10 Underrated Canned Foods You Should Be Using More

Is your pantry missing these?

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January 24, 2022
Curry dish, vegetables, chicken


Curry dish, vegetables, chicken

Photo by: Kinga Krzeminska/Getty

Kinga Krzeminska/Getty

Fresh produce may always prevail, but canned goods can offer just as great and often untapped value to your pantry. Sure, some canned ingredients aren’t particularly healthy (like canned fruits in syrup), however, the canned goods aisle is a treasure trove of ingredients that are both flavorful and versatile. And, aside from being convenient and affordable, these ingredients have a long shelf life that help keep your kitchen stocked while reducing food waste. You’ve probably used beans, chickpeas and various canned fruits and vegetables countless times, but here, we’ll discuss some of the most underrated ingredients you should add to your kitchen arsenal.


Aside from chowder and seafood stews, chopped clams are also a delicious flavor-boosting addition to flatbreads and pizzas. They can also be a great way to reduce the effort of sourcing and cleaning fresh clams and increase efficiency, especially if you’re attempting something ambitious like a paella.

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Artichokes are both delicious and nutritious but trimming one is a task not everyone is up for. Fortunately, canned or jarred artichoke hearts completely eliminate that stressor. Add them to your salads, pizzas, dips and pastas, or fry them up until they’re super crispy for a crowd-pleasing appetizer.

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Water chestnuts, a type of aquatic vegetable, are a staple in many East Asian cuisines. They can add a welcome sweetness and crunch to stir fries, greens or salads. Or, you can wrap them in bacon for a balanced yet indulgent starter.

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Another staple from the East Asian pantry, bamboo shoots are high in fiber and have a hearty texture that’s perfect for curries, noodles and stir fries. Additionally, you can braise them in soy sauce along with mushrooms and vegetables of your choice or simmer them in dashi to make takenoko no nimono.

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Not much needs to be said about how delicious baby corn is they are the perfect food!

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Hearts of palm are harvested from the center of cabbage palm trees. They are super crunchy and perhaps one of the most versatile ingredients you can keep in your pantry. Add them to salads, sear them like vegan "scallops," wrap them in bacon or simply pickle them there are an infinite number of ways to use these gems of nature.

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"Flavor in a can'" is perhaps the best way to describe a can of cream of mushroom soup. Even though it doesn’t score too high in the health department, it can surely save you time and money while guaranteeing maximum flavor. The rich combination of mushrooms, cream and garlic can be a perfect base for anything from casseroles and scalloped potatoes to stroganoff and salisbury steak.

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Also known as "dolma," stuffed grape leaves can be found next to other Mediterranean ingredients at your grocery store. They come prepared and ready to eat in a jar, filled with a variety of fillings rice and veggies are the most common. Serve them hot or cold with dipping sauce like tzatziki for an easy appetizer.

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When dried, jalapenos transform into smoky and delicious chipotle peppers. Put them in a can with sweet and spicy sauce made with tomatoes, garlic and vinegar and you have chipotle peppers in adobo sauce the ultimate secret weapon for culinary excellence. Use the peppers in stews or smoky Texas chili, marinate or glaze meats with the adobo sauce or use it in condiments, sauces and dips.

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Commonly used in the classic Mexican dish posole, hominy is harvested from yellow or white maize. It is often used to thicken stews and soups but you can also use it as an alternative to corn in dishes like succotash and cornbread.

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