12 Canned Foods To Use For Making Low-Stress Desserts

canned peaches on table
canned peaches on table - Handmadepictures/Getty Images

After a long day working and/or chasing after the kids, making dinner can be stressful. And dessert? Forget about it. "I don't need another thing on my (metaphorical) plate when I'm already feeling frazzled!" you might cry. But hold that thought. While it may seem like it's easier to just let it go, you don't have to give up on desserts even when you're short on time and mental energy. There are plenty of desserts you can make quickly and without much effort at all, thanks to canned foods you may already have in your cabinet or fridge.

We get it: Life can be hectic sometimes and planning meals can be anxiety-inducing. But we also understand that a delicious dessert can work wonders for your mood. Nothing tastes better than a sweet treat after a long, taxing day, and knowing you were able to find the time to make that treat yourself will give you a feeling of accomplishment that will be just as delectable as the dessert itself. So if you're feeling stressed but still want to satisfy your sweet tooth, here are several canned foods that can help you to whip up a dessert even when your emotional battery is at its lowest.

Read more: Cake Hacks Every Baker Will Wish They Knew Sooner

Canned Biscuits

Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers
Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers - Alexander Oganezov/Shutterstock

Canned biscuits are a lifesaver. They can help you fill out any dinner meal without having to spend all day waiting for homemade bread to rise, and they certainly make a better accompaniment for dishes like chicken and gravy than a slice of sandwich bread. But did you know that canned biscuits can be so much more than just biscuits?

Canned biscuits can, for instance, be doughnuts. All you have to do is remove the biscuits from the can and separate them, then poke a hole in the middle with an apple corer, knife, or cookie cutter. Then fry them on the stove or in your air fryer and top them with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, or ready-made icing and sprinkles for a fast and worry-free dessert.

If you really want to impress your family or guests, you could also make deep-fried Oreos by placing the sandwich cookie between two flattened half-biscuits and frying, air frying, or baking them. If that sounds like too much work, though, you can make cinnamon rolls instead. Just keep the roll of biscuits in one piece, then roll it out on the counter and coat it with cinnamon and sugar. Roll it up, slice it into eight or so disks, and put them in a pan the same way you would normal biscuits. Bake until golden brown and eat as-is, or with a glaze or store-bought vanilla icing.

Canned Fruit

open can of fruit cocktail
open can of fruit cocktail - Etienne Voss/Getty Images

Canned fruit takes the stress out of buying fruit, thanks to the fact that it won't shrivel up or turn to black mush on your counter; it can take the worry out of making dessert too. Think of all the time and effort you will save by just using a can or two of fruit instead of having to peel, chop, or otherwise prep it for a fruit salad! Or use it to make a deliciously simple overnight sorbet. In fact, there are plenty of amazing canned fruit hacks that will save time and lead to tasty results without all the stress.

You can also use canned fruit instead of fresh fruit in muffins, cobblers, pies, and cakes. You can even use it in the center of a pavlova. There is one thing to keep in mind here, though. While it might be alright to have more liquid in something like a pie or a cobbler, you should thoroughly drain canned fruit before adding it to drier baked goods like muffins or cakes. For pavlovas, especially, the fruit should be relatively dry, otherwise you risk ruining the perfect meringue nest you made (no pressure!).

Canned Pie Filling

Duncan Hines pie filling
Duncan Hines pie filling - ZikG/Shutterstock

While canned fruit can be used in a pie, an even better and even more stress-free alternative is canned pie filling. There is absolutely nothing to worry about: Everything that you need to put in a pie filling (flavorings, sugar, cornstarch, etc.) is already here. Simply open the can and pour it into the crust. And speaking of crust, keeping some pre-made pie crusts in the refrigerator can make for the ultimate time- and stress-saving pie! Bonus points if you get the kind that already comes prepped in a foil pan. In fact, use both canned fruit and premade pie crusts to make these easy mini cherry pies.

But wait, that's not all! If you want something fast and simple, but think pie is passé, you can use pre-made pie crust and canned pie filling to make cookies, turnovers, and other pastries instead with basically the same amount of work (which is hardly any). And don't think that you are limited to fruit fillings here, either. You can find canned pie filling in a multitude of flavors and types, including chocolate, banana, vanilla, and lemon crème as well.

