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Baked beans from scratch
Find out how to prepare homemade baked beans: the ingredients to start with, the easy recipe, and the tricks for perfect baked beans from scratch.
Baked beans are a classic dish that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Your beans may indeed be savoury, sweet, or smoky, depending on your taste and location. Homemade baked beans are easier to make than you might think – you just need to set aside enough cooking time. The secret is low and slow cooking, which allows the beans to absorb all those incredible flavours.
There's a difference between American and British baked beans. American baked beans are often served with cornbread and other side dishes, while British baked beans are usually served with toast. British baked beans are also tomato-based, but they differ in two ways – the British recipe doesn't contain any meat, and it's less sweet than the American version.
Rich, smoky, sweet, and savoury, this hearty dish is sure to become a favourite. A great make-ahead dish, baked beans taste even better the next day after they've soaked up all the flavours. Serve this wildly popular fare at your next backyard BBQ, potluck or dinner party and watch your guests' faces light up.
Here's the American version of this tasty recipe.
Soak the dried beans overnight in a pot covered with water. Place the beans back in the pot with fresh water and bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour, then drain and reserve the liquid.
In a Dutch oven or other oven-safe pot, fry the bacon until crispy, add the onions, and cook until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for another minute.
Add the tomato sauce, molasses, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and bay leaf.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved bean water along with the beans.
Bring everything to a simmer for a few minutes to warm it up. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
Place the Dutch oven with the lid onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are cooked and the sauce has thickened, removing the lid for the last 20-30 minutes. You can add a little more reserved bean water if too much liquid evaporates during the cooking process.
Taste and add more salt or pepper if necessary.
Tips & tricks
The best baked beans hold their shape while they cook, turning creamy within but remaining crisp on the outside. The best beans to use in this dish are those with thicker skins, such as navy beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans.
Dried beans are a cost-efficient, nutritious way to make homemade baked beans, although soaking and cooking them takes more time. Some people choose canned beans because of their convenience. It's all a matter of personal preference.
Depending on timing or how much control you want over the cooking process, baked beans can be prepared in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, sautéed on the stovetop, or baked in a baking dish.
How to serve them
Baked beans are an excellent dish to pair with many entrees and sides. You can explore different sides to serve with it for a more exciting meal. The sweet and savoury combination makes it the perfect meal to serve with hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, sausages, or BBQ meats. Furthermore, adding different components caters to different palates and diets and brings texture and vibrancy to the plate.
Salads, fruit, cornbread and potato dishes make perfect pairings for a satisfying meal and provide a delicious crunch and flavour. To make an extra tasty meal, try serving your baked beans with warm, buttery garlic mashed potatoes – a delightful mix of savoury and creamy.
Vegetarians and vegans can easily adapt this recipe by omitting the bacon. Leaving out the meat and doubling the amount of sauce turns this dish into a plant-based delight without compromising on taste.
Storage and freezing
Refrigerate the leftover baked beans in an airtight container and consume them within a week.
Once baked beans have cooled completely, you can store them in a freezer-safe, airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat at 350°F (175°C) for 20 minutes or until piping hot.