13 Canned Meats You Should Consider Stocking In Your Pantry

Spam on counter
Spam on counter - Bloomberg/Getty Images

Life gets busy. Sometimes there isn't enough time in the day to cook a whole chicken roast, or maybe you've thrown away your fair share of uncooked stinky fish. That's why canned meats might be the perfect addition to your pantry. Canned meats have long been eaten for their convenience, versatility, and shelf life. Canned food can jazz up a meal with minimal effort and can be pretty nutritious to boot. Simply grab a can opener or open it with the handy little tab. You don't have to clean, chop, or chuck anything. In today's economy, it helps that they're often more affordable than the fresh meat varieties. Who doesn't want to save a buck or two?

Embark on a canned meat adventure. Not sure what meats to add or what you can do with them? Make breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, snacks, side dishes, condiments, and more depending on your meat of choice. Whether you want some options to bring on your next camping excursion or simply vary your diet with ready-to-eat proteins, you might want to stock up on some of these top canned meats. Pork pâté can add a dash of luxury to your next meal while chicken can be used in a seemingly infinite amount of ways. No matter your flavor preferences, a whole world of canned meats is waiting for you to discover them.

Read more: 20 Frozen Dinner Brands, Ranked From Worst To Best


canned ham on a table
canned ham on a table - Clubfoto/Getty Images

Go big or go ham. Most other canned meats come in smaller sizes, like 4 ounces or 12 ounces, but you can purchase a whole canned 5-pound ham to feed multiple people. Of course, you can also opt for smaller-sized cans if you aren't cooking for an entire family. Ham is particularly popular during the holidays. Those glazed ham commercials may run non-stop during Christmastime, but you can eat this canned meat any season or time of the year. Ham can be a side dish or the star of the meal. Go sweet or lean toward the savory side.

Need some inspiration? Try your hand at making a batch of split pea soup or ham salad with the convenience of canned ham. Jazz up your next Hawaiian pizza by adding chopped canned ham, pineapple, and a dash of hot sauce. Change up the flavors with hickory smoked ham, boneless, water added, gelatin added, and other options. The most common varieties are diced ham or ham pieces so you won't have to do the chopping yourself. The options don't stop with the ham; you can create glazes or sauces to truly transform your ham dishes into something spectacular.

Corned Beef

canned corned beef on a shelf
canned corned beef on a shelf - Bloomberg/Getty Images

You might wonder what corned beef is if you've never tried it. Is it beef with corn? In the most simple terms, corned beef is salt-water-preserved beef. Corned beef has been around for centuries, but it really gained popularity in Ireland thanks to the Cattle Acts of 1663 and 1667. Perhaps you've heard of the famed corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. It might not be clear from the name itself, but Reubens are corned beef sandwiches, although they can sometimes be made from pastrami.

Reuben sandwiches and corned beef and cabbage are two popular ways to use this canned meat, but there's so much more you can do with it. Integrate corned beef into sandwiches or sliders, make corned beef hash and eggs, or a delectably savory corned beef macaroni and cheese. This canned food has a rich history and flavor profile that'll mix up even the most basic of meals. From perfectly roasted cabbage wedges to grilled carrots with tallow, you can create a whole range of side dishes to go with your corned beef. You don't have to save corned beef for St. Patrick's Day; you might want to consider stocking your pantry with it all year.


canned chicken breast
canned chicken breast - Bloomberg/Getty Images

Raise your hand if you have ever bought a rotisserie chicken and couldn't finish it before it went bad. You aren't alone. Try canned chicken, instead. It's ideal if you don't need a huge serving of chicken or are making something for yourself. Plus, you don't have to deal with any kind of raw chicken contamination or cleanup, which can be time-consuming if you're making a meal for one. Open the can, and you've already added a protein source to your next meal.

You can find whole canned chicken, chunks, shredded, low sodium, and other options to suit your taste buds. The chunk chicken makes for tasty salads, whereas the shredded version is perfect for soups or stews. Since canned chicken is shelf stable and already cooked, you don't have to worry about bacteria, food-borne illness, or sanitizing your dishes and cooking area. It's really as easy as opening the can, dumping it out, and calling it a day. No soap and scrubbing here. Canned chicken might be one of the easiest ways to integrate chicken into your diet. Add it to your list for your next grocery run and then make this upgraded canned chicken noodle soup.


Canned black pepper Spam
Canned black pepper Spam - Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock

Shake up your pantry meats without taking up a lot of space by adding a few different Spam flavors to your repertoire. Spam was first introduced in 1937 and gained popularity during World War II as Allied troops were shipped over 100 million pounds to stay fed. The rest is history, with over 9 billion cans sold. Spam is a pork and ham blend with salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrite. Whether you're a longtime fan or a rookie, there are plenty of ways to eat it. You can slice it, cube it, grill it, fry it, bake it. If you're unsure how to integrate it into your life, there are recipes like Spam musubi that you can make at home.