Canned Cinnamon Rolls

cans of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls
cans of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls - JJava Designs/Shutterstock

When it comes to dessert, it doesn't get any easier than canned cinnamon rolls. All you have to do is open the can, take out the pre-cut cinnamon rolls, put them in a pan, and toss them in the oven. There's absolutely nothing to think about here, aside from the baking time, which is listed clearly on the box. There's nothing to mess up (except the cooking time, maybe), and even the glaze topping is usually included in the box.

However, if you want to take just one more step or two, you can kick your cinnamon rolls up a notch by adding a caramel drizzle, sprinkles, nuts, fruit, or other toppings. Or you can turn them into something else entirely by putting them in your waffle maker to make waffles or by cutting them into smaller pieces for cinnamon roll bites that you can cook in your air fryer. You can also turn them into a quick and easy coffee cake or impress guests with one big cinnamon roll made by unrolling the individual rolls and making them into one enormous, cake-like one. With a little effort, the possibilities here are endless.

Canned Pumpkin

Libby's canned pumpkin on shelf
Libby's canned pumpkin on shelf - Colleen Michaels/Shutterstock

If you're like many cooks, the thought of baking pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie can be daunting. You have to get a pumpkin, if it's in season, use a certain knife and a lot of effort to cut it and clean out the seeds, then cook the pulp for what feels like hours until it's a dry enough orange mush to use in your recipe. And that's just one of the ingredients you need for the recipe!

Once you switch to canned pumpkin purée, though, you may never go back. Canned pumpkin saves you all that cooking and cutting time, making it possible to get your pumpkin bread in the oven in a matter of minutes instead of an hour. There are even some varieties of canned pumpkin that are already seasoned, which will save you even more time when preparing the batter. Canned pumpkin can also be used to make cookies, muffins, waffles, smoothies, or even to liven up a bowl of oatmeal.

Canned Pudding

Lucky Leaf canned chocolate pudding
Lucky Leaf canned chocolate pudding - Lucky Leaf

Luckily we live in a time period in which great pudding is only a pack of dry mix, some milk, and five minutes on the stove away. But what if even that's too much? All that stirring and waiting can be avoided by buying canned pudding instead. It's ready right away. You don't have to add anything to it at all. Heck, if you want to just spoon some into a bowl and eat it, your dessert-prep work is already done!

If you want to add a bit more flair to your dessert, though, you can also use canned pudding as a base for more elaborate, but still fast and stress-free, pudding dishes. You can, for example, pour chocolate pudding into a casserole dish and sprinkle crushed-up Oreos on top to make a graveyard pudding for Halloween, complete with marshmallow ghosts, candy pumpkins, and Milano cookie gravestones — none of which require any prior prep on your part. Or you can create individual parfait-style glasses with layers of pudding and whipped cream. For the latter, we recommend something like Cool Whip, which comes ready in a tub as well, and won't deflate like spray cans of whipped cream.

Canned Nuts

open can of almonds
open can of almonds - Nevodka/Getty Images

Nuts can be a very healthy addition to your diet. They're known for their ability to help prevent chronic illness and maintain a healthy weight, as well as for being a good source of fiber, healthy fats, and important minerals. While you shouldn't go overboard and eat a whole can of nuts in one day, you should certainly look for ways to incorporate them into your diet. Starting with dessert, perhaps?

Canned nuts cut out all the hassle you get with regular nuts. There's no cracking, no shelling, and no searching for bad ones amongst the good ones — they're simply ready to eat. Many of them are even pre-chopped, to be added to things like peanut brittle, pecan pie, cookies, cakes, candies, and more. They can be used as a topping or folded into the batter without you ever having to search the drawer for a nutcracker or a knife.

There is one caveat, though. If you're using canned nuts in desserts, you'll most likely need the unsalted variety. Otherwise, your dessert may taste too salty and be too full of potentially unhealthy (and overly strong-tasting) sodium.

Peanut Butter

can of Jif peanut butter
can of Jif peanut butter - Jif

While peanut butter typically comes in a jar and not a can, it is still usually considered to be a canned good. So we put it on this list as one of the best stress-free dessert additions, because it's just so simple to use.

