Homemade Baked Beans (vegan)
Ditch the tins and find out just how easy it is to make baked beans at home!
A store cupboard staple
I can guarantee that most houses in the UK have a tin of baked beans in their cupboards. And why are they such a store cupboard staple? Because they are cheap, easy to make, and nutritious too! What’s not to love?
I like baked beans as much as the next person. I have them on toast, on a jacket potato, or on the side of a cooked breakfast. They are great! But, the tinned variety isn’t always vegan (thanks to honey) and they can be high in salt too.
Making your own baked beans at home is a fantastic way of making sure that there are no additives. Plus, you can be sure that they are vegan by swapping out honey for another natural sugar of your choice. (This recipe calls for brown sugar!)
But, the best thing about homemade baked beans is that you can you can add herbs and spices to give them extra flavour! My baked bean recipe is sweet and smoky. Using hot paprika also gives it a little kick that you don’t normally get in a tin of beans.
I will admit that for years I had no idea what type of bean was used for tinned baked beans. I knew kidney beans, black beans and even butter beans but didn’t know much about other varieties.
The quintessential “baked bean” variety is in fact the haricot bean. They’re a small, white bean that go by lots of different names. You might know them as navy beans, Boston beans or even pea beans.
You can use any beans you like in this recipe. As it’s not a “copycat” recipe for Heinz (or any other brand for that matter), I use a mixture of borlotti beans and cannellini beans. You can even use chickpeas if you want.
Dried beans versus tinned beans
Tinned beans are pre-cooked which means all you need to do is chuck them in the saucepan and cook until they are heated through. An even cheaper alternative to tinned beans is dried beans. I like to have dried beans on hand as they are much cheaper than their tinned counterparts (which are already pretty cheap to begin with).
To substitute dried beans for tinned beans in this, or any other, recipe you need 100 grams of dried beans for one tin. Once cooked, 100 grams of dried beans will weigh roughly 240-250 grams which is the “drained weight” that will appear on the side of a tin of beans.
How to prepare dried beans
Using dried beans does require a bit of forethought – I recommend soaking the beans for at least 12 hours (usually overnight). Drain away the water they’ve been soaking in and add to a saucepan with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil, put a lid on the saucepan and then let them simmer for roughly an hour. They should then be soft just like beans from a tin!
Once they are cooked, drain them from their cooking liquid and use as you would tinned beans. Yes it makes this recipe (and any other recipe you want to use them in) longer to make but its a much cheaper alternative and you can cook the beans exactly to your liking.
Add a little spice
Most tinned baked beans are just flavoured with salt and sugar. But, homemade baked beans come with a little extra spice! Paprika is a must for a smoky, sweet flavour. This is enhanced by the dark brown sugar and the liquid smoke I also add to the pan.
Liquid smoke is entirely optional but it’s one of my favourite ingredients since committing to a vegan diet. It adds a really rich, depth of flavour that is otherwise hard to replicate. It also helps to give these baked beans a wonderful barbecue flavour.
As well as paprika I add fresh herbs for an earthy flavour. If you really want to add a kick then chilli flakes work well too. Add them a little at a time and taste regularly until you’ve got the perfect level of heat.
Homemade Baked Beans (vegan)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 white onion finely diced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 0.5 tsp dried mixed herbs e.g. oregano, thyme, rosemary
- 0.5 tbsp liquid smoke optional
- chilli flakes optional
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 400 grams tinned tomatoes
- 400 grams tinned borlotti beans 240 grams drained weight
- 400 grams tinned cannellini beans 240 grams drained weight
- salt and pepper to season
- fresh parsley chopped
- Add the vegetable oil and diced onion to a sauce pan and fry on a medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until they turn translucent and soften.
- Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes making sure that the garlic doesn't catch or it will become bitter.
- Next, add the tomato puree, spices and herbs to the saucepan and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes and the beans.
- Season with salt and pepper and adjust the herbs and spices to taste.
- Cook for 10 minutes until the beans are cooked through and the sauce has reduced down to the desired consistency.
- Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley.
If you want to bulk out this recipe then why not add some additional vegetables while the onions are sweating. Carrots, peppers, mushrooms and spinach all work well.
These homemade baked beans are delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You’ll see from the photos that one of my favourite ways to serve them is simply over a slice of white toast with some extra parsley. They are also great poured over a jacket potato with some vegan cheese.
At breakfast time, why not add them to a Vegan Fry Up?
For a more hearty dinner, homemade baked beans are great as part of a Tex-Mex feast like tempeh “ribs” or jack fruit barbecoa.