Easy and Delicious Baked Bean Recipe

Baked Bean Recipe

Baked beans, that comforting and versatile dish, hold a special place in many a culinary heart. From their smoky campfire origins to their starring role in a full English breakfast, these humble legumes have a rich history and a surprising amount of depth when it comes to flavor. Let’s walk you through a baked bean recipe like no other. From its origin to ingredients options and tips to create the perfect pot for your taste buds.

A History of Humble Beans

Baked beans can trace their roots back centuries. Native American tribes in the Americas are believed to have used a similar technique of slow-cooking beans with various flavorings. The dish gained popularity in Europe during the Middle Ages, particularly in England, where readily available navy beans were simmered in earthenware pots over open fires. The addition of molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining, added sweetness and depth in the 17th century.

The invention of the canning process in the early 19th century revolutionized baked beans. Canned beans became a staple food, particularly for sailors and soldiers, due to their long shelf life and portability. Heinz, the American brand synonymous with baked beans, started production in 1869, further solidifying their place in culinary history.

From Canned to Crafted: Building Your Base

While canned baked beans recipes offer a convenient option, there’s a whole world of flavor waiting to be explored by making them from scratch. Here’s your base baked bean recipe for a classic pot of deliciousness:


  • 1 pound dried navy beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Soak the dried beans overnight in a large bowl covered with water. Drain and rinse before starting.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the drained beans, water, bay leaf, thyme, paprika, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Check on them periodically and add more water if needed to maintain enough liquid.
  4. Once the beans are tender, remove the bay leaf. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard (if using). Stir this mixture into the beans.
  5. Season with salt to taste. Continue simmering on low heat for another 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  6. Serve hot with your favorite accompaniments, such as toast, and sausages, or as part of a full breakfast.

Tips for the Base Recipe:

  • For a smokier flavor, add a few strips of bacon or smoked sausage while simmering the beans. Remove them before serving.
  • For a touch of sweetness, use dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar.
  • Feeling adventurous? Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce or a chopped chipotle pepper for a spicy kick.
  • Leftovers? Baked beans are even tastier the next day. Reheat them gently on the stovetop, adding a splash of water or broth if needed to keep them moist.

Variations: Exploring Beyond the Basics

The beauty of baked beans lies in their adaptability. Here are some inspiration points to personalize your pot:

  • Sweet and Spicy: Add a chopped jalapeno pepper or a pinch of cayenne pepper for a sweet heat.
  • BBQ Beans: Substitute brown sugar with BBQ sauce, and add a splash of liquid smoke for a smoky barbecue twist.
  • Herb-Infused: Fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme can be added during the simmering process for a fragrant twist.
  • Southern Comfort: Add a can of diced tomatoes or tomato puree for a more chunky Southern-style variation.
  • Vegetarian Delight: Use vegetable broth instead of water and add chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, and bell peppers for a vegetarian twist.
  • Global Inspirations: Get inspired by cuisines around the world. Consider adding a can of coconut milk and a touch of curry paste for a Thai-inspired twist.

Beyond the Pot: Cooking Methods and Presentation

While a pot on the stovetop is the classic method, baked beans recipe can be made in various ways:

  • Slow Cooker Magic: Throw all the ingredients for your baked bean recipe into your slow cooker and let it work its magic on low for 6-8 hours. This hands-off approach is perfect for busy weeknights or when you want the aroma of delicious beans to fill your home for hours.
  • Oven Baked Goodness: Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C). Prepare your baked beans according to your recipe in a casserole dish or Dutch oven. Cover the dish and bake for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. This method allows the flavors to meld beautifully and can result in a slightly caramelized top on the beans.
  • Pressure Cooker Perfection: For those short on time, a pressure cooker can be your best friend. Follow your chosen recipe, adjusting the liquid amount slightly as pressure cookers require less liquid. Cook on high pressure for 30-40 minutes, allowing for natural pressure release for 10 minutes before carefully releasing any remaining pressure. This method results in perfectly tender beans in a fraction of the time.


With a little planning and creativity, baked beans can be transformed from a simple side dish into a culinary adventure. So fire up your stovetop, slow cooker, or oven, and get ready to experience the delicious world of baked beans!


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