The Best Canned Foods To Eat Straight From The Can

Canned foods are quick and easy to use, have an extraordinarily long shelf life, and make stocking up super convenient. They also come pre-cooked, so you can eat food straight from the can. However, some options are better for this than others. Whether you want to bring canned foods camping or hiking, conduct emergency prep for a survival kit, are curious what the tastiest canned snack foods are, or something else entirely, the following canned food options have you covered.

To compile a list of the best canned foods to enjoy without additional prep work I considered my personal experiences doing just that. I also combed through food blogs, Reddit threads, and other community forums — but I'll go more in-depth on my process at the end of this piece.

Regardless of why you want to learn about which canned foods are tasty devoured straight from the can, many of the options are also handy to keep around. If you do, you'll likely find reasons to use the following inexpensive canned foods all of the time. Keep reading to find out what the 13 best canned foods to eat from a can are so you'll be ready for any occasion that may deem doing so necessary.


An array of different olive varieties can be found in the canned food section of your grocery store, and guess what? They all taste excellent when eaten straight from the can. Plus, many canned olives come pre-sliced into tiny rings, so they are easy to add to almost any dish you want. Regardless of whether you prefer rings or whole olives, canned products have you covered, you don't even have to heat them up.

The simplest way to enjoy canned olives right out of the can is simply as a snack. However, they make a fantastic addition to antipasto platters and charcuterie boards as well. You can pair them with rich cheeses, nuts, cured meats, and more to create a delicious appetizer for any occasion. Or, you can easily toss canned olives onto a sandwich, salad, or wrap. While they don't need to be cooked by any means, adding them to pasta sauces, tapenades, and more is also a possibility.

Lastly, if you are a fan of classic martinis, canned olives are ready to step in as the perfect garnish. They are typically pitted, so you don't need to worry about biting into a seed, and they taste great with gin or vodka. Whole green olives in a can are quite common and they work well.


Canned soups have been around for a long time. In fact, canned condensed soups were invented in the late 1800s. While condensed soups need extra water to reconstitute them, many of the most popular soup options at the store can be enjoyed with nothing more than heating them up. Best of all, grocery stores have an almost limitless selection of tasty options. From Progresso to Dinty Moore to Campbell's Chunky to Amy's Organics, there are so many brands and recipes it can be tricky to keep up with them all. If you love soup as much as I do, exploring the many canned options won't be a problem.

Depending on what kinds of soup you prefer, there's a good chance they can serve as a well-rounded meal all by themselves. Many options contain an array of veggies, beans, pastas, or meats that provide you with an abundance of nutrition in one small can. In addition, canned soups help limit portion sizes.

As noted, most canned soups can be eaten straight from the can, but they are actually quite handy in the kitchen as a whole. There are lots of ways to use canned soup in your cooking, from enriching ramen broth to creating a savory pie filling. So, whether you decide to enjoy your favorite canned soup as is or get creative is up to you.


Cooking a whole artichoke from the produce section isn't the most straightforward task. Plus, there are all of the inedible leaves to remove so you can extract the best part — the artichoke heart. Fortunately, canned artichokes are here to help. They come pre-cooked and all you get is the tasty, soft hearts. There's no need to deal with the tough leaves or improper cooking, they come out of the can ready for you to enjoy. Many options are also marinated in yummy oils and seasonings that take the flavor to new, almost gourmet heights. Of course, you get quite a few artichoke hearts in a single can too, saving tons of space in your fridge.

My favorite way to enjoy canned artichokes is to use them on an antipasto platter or charcuterie board (let's face it, they are basically the same thing). They taste yummy with crackers, cheese, olives, and other standard antipasto ingredients and all you need to do is put them in a small serving bowl and they are good to go. I also enjoy adding canned artichoke hearts to sandwiches and salads. If you don't opt for a marinated product, just make sure you squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible first so you don't wind up with a watery mess.


If you're looking for a slightly sweet treat, canned fruit is a fantastic option. Simply pop the top and enjoy. Sometimes I literally eat canned fruit straight from the can. I don't even take a moment to put it in a bowl. My favorite part about canned fruit is that it doesn't go bad like fresh fruit. Admittedly, it isn't necessarily as bright or fresh tasting as fresh fruit, but its shelf life is an undeniable perk. I don't know why, but I tend to buy more fresh fruit than I can eat before it goes bad. Every time I have to throw away a once juicy peach because of soft black spots I feel like I failed. To avoid that, I try to keep a little bit of canned fruit on hand at all times and it never lets me down.