Diversify your pantry options with a familiar favorite. Whether you open a new can or have leftover Spam, it can be eaten at any time of the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beyond. Besides the classic flavor, Spam comes in a range of options you might not have tried or even knew existed. There's maple flavored, hickory smoke, jalapeño, teriyaki, less sodium, and more. There's even a turkey option made with lean, white turkey.


Turkey pot pie
Turkey pot pie - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Canned turkey is an ideal pantry staple thanks to its ease of use. You can use it how you'd integrate any chopped turkey. As far as options, there's white meat turkey, white and dark together, oven-roasted, and others to pick from. The canned versions usually come in chunks so keep that in mind for any recipes. For the most part, you can't cut canned turkey into thin slices like you'd find in a deli but you could absolutely make anything where the turkey is chopped or minced.

Grind your canned meat to make a hearty turkey tomato bolognese for your next pasta dish or integrate it into a turkey chili for a quick weeknight meal. Create soups, stews, or stocks with the meat. Instead of chicken salad, swap with turkey for an easy lunch. Make turkey potpies or turkey skewers with roasted veggies. Canned turkey already comes cooked so you can feel free to adapt recipe cooking times with that in mind. You don't have to fully cook it as you would raw turkey, but you can heat it depending on your meal of choice. Canned turkey is low in fat and carbohydrates but high in protein, making it a solid item to incorporate into your pantry.

Beef Chunks

Open can of beef chunks
Open can of beef chunks - Maria Tebryaeva/Getty Images

Comfort meals just got easier. It helps that there's quite an assortment when it comes to canned beef, so you can keep it in your pantry for easy dinners, stews, casseroles, sandwiches, and more. Go the canned ground beef route, beef chunks, diced beef, roast beef, among others. The textures alone allow you complete creative control over how you want to eat it. Grab a can of each type of beef to add range to your pantry staples. Pop one open when you need a little protein in your meal.

Like other canned meats, beef comes fully cooked so you can easily open it and add it to your next meal. They're great to bring on camping trips since they add a bit of heartiness without much effort. There's no prep work, cleanup is easy, and ultimately it beefs up the protein in your food. All you need is a can opener. Canned beef with just beef and salt contains protein, some fat, sodium, and iron while remaining low in carbs and sugar. Season your beef like you would any other food. Add flavor to canned foods with spices or herbs.

Ground Beef

ground beef with beans
ground beef with beans - Alejo Miranda/Shutterstock

Both you and your pantry will love having canned ground beef added to the mix. No need to thaw a batch from the freezer or cook a batch before it goes bad. Canned foods add a money-saving element since there truly is no waste. You won't have to throw away old grey, dubious-looking meat from your fridge. It's so easy to open a can for your sauce, meatloaf, spaghetti, any kind of pasta dish, chili, enchiladas, tacos, casseroles, soups, and stews. Most canned ground beef comes with the meat and a bit of salt, allowing you to season it to your liking. Since it often comes as a blank slate, add garlic, onion, chili powder, paprika, or anything your heart desires.

Ground beef is extremely versatile and might become an epic staple in your pantry thanks to all the ways that you'll be able to use it. Open a can of ground beef, add some beans and vegetables, and call it a day. You could bake some potatoes and season the ground beef, beans, and veggies to create a chili and then place it on top of your potatoes. Add shredded cheese and get ready to dig in.


meatballs in a dish
meatballs in a dish - Lisegagne/Getty Images

Who doesn't love a good meatball? Now you don't have to do the grunt work yourself. You know the drill when you add spices and mush the raw meat all together with your bare hands. Then you have to roll them into their classic ball shape and then cook it. Thanks to canned meatballs, you can completely eliminate that process if you'd like or at least do it less often. If the raw meat texture bugs you, then you should also factor in the longer shelf life of canned goods to your reasons why you need canned meatballs in your life. They'll stay fresh in your pantry until you're ready to whip something. They're great to bring on a camping trip or when you really don't want to deal with raw meat and the cleanup process.

Canned meatballs might come in tomato sauce or gravy, so they're seasoned and ready for you to pop open to add to your next pasta dish. Boil a quick pot of spaghetti, and then add the meatballs and you are done. Season things up with some oregano, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Overall canned meatballs are an absolutely fantastic choice for an effortless meal.


haggis with potatoes and turnips
haggis with potatoes and turnips - BBA Photography/Shutterstock

The origin of haggis might be a bit muddy, but one thing is for sure: It has been around for a long time. Haggis is most known as a Scottish savory pudding that might contain liver, heart, lungs, minced meat, suet, oatmeal, and spices, among other ingredients. There's quite a range and every recipe looks a little different. When it comes to canned haggis, there are a few meat versions to pick from. You might see haggis with lamb heart, lamb liver, pork fat, highland beef, sirloin beef, suet, oats, onion, or other flavors. It depends on the brand as well as the country of origin.

