Homemade British Baked Beans

5 from 7 votes
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How to make homemade British baked beans (English breakfast style) with a combination of 8 ingredients and a simple method. This easy baked beans recipe contains no bacon and includes options for gluten-free and vegan baked beans – no matter your dietary requirements!

Toast with baked beans

If you’ve spent any time at all in the UK, then you know that British baked beans are practically a British food staple. These tender beans served in a slightly sweet and savory tomatoey sauce are served as part of a Full English breakfast, over toast (alone or with cheese), with fries, over a baked potato, as a side to Fish & Chips – the list goes on. Now you can learn how to make homemade breakfast beans from scratch. And, spoiler alert, it’s a lot easier than you think!

While there are several versions of baked beans out there, including BBQ, Boston-baked beans, etc., this version is a copycat of regular tinned British baked beans (a copycat Heinz baked beans recipe!) with a sweet and savory tomato sauce. Not only is this method the fastest, but there’s also no baking involved! Instead, British beans sauce relies on cornstarch as a thickener – meaning you get to enjoy those saucy, sweet, and savory beans faster!

A ladle with homemade baked beans

Best of all, though, this recipe genuinely tastes delicious. I have friends who are complete “baked bean” snobs – you better serve them “the” specific brand, or else, they can tell! Try to serve them low-sugar or supermarket own brand, and you might as well have served them slop (is this just a problem in the UK?! Let me know). Well, now you can surprise them all with fresher, tastier, and healthier homemade English breakfast beans!

Overall, there are tons of reasons to skip the canned “English” breakfast beans and make this homemade breakfast beans recipe instead. They’re cheap, easy to customize, and can be adjusted to different dietary requirements and flavor palettes. Keep reading for several variation options!

Toast with baked beans

Looking for more breakfast inspiration? You might like this Swiss Bircher muesli (overnight oats), French baked eggs, Italian eggs in purgatory, sweet potato breakfast hash, or easy French toast!

The Breakfast Beans Ingredients

  • Beans: I used dried navy beans (Haricot), though Great Northern would also work (but are larger, so may require longer cooking). You could alternatively use canned beans (then there’s no need to soak and cook, though I prefer the texture of the dried beans).
  • Veggie stock: I recommend using low-sodium vegetable stock, so you can control the amount of salt better. You can use liquid stock or make up stock with a stock tablet/stockpot and water.
  • Vinegar: I used homemade apple cider vinegar, which is slightly sweet and perfect for homemade baked beans. You could alternatively use white or red wine vinegar but reduce the amount slightly.
  • Dark brown sugar: I love to use brown sugar for homemade baked beans, thanks to the molasses in the sugar. If you want to use an alternative (like maple syrup) or only have light brown sugar, I recommend adding molasses (high-quality un-sulfured) separately.
  • Tomato paste: I used homemade tomato paste/puree.
  • Cornstarch: this is needed to help thicken the homemade baked beans sauce slightly.
  • Spices: English breakfast beans use a simple combination of garlic powder and salt and pepper.
  • Worcestershire sauce: this sauce is tangy and packed with flavor. However, regular Worcestershire sauce is neither gluten-free nor vegan. Read below for alternatives.
Ingredients for baked beans

Optional Add-ins and Variations

  • Vegan baked beans: there are several types of vegan Worcestershire sauce available. Alternatively, you could use coconut aminos or add slightly less than a 1:1 ratio of soy sauce and a little dry mustard powder (written below). You may also want to slightly increase the amount of apple cider vinegar and brown sugar. You could also make a “meaty” version by adding vegan bacon or sausages.
  • Gluten-free baked beans: to make gluten-free baked beans, you can follow the same advice as above – swapping out the Worcestershire sauce for a gluten-free version. Otherwise, the recipe is naturally gluten-free. If you aren’t using homemade vegetable stock, make sure that it is labeled GF, too.
  • Smoky British baked beans: I recommend using ½-1 tsp liquid smoke to the British beans for a smoky flavor.
  • Other spices: cumin and sweet paprika are optional yet delicious additions to British baked beans (1/2-1 tsp of either or both).
  • Onion: you can add a finely diced onion (or shallot) to the recipe for extra flavor. Lightly sauté the onion in the pan for several minutes (until translucent). Then add in the sauce ingredients.
  • Dry mustard: this is a popular addition to homemade baked beans. I like the flavor without. However, if you want the added depth and slight pungency, I recommend adding 1-2 tsp dry mustard.

How to Make British Baked Beans?

