15 Ingredients That Will Elevate Canned Green Beans

The world of canned foods is a wide and often overlooked one. There's everything from canned meats to canned seafood to canned vegetables that can uplift side dishes and meals. They're usually pretty budget-friendly, and can help you save time by eliminating the need to chop and cook each given item. 

Canned green beans are a wonderful pantry staple, since they come cooked and ready to eat right from the can. You can find chopped beans with the ends removed so you don't have to do any hard work, but there are whole green beans available in cans as well. 

There's a lot of potential when it comes to canned green beans, whether you want to change the texture by frying it in extra-virgin olive oil (which doubles as a twofold tip, since this also elevates the flavor). You may choose to boost these beans with classic components, such as the almonds or garlic that you'll find widely used in fresh green bean dishes, and you can use the same logic for the canned version. These ingredients will complement green beans without taking over the dish. You can pair these green bean combinations with your favorite meats, other veggies, or just have them as a snack on the side. 

1. Cheese

Can you really ever go wrong by adding cheese to a dish? It's one of those ingredients that will elevate canned green beans with great ease, and there's no particular cheese that is bad to incorporate. Cheesy canned green beans are a winning weeknight dinner upgrade that you can make for the family. 

Classic mozzarella can give it a stringy look with a nice cheese pull and an approachable taste that doesn't overwhelm. Parmesan — particularly freshly grated Parmesan — can provide canned green beans with a salty factor that can also enhance their look. 

If you cook the green beans and then grate Parmesan cheese on top, it can provide a fluffy pillowy look, while if you cook the Parmesan with the beans, it'll be crunchy and slightly brown. Shred a bit of cheddar cheese on top of the beans and broil it for a couple of minutes so it melts and gets toasty. Take a creamy turn by integrating cream cheese, which makes the beans feel rich with a neutral taste. Melt whatever cheese you choose to quickly enrich any green bean dish. 

2. Butter

There are plenty of versions of butter out there to give diversity to your green bean dish, from salted to unsalted to herby compound butter. The latter option can provide great flavor to your dish, because all it takes is butter and herbs to elevate canned green beans. Cook the beans in the butter itself, which can help them fry up nicely while also imparting delicious taste. 

If you're baking green beans with other ingredients, you can add a pat of butter on top just before serving to allow it to melt and trickle down the beans. This can provide a visual component in addition to the flavor, especially if you use a herbed compound butter (dill or parsley are great choices). One of the creative uses for scallions is incorporating them into compound butter that also blends well with green beans.

Transform the taste of average butter by making a batch of brown butter for a nutty aroma. This works well if you want to pair your green bean dish with some type of nuts, such as almonds. However, buttery green beans are great on their own — and if you use salted butter, you don't necessarily have to sprinkle salt on the beans later. 

3. Seasoned flour

Deep-fry your canned green beans in a flour coating for a breaded veggie side dish. It's almost like having delicious fried fair food, but you can customize it at home. Drain the can and coat it in a flour mixture that you love. Whether you gather inspiration from chicken fried steak or onion rings, the flour coating can give your fried green beans a crispness that can't be replicated by frying them alone. Make your batter and then fry them until they're nice and crispy. Fry them in a pan or, better yet, deep-fry them for an even crispness. 

These make a crunchy and scrumptious side dish that you can pair with meat or add to a salad as a nice juxtaposition in texture. It's important to season the flour coating for fried foods, since the flour itself doesn't have a lot of taste. Salt and pepper is a great place to start, but you could also add Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, powdered ranch dressing, or a seasoned salt.

4. Garlic

Garlic is used in many savory foods to load up the flavor, and in this case, garlic transforms canned green beans into a dish worthy of a restaurant menu. When it's raw, garlic is potent and peppery, so you should mince it finely to release its sulphuric compounds during the cooking process. The garlic's scent and taste come through once these compounds are exposed to air, stretching the effect of your garlic. This might be especially useful if you only have one or two cloves and want to make the most of it, but you can always fry packaged pre-diced garlic to include with the beans.

Roasted garlic can have an almost nutty taste. It's also a bit more palatable for some people who aren't the biggest fans of garlic, since it mellows out the bite. Mash up roasted garlic and then mix it in with your green beans as you warm up the dish. This version is a bit more paste-like than using minced garlic, and cuts down on cooking time since the garlic is already baked.

5. Vinegar

Vinegar isn't just for fish and chips or salad dressings — you can try a fresh take on canned green beans by giving them a quick pickling. Make refrigerator dilly beans with your own brine made with vinegar and enhanced by mustard seeds, fresh dill, and peppercorns to bring it all together. This is a fantastic way to transform canned beans into something surprising. You could also opt for whole canned beans for a fresher pickled bean look.