You can easily find all different types of fruits in cans, like pineapple, peaches, pears, cherries, fruit cocktails, and more. Pears are my absolute favorite canned fruit to eat straight from the can. They come in large halves and are deliciously sweet. Canned peaches and pineapple are delicious when enjoyed this way as well. I also prefer to buy canned fruits that come in a light syrup, the heavy stuff is too thick and sugary for my preferences, but the choice is yours.


A lot of nuts come in bags or jars, but you can also find them in cans with peel back tops and plastic lids. They aren't like your typical can, but they are canned all the same. Canned nuts also come in a wide range of different varieties and mixtures, some of which include other trail mix ingredients like raisins and chocolate (my favorite). I probably don't have to tell you why nuts are delicious as is since they are a super common snack food, but if you've never bought a can of them before, this is your sign to give it a try.

Unlike other canned goods, nuts are resealable, so you don't have to eat them all in one sitting. They don't even need to be refrigerated, so feel free to keep them in your purse, backpack, or even your car for that matter. Canned nuts are also great on the go because they aren't messy and make a fantastic handheld snack. To top it off, nuts are nutritionally dense, so they are perfect for taking on a hike or anywhere you may need to refuel hassle-free.


One of the most common ways to enjoy canned tuna is to turn it into a mayonnaise-based salad or sandwich. However, it can also be enjoyed right out of the can. I mean, I would definitely drain off the excess liquid first, but you get the point. A commenter on Reddit went so far as to say that their go-to food to enjoy from the can is drained tuna with a dash of garlic powder and pepper.

Canned tuna isn't the most appetizing looking canned food (depending on the brand it can look eerily similar to cat food), but it is tasty and relatively nutritious. According to Healthline, canned tuna is a rich source of protein and contains lots of beneficial vitamins and nutrients, including Omega-3s. It is also low in calories and fat, particularly if you buy canned tuna soaked in water as opposed to oil.

Canned tuna is also shelf stable for two to five years in your pantry or cabinet (the best places to store a can of tuna). As a result, it is easy to stock up on and not worry about it going bad before you get an opportunity to incorporate it into your diet. Considering you can add eating it right from the can to the list of ways to enjoy it, that shouldn't be a problem.

Beans and lentils

In the canned aisle of a grocery store, there are many options for beans and lentils and if you're looking for a no-fuss food to eat straight from the can, they fit the bill. Most beans should be drained first, but if you want, you can use the lid to achieve the task without removing them from the can first. Aside from simplicity, canned beans and lentils are nutritious. The actual benefits vary depending on the type of bean, but for the most part, they are packed with protein. According to Healthline, they also contain a small amount of most of the nutrients a healthy diet needs.

One commenter on Reddit states that seasoned black beans are a great canned option if you want to consume right from the can, and I tend to agree. They have enough spice to keep things interesting and are filling too. Baked beans are also well-seasoned and make an outstanding option. Some say baked beans are one of the kinds of canned beans you shouldn't buy, but they are actually quite tasty straight from the can. Of course, they are even better when heated up — but thanks to all the seasoning, baked beans don't require any additional sprucing up either way.

Corn, peas, and other veggies

Canned veggies (corn, peas, carrots, and green beans come to mind) are also acceptable to eat without any additional preparation. Or, if you want to branch out from the basics, water chestnuts are crunchy and delicious as is. Regardless of the canned vegetables you prefer, all you have to do is drain the liquid, grab a fork or spoon, and enjoy. Heating them up and adding a few seasonings goes a long way regarding flavor and palatability, but it isn't 100% necessary. So, if you are building a survival kit, make sure to toss a couple cans of veggies into the mix.

If you are unable to heat up your canned veggies, either due to being in the wilderness or some other reason, my top recommendation to eat straight from the can is corn. Maybe it's because I grew up near corn farms and frequently picked it from the stalk to eat it raw, but I don't see anything weird about enjoying room temperature corn. I actually think it is quite delicious. Peas and carrots aren't bad, either. They all taste great tossed on top of a salad too.


Canned pastas like Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli and Campbell's SpaghettiOs hold a special place in many people's hearts because they remind them of being a kid (I know they do for me). As an adult, I don't find them nearly as appealing as I did when I was young, but they taste good right out of the can nonetheless.

