15 Ways To Use Canned Seafood To Improve Your Cooking

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Seafood lovers rejoice! We've found several tasty solutions to your cooking conundrums, and they are all tucked away behind the doors of your pantry. Cooking with canned fish and shellfish means you don't have to travel far for a delicious, nutrient-packed dinner. Plus, because you're working with ready-to-eat proteins, you can cut your cooking time down and have dinner ready in a flash. 

Your local grocery will likely be stocked will plenty of familiar name-brand options that are easy on the wallet. But canned doesn't necessarily equate with being cheap and of middling quality. Some regions have perfected canned fish so masterfully that you'll never have to miss out on overall taste or texture — in fact, you might find you enjoy canned catch as much as you do fresh. Conserva craftsmen start with top-tier seafood then add additional ingredients to enhance the overall flavor so you can enjoy it right out of the can.

Whether your pantry is stocked with budget or high-end cans of seafood, there are plenty of ways to use those tasty tins to create extraordinary meals right at home.

Make quick and healthy salmon patties

When browsing the canned food aisles of a grocery store, it's far too easy to look past those pale pink cans of salmon. After all, most of us are there for the infamous tuna at the ready for a quick salad or sandwich. However, we recommend that you should always have canned salmon in your pantry. 

A salmon patty recipe is all about convenience, as the ingredients come together in a flash, using pre-cooked, shelf-stable fish that still boasts all the nutrition of a fresh fillet. Plus, cranking open a can of salmon will get you closer to those recommended two servings of fish you should be eating weekly (via American Heart Association). Ingredients celebrated in this recipe include inexpensive staples like panko breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, and mustard while bringing loads of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids courtesy of the salmon into each bite (via Healthline).

Use your hands to form about eight little patties, then brown each side in a hot skillet. Serve them warm with lemons next time you have guests over, or call it dinner any evening of the week. They pair beautifully with garlicky lemon green beans or a simple Greek salad.

Keep it simple with a light white clam sauce

Canned clams are another overlooked ingredient that can bring so much to a dish. Aside from their budget-friendliness and ease of use, clams are an excellent source of lean protein, filled with healthy fats (via Healthline). So, when you need a balanced meal that'll fix that carb craving, a quick white clam sauce over linguine recipe is sure to please.

Plus, there's a good chance you've already stocked your kitchen with most of these ingredients. If you do need to take a trip to your local supermarket, we can assure you this shopping list won't break the bank. Even better, the recipe comes together in under 15 minutes. It's as simple as boiling pasta, opening canned ingredients, and zesting a lemon.

The chewy, firm minced clams seamlessly intertwine with long strands of twirled linguine, and the sauce is light enough that you won't risk any future food comas. If you want to go even lighter, feel free to serve this sauce over spaghetti or angel hair. The bits of seafood will stand out a little more in a thinner alternative offering a nice complementing contrast in texture.

Stick with a classic casserole

Who doesn't love the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with taking a bubbly hot casserole out of the oven during the frigid months of fall and winter? When considering the best casseroles to make for dinner, nothing quite beats the nostalgia of a tuna and noodle pairing.  

The American masterpiece is inexpensive and comes together quickly thanks to pantry basics like egg noodles, canned soup, tuna, and crispy fried onions. If you need a cozy meal to feed a family, then using canned alternatives is ideal for a low-stress weeknight meal and comes at the most favorable price. Plus, because the recipe is so versatile, you can find unique ways to take the flavor up a notch with ingredients you have at home. Whether you're adding fresh dill and Dijon mustard or using salty potato chips instead of crispy onions, the possibilities are endless.

Cook a creamy chowder

Chowders are a well-loved meal in many homes for their ability to feed several mouths while bringing tremendous comfort to each spoonful. The hot creamy broth paired with chunks of hearty ingredients makes chowder satisfying for your tastebuds and belly.

What we love most about this creamy soup is the versatility of ingredients, especially when it comes to making a fish or seafood variation. Because chowder boasts a thick creamy texture, you can get away with adding canned ingredients without missing the importance of mouthfeel or overall texture. This is true whether you plan on concocting a rich clam chowder or if you fancy a sweet crab and corn chowder recipe.

Plus, when you're in charge of dinner, you have a lot of flexibility in what you can add to the pot. So, if you have a tin of tiny shrimp or a large can of Atlantic salmon, use them up. You might discover a new family favorite recipe once it's finished.

Prepare a fancy shrimp bisque

Bisque is one of those soups that get all the credit for being expensive and fancy, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you puree cooked vegetables or grind crustacean shells for that final smooth consistency, bisque isn't all that extravagant.

