Homemade British Baked Beans (GF & Vegan Breakfast Beans Recipes!)
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.
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.
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 teaspoon 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-freebakedbeans: 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 teaspoon liquid smoke for a smoky flavor.
Other spices: cumin and sweet paprika are optional yet delicious additions (use 1/2-1 teaspoon 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 teaspoon dry mustard.
Check the blog post for more tips and serving suggestions!