Step 1: Prepare the beans

First, rinse and then soak the beans for 8 hours (or overnight) in a bowl filled will plenty of water (at least 2 inches above the beans). During this time, they will practically double in size. (I used 1.1 lb./0.5 kg dried beans, and after soaking, they were 2.2 lb./1 kg).

Make sure to sort through the beans first. Remove any that are shriveled, cracker, or darker than the rest.

Steps for soaking beans

After soaking, drain and rinse the beans once more.

Then transfer the beans to a large saucepan with plenty of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the beans are still slightly firm (not completely tender). During the cooking process, use a skimmer or spoon to skim the foam from the top of the pan.

Using an Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker: You can cook the beans with or without soaking first. To cook unsoaked beans, rinse them well, then add them to the pot with at least 2-inches of water covering them. Cook on high for 15-20 minutes and then allow the pressure to release naturally. For soaked beans, the cooking time will be reduced to 5-10 minutes. The beans don’t need to be completely tender as they will continue to cook in the sauce.

You can reserve any leftover liquid in the pan after the beans are cooked in case any extra liquid is needed in the breakfast beans. Alternatively, you can use the cooking liquid in stocks, baking recipes like bread, etc.

Cooked beans in a bowl

Step 2: Prepare the baked beans sauce

In a separate large saucepan, add the vegetable stock, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and all the spices (add just a little salt and pepper, to begin with so you can adjust it later if needed).

Mix well and then add the sugar and cook, stirring until the sugar melts. Then continue to cook for several minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

Steps for cooking baked beans

Step 3: Add the beans

Add the cooked beans to the sauce, mix, and then cook for 5 minutes, allowing the beans to soak with the sauce.

While the beans cook, prepare a cornstarch slurry in a small bowl by combining the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and mix well until there are no lumps. Then add the slurry to the sauce and stir constantly. Within a couple of minutes, the sauce will have thickened. At this point, remove the English breakfast beans from the heat.

A ladle with homemade baked beans over a pot

How to Store?

Make ahead: you can soak and cook the beans several days in advance. I often have cooked beans stored in my freezer, too (for three months). So then you just need to defrost them and add them to the sauce.

Storing: store any leftover homemade baked beans in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days, though they’re best within the first 2 days.

Freezing: allow the British baked beans to cool and then transfer to freeze-safe containers or bags. I like to portion them, so it’s easier to defrost the amount needed. Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow them to defrost in the refrigerator before using- but note they’ll be softer upon thawing.

Reheat: to reheat, you can gently heat on the stovetop or in the microwave (in 30-second increments) until warm throughout.

Pouring baked beans over toast

How to Serve British Baked Beans?

Let me know in the comments what your favorite way to enjoy British/English breakfast beans is!

A toast with baked beans

Recipe Notes and Top Tips

  • Adjust the sugar/salt: one of the best things about making homemade British baked beans is being in control of the ingredients. Feel free to adjust the amounts to personal taste. The same goes for the other seasonings and vinegar, etc.
  • If your beans are still hard: I’ve never had this issue (phew). However, I know that sometimes if beans haven’t been stored properly, or are particularly old, they may stay very hard even after cooking for hours (though some may just take slightly longer, so I’d give them 2 hours before giving up). To omit this risk entirely, you could use canned beans. You could also add 1 tsp of baking soda to the beans while cooking and/or soaking to try help.
  • Using other beans: the truth is, since the sauce is the star of the show, you can experiment with the beans that you use for this breakfast beans recipe – kidney beans, Great Northern, etc. Just adjust the cooking time for the beans slightly, if necessary.

More Delicious Bean Recipes

If you try this baked beans recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Homemade British Baked Beans (GF & Vegan Breakfast Beans Recipes!)

5 from 7 votes
By: Samira
How to make homemade British baked beans (English breakfast style) with a combination of 8 ingredients and a simple method. This easy baked beans recipe contains no bacon and includes options for gluten-free and vegan baked beans – no matter your dietary requirements.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 
 

  • 1.1 lb dried beans navy (Haricot) are best but Great Northern will also work; you could alternatively use tinned beans (4x 15oz cans)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock low-sodium
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce or vegan/gf alternative (check notes)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt adjust to personal taste
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar dark (or light plus additional molasses)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Instructions 

