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Baked Beans, What are They and How do you Eat Yours?

Updated on July 17, 2014

Where do they Originate from?

The beans used in baked beans originate from North America. One train of thought is that the recipe originated from the North of France where bean stews were popular, the recipe travelled to America and changed and adapted with local traditions of cooking.

What are Baked Beans?

For most British people baked beans tick all the boxes, comfort food, convenient, cheap and readily available. Very few people dislike them and everyone has their own way of eating them. But what exactly are baked beans?

In the UK baked beans refers to tinned beans in a tomato sauce. The beans are actually stewed in tomato sauce and the beans used are usually haricot beans. The recipe for the sauce differs from brand to brand, although some sort of sugar is usually added. British Heninz Baked Beans list the ingredients as - beans, tomatoes, water, sugar, modified corn flour, spirit vinegar and natural favors. They are suitable for vegetarians and high in fiber.

Beans on Toast


How do you Eat Your Beans?

There are several ways baked beans are eaten in the UK. The most common and easily prepared is beans on toast. This is eating for any meal or as snack time. Everyone has their own twist on how they prepare it.

The first item is the bread, white or brown, buttered or not - it is down to personal preference. Once the bread is toasted and the beans are warmed, the beans are poured over the toast. Some like to add worcestershire sauce to the beans during warming, others a little bit of butter to thicken the sauce or brown sauce to add flavor. Variations in eating beans on toast include, with scrambled egg and with grated cheese.

Another popular way to eat beans is as part of an English cooked breakfast. This would also include fried bread, fried egg, scrambled egg, grilled tomatoes, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, black pudding or toast.

Thirdly, baked beans are an option at the fish and chip shop. Many people will eat fish, chips and beans as a meal from the local fish and chop shop take out Or make their own version at home.

Bakes beans are also used as a topping for jacket/baked potatoes.

In America baked beans are a popular choice with barbecue food and beans with pork sausages are very popular. It is also possible to buy baked beans in a cheesy tomato sauce.

United Kingdom

British Baked Beans

One of the most popular brands of baked beans in the UK are Heinz. Heinz began importing tinned beans in the late 1880's from the US and over time the recipe has adapted to meet popular British tastes. Today Heinz make a large selection of bean flavors, as well as the traditional type. They also come in a range of packaging and are not just limited to cans. They are available in individual portion pouches and microwaveable pouches.

Heinz Beans Varieties

Healthy Beans
Flavored Beans
Baked Beans
Reduced sugar and salt beans
Beans with pork sausages
5 Beans - red kidney, haricot, Pinot, borlotti, cannellini
Garlic and Herb

Other popular brands are HP Beans, Branston and Supermarket own brand. Beans have become a staple food for students and those on a limited income. Most Supermarkets include them in their value range.


American Beans

Baked Beans in the US tend to be sweeter. In some regions beans were traditionally flavored with maple syrup or molasses and cooked with salt pork in a bean pot in a brick oven for 6 - 8 hours. Alternatively some regions add yellow mustard for a tangier taste. Some of the popular brands in the US are Bush's, Van Camps, Campbell's and B&M.

Bush's Beans Variety

Family recipe
Boston Recipe
Rich molasses, brown sugar and pork
Country Style
Thick, rich sauce with bacon and extra brown sugar.
Home Style
Tangy sauce with bacon and brown sugar.
Seasoned with honey and specially cured bacon.
Maple cured bacon
Specially cured bacon and a touch of maple syrup.
Seasoned with bacon, brown sugar and onion.
Tangy sauce with brown sugar and spices.
Bold and Spicy
Seasoned with cilantro, cumin, bacon, and brown sugar.


US beans tend to be of a more mushy texture than British ones and usually contain brown sugar.

How to Cook the Perfect Baked Beans

Most people warm canned beans on a low heat in a saucepan on the stove top. As they are already cooked they just need to be gently warmed. If cooked at a too hot a temperature or for to long they become mushy and dry out.

British Recipe for homemade Baked Beans

3 tbsp fine salt
1. Dissolve the salt in 3.5 letters of water and add the beans. Leave to soak for at least eight hours then drain and rinse. Put in a large pan and cover with fresh water. bring to the boil, skin off the scum that rises to the top, then turn down the heat and simmer until just tender but not falling apart.
450g dried haricot beans
2..make the sauce. Heat the oil in a medium pan over a moderate heat and add the garlic. Fry briefly, stirring until fragrant. then add celery and carrot. Turn the heat down and cook until we'll softened, about 20-25 minutes.
2 tbsp oil
3. Add the tomatoes and ketchup and stir together. Season we'll and simmer for 10 minutes, then purée until smooth. mix in tne corn flour to a paste with a little water, then whisk into the pan, followed by about 300ml of water.
2 garlic cloves crushed
4. Season to taste, than add the beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Add a knob of butter if desired.
1 small carrot, finely peeled and chopped
1 stick of celery finely chopped
400g tinned tomatoes chopped
2 1/2 tbsp tomato ketchup
11/2 tsp corn flour
Recipe: The Felicity Cloake

Health Benefits of Baked Beans

The health benefits of beans are debated. Often they are dismissed as healthy because they have gone through processing to be canned and have sugar added. Another train of thought is that they are high in fiber, high in protein and help lower cholesterol.

How do you Eat your Beans?

Do you eat your baked beans on toast?

See results

© 2014 Ruthbro


Submit a Comment

  • Ruthbro profile image

    Ruthbro 3 years ago from USA

    Thank you for the wonderful comments. It is definitely a go to meal in the UK, my favorite is with I buttered toast!

  • travmaj profile image

    travmaj 3 years ago from australia

    Yummy indeed. Baked beans are a favourite of mine too. I've been known to cook my own in a slow crockpot. There are so many variations. However, I always have a can of baked beans in my pantry, great for breakfast with the bacon, or just on toast for anytime. Thank you for this. Voting

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

    Baked beans are one of my favorites. I enjoyed this hub. Informative and interesting. Your recipe sound delicious. I've never tried baked beans on toast.

    Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and will share. Yummy!