British Baked Beans v’s American Baked Beans
Baked bean originated in the U.S. American-style baked beans are cooked with pork (bacon) molasses and brown sugar and the sauce is much sweeter and thick. These British-style beans are without meat, with a thinner tomato sauce with carrots, celery and Worcestershire sauce.
Baked beans are probably one of the most common (if not the) canned items to buy in England. They are an easy, saucy side for any dish from fish and chips, sausage rolls, beans on toast (the perfect budget meal) and even breakfast.
Yes, Brits eat beans for breakfast because the country is known for its Full English Breakfast consisting of sunny-side up eggs, bacon, cooked tomato slices, black pudding and fried bread.
Dried beans are best
Everyone loves good baked beans, they really go with just about anything and good homemade baked beans start with dried beans, not canned. Dried beans just have better texture. If you used canned for this recipe they would be mush by the end of the recipe.
It takes longer using dried beans but no extra work because they are soaked overnight so they cook faster. Once they are soaked, they are then simmered in boiling water for 45 minutes to 1 hour until tender.
While they cook, onions, celery, carrot and garlic are sautéed, then crushed tomatoes, ketchup and seasonings are added and the sauce is simmered to develop the flavors. To get a nice smooth sauce blended and the beans added and the entire dish is baked in the oven for 20 minutes. That’s all there is to easy, tasty homemade baked beans, British style.
How long will these beans keep?
These beans will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for 3-4 days or frozen for 1-2 months.
I’ve compiled a list of tips from myself and readers:
- Allow enough time to soak the dried beans. This helps them soften and cook faster. Beans that are old (and we don’t know how long they’ve been sitting in the grocery store) can take longer to cook (see more tips below on this).
- If you have hard water where you live, this can prevent the beans from softening. You will have better results if you use bottled water.
- Another way to help soften the beans is add a little baking soda to your bean cooking water they will get extra soft. I used a little less than 1/8 teaspoon and they came out just like Heinz.
- After soaking the dry beans for 8 hours they will be virtually non-gas producing if you rinse them thoroughly at least 3 times before adding water and boiling them.
- Reserve the water after cooking the beans. You can use this to thin out the tomato sauce if it is too thick after baking.
If you’ve tried these British Baked Beans or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how they turned out in the comments below. I love to hear from my readers!
This recipe yields 1 1/2 quarts, 6 cups, 48 ounces, 1.3 kg.
- 2 cups dried navy, great northern beans or haricot, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated
- 14-ounce can crushed or chopped tomatoes
- 2 1/2 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- To a large bowl add 4 cups of cool water to a bowl and add beans, soak for 8 hours.
- After 8 hours drain and rinse the beans.
- To a large saucepan, add 6 cups water and bring to a simmer. * see note
- Add beans, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring often so they don't stick to the bottom.
- Add salt and continue to cook until tender, about another 15 minutes.
- While the beans cook, add the oil to a large, oven-proof skillet and heat over medium heat.
- Add the onion, carrot and celery, cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, ketchup, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
- Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
- Preheat oven to 320°F.
- Add 3/4 cup water to the sauce and stir. Using an immersion blender blend the sauce in the pan until smooth, or transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Drain the cooked beans (reserve the water to help thin out the sauce later if needed), add to the sauce and stir well. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes uncovered. If you find that the sauce is getting too thick, stir in some of the reserved bean cooking water.
- If you have hard water, add a little baking soda to the water to help soften as the hard water can lengthen the cooking time.
Serving Size:1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 94 Total Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 1645mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 4g Protein: 5g