This baked beans recipe tastes so similar to Heinz it’s almost scary. Except homemade baked beans don’t have underlying tones of artificial flavour, and the sauce isn’t slimy which I really hate about canned baked beans!
These British baked beans can be made with dried or canned beans. Quick and easy, very economical and utterly addictive!
Heinz baked beans recipe
So there’s no misunderstanding, let me explain upfront that this recipe is for British style baked beans which comes in a semi-clear tomato sauce and is traditionally served for breakfast. It’s completely different to Southern Baked Beans which is a Southern food staple and comes with a darker, more intense flavoured sweet/savoury sauce.
Specifically, this recipe today is a copycat of Heinz baked beans. A British export, firmly adopted by Aussies as a breakfast-lunch-dinner staple.
Crack open a can, tip it over toast and microwave – that was the standard method.
Heating it up in a saucepan was the posh method. Add a slice of cheese – now that was getting real fancy!
I think we have the evolution of cooking shows and rise and rise of the internet to thank for the discovery of homemade versions of canned food favourites. And for me, homemade baked beans was one of the greatest eye openers. How simple it is. And how much tastier it is.
And as someone who always had an issue with the sliminess of the Heinz baked beans sauce, discovering homemade baked beans was revolutionary! 😂
What you need to make baked beans from scratch
Here’s what you need to make baked beans from scratch:
Canned vs dried beans
You can make this baked beans recipe with dried or canned beans. The base recipe uses dried beans because:
you can’t get canned navy beans / haricot beans here in Australia, you can only get dried (as far as I am aware); and
cooked dried beans taste better, and you can control the texture. Canned beans are always bloated from sitting in liquid, so they’re on the soft side.
Beans used for Baked Beans
Navy beans, also known as Haricot Beans, are the beans used in commercially produced canned baked beans. They are white beans that are slightly smaller than Cannellini beans.
However, any small to medium beans will work just fine here. They don’t even need to be white!
Chicken vs vegetable stock/broth
Chicken stock gives the sauce a better flavour because it has more complex flavours than vegetable stock because it’s made from meat. It doesn’t make this dish taste “chicken-like” or meaty once cooked.
However, vegetable stock does work fine but for best results, I recommend using homemade vegetable stock (it’s the easiest of all stocks to make, and really worth doing homemade).
How to make baked beans from scratch
It is literally a “mix it all in the pot and simmer” job.
The only thing to do at the end is to add cornflour/cornstarch to thicken the sauce. This needs to be done at the end because excess stirring or prolonged cooking over heat makes cornflour lose its thickening powers (in case you were wondering why cornflour is always added at the end of recipes!!)
How to serve baked beans
Traditionally thought of as a side for breakfast (think a big English breakfast with poached, fried or scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms, sausages and toast) or piled onto toast (try adding CHEESE!). But there’s so much more we can do with baked beans to make it an economical, seriously delicious meal! Here are a few suggestions:
Chicken and beans – sprinkle chicken (or any chops, or sausages) with salt and pepper. Pan fry in butter. Serve with baked beans on the side which will act as the “sauce” as well as the starch for dinner;
Sausage and beans – either slice smoked sausages, squeeze the filling out of sausage casings or use ground sausage. Cook it in a pot, add baked beans, stir through spinach = dinner in a pot!
Stuff baked potatoes (add cheese to this too!)
As a side for any dinner – serve it as the starch on a dinner plate. Beans are low in GI so they’ll keep you fuller for longer!
Emergency nachos – pile over corn chips and add a ton of cheese. How can you go wrong??
Stuff an omelette – yep, really. Make an omelette and stuff it with cheesy baked beans!
Breads for dunking
Here are a few bread options – for toasting, dunking, mopping! The first 3 breads are all ideal for slicing > toasting > smothering with baked beans.
For me personally, I like to serve it in a bowl with bread for dunking. The whole “smother toast” thing doesn’t do it for me because I like to eat toast with my hands (well, put another way, I hate using a knife and fork for toast).
And if you pile baked beans over toast, eating it with your hands is messy business.
So I prefer the bowl method – spoon + bread for dunking. Practical and effective! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Watch how to make this baked beans recipe – and see how truly similar it is to Heinz baked beans!
Homemade Heinz Baked Beans
Beans – choose ONE (Note 1):
- 2 cups (14 oz) dried Navy beans (aka Haricot) or other white beans
- 3 x 400g/14oz cans harricot/navy beans, cannellini or any white beans , drained
- 2 cups chicken stock/broth , low sodium, OR homemade vegetable stock (Note 2)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 6 tbsp ketchup or Aussie/British tomato sauce (Note 3)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or more onion powder)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder (or more garlic powder)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 tsp cornflour / cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
Cook dried beans:
- No need to do these steps if using canned beans, start with Step 1 under "Baked Beans" below.
- Soak beans in a big bowl of water for 8 – 24 hrs, then drain.
- Skim foam – Place beans in a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a simmer, then skim off foam.
- Simmer Reduce heat so it's simmering gently (medium or medium low). Partially cover with lid (leaving a crack for steam to escape), then cook for 1 – 1.5 hrs until just tender. (Start checking at 45 min). Beans should be still slightly firm on inside (they're cooked more in the sauce). Drain, use per recipe.
- Mix – Place all Baked Beans ingredients in a pot (except beans) and stir, then add beans.
- Simmer – Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, without the lid. Stir every now and then so the beans don't catch on the bottom of the pot.
- Mix cornflour with water. Pour into pot while stirring, then cook for 2 minutes until sauce thickens – it will thicken quickly. (Note 3)
- Check for salt: Taste and add more salt if needed.
Originally published May 2014. Updated with more streamlined, better recipe (skipped unnecessary extras that didn’t add to the end result), new photos, new video and Life of Dozer section added in May 2020!
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