12 Best Uses For Canned Roast Beef

Canned roast beef might not be a common pantry staple in your household, but perhaps it should be. First of all, it's pretty cheap, especially if you can find canned roast beef at Costco, which charges less than a trifling $0.50 per ounce for the stuff. But surprisingly, it's also pretty good, especially if you use it to spruce up recipes that require pre-cooked or leftover roast beef. The best part, though, is that roast beef in a can is a perfect storm of affordability, taste, and convenience.

Indeed, on fast and furious weeknights, having a can of roast beef on hand can be a lifesaver. Given its long shelf life compared to fresh meat, canned roast beef may be stored in your pantry for months or even years, ready to use whenever you need it. This makes it an ideal choice for last-minute meals, camping trips, or simply as a backup for those days when you don't have time to shop for fresh ingredients. 

Canned roast beef is incredibly versatile, lending itself to a wide range of dishes, from classic comfort foods like roast beef sandwiches and beef stews to more creative fare like beef stir-fries and stroganoff. So let's take a look at some of the best types of recipes you can make with canned roast beef, whether you're looking for a quick and easy dish or just want to add some depth to your usual meals.

1. Make extra-easy quesadillas with canned roast beef

One of the many benefits of using canned roast beef instead of cooking it yourself is that you can make these extra-easy sheet-pan quesadillas without adding any extra steps to include the beef. Although this recipe is vegetarian, calling only for cheese, beans, and vegetables to make the filling, roast beef makes a welcome addition for any carnivore in search of added protein.

Indeed, the only cooking you'll have to do here is to saute the vegetables and switch on the oven. Once that's done, just lay out your tortillas as you see fit, spread the sauteed vegetables on top of them along with the canned roast beef chunks, and tuck everything in before closing the door. Bake the tortilla until it's gooey and warm on the inside and slightly golden on the outside. Serve it with sour cream and salsa or any of your favorite quesadilla toppings. As you may have noticed, there is no need to do anything to the canned beef to include it in this recipe. The 25 minutes of baking time will more than suffice to heat it up before you bite into it.

2. Simplify a beef stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is not the hardest dish to make. It doesn't require any fancy tools, elusive ingredients, or obscure French cooking techniques. But it can become even easier and faster when you prepare it with canned roast beef instead of fresh meat. This simple substitution is all you need to cut back a chunk of time and labor off your usual routine. Indeed, if you follow our almost fancy beef stroganoff recipe, you'll find that by using canned roast beef, you can skip the searing step altogether and just add the meat to the prepared sauce to heat it up before serving.

The key to enjoying your canned beef here is to focus all your attention on the stroganoff sauce. In this recipe, the involvement of cognac to deglaze the pan after the mushrooms and onions have been cooked adds a lovely caramelized flavor to the mix, which is further enhanced by a series of creamy ingredients that really bring the sauce together. Once the sauce is complete, add the canned beef and cook it until it is heated through. Serve this dish over egg noodles or rice.

3. Slip canned roast beef into a sandwich

It's hard to go wrong with a roast beef sandwich. There are so many different ways to use this ingredient between two slices of bread that we can hardly go through all the options here. Instead, we'd like to highlight some of the best types of roast beef sandwiches that can be made with canned roast beef without sacrificing flavor or texture.

To start, we bring you this delightful po' boy recipe, prepared strictly on a French bread roll to provide the perfect balance of soft and crusty. Make this with canned roast beef by adding the meat to the braising liquid before shredding it and cooking it until soft and flavorful, and then adding it to your sandwich. For something quicker, you can make this roast beef sandwich with charred scallions and pickled jalapeños — just be sure to slice the roast beef thinly so that you can fit it on your sandwich bread, which will be piled high with other tasty ingredients. For something a little more sophisticated, you can pair those thin slices of roast beef in a sandwich with blue cheese and grilled pears before grilling the sandwich in a saute pan until crunchy. 

