We love baked beans, and the tinned version tends to be our go-to when we are pressed for time and want something simple to eat. Make your own though and you have a hearty dish that is seasoned exactly how you like it and you can control the amount of sugar and salt that goes in. More to the point, they are so delicious and we guarantee that once you try them, they will become a regular on autumn evenings.
Homemade baked beans are actually really easy to make. If you have one of the best slow cookers, the job will be super easy, but they aren't much faff to make in a casserole dish either on the hob or in the oven (oven is best). There is a tiny bit of prep, but then you just leave them to it – softening in the sweet and savoury sauce made from a few basic ingredients. We make this recipe every few months, freezing the leftovers to be taken out for easy dinners, or as part of a special cooked breakfast. You can double the ingredients to make sure you have enough to save for later.
You can find the recipe below. Visit our food hub as well and you’ll find plenty more great recipes and inspiration.
Homemade baked beans
Swap dried haricot beans for tinned to save money, but remember that you need to soak them for about 6–8 hours first, then boil for 30–40 mins to rehydrate them and make them easier to digest.
These freeze well and will keep for two or three months. They are great to pulling out of the freezer in the morning. Serve on hearty sourdough toast and it feels more finessed than your regular beans on toast.
I am vegetarian, but lots of recipes call for bacon. You can fry small chunks of this with the onions at the start, or sprinkle more cooked bacon on at the end (as shown above) for that salty umami hit.
- Olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 x 400g tins of haricot beans, drained
- 400g chopped tomatoes (or a carton of passata if you prefer a smooth sauce)
- 2 tbsp molasses/treacle or pomegranate molasses if you can get it
- 4 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper or mustard powder
- Salt and black pepper
1. Sauté the onion in a little olive oil for 3–5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two – you want it soft but don't let it burn. Add the spices (smoked paprika, mustard/cayenne and all spice) and heat through to let them release their aromas.
2. Drain the beans and put them in the slow cooker. Add the softened spiced onion and garlic mix, then add the rest of the ingredients. Add 300ml of cold water, then give it all a really good stir. If you are using a casserole dish instead, do the same in there.
3. Put the lid on and slow cook on a high heat for 4 hours, or until the beans are just starting to pop their skins. The sauce should be thick and darker than your regular tinned beans. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if required, before serving.
Tip: Serving your baked beans on toast? Sprinkle grated cheese over the top for a tasty, melty finish.