There are plenty of pickled veggies out there, but this might be a less anticipated dish, considering that green beans are the veggie you didn't know you should be pickling. Using the canned variety does not require any washing or chopping the ends off of your green beans, which can be a time-consuming process. White vinegar or apple cider vinegar turns canned beans into a flavorsome snack that you can eat by itself or serve on a burrata board as a vegetable component. 

6. More beans

If you're struggling to come up with ingredients that will elevate canned green beans, integrating other beans can be one of the easier methods. Make a bean salad with canned green beans, garbanzos, and kidney beans — you may use the canned varieties for each ingredient. This eliminates the need to cook and simmer any of the beans for hours until they soften. Bump up the beans by adding black beans, cannellini beans, or any other preferred type of bean. 

These additions offer a softness and creaminess in comparison to the taste of green beans, which can be a little sweet or earthy. Drain any excess liquid and mix them together to make a simple bean salad. Feel free to add other vegetables, like corn or bell peppers, or add an herbal element with freshly chopped cilantro or scallions. Give it spicy and sour components by making a jalapeño-lime bean salad with cucumbers and avocado, or make it even more satiating by incorporating quinoa or couscous.

7. Fresh herbs

One of the best tips to add flavor to green beans is to mix them with herbs, which not only impacts the taste but can bring a fresh element to canned beans. While you're heating up the canned green beans, add something fragrant like rosemary, thyme, or basil. They double up on the green, but they also give flavor without having to do too much extra legwork beyond chopping. Chives can impart the taste of onions, which is great if you don't have onions on hand. 

Fresh dill is commonly paired with green beans to make a tasty duo, but tarragon can provide a very light anise taste that will bring depth to your dish. These are but a few of the herbs that help add freshness to your dish, working nicely with canned beans when you want to revitalize them. Warm the herbs in a pan along with drained beans — or certain herbs, like basil, are fragrant enough that you could easily mix them in after heating the beans.

8. Pesto

Classic green pesto is a decadent blend of earthy basil, Parmesan, olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic. When you're striving for convenience, store-bought pesto with canned green beans might be a tastier dish than you anticipated. Instead of opening up a jar of pesto as-is to toss it with your green beans, add more flavor to store-bought pesto by bringing a touch of heat with red chili pepper flakes, one of many potential flavor boosters. Nobody has to know that you opened a can of beans and a jar of pesto; there are loads of simple ways to upgrade canned and jarred foods, and they're nothing to scoff at. 

Jarred pesto is delicious, convenient, and has a longer shelf life than making it from scratch — although you can always do so. Follow a recipe for Ligurian pesto pasta that can turn your canned green beans into a satisfying meal with pine nuts, pasta, basil, and more. The pesto covers the green beans while providing color and flavor. It doesn't hurt to have pesto and green beans stocked in your pantry.

9. Nuts

Give crunchy distinction to your green beans with nuts. Rather than adding whole nuts, use a slivered variety, crush them, or chop them up for a more even bite. Ina Garten likes to serve her green beans with roasted hazelnuts, which have an earthy nuttiness. Hazelnuts aren't as potent as peanuts, which tend to bring a lot of flavor into anything they touch. The hazelnut makes a more nuanced inclusion that you might want to try. 

Almonds are a very popular addition that you'll see in dishes like green bean almondine, which not only has a nice rhyme in its name, but a marvelous taste. This crunchy and buttery nut works well with the softness of canned beans. You can use slivered almonds, sliced toasted almonds, or simply chop them up yourself. If you're going for convenience, packaged slivered almonds are a top choice. You could also use pistachios or walnuts. For a step up, roast the nuts on a pan very briefly to give them a little bit of color, and then add your green beans to warm them up. 

10. Lemon

Citrus can make a noticeable difference in brightening your vegetable dishes. When you feel like your can of green beans needs a lift, a spritz of a lemon can do the trick. Fresh lemon is a bit more potent than the bottled variety, and you can even add a bit of the zest for more citrus power. 

That said, bottled juice is also effective at heightening green beans, so you don't have to go to the store to buy fresh lemons. While lemon lovers might feel like adding the juice of one or two lemons per can of beans, you could easily limit it to half a lemon if you don't want it to overpower the dish. 

Pan-fry the green beans and add lemon juice. Lemon garlic green beans are made by mixing a couple of ingredients that will elevate canned green beans. It's something you can serve on the side of a juicy roasted chicken, or mix with another vegetable to accompany your meat of choice. The acidic boost of lemon can bring vibrance to your veggies, particularly if you feel that the canned green beans need an enhancement.