Step 1: Prepare the beans

  • Rinse and then soak the beans for 8 hours (or overnight) in a bowl filled will plenty of water (at least 2 inches above the beans). During this time, they will practically double in size. (I used 1.1 lb./0.5 kg dried beans, and after soaking, they were 2.2 lb./1 kg).
    Make sure to sort through the beans first. Remove any that are shriveled, cracker, or darker than the rest.
    After soaking, drain and rinse the beans once more.
  • Transfer the beans to a large saucepan with plenty of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the beans are still slightly firm (not completely tender). During the cooking process, use a skimmer or spoon to skim the foam from the top of the pan.
    Using an Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker: You can cook the beans with or without soaking first. To cook unsoaked beans, rinse them well, then add them to the pot with at least 2-inches of water covering them. Cook on high for 15-20 minutes and then allow the pressure to release naturally. For soaked beans, the cooking time will be reduced to 5-10 minutes. The beans don't need to be completely tender as they will continue to cook in the sauce.
    You can reserve any leftover liquid in the pan after the beans are cooked in case any extra liquid is needed in the breakfast beans. Alternatively, you can use the cooking liquid in stocks, baking recipes like bread, etc.

Step 2: Prepare the baked beans sauce

  • In a separate large saucepan, add the vegetable stock, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and all the spices (add just a little salt and pepper, to begin with so you can adjust it later if needed).
  • Mix well and then add the sugar and cook, stirring until the sugar melts. Then continue to cook for several minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

Step 3: Add the beans

  • Add the cooked beans to the sauce, mix, and then cook for 5 minutes, allowing the beans to soak with the sauce.
  • While the beans cook, prepare a cornstarch slurry in a small bowl by combining the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and mix well until there are no lumps.
  • Add the slurry to the sauce and stir constantly. Within a couple of minutes, the sauce will have thickened. At this point, remove the English breakfast beans from the heat.

How to Store?

  • Make ahead: you can soak and cook the beans several days in advance. I often have cooked beans stored in my freezer, too (for three months). So then you just need to defrost them and add them to the sauce.
    Storing: store any leftover homemade baked beans in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days, though they’re best within the first 2 days.
    Freezing: allow the beans to cool and then transfer to freeze-safe containers or bags. I like to portion them, so it's easier to defrost the amount needed. Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow them to defrost in the refrigerator before using but note they’ll be softer upon thawing.
    Reheat: to reheat, you can gently heat on the stovetop or in the microwave (in 30-second increments) until warm throughout.

Notes

  • Adjust the sugar/salt: one of the best things about making homemade British baked beans is being in control of the ingredients. Feel free to adjust the amounts to personal taste.  The same goes for the other seasonings and vinegar, etc.
  • If your beans are still hard: I’ve never had this issue (phew). However, I know that sometimes if beans haven’t been stored properly, or are particularly old, they may stay hard even after cooking for hours (though some may just take slightly longer, so I’d give them 2 hours before giving up). To omit this risk entirely, you could use canned beans. You could also add 1 tsp of baking soda to the beans while cooking and/or soaking to try to help.
  • Using other beans: the truth is, since the sauce is the star of the show, you can experiment with the beans that you use for this breakfast beans recipe – kidney beans, Great Northern, etc. Just adjust the cooking time for the beans slightly, if necessary.
 
Optional Add-ins and Variations:
  • Vegan baked beans: there are several types of vegan Worcestershire sauce available. Alternatively, you could use coconut aminos or add slightly less than a 1:1 ratio of soy sauce and a little dry mustard powder (written below). You may also want to slightly increase the amount of apple cider vinegar and brown sugar. You could also make a “meaty” version by adding vegan bacon or sausages.
  • Gluten-free baked beans: to make gluten-free baked beans, you can follow the same advice as above – swapping out the Worcestershire sauce for a gluten-free version. Otherwise, the recipe is naturally gluten-free. If you aren’t using homemade vegetable stock, make sure that it is labeled GF, too.
  • Smoky British baked beans: I recommend using ½-1 tsp liquid smoke for a smoky flavor.
  • Other spices: cumin and sweet paprika are optional yet delicious additions (use 1/2-1 tsp of either or both).
  • Onion: you can add a finely diced onion (or shallot) to the recipe for extra flavor. Lightly sauté the onion in the pan for several minutes (until translucent). Then add in the sauce ingredients.
  • Dry mustard: this is a popular addition. I like the flavor without. However, if you want the added depth and slight pungency, I recommend adding 1-2 tsp dry mustard.
 
Check the blog post for more tips and serving suggestions!
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Side
Cuisine: British, English
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 3-5 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 237kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 666mg, Potassium: 906mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 313IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 58mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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