The Most Exciting Grains & Beans Every Home Cook Needs Right Now

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Bowl of Sun Noodle Ramen with an egg, green onions
Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Maggie Ruggiero; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Whether you’re making a quick dish or a full-on feast, chances are high grains and beans have a place at the table. They’re easy to find, relatively inexpensive, and incredibly versatile. Basically, if you have one of these staples in your pantry then a delicious, filling meal isn’t far behind. 

We tasted and tested and, after much debating, we found so many great products that we expanded the number of picks in this category to 14. It’s our second largest in this year’s Kitchn Essentials. ( Plant-based groceries topped the list with 16 products.) Let’s take a look.

1 / 14
Brown Rice
Massa Organics

Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, buys this rice by the 20-pound bag. (That's how much she loves it!) Massa Organics’ Medium-Grain Brown Rice is so soft, tender, and flavorful, it’s the only rice she'll use — morning, noon, or night.

2 / 14
Quick-Cook Rice

We’re all about this base! It takes just 90 seconds to zap in the microwave and cooks up firm and sweet. Grown on small organic family farms in Kerala, South India, it comes plain (as in, ready for your own flair) or in Turmeric + Cumin. Add whatever veggies you have on hand to it and you've got an instant grain bowl.

3 / 14

This consistently light, fluffy, and nutty quinoa is organic certified, non-GMO, and kosher. And you have to love this company’s dedication to supporting the sustainability efforts of indigenous farmers in Bolivia. It's super versatile, too. We love to use this as a base for salads, or a meatless swap for chili. Heck, we even put it in our oatmeal.

4 / 14
Soba Noodles

Nothing but (organic) wheat and buckwheat flour and water go into these tasty noodles. And they cook in only four minutes, so they're also your friend when dinner needs to happen in a hurry. Did you know? These noodles are made in Australia and there's a whole story on the Japanese soba noodles/Australian wheat connection! Read it, we'll wait!

5 / 14
Boxed Mac & Cheese

The mac and cheese from this new brand delivers nostalgic tastes from childhood in new, punched-up flavors like Asiago and Parmesan with Spirals. But what we love even more is that Goodles packs their mac with oodles of nutrient-dense ingredients from 21 different plants, including broccoli, spinach, kale, pumpkin, and a whole bunch more.

6 / 14
Gluten-Free Pasta

This gluten-free pasta tastes so much like wheat pasta, our Copy Chief, Lauren Kodiak, promises you’ll never know it’s GF. Lauren is one of Jovial Foods' biggest fans. This pasta is certified organic, non-GMO, and Kosher. It's made in Tuscany and uses 100% organic whole-grain rice grown in Italy for maximium flavor and refined texture.

7 / 14
was $8.68

Many Kitchn editors rely on sheet pan gnocchi for an easy, delicious, fuss-free dinner, and we think you should too. To get started, you'll need a stash of shelf-stable gnocchi on hand. Our top choice? De Cecco's lovely, light version that has some bite without being too chewy.

8 / 14
Trader Joe's

Quick grains are the key to quick meals, and Trader Joe's 10-Minute Farro is worth stocking up on. Not only are the bags cute, but the nutty, tender whole grain also cooks in — you guessed it! — 10 minutes flat. It's great in soups, salads, risottos, grain bowls, and even breakfast.

9 / 14
Ramen Noodles

Whenever Senior Recipe Editor, Amelia Rampe, runs out of Sun Noodle Ramen, she knows it's time to go shopping. These slurp-perfect chewy, fresh noodles are sold in the refrigerated section and come in a variety of thicknesses, depending on what you want. Each bag comes with the supplies to make two servings of broth and noodles — and you can bulk them up with veggies, eggs, and more.

10 / 14
Flour Tortillas

Fresh tortillas should be soft and toothsome, and Vista Hermosa's flour tortillas remind us how they're supposed to taste. "They're super fatty and taste homemade," says Recipe Director, Lauren Miyashiro. Vegan and made without any additives or preservatives, they'll become an essential component in your next batch of chimichangas or burritos.

11 / 14

Pasta has a very important job: to catch and contain whatever sauce it's tossed in. That's why we love this waterfall-shaped pasta that's specifically designed to capture sauce in all its nooks and crannies. “The more people talk about it the more I get it,” says Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, about Sfoglini Cascatelli (created by Sporkful podcast host Dan Pashman).

12 / 14
Dried Beans
Rancho Gordo

Rancho Gordo makes some of the best dried beans, which is why they're a veritable celebrity in the bean world. Here's what sets them apart: Their heirloom varieties require less soaking time and cook up much creamier and more flavorful than a standard batch of dried beans. Fill up your cart and be sure to try the Cranberry Beans.

13 / 14
Quick-Cook Beans

These quick-cook beans come pre-seasoned in convenient, ready-to-serve pouches, so they couldn't be more easy to whip up. Better yet, they come from a company with a social mission and a ton of heart. Inspired by traditional Black and Latino recipes from throughout the Americas, grab the variety pack to sample options like Creole Red Beans and Trini Chickpea Curry.

14 / 14
Thrive Market
was $5.99

Executive Food Director, Nina Elder, first heard about this West African grain from Associate Food Editor, Nicole Rufus. And once she tried it, she was an instant fan. The tiny, ancient grain is light, fluffy, and nutty — and it cooks in five minutes. Try it in Nicole's recipe for fonio pancakes! We also love that Yolélé was founded in order to create economic opportunities for smaller farming communities and supports biodiverse and regenerative farming communities throughout Africa.