But, because it already holds that "elegant" status quo, go ahead and impress your guests with the rich soup – just do it cost-effectively. Following an easy recipe like our simple shrimp bisque is precisely what we're talking about.

Ingredients like cooked potatoes, carrots, and onion get a little blending session to create the authentic smooth mouthfeel that is quintessential in bisque. Vegetable stock and heavy cream also work together to transform your soup from bland to bright. From there, all you need to add is a can of shrimp and blend away. Because it's ran through a blender, no one will know you've used anything from a can.

Skip the bottle and opt for homemade Caesar dressing

Bottled salad dressing offers convenient and dependable flavor, but nothing compares to the quality you receive in a homemade dressing. Not only is it less expensive to make, but you know what ingredients you're adding and it offers superior flavor every time. When it comes to Caesar, don't skimp out on any of the key ingredients, including anchovies. The tiny fish offers a burst of umami that will take your Caesar to the next level. Beyond salad dressing, anchovies are great in pasta and on top of pizza because of the rich and savory flavor it brings to the table.

As an added bonus, anchovies are packed with nutrients. According to Healthline, they are rich in nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. With all the health benefits and flavor you get from just a couple of ounces of this fish, it's worth giving the ingredient a try. 

Celebrate a new pizza topping

While many of us have a go-to pizza, it's always fun to try new topping combinations. Take white clam pizza. Made famous in Connecticut's very own Frank Pepe Pizzeria, you'll find exceptional flavor in every bite. Sauteed broccoli rabe, garlic, and shallots accompany the signature and the combination brings superb quality to this amazing pie.

Our white clam pizza recipe, which is inspired by the acclaimed mollusk-topped pie served at New York's Pasquale Jones, calls for 20 fresh littleneck clams, but having canned clams on hand means you can make this pizza at a moment's notice without paying more than a few bucks. Not only are tinned clams inexpensive, but you can skip washing and soaking them, which means you'll get to the eating part a little faster. Any excuse to indulge in this white pizza a little sooner is good with us. While you're at it, try experimenting with other canned ingredients like tiny shrimp, anchovies, and sardines. 

Make a stuffed fish dinner

If you love fish and seafood, then stuffing fish with seafood is a match made in heaven for you. Crab stuffed flounder is one of many ways to offer a flavorful fish dinner, but like most other recipes, you can make tweaks depending on what you have on hand.

If you can't find flounder at your grocery store, not to worry. You can substitute the filet with another delicately sweet-flavored fish like rainbow trout or grab a few portions of haddock or salmon. Once you have your fish procured, find your way to the canned section and grab some lump crab meat and a can of tiny shrimp while you're at it. The two ingredients combined will boast complementing flavors and textures that'll lend well to your stuffed fish dinner. Not only will you save money, but you can save your canned seafood for the day your favorite fish goes on sale.

Add extra decadence to a creamy sauce

Dousing a plate of pasta with a rich cream-based sauce is the epitome of comfort, but what is it about pasta that gives us all the feels? Comfort foods are tied to memories with significant meanings, which is why even the aroma of a dish can trigger some deep comforting emotions. Whether it's all that heavy cream made up into a rich sauce or a heaping plate of pasta cooked just right, the two married foods make taste buds sing. While preparing an alfredo sauce recipe is surprisingly simple, there are a few ways to take it up a notch.

One way to improve your dish is with high-quality tinned seafood. Whether you add a can of decadent razor clams or piquant octopus, these preserved foods are sure to add gourmet status without ever having to learn how to prep or cook them. If your sauce needs a little sprucing, you won't have to go much further than the canned seafood aisle. In the stocks and broths section, look for a pretty little jar of Better than Bouillon Lobster base. Swirl in a dab of the base into your sauce and get ready for an incredibly heavenly dish.

Put together quick and tasty crab cakes

Whether you're searching for the perfect starter for an upcoming dinner party or are just in the mood for something that'll make your heart glow, crab cakes tend to follow through. While freshly picked crab meat tends to be the superior option, it's simply not available in every grocery store, not to mention it carries a hefty price tag. Don't hesitate to use the canned stuff in your cakes. However, understanding the grades of crabmeat will help you find just what you're looking for in whatever you're cooking up. Best part? You can get any grade of crabmeat as a canned version. While lump crab is preferred for an exceptionally meaty cake, don't discount backfin and claw meat.  

Once those delicate patties are formed and fried, don't let the fun stop there. You'll want to dip those tasty cakes in remoulade and serve them with a side of roasted veggies or coleslaw.

