Wondering why it is necessary to drain and rinse the liquid from a can of beans? Our Test Kitchen has the answer, plus must-have tips for using canned beans. We're also sharing our favorite recipes that start with a can of beans.
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Canned beans are a healthy (and inexpensive) pantry staple perfect for quick weeknight dinners. But what about that cloudy, thick liquid packed with those canned beans? Sure, it helps keep the beans preserved for long shelf life, but that canned bean liquid is mostly starch and salt that may impact the texture or flavor of the finished dish. Most of our Test Kitchen recipes call for draining and rinsing the beans to remove the excess salt and starch and improve flavor. Draining and rinsing can also remove the metallic flavor sometimes found in canned beans. Follow these easy steps to drain and rinse canned beans so they're ready for chili, enchiladas, and more.

rinsing black beans
Credit: Andy Lyons

How to Rinse and Drain Canned Beans

Unless the recipe says to keep those beans in their liquid, you should drain your can of beans and give them a good rinse before using.

  1. Open your cans of beans using a can opener ($13, Target).
  2. Dump beans into a colander ($8, Bed Bath & Beyond) over your sink.
  3. Rinse with cool water until the liquid runs clear. Give it a good shake to remove excess water.

Test Kitchen Tip: If you're recipe calls for drained, rinsed chickpeas, try saving the liquid (known as aquafaba) and using it as a vegan egg substitute or whip into a meringue-like texture.

Okay, so you've got your canned beans ready for cooking. Make a warm bowl of Tuscan bean soup. Use a couple of cans of pinto beans to make burritos for a quick vegetarian dinner. Or make some baked beans from scratch for an easy and delicious side dish. Out of canned beans? Try keeping some dried beans in stock for your recipes, too.


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