Homemade Baked Beans

So what kind of idiot would make baked beans from scratch when there’s a ready-made tin of Heinz’s finest offerings in the cupboard? Someone who’s at home with the sniffles and looking for diversion (read previous post about procrastination for background) and who finds existing baked beans a bit too sweet.

In its favour, it’s super cheap to make a huge batch and freeze it and it contains far less sugar than the canned version but speed is not one of its charms and so unless you have a couple of days advance notice that you’re going to want beans, I’d possibly give it a miss. Of course, you can use precooked canned beans but then that rather negates the idea of making something that doesn’t come out of a tin although in fairness, the chopped tomatoes have already done that so go wild! I soaked mine because the only type of bean sold in my village food shop appears to be the dried variety. I always had this idea that soaking beans involved great industry but it doesn’t, you just put them in some water and leave them be. That’s my kind of soaking.

You could turn this into proper Boston Beans with a lump of ham hock lingering in the pot or I have a friend who suffuses hers with frankfurters to make the sauce quite smoky. If I were turning this into Boston Beans, I’d be tempted to add black treacle, which appears to be a fundamental ingredient, and probably some fresh herbs.

baked beans

Homemade Baked Beans

serves 8

  • 400g dried cannellini beans (or you could use haricot)
  • olive oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 150g pancetta/smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Soak the beans overnight. In a bowl with tap water.
  2. Drain them, place in a pan, cover with fresh water and bring to the boil over a medium heat.
  3. Cook for about 45 minutes-1 hour until tender, then remove from the heat, drain and set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onions and pancetta and cook for 6-8 minutes.
  5. Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and 400ml water, then tip in the beans.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1½-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick sauce and tender beans, stir in the cayenne pepper at the last minute and season to taste.
  7. Serve on toast or with a baked potato or in a bowl covered in grated cheese.

soaking my beans

sauteeing the onions and bacon




on toast


in dip pots for the freezer

Really so much tastier than the beans in tins and better for you.

Beans Meanz Els


6 thoughts on “Homemade Baked Beans

  1. Nigel Morgan says:

    A bizarre coincidence – i just bought pressure cooker, times are hard, and it will cook roadkill so much quicker – and skimmed through the handily enclosed recipe hints, found a recipe for Home Made Baked Beans, and thought Yep, I could do that. Just got home with dried beans ready for brewing up tomorrow and opened your recipe. Which is the one I’ll now follow, as it has bacon in, which sounds like a Good Plan.

    It’s an omen. I may not risk the black treacle.

    PS the Shepherd’s Cottage Pie is also a good ‘un, thanks for that one too

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