned Bing cherries — although this classic French dish is also often served for breakfast.

Recipe: What’s Cooking America

pineapple cheesecake
Photo credit: Phototasty/shutterstock

Canned crushed pineapple is the signature flavor in an easy, tasty no-bake fluffy delight. With a taste like pineapple cheesecake, it might be served mousse-style by skipping the ready-made pie shell.

Recipe: Allrecipes

ambrosia fruit salad in two martini glasses against a turquoise background
Photo credit: Aimee M Lee/shutterstock

It's a tour-de-force of canned fruits: Combine canned fruit cocktail, Mandarin oranges, and pineapple chunks with shredded coconut, whipped cream, and marshmallows in a bowl and refrigerate.

Recipe: Allrecipes

peach cobbler dessert in a baking dish
Photo credit: Charles Brutlag/shutterstock

Trisha Yearwood may be known as a country singer, but she's also made a name for herself on the culinary front. This dessert of hers uses two cans of sliced peaches in syrup as its starting point. Yearwood suggests serving it warm, with fresh whipped cream.

Recipe: Food Network

chocolate brownies with pumpkin
Photo credit: Viktory Panchenko/shutterstock

Canned pumpkin adds an unexpected dash of flavor and nutrition to brownies, substituting for half the butter in a recipe that takes just 15 minutes to prep and 16 minutes to cook.

Recipe: Nestlé

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