Admittedly, canned pastas do in fact taste much better when heated up. However, if you don't have the option, they are ready to step in and satisfy your hunger without any extra steps. My favorite canned pasta to enjoy this way is Annie's Organic All Stars. Like other brands, the pasta is steeped in red sauce, but the flavor is much less artificial in my opinion. They typically cost twice as much as other more common canned pastas, but I think it is worth the relatively small bump in price.


When someone mentions store bought pudding, little plastic snack cups that go in school lunches are probably the first thing that come to mind. Even if your parents didn't stick one in your lunchbox growing up, you probably knew of someone lucky enough to get them in their lunch on a near daily basis. The little snack cups may dominate the market when it comes to pre-made pudding, but you can actually buy this velvety dessert in a can as well. Typically, it comes in oversized cans, so it is not a single serving by any means, but it is still tasty and may even bring back some childhood memories of school lunches while you enjoy it.

I went to a school that served canned pudding with lunch about once a week and the chocolate flavor was pretty yummy. It's not gourmet by any means, but if you're looking for a canned sweet treat to eat without the need for any extra preparation, it makes a solid choice. It's definitely more of a dessert than fruit too, which some people try to pass off as such.

Cranberry sauce

Canned cranberry sauce is considered a staple at holiday meals in many homes. Sure, some people go the extra mile and make cranberry sauce from scratch (it's actually pretty easy), but the canned version is beloved by many for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. In fact, there are a couple of people in my family who prefer the dish from the can and I know they are not the only ones who share the sentiment.

If you can't wait, there's nothing wrong with simply sticking a fork in canned cranberry sauce and eating it. However, most people take a moment to slide it out of the can whole. Then, it can be put on a plate as a cylinder or sliced into more manageable rounds. Either way, canned cranberry sauce is one of the only foods people find acceptable to serve straight from the can at a holiday meal. There's no need to heat it up. Actually, something tells me it might be kind of gross if you did (no judgment, though).

Pie filling

As the name suggests, the primary purpose of pie filling is to fill a pie. However, if you love pie filling as much as I do, you can feel free to skip the crust and baking and dig right in. They are sugary, fruity, and tasty as-is. Canned pie fillings also come in a range of flavors, so there's sure to be at least one that appeals to you. My favorites are strawberry and blueberry.

Plain pumpkin pie filling is also good for dogs straight from the can. According to The American Kennel Club, it is packed with fiber and other vitamins and minerals that benefit dogs' digestive systems. In addition to nutritional benefits, the way my dog perks up when I open a can is enough to make me want to give her some from time to time.


Sardines aren't for everyone. However, if you enjoy seafood but hate all the prep work involved with cooking it, canned sardines could be the solution. You can enjoy them right out of the can, with no additional steps required, and they still give you all the health benefits associated with consuming fish.

WebMd goes so far as to say, "Adding sardines to a balanced diet can help improve blood vessel function, ease inflammation, and more." They are rich in protein, iron, calcium, vitamins B12 and D. Plus, sardines are packed with close to a full day's worth of recommended Omega-3 fatty acids.

With all this in mind, canned sardines make a perfect addition to survival kits. They're not bad for camping trips and other outdoor adventures either. All you need to enjoy them is a fork. Most cans also come with a convenient pull tab, too, so you may not even need a can opener. While this might be somewhat polarizing, sardines are easily added to pizza as well. If that's not your style, you can put them on salads and sandwiches, no cooking required.


Like many Colorado residents, I am an avid hiker and camper (I'm not talking about car camping either). As a result, I've spent a considerable amount of time thinking about which canned foods are not just palatable, but enjoyable to eat straight from a can. For anyone who isn't familiar with these kinds of outdoor adventures, sometimes you simply don't have the option to build a fire or hike in extra cooking gear. With this in mind, many of the options on this list are sourced from my personal experiences doing just that.

Of course, I know my own experiences don't speak for everyone, so I made sure to research what other canned foods people find acceptable to eat out of the receptacle they come packaged in. To round out my list, I searched Reddit threads, posts on other community forums like Cafe Society, food blogs, and more. Pair that with my own experiences and you get the list of the 13 best canned foods to eat straight from a can listed above. While every option may not appeal to you, something tells me quite a few of them will. After all, they aren't called the best for no reason.