Feel free to choose whichever bread you prefer for each of these sandwiches. But know that rye bread, with its deep, nutty flavor profile, goes especially well with roast beef, especially when combined with mustard.

4. Try a new taco filling

You may already have a favorite filling you go to whenever you're in the mood for tacos. But if you ever feel like trying something new to spice up your life, literally, consider preparing this birria taco recipe with canned roast beef. While you should plan to set aside some time to braise the meat to deepen its flavor, the preparation work for this one is relatively simple.

The key is to focus on the marinade, for which you'll need dried guajillo chiles, garlic, Mexican oregano, smoked paprika, cumin, apple cider vinegar, canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and crushed tomatoes. This recipe calls for beef chuck as well as bone-in short ribs; but while it would be a mistake to skip the latter, as the bones add depth of flavor, you can easily substitute the beef chuck with your canned roast beef. When you're buying a lot of meat, it can come in handy to use the cheap (but good) canned stuff to save some money. Plus, no meat can resist the softening process of a slow braise. Once the marinade and braising are done with it, no one will know you didn't use the finest cut of fresh beef.

5. Serve canned roast beef up with balsamic vinegar

Between one thing and another, you may come upon a scenario where all you have left in your pantry is that can of roast beef and the bottle of real balsamic vinegar you were planning on using for a special occasion. This may seem like a collection of mismatched items, but in fact, those two ingredients happen to go very well together. The vinegar's tart yet sweet flavor complements the robust taste of the meat, creating a perfect balance between sweet and sour.

To serve up this delicious combination, you can go several routes. For the easiest, just heat up your meat, drizzle some good quality balsamic vinegar on top, and pair it with some vegetables and mashed potatoes. This is a great way to turn what may appear to be a tacky and plain canned roast beef into something bordering on the sophisticated. For something more involved, craft the vinegar into a glaze or sauce and toss the meat in it until heated through. For extra complexity, pour in some Worcestershire sauce, mustard, soy sauce, or oyster sauce, all of which can enhance the tarty sweetness of the balsamic vinegar.

6. Have it for breakfast with hash browns

Hash browns are a great breakfast food, but let's face it — when eaten alone, they can be a little boring. In most cases, they shine as a side to more hearty items like fried eggs, bacon, or even a puddle of sweet baked beans. But things can be different if you just add some canned roast beef, as in this roast beef hash recipe, which is best enjoyed for breakfast, but which can be satisfying at any time of day.

Start by preparing the potatoes and vegetables as you would with any other recipe for hash. The twist comes after these have been thoroughly cooked and it's time to add the meat. Cook for just a few minutes until the beef has heated through, and you'll have yourself a fine roast beef hash. If you want to step it up, though, we recommend also making a gravy to pour on top. You can use any drippings that may be left over in the can or concoct a gravy from any other meats you may have on hand. You can even use packaged gravy in a pinch.

7. Create a canned roast beef poutine

A typical poutine is made of french fries, gravy, and cheese curds that have been combined and cooked to create one glorious, tasty mess of a dish. The food, which began as a Québécois creation back in the 1950s, is now considered a Canadian national dish, at least unofficially. But since it is a bit of a mess, there's no reason why you can't add some meat to the mix without causing too much of a stir. Indeed, that's what would happen if you added canned roast beef, which pairs seamlessly with this popular Canadian dish.

The twist is easy to pull off. Just make a regular poutine by cooking some frozen fries, making a gravy from a packet, and adding the canned roast beef to that gravy, cooking them together until the meat is warm. Finally, serve the fries topped with cheese curds and your hot and heavy beef gravy. For the best possible texture, be sure to shred the beef with a fork or two as it cooks in the gravy. This will make this messy dish a little more manageable.

8. Put it in a beef pot pie

When making a beef pot pie, it is necessary to use meat that has been pre-cooked, or it might come out with steaming hot vegetables and a raw meat center. And as much as we may love a nice cut of rare beef, that experience is not exactly the point of a pot pie. Thus, to save time and money, we recommend simply using canned roast beef for this venture.

