We all know we should be eating plenty of vegetables to protect our health, but convenience, cost, and taste also need to be considered if we’re going to be making any adjustments to our diet in a sustainable manner.
In other words, vegetables need to taste great, not cost a fortune, and be easy to prepare.
That is where canned vegetables come in. Admittedly, not all canned vegetables are appetizing, but many options are inexpensive, very easy to prepare, and taste just as good as their fresh alternatives.
So what are the best canned vegetables? The best canned vegetables are tomatoes, beans, green beans, corn, beets, peas, pumpkin, carrots, and artichoke hearts. Each of these vegetables is healthy, inexpensive, and taste great when they’re canned. They are also very easy to prepare.
In the rest of this article, we’ll explain exactly why each of these 9 vegetables made our list of best canned vegetables.
The 9 Best Canned Vegetables
In most cases, canned vegetables bring a lot to the table, so to speak. They’re almost always more cost-effective than fresh produce, easier to prepare, and just as healthy as their fresh alternatives.
|Rank||Canned Vegetable||Recommended Brand|
|1.||Tomatoes||Muir Glen Canned Tomatoes, Organic Diced Tomatoes|
|2.||Pumpkin||Farmer’s Market Foods Canned Organic Pumpkin Puree|
|3.||Beans||365 Everyday Value, Organic Garbanzo Beans|
|4.||Green Beans||Green Giant Cut Green Beans|
|5.||Corn||Happy Belly Whole Kernel Corn|
|6.||Artichoke Hearts||365 Everyday Value, Artichoke Hearts, Quartered|
|7.||Peas||Del Monte Canned Sweet Peas|
|8.||Carrots||Happy Belly Sliced Carrots|
|9.||Beets||Happy Belly Sliced Beets|
All of our top 9 choices rank highly for the benefits of canned foods and are less likely to be compromised for the disadvantages. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each.
1. Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes are the #1 best canned vegetable because they’re incredibly versatile and, in many ways, they’re much better canned than fresh.
You can find tomatoes in every way, from whole and peeled to reduced to a paste, with diced, sauced, and juiced in between.
While fresh tomatoes may be tasty, if you want to really cook with them, it takes a lot of time, not to mention tomatoes.
A can will save hours of work and include many more tomatoes than you could buy fresh for the same cost.
The most important caveat to be aware of when it comes to tomatoes, however, is the sauce category. As soon as any other ingredients are added to the can, you may also be dealing with additives such as sugar and salt.
It’s best to stick with 100% tomato-based canned goods and then add your own seasoning or other ingredients.
This way you’ll not only get the best nutritional value, but you’ll also be able to adapt your sauce so that it’s exactly the way you want it to taste.
2. Canned Pumpkin
You can get a lot of pumpkin from a single fresh squash, but they do require a considerable time and effort commitment and they’re very seasonal.
Pumpkin puree in a can, however, is instantly ready to go any time of year.
Pumpkin is incredibly nutritious and, because of its unique sweetness, is a favorite in many households. How many other iconic desserts do you know of that are made from vegetables?
Canned pumpkin is good for more than just pies, though. You can add chunks added to chili or stew, blend it with your mashed potatoes for a fresh twist on a classic side dish, or roast it with root vegetables for a very satisfying and hearty meal.
3. Canned Beans
Canned beans can include everything from garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, black beans, and many other options as well.
When it comes to beans, this is the one item on the list that may actually be a bit more expensive than their dried alternative, but the amount of time they save makes up for the cost difference.
Dried beans take literally hours to prepare, which makes them very inconvenient in some cases.
Canned beans are ready in moments and, with small differences depending on the variety of bean, taste, and feel the same if not better than cooking them from scratch.
The only extra step you’ll want to take with canned beans is rinsing them well before adding them to your recipe. If you are interested in cooking with canned beans, you can check out our Navy Bean Soup With Canned Beans recipe.
The bean water may alter the way the recipe performs, however, it can be saved and used in recipes that call for aquafaba, which translates to bean water and is very handy in many vegan baking recipes.
4. Canned Green Beans
Canned green beans are convenient in many ways.
For one, they’re uniformly cut, which saves a lot of time. Trimming and cutting fresh green beans can be a time-consuming process.
They’re also picked and packaged at their peak condition, so you don’t have to sift through each bean looking for brown spots, which is another time-consuming effort required to cook green beans.
They maintain great flavor and you don’t have to wait for them to be in season when they’re canned – you can eat your favorite green bean casserole any day of the year.
Another huge perk for canned green beans is the texture. Not all vegetables have a nice texture after being canned (or frozen), but beans, in our opinion, actually become more pleasing when canned because of the uniformity.
You don’t have a dense, meaty bite in one bean and a mushy texture in the next, they’re all the same size, texture, and perfect consistency.
Finally, yellow wax beans are easier to find in cans then they are fresh, so if you like this type of bean, canned is a great option for availability.
5. Canned Corn
Canned corn tastes just like fresh corn, right off the cob, but without any of the hassle or leftovers stuck in between your teeth.
You get quite a bit of corn in every can, compared to what you would be able to scrape off a fresh cob.
If organic is important to you, it’s easier to find organic canned corn than organic fresh corn.
Canned corn also comes in variety, which we love. You can get individual sweet kernels, whole or sliced baby corn, or creamed corn.
Baby corn is also very hard to find fresh, so if you like these tiny delicacies, canned may be the only way to find them near you.
As with all the other items on this list, whenever it is not just the vegetable, you may also be getting added preservatives or flavorings, which is certainly the case for creamed corn or cream-style corn.
