Using beans to spruce up your mealtimes and snacks can be great for getting in some protein, but many will find this bland and may want something to pair with it. With so many options out there, where do you start?
That is why we have provided 16 side dishes or mains that can work to make your beans more interesting, as these recipes have different flavors and textures.
If you’re at a barbeque or fancy something savory to pair with your beans, you can’t do better than a traditional cheese or hamburger, which is many parts filling, plus you have something to combine, so beans or even coleslaw works well here.
Not only this, but you can mix things up by using different ingredients inside rather than the lettuce and pickles, and you can apply some beans inside rather than a side if you want to experience a fuller flavor.
2. Pasta Salad
Pasta and beans make a great mix, as pasta already uses a type of sauce, so with the tomatoey flavor, you can make something more unique plus, you have a salad that can soak up any notes, and you get a nice combined flavor rather than bland or separated tastes.
You can use different kinds of pasta and mix it with other veggies, but cherry tomatoes are a great addition as their sweet and tangy taste is close to the profile of the beans so that you can get a succulent flavor.
This is one of the most popular ways to serve with beans, as the potato in this recipe gives you some soft textures, and with some shredded cheese over the top, you have something that melts as you take a bite.
If cheese isn’t your thing, you can use tuna, chili, smoked salmon, or some bacon, and you can still be fulfilled by the variations that are soaked up by the bean sauce and the potato.
4. Deviled Eggs
Here is an option if you want something not too filling as a light snack, as these egg halves are filled with mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and pepper, which, when combined with beans, gives you a creamy taste that can be very fulfilling.
Not only do you get some interesting zesty flavors, but you have something that doesn’t taste too dry, and you can pour some beans over the top or have it as a side, which is excellent for events like barbeques or small gatherings.
5. Bacon Bits
If you want something even simpler, you can use some sliced bacon which you can break up into small pieces, and you’ll find that the smoky tone of the bacon highlights the profile of the beans, so you have the perfect match here.
These are a better alternative to prepackaged bacon bits, which may taste a bit bland, and here you can make batches and store them in the freezer when you need them next, so you have a side dish that goes even further.
6. French Fries
You could prepare some fries which benefit from the beans, as fries pair very well with sauces, and to get even more flavor from your fries, you could season them with smoked paprika, chili powder, or some oregano if you want a more varied taste.
If you soak the fries in cold water overnight, you get crispier fries, so this is great for those who find the texture of beans lacking and may want something to dip their fries in, as the sauce gives them a more colorful flavor.
7. Hot Dogs
These work well on their own, but for more options, if you don’t like mustard or ketchup, the thick sauce from the beans gives you a balance so that you can handle the meaty taste from the dogs.
You can put these into an air fryer, and they only take 4 minutes to cook, and during this time, you can prepare the beans as you like, so here is where you can add seasoning to make the beans more palatable with the hot dogs.
8. Potato Salad
Beans, potatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, and bacon work wonders together, so combining them into a salad that can be garnished with chopped celery and parsley makes sense.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, mixing up some of the ingredients is always possible.
This is great if you have tried coleslaw with beans and want more earthy flavors, but the salad recipe can be modified to give you a creamier and richer taste and could become a new favorite.
This is another classic pairing, as you can prepare a good amount from a baking dish, have a few meals with beans and save some for later, and the combo with the flaky golden crust, which absorbs the beans, gives you a solid base from which to work from.
10. Mac And Cheese
Another popular recipe that is made better by the bean treatment, you can find the cheesy sauce, and the convenience of the tomato sauce from the beans is balanced out nicely, so you get some sweet and savory flavors.
If you want something more homemade to go with your beans, a succulent and tender brisket could be what you’re looking for, as the juices from both dishes melt in your mouth, but as you get a lot of savory tastes here, it might be a good idea to serve beans as an optional side.
12. Barbeque Ribs
The barbecue sauce that emanates from these ribs with some beans is another combo that sometimes goes unnoticed.
Still, you can use seasoning like paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and some cracked black pepper for a unique flavor.
13. Shepherds Pie
It’s the middle of the week, and you want something warming and hearty to get you through the rest of the week.
If that’s the case, you can try this casserole-like dish with potato and meaty goodness, add the beans to this, and you give this dish more moisture.
14. Lemon Lime Salad
It might sound strange to have Jello mixed with vegetables and olives and served with some beans, but this works very well as you avoid the lemon potency being too much, and you can mix different veggies that you may have lying around your kitchen.
15. Pulled Pork
Pulled Pork is great as a sandwich, but you can make it even better with some beans as you can mix it all, which works great if you’re pushed for time, as you can use a pork shoulder and take off the pieces that you need.
16. Baked Ham
If you’re having guests around, there’s nothing better than a glazed ham that uses honey or mustard for a deep flavor, and if you combine this with beans, you not only give people more options but the smokiness is raised to a higher profile because of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Add More Flavor To Beans?
If you find that beans to be bland, this is a common complaint but can be improved if you add to the aroma of the beans to make them more appealing to smell and taste. So, you could add salt, pepper, chilies, bay leaves, or thyme.
At first, this may seem like these added flavors go against the tones of the beans, but here is where some experimentation pays off because you can intensify the flavor and retain the sweet and juicy tastes you can get from the sauce, which could be made much more delightful.
How Do I Store Beans To Make Them Last Longer?
If you find that you don’t use up all of the beans in your can, you could place them in the fridge for 3-4 days, and this is the same for if you’ve cooked them or not.
You could store them for a day or two longer, but this can be a risk that could affect taste and consistency.
If you need longer than four days to use them, it may be worth freezing any leftovers, which could last for a few weeks, so you have more options when deciding when to use them, as long as you don’t forget that they’re in your freezer.
Beans work in almost any dish, but ones that have an overabundance of sweet or tangy flavors may be counterproductive to the role of the beans, and another type you may want to avoid is steamed veggies which could taste bland with these beans.
Here is where spices and herbs come in, as these can save any combination as long as you use a balanced amount, so you don’t get too overwhelmed by one flavor, and you can create some new favorite recipes that are simple to make.