For starters, you can dress up things like banana or celery slices with peanut butter for a healthier dessert platter. Or you can add it to cookie dough or use it as a filling for simple homemade candies made with melted chocolate. If you want to put in just a bit more work, you can use it to make a peanut butter pie with a whipped filling made from a mix of peanut butter and Cool Whip that's poured into a pre-made chocolate graham cracker crust. Or, if you're like this writer, you can just eat it with a spoon all on its own. Your dessert, your choice!

Cocoa Powder

Hershey's cocoa powder
Hershey's cocoa powder - Red Herring/Shutterstock

Cocoa powder is important to have on hand because you never know when the urge to bake some brownies may come up. It can also be used to make a wide variety of other desserts like cakes and cookies, but when it comes to stress-free dessert ideas, cocoa powder really shines as a substitute for melted chocolate.

If you've ever had trouble melting chocolate in the microwave or on the stove without either burning it or ruining the consistency, you are not alone. If the stress of worrying about messing up the melted chocolate is keeping you from making the chocolatey desserts you crave, you'll be happy to learn that you can usually replace the melted chocolate in a recipe with cocoa powder (or vice versa).

There are, however, some alterations to make. As you might have noticed, cocoa is a dry powder whereas liquid chocolate is, well, a liquid. So you need to add some moisture. For every 1 ounce of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, you can use 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of shortening. For 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate, you'll need 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon of melted shortening or oil. If it's sweet baking chocolate you need, you can sub in ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, ⅓ cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of shortening for every 4 ounces of baking chocolate needed.

Coconut Milk

open can of coconut milk
open can of coconut milk - Happy_lark/Getty Images

Canned coconut milk can be kept in the cabinet for extended periods of time, making it a great pantry staple to keep on hand for making quick and easy desserts. Not only can it be used in frozen drinks and hot chocolate to add a deeper, fuller flavor, but it can also be used in baked and chilled dessert recipes in place of milk or cream — though your coconut milk will need a few modifications. You can even make elegant desserts, such as these bittersweet chocolate and coconut milk rounds, and your guests will never realize how simple they were to whip up.

Before purchasing the canned coconut milk, always check the ingredients list as some brands include more than just the product in its pure form and you need to be aware of any allergens. You should also be aware that there's a difference between coconut milk and coconut cream, so double check your recipe for the one you need before heading to the store. When you get home and you're ready to use it, don't forget to thoroughly shake the can to mix it well, as it may have separated inside.

Canned Cream

Nestle canned table cream
Nestle canned table cream - Nestle

Did you know that cream can come in a shelf stable can? Not many people do! Also known as "table cream," canned cream can be used to make any cream-based dessert. For example, you can use it as a quick and easy filling for crepes, make a pudding, mousse, or fondue, or even mix it with fruits and freeze it into creamsicles.

There is one thing you need to know, however. As simple as canned cream is to use, it does require one step more than some of the other canned foods on this list. Canned cream does not usually contain added sugar (though you should check the label on the can to be sure), meaning it can also be used to make savory dishes, but you may need to add sugar before using it in a dessert. If you feel like taking it a step further, you can also make it thicker and fluffier by putting it in the refrigerator to chill it and then whipping it with a mixer to quickly create a tasty dessert topping.

Condensed Milk

open can of condensed milk
open can of condensed milk - New Africa/Shutterstock

Canned condensed milk is another great pantry staple and stress-saver. One of the best ways to use it is when making fudge, where it can help transform melted chocolate into a thick, rich, creamy candy. In fact, you only need two ingredients and a microwave to make this rich chocolate fudge, making it the perfect low-stress dessert.

Condensed milk can also be used to make puddings and cakes. If you're feeling a bit fancy, you can gather some mascarpone cheese, ladyfingers, and coffee to make a lovely, almost effortless tiramisu. Don't forget to sift some cocoa powder on the top when it's done — another stress-free canned good to keep on hand!

Perhaps the most low-effort, high-reward way to use condensed milk is by making no-churn ice cream. All you have to do is add a can of sweetened condensed milk to some heavy cream, flavor with vanilla extract, beat everything with an electric whisk until it is thick and stiff, pour it into a loaf pan, and freeze it until it sets. The only easier way to get ice cream is to buy it from the store!

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.