The corn itself should still have plenty of nutrition, but you’ll also get added sugars, salt, and corn starch, at the very least. The flavor, however, is irreplaceable.
6. Canned Artichoke Hearts
Very few people have the determination to cook artichokes. They’re tedious vegetables and you get very little edible enjoyment out of each plant.
Canned artichoke hearts take all the effort and culinary skill out of this tricky vegetable and leave only the delicious, tender hearts ready to enjoy.
You can find artichoke hearts canned simply in water with only a little added salt and/or citric acid to preserve them, but marinated artichoke hearts are also very popular.
While the vegetable itself is still healthy, when marinated it will also have significant levels of oil, salt, sugar, and other additives and flavorings.
Some combinations are healthier than others so if this is a concern to you, always read the ingredients list and nutritional information.
Canned artichoke hearts are delicious when added to dips, sauces, or even just fresh salads. They add surprising texture and flavor to pasta dishes as well, so they’re quite versatile and easy to prepare when canned.
7. Canned Peas
Canned peas are one of the vegetables most likely to be packed with added sugar and salt in their water.
This will enhance the flavor without substantially affecting the nutritional content, but it’s not a bad idea to rinse your peas under cool water before cooking or serving them. This will remove any excess salt or sugar.
Fresh peas are, unarguably, a unique and heavenly experience, but the amount of work and number of fresh peas it would take to get the volume within a single can would be substantial.
If you have access to fresh-picked peas, we highly encourage you to indulge in them.
If you’re adding peas to a recipe or cooking them as a side dish, canned is absolutely the way to go. The texture and consistency are beautifully uniform, and the flavor is sweet and delicious. They even taste great uncooked, added to a salad or bean dip for sweetness.
8. Canned Carrots
Canned carrots are probably the most controversial canned vegetable on this list. Carrots are available year-round and are relatively inexpensive and fairly simple to prepare.
Also, canned carrots have a very different texture than fresh carrots, especially if you like your vegetables to have a bit of a remaining crunch.
So why did they make the list at all? Partly because they’re incredibly nutritious and it’s always useful to have such nutrient-dense foods on hand so that they’re ready in an instant.
Where canned carrots really excel is in purees. They blend up perfectly smooth and make a flavorful soup base, are wonderful additions to pasta sauces and they are great to mix into prepared meals for added nutrition if you’re in a pinch.
9. Canned Beets
Without a doubt, the most convincing reason to purchase beets canned is convenience.
Beets are messy and many people avoid them because of the time, effort, and staining-potential of these roots, but canned solves all these problems.
Beets are incredibly healthy, but they’re also packed with flavor and can add so much depth to a recipe.
When canned, they don’t just retain all their flavor, but you’ll know they were prepared properly to avoid the dirty taste and texture that sometimes happens when they’re not cooked right. Canned beets always taste exactly the way they’re supposed to.
You can also get sliced canned beets and pickled canned beets, both of which are delicious and very easy to prepare.
Frequently Asked Questions About Canned Food
Are canned vegetables good for you?
Canned vegetables have just as much nutrition as fresh produce, sometimes even more, so yes, they are good for you.
You do want to watch out for added sodium in vegetables and added sugar in tomatoes, squashes, and fruits, but otherwise, eating canned vegetables is an inexpensive, convenient and healthy way to add more plant-based food items to your daily diet.
Best vegetables to can at home?
In general, if a vegetable is enjoyable when it is commercially canned, you should be able to can it at home yourself with good results.
If you have your own garden or shop at a local farmer’s market, any of the 9 best canned vegetables on this list are prime candidates for at-home canning as well.
You may also want to consider asparagus, squash or cabbage, which are all more nutritionally dense and satisfying from a flavor perspective when they’re in season.
Potatoes, onions, and peppers are generally available relatively inexpensively year-round, but they are also good options to can at home.
How to make canned vegetables taste good?
Canned vegetables can be prepared in any recipe that fresh vegetables are called for, allowing you to dress up the flavor with all of your favorite spices or sauces just as you would normally.
The biggest secret to enjoyable canned vegetables is not to overcook them. They have been soaking for an indeterminate length of time which means they’re much more prone to turning to mush quickly if overcooked.
As a general rule, treat canned vegetables as if you’ve already cooked them from fresh and are now reheating them.
If you’re adding them to a soup, stew or simmer dish, add them during the last 10 – 15 minutes of cooking time. You want them to cook in your sauce or broth long enough to soak in some of the flavors, but not so long that they’ll overcook.
Canned vegetables vs frozen – what’s the difference?
Both canned and frozen vegetables may be higher in nutritional value than even fresh produce from your grocery store.
Instead of being picked and then shipped and stored or shelved for days if not weeks on end, vegetables are picked at their prime ripeness and either frozen or canned immediately, protecting the nutritional content at its peak.
Canned vegetables will last longer than frozen vegetables and tend to be more budget-friendly. They may also contain more additives such as salt or sugar, however, so in that sense, frozen may be a better choice.
Are there disadvantages of canned food?
Canned foods can be incredibly advantageous in terms of eating out of season fruits and vegetables, not to mention cost-effective. There are a few disadvantages, however, especially when it comes to commercially canned foods.
Many canned goods are high in sodium and/or sugar, which can interrupt an otherwise healthy eating plan.
Some studies show BPA in the packaging of commercially canned goods can leach into the food over time. To protect yourself against all of these disadvantages, you can can your own food in glass jars so you know exactly what is in them.
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