While it really depends on the brand and the ingredients included in the haggis, there's a pretty equal amount of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. There's even a vegetarian haggis, made with kidney beans, lentils, turnips, and other ingredients. For a hearty and easy breakfast, open up the canned haggis and serve with canned beans, mushrooms, eggs, and sausage. Opt for a traditional way to serve haggis with mashed potatoes and yellow turnips. It goes well with root vegetables. It's like you're traveling and eating your way around the world from your own cabinet.


canned elk on a shelf
canned elk on a shelf - jayaibe/Shutterstock

Give elk meat a chance. Elk is somewhat similar in taste to beef, but it's even leaner and can be a little gamey. They are part of the deer family and there are a few elk subspecies such as Rocky Mountain elk or Roosevelt elk. Since it's wild game meat, you can use elk like you would deer, bison, or rabbit. This is a great item to add to your pantry if you're looking to mix things up or want to experiment with ingredients since it's not as popular as other types of meat such as beef, port, chicken, and turkey.

As far as the nutritional info of elk, it's low in fat, high in protein, and also contains vitamin B2, vitamin B3, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, as well as zinc. You can make stews, soups, or roast elk from the canned contents. Since canned elk meat isn't as popular or prevalent as other meats, the options are pretty straightforward. Fry it in a pan or grill it to add depth of flavor, and season it like you would any other game meat or beef. You can use salt, paprika, garlic, onion, chili pepper, or a coffee rub.

Vienna Sausage

canned Vienna sausage original
canned Vienna sausage original - false/Shutterstock

If you're unsure how to integrate it into your next meal, keep things simple — you can use a Vienna sausage like you would any other kind of hotdog or sausage. You can make pigs in a blanket as a fun appetizer. Do a spin on sausage and peppers and fry them with onion, bell pepper, and mushroom. Put them in soups or stews, or chop some up to include in your next batch of macaroni and cheese for a delicious comfort meal -- they're a convenient addition to any pantry. You can easily find Vienna sausage in most grocery stores, and of course, online.

Vienna sausage usually has a pork and beef combination. If you buy them fresh, they might be longer than a hotdog but the canned version comes in smaller pieces. You might see canned versions made of chicken, beef, and pork in chicken broth. The flavors allow you to pick and choose how you want it to taste such as smoked, barbecue, jalapeño, or the classic original. These are also excellent to have on hand if you have kids, because who doesn't like a hotdog?


canned pork with bread
canned pork with bread - Veronika Idiyat/Shutterstock

Make a quick and tasty meal with canned pork. Simply open, heat, and eat. There's pork meat, pulled pork, pork chunks, and other varieties available. Some come with just the pork and salt, no preservatives, and are fully cooked while other canned options might come in water or BBQ sauce. Canned pork with just the pork and sea salt contains a good amount of protein, a low amount of fat, and no carbs.

Since pork is so versatile, this canned meat can be a valuable addition to any pantry. Change the taste with any range of spices. Heat it in a pan with the liquid to keep it moist or drain it if you're making something that won't need the excess moisture, and pair it with rice or creamy mashed potatoes. Make a barbecued pulled pork sandwich with a loaf of crunchy crusty bread. You can either use your own barbecue sauce or purchase the pork that already comes in BBQ sauce to eliminate any extra steps. The 14.5-ounce cans are an ideal choice for family meals or leftovers since they're larger, but there are smaller canned versions as well.

Pork Pâté

open can of pork pâté
open can of pork pâté - New Africa/Shutterstock

Level up your next meal or snack with a pork pâté. A pâté is a savory paste made from ground and seasoned meat or seafood, in this case, pork. It is often served with bread or crackers, dried fruit, or cheese. One of the most common canned options is pork liver pâté. The flavor tends to speak for itself, but sometimes it has other additions such as mushrooms, goose meat, and black pepper: Many pâtés are imported from France.

Unlike other canned meats, you don't have to do anything with a pâté. It's best served and enjoyed as is, but you can always stuff it into veggies or spread a little onto your next sandwich. It's the perfect addition to a date night or a picnic. Open it up and serve on a nice plate to bring to a dinner party. And add an element of luxury and extravagance without actually being terribly expensive. Online you can purchase a two-pack for a little under $9 dollars or even a six-pack for $19, making it slightly more expensive than canned chicken, but not by much.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.