Pair sardines with your pasta

Looking for a new entry into your weekly pasta rotation? Consider chef Fabio Trabocchi's mouthwatering almond, dill, and sardine bucatini recipe. Just a few ounces of strongly-flavored sardines canned in tomato sauce combined with Espelette (French pepper powder) join forces to complement one another in an opposites-attract kind of way. Marcona almonds give a nice crunch and natural nutty flavor while dill rounds out the dish with a light herbal touch. Although sardines are far less salty than tinned anchovies, their intense savory flavor can offer a lot to several dishes like pasta or a tuna salad.

While there's plenty to be said about the flavor of this pretty pasta plate, we love the nutritional benefits it offers, too, thanks to the healthy sardines. According to Healthline, sardines are a rich source of vitamin B-12 and Omega-3 fatty acids, with low levels of mercury, thanks to their simple diet. Be sure to grab a can on your next food shopping adventure.

Bake a savory salmon pie

If you're looking for a reason to use up that dusty can of salmon in the pantry along with the extra pie dough you have stored in your freezer, consider a fish-filled version of traditional tourtière (a.k.a. meat pie). Among the best savory pies from around the world, it is offered in many communities in Quebec as a quintessential dinner staple, especially around the holidays. 

Combining ingredients like leftover mashed potatoes, cooked onion, garlic, and canned salmon, means having a simple, wholesome dinner option in no time. Once encased in homemade pastry and hot out of the oven, you'll fall in love with this rustic treat. Once you prepare your filling, hug it all together with pie dough. We recommend making homemade pastry in a big batch so you can store the extra dough in your freezer, and take it out when you are ready to use it. 

For a stateside (by way of Russia) rendition of salmon pie, consider pirok, which is a favorite in Alaska. The canned salmon casserole topped with pastry or phyllo dough is traditionally reserved for special occasions, so the next time you have something to celebrate, give it a try (via Edible Alaska).

Upgrade your charcuterie board

Some tinned fish products are delicious right out of the can or placed over buttered farmers bread. So, why not offer them unadulterated the next time you plan on having a party? Simply build a lovely charcuterie board featuring ingredients like sardines packed in olive oil or gourmet mackerel fillets amongst an array of rustic cheeses, fresh jams, and nuts. You're sure to impress your guests with a board like that.

When putting it all together, consider arranging your ingredients in ways that highlight their natural shapes, colors, flavors, and textures, and find a beautiful board to display it all. If you're removing your fish from the container, we recommend placing them away from the crackers so that the liquid doesn't leach onto them and make them soggy. (You can even go ahead and keep everything in the can.) While charcuterie boards are best known for wowing friends, they also make the perfect date night dinner. Whether you prefer a big get-together or a quiet night in, it's always a good time to raid your pantry.

Give butter a briny boost

One noteworthy way to make a meal burst with umami wonders is done with the help of two humble ingredients and an appliance we all love, the food processor. Chef and owner of several Washington state restaurants, Ethan Stowell adores using anchovies slivers in several ways, and it does get more simple than his anchovy butter recipe.  

By combining a 3.5-ounce can of oil-packed anchovies with two sticks of unsalted butter, you'll have before you a sumptuous spread perfect for a plethora of meals. Use it to make an aromatic beurre noisette to toss over spaghetti for a next-level buttered noodles dinner. You can even substitute it for plain butter the next time you need a roux for a fancy macaroni and cheese. Guests are sure to welcome a dab of anchovy butter over rustic farmer's bread presented on a stunning charcuterie board. 

For an ultra-deluxe alternative, break open the tin of caviar you've been saving for a special occasion. The signature brininess of those precious eggs lends a welcome pop of flavor to boring old butter.  

Fry up a batch of tuna croquettes

While canned tuna is best known for casseroles and melts, consider expanding your horizons. Perhaps the absolute best way to use a can of tuna is to transform the tinned fish into croquettes. The quick mix of pantry staples including eggs, breadcrumbs, tuna, and whatever herbs and spices you'd like combine for the perfect snack. Similar to salmon patties, you have the freedom to tweak the recipe and call it yours. Try canned salmon instead of tuna, or toss in minced anchovies for an ultra-umami boost. Just make you form your ingredients while they're cold in order to ensure that they hold together (a 30-minute sojourn in the fridge will do the trick). 

Whether you form them into little ovals or logs, you'll love how quickly they come together and how popular they are at parties with friends. Find a tasty dipping sauce, and you've got a well-rounded appetizer or meal everyone will love.