A beef pot pie is an ideal use for canned roast beef, as no matter what type of beef you put in it, the dish will come out just as tasty as ever. Not only that, but it's a definite time saver. Making a roast beef from scratch just to put it in a pot pie seems like an exercise in futility when you can just use the canned stuff — especially since pot pie is the perfect quick and easy weeknight meal recipe. In fact, you can save even more time by using a good store-bought crust instead of making it yourself, and by adding a pack of frozen pre-cut vegetables, all of which will cut down on prep.

9. Heat canned roast beef up in a stir-fry

The humble stir-fry may just be the simplest and most versatile dish you can make. At any given time, you can probably reach into your fridge and pantry and find plenty of ingredients to toss in a pan with some noodles and soy sauce, and end up with a gorgeous, complex dish no matter what. This is especially true if one of the items you have in your pantry is a can of roast beef.

If that's you, we have the perfect spicy beef stir-fry recipe you can use. Not only will it help you achieve a lovely balanced flavor, but it can also be tinkered with at will, meaning that you should feel free to play around with the vegetables it calls for without fundamentally altering the outcome. The same is true for the beef. The main difference to be aware of when it comes to swapping out the fresh meat for the canned roast beef, is that you shouldn't cook the meat too long, or it may get tough. Instead, toss it in at the end with the cooked noodles just to heat it up a bit.

10. Make a quick beef stew

There are all sorts of beef stew recipes in the world. There's the Hungarian goulash, flavored with paprika and other signature spices, beef bourguignon and its red wine notes, beef stroganoff, and so on. But there's nothing wrong with making a generic beef stew, as long as it's packed with flavor and takes on the right texture. Enter the old-fashioned beef stew, which can be made with canned roast beef for ease and convenience.

Now, unlike most of the other beef stews of the world, which require lengthy marinade periods and even longer braising processes, all you have to do here is chop your canned beef into small pieces, toss it into a crock pot with vegetables, diced potatoes, and beef stock. Cook thoroughly before adding gravy — which you may have frozen from a previous recipe, or which you can make from a package — and then cook until the potatoes are soft in the middle. If you're worried about the meat overcooking here, you can always boil your potatoes separately and add them to the stew later, with just enough time to coat them in gravy and let it soak through.

11. Prepare yourself a canned roast beef burrito

A burrito can only be as good as the ingredients you put in it. With canned roast beef, a few choice spices, and the other usual burrito suspects, you should be well on your way to savoring a fine meal. All you have to do is saute onions, garlic, tomatoes, taco sauce, chile peppers, cumin, and red pepper flakes before adding your diced roast beef. For best results, be sure to season each ingredient thoroughly before adding it to the mix, tasting it regularly as you cook to make sure you're not overdoing it.

Once you're ready to assemble your burrito, lay out your tortilla, fill it with the mixture, along with some shredded cheese, and fold it into that recognizable shape you know and love. Just make sure you let the mixture cool a bit before you pour it onto the tortilla, or it may leak out of any loosely secured corners. You can also add some cooked rice to absorb some of those juices. But ultimately, the use of canned roast beef here is the key to creating a tasty, filling, yet quick meal.

12. Cook up an easy beef and broccoli dish

Beef and broccoli might make the best meat and vegetable pairing there is. They each have their own robust flavor that stands up to the other without outdoing it. It's almost as if beef were the broccoli of the meat world and vice versa. Indeed, any way you choose to combine your beef and broccoli will no doubt be a success. But if you do need a pointer, we have the perfect takeout-style beef and broccoli recipe for you, which works particularly well with canned roast beef.

Although this recipe calls for cooking the beef with sauce and onions, you'll have to adjust it a little to account for the pre-cooked canned beef. So instead of cooking fresh meat from scratch, you'll just have to add it to the mix after the sauce has been assembled and the added onions have turned glassy. In short, you can add the canned beef at the very same moment as you toss in the broccoli, which is fitting. Serve the dish over a bed of steamed rice and topped with some toasted sesame seeds.