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Cooking Tips

Why You Shouldn't Rinse Canned Beans

Two reasons: Flavor and achieving a rich, velvety broth.

Published Apr. 15, 2022.

In almost every recipe involving canned beans, you see one or both of these words: drain and rinse. But should you really rinse your canned beans? I’m here to tell you to cut it out.

I hear people waxing poetic about the delicious, velvety bean broth you get when cooking dried beans from scratch. And while that’s undoubtedly true, that delicious bean broth is exactly what you’re draining and rinsing away in canned beans.

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When I reviewed canned and dried white beans a few years ago, I cooked pounds and pounds of beans and had our taste testers try them blind, both plain and in dips and soups. At the same time, I researched how canned beans are made. While some manufacturers overcook their beans or use odd ingredients, we found that the best canned beans are simply pressure-cooked right in the can with a little salt and water. That’s what we’d be doing at home. 

Tuscan White Bean and Escarole Soup (Acquacotta)

Our version of acquacotta, one of Italy’s traditional vegetable soups, features creamy cannellini beans, tender fennel, and faintly bitter escarole.
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Think of each can as its own mini–Instant Pot. So the starchy liquid that lives in the can? That’s your bean broth. Use that broth to thicken soups, help dips hang together—all the ways you’d use the broth with beans you cooked yourself. So stop throwing it away!

This same advice goes for rinsing your canned black beans as well; the starchy liquid is exactly what everyone prizes about homemade beans.

That being said, there are a few specific scenarios in which you might want to consider rinsing your beans.

When should I rinse canned beans?

All that said, here are a few times when you should drain and rinse beans: 

  • If one of our own recipes calls for it. If the ingredient list calls for “rinsed” canned beans, drain and rinse the beans to keep the liquid ratios right.  
  • If you’re vegan and you’re about to use canned chickpeas, go ahead and drain the liquid—but save that magic stuff. It’s called aquafaba and can be whipped like egg whites into meringues and other recipes. 
  • And if you’re medically advised to lower the sodium levels in your diet, then go ahead and rinse away some of the salt with the canning liquid. But salt enhances flavor, so if it’s not the doctor’s orders, skip the rinse. 

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