British Baked Beans
My British Baked Beans are copycat Heinz beans, and as close in flavor to them as you will find, but these are oh so better because they’re homemade and haven’t been sitting in a can for who knows how long. Similar to American-style, but meat-free and without the smokey flavor, just like my mum in England used to serve. Navy, great northern (or haricot) beans are cooked in tomato sauce for an authentic taste of a truly British classic.
Baked beans are probably one of the most common (if not the most) canned items to buy in England. A delicious, saucy side for any dish, from fish and chips, sausage rolls, to beans on toast (picture below). The perfect budget meal enjoyed by college students and bachelors. Let’s not forget about beans for breakfast too… yes, really! See more below on this subject.
I recently updated the pictures and video and made a few improvements and simplified original recipe. If you see the recipe anywhere else like Pinterest, Yummly etc., I cannot guarantee it will taste as good as the recipe you see on this page.
Dried beans are best for baked beans
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. Dried beans are best for baked beans, but I wont be mad at you if you used pre-cooked canned.
Below I am answering one of the biggest question I have had when cooking dried beans.
This is the most common issue that readers have had and it is all to do with the beans. I’ve had some be almost mushy in 30 minutes and some take almost 2 hours. You just have to keep testing them as they boil.
There are no hard-and- fast rules as to why dried beans take longer to cook because it seems every batch of beans are different (see below at my test results on this). A few reasons could be, they are old beans. You can’t be sure how old they are, even if they are within their expiration date. You have hard water. Hard water can toughen the skins. You didn’t soak long enough. 8-12 hours is optimal but no more than 24.
- Use bottled or distilled water to soak.
- Allow enough time to soak the dried beans. This helps them soften and cook faster.
- Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) per cup (453 grams) of beans to the soaking water, this may not always work.
My test on cooking beans
Regarding the above information on the cooking of the beans, this week I decided to test out some beans from different sources. Each batch I spilt into two pans, one I added baking soda and salt, the other nothing.
The result is, some cooked really quickly (they were almost mushy in 40 minutes) and some took almost 2 hours to cook. The baking soda and salt did not make a difference. The beans are going to be done when they want.
Yes! They cook faster because they absorb a lot of liquid. Take a look at the the difference between a non-soaked and soaked bean below.
In addition to eating beans on toast for breakfast, they are also served with the most popular British breakfast, the Full English Breakfast (picture below) consisting of sunny-side up eggs, English back bacon, cooked tomato slices, black pudding (sausage), mushrooms and fried bread.
British Baked Beans v’s American Beans
These British Baked beans are made without meat, with a thinner tomato-based sauce. American-style baked beans are cooked with pork (bacon) molasses and brown sugar and the sauce is much sweeter, thicker and smoky.
These beans will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for 3-4 days or frozen for 2-3 months.
This recipe yields 2 quarts/8 cups/1.8 kg.
If you’ve made these British Baked Beans or any other recipe leave a comment below. I love to hear from my readers!