11. Bacon

When you're searching for an ingredient that provides a double whammy, bacon is a prime contender. The crispy bits add a savory and scrumptious crunch to the softness of the green beans, but you can fry these veggies in the bacon fat as well. 

After frying your slices of bacon, remove them from the pan but leave the grease. Open your can of green beans, strain all the liquid, and fry them up in the bacon fat. It adds a magnificent smokiness without having to use any additional ingredients. 

Once the beans are heated and fried, crumble the bacon and you're ready to serve. It's a simple but effective method of jazzing up canned green beans. The taste of the bacon grease carries into the beans itself, so it's enveloped in the flavor. Try out copycat Texas Roadhouse green beans with crumbled bacon, onions, and garlic, which is an impressive dish to bring to a party. Store any leftovers in the fridge, but for best results for reheating them, fry them in a pan rather than using a microwave, which might contribute to sogginess. Don't eat bacon? Use turkey bacon — although it won't have the grease content for frying, it can still give that crunchy contrast.

12. Cream of mushroom soup

There's no reason why you can't enjoy cream of mushroom soup year-round. Green beans and cream of mushroom soup don't have to be an autumn-only option. We like to make green bean casserole throughout the year; there's something special about having it on a random Tuesday in April. Canned green beans and canned cream of mushroom soup go hand-in-hand to create this simple, convenient side dish.

Cream of mushroom soup contains ample sodium, so you don't have to add any salt to your green bean casserole. You might want to opt for no-salt canned green beans, or you could rinse them if they are salted. For extra flair and a mild crispness, top your casserole with the fried onions that you usually see in the dish — but they're not a necessity. 

While you might be used to having this with turkey, it easily goes with chicken or ribs. This might not be the standard combination you consider for it, but it tastes good nonetheless. Pair this dish with grilled asparagus or broccoli for even more vegetable goodness.

13. Extra-virgin olive oil

If you're not too familiar with the olive oil world, extra-virgin olive oil tends to have more flavor, whether that's fruity, grassy, peppery, or something else. This is due to the cold-pressed process of extracting the oil from the olives. 

Depending on the extra-virgin olive oil you use, there can be a range of tasting notes — not to mention the flavored or infused varieties, such as extra-virgin olive oil with basil, chili peppers, rosemary, and more. This can be a twofold method as far as adding ingredients that will elevate canned green beans, since it's technically one ingredient, but it's infused. 

The olive oil also assists in frying the green beans to contribute a slight crispness factor, beneficial when you consider that canned green beans are cooked and soft. Pan-frying or roasting the green beans with olive oil can enhance their texture and provide the subtle flavor of the oil. Give this method a whirl when you don't have a lot of extra time to create your bean dish, since you only need to pour and fry — no cutting, blending, or stirring required.

14. Potatoes

The delightful starchiness of potatoes has a comforting component. You can use them in a plethora of ways, from boiled to mashed to fried. A green bean potato salad can be created within a matter of minutes — and while you're preparing the tubers, consider utilizing one of the many ways to add more flavor to boiled potatoes, like pouring some beer into the water while it's boiling. This boosts flavor from the get-go, and can give the entire dish an unexpected complexity. Once the potatoes and beans are cooked, mix the potatoes, green beans, and dressing together for a hearty dish that doesn't take much time to prepare.

For something different, opt for a warm German potato salad with fingerling potatoes. It's tangy due to the homemade vinaigrette made from red wine vinegar and whole-grain Dijon mustard. No need to cook the green beans — simply toss them in toward the end while stirring in the dressing to warm up in the pan. The duo of potato and green beans is a great match, because it balances a vegetable with a carbohydrate to make a satisfactory side dish to keep you filled. 

15. Broth or bouillon

Search for that carton of broth or lost pack of bouillon cubes in the back of your cabinet to offer a bunch of flavor to your canned veggies. This addition is the single ingredient that makes canned green beans taste expensive, with minimal effort. You can apply this technique in a couple of ways, depending on your recipe. If you're cooking something with green beans ahead of time, simmer them in broth or beef bouillon in a pot so that they can absorb the flavors. Once the broth is mostly evaporated, turn off the heat, allow the beans to cool, and store them in a container in the fridge overnight. This technique is time-consuming, but you can taste the difference after the beans soak up the broth or bouillon. 

For a quicker version, skip the overnight refrigeration. Simmer the beans in broth or bouillon for at least a half-hour, and strain the liquid. Dust these green vegetables with garlic powder, and serve them with feta or grilled shrimp. However, keep an eye on the salt content, since both broth and bouillon tend to be high in sodium.

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