Yes, You Should Rinse and Drain Canned Beans—Here's Why

Learn why straining and rinsing your beans is an important step—plus other ways to make the most of your legumes.

Canned beans are a healthy (and inexpensive) pantry staple perfect for quick weeknight dinners. But what about that cloudy, thick liquid the beans are packed in? Yes, it helps keep the beans preserved for long shelf life, but the liquid is mostly starch and salt which may impact the texture or flavor of a finished dish. For that reason, most of our Test Kitchen recipes call for draining and rinsing canned beans, which can also help remove the metallic flavor sometimes found in cans. It's an added step that takes less than a minute but improves the flavor and texture of your finished dish. Follow these easy steps to drain and rinse the beans so they're ready for chili, enchiladas, and more.

how to rinse and drain canned beans illustration

BHG / Joules Garcia

How to Rinse and Drain Canned Beans

Unless the recipe tells you to keep the canned beans in their liquid, you should drain your can and give the beans a good rinse before using. This will improve the flavor and texture of your finished dish.

  1. Open your cans of beans using a can opener. There may be sharp edges from opening the can. Use caution when removing the lid to avoid cutting yourself.
  2. Carefully dump the open can of beans into a colander over your sink and let the excess liquid drain completely.
  3. Rinse with cool water until the liquid runs clear. It may take a minute for the water to run clear. Give it a good shake to remove excess water. The rinsed beans are now ready to use in your recipe.

Test Kitchen Tip: If your recipe calls for drained, rinsed chickpeas, try saving the liquid (known as aquafaba) and using it as a vegan egg substitute or whip it into a meringue-like texture. It's a great substitute for whipped cream on desserts, parfaits, and more.

Once your canned beans are drained and 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 for an easy lunch idea. 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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