Classic Boston baked beans recipe for the soul

Come closer, amigas y amigos. Let me tell you about a recipe that will transport your taste buds all the way to merry ole England. Introducing Boston Baked Beans, made UK style. As a Chef who specializes in British cuisine, I assure you that these beans will be the highlight of any meal. This iconic dish has been enjoyed for centuries, combining tender navy or haricot beans with smoky salt pork, sweet and tangy molasses, bright tomatoes, and flavorful spices like mustard and soy sauce.

But what sets these baked beans apart is the way they are slowly cooked until they turn into golden, sticky goodness that pairs perfectly with everything from beef to bread. They’re not just any baked beans – they’re British-style baked beans.

So join me on this culinary journey and let’s make some magic in the kitchen. Whether you’re looking for a comforting dinner after a long day or planning a weekend brunch spread, these Boston Baked Beans will be a hit with everyone from kids to adults alike. Are you ready to get started? Let’s do this!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Boston Baked Beans - Uk Style
Boston Baked Beans – Uk Style

Ah, my dear reader, you are in for a treat with this British twist on Boston Baked Beans! What makes this recipe so special? Let me tell you.

Firstly, the combination of ingredients is pure perfection. We’ve got salty salt pork, savory soy sauce, tangy tomatoes, and the sweetness of the molasses-rich dark brown sugar – all working together harmoniously to create an explosion of flavors in your mouth.

Secondly, the use of dried haricot beans, also known as navy beans or small white pea beans, gives this dish an authenticity that canned beans simply cannot match. Soaked overnight until plump and tender, these beans take on the flavors of the ingredients around them while still maintaining their own unique taste and texture.

Thirdly, this recipe can be made in a slow cooker or a traditional oven. Meaning, you don’t need to fuss over it and can leave it cooking all day long or slow-cook it overnight. You’ll be rewarded with tender and flavorful baked beans that melt in your mouth.

Lastly, Boston Baked Beans are versatile and can be paired with almost anything you desire. They make for a hearty breakfast paired with toast or served alongside beef for lunch or dinner. You can even have them on top of bread and make an English Breakfast Beans on Toast recipe that will surely delight your taste buds!

In short, if you’re looking for a classic British baked beans recipe with a twist, look no further than this recipe. It will have your friends and family begging for seconds!

Ingredient List

 A spoonful of comfort: piping hot Boston baked beans
A spoonful of comfort: piping hot Boston baked beans

Ingredients to make the perfect Boston Baked Beans Recipe

To make the traditional British Baked Beans recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients. Don’t worry if you can’t find some of them in your local grocery store; we’ve got substitutes and variations listed in section (5).


  • 2 cups dry navy beans (or other small white beans called haricot or white pea beans)
  • 4 oz. salt pork, rind removed and cut into 1-inch cubes (or 4 bacon strips)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tbsp. English mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves (or a few sprigs of fresh thyme)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Note: If you want to save time, you can use canned beans instead of dried ones. Just skip the soaking step in section (4) and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Tomato Sauce

  • 8 oz. canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and quartered
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped


  • 6 cups cold water

With these ingredients on hands, let’s move on to the how-to section!

The Recipe How-To

 Cozy up with a bowl of our hearty baked beans
Cozy up with a bowl of our hearty baked beans


Step 1: Soak the Beans

The first step to making perfect Boston baked beans is by soaking navy beans or haricot beans. Put the beans in a large bowl and pour enough cold water to be a few inches above the top of the beans. Leave them for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Step 2: Cook the Beans

After soaking, drain the beans, rinse and put into a large saucepan with fresh water. Add some sliced celery ribs, chopped red onion, 1 roughly chopped garlic clove, 1 roughly chopped carrot and 2 bay leaves. Bring it to boil then simmer for about an hour or till they are tender.

Step 3: Cook the Salt Pork

While cooking the beans, cook salt pork in about two cups of hot water. Boil it for a minute before you put it on top of the beans.

Step 4: Mix The Seasoning

Preheat your oven to around 250 degrees F (130 degrees C). In another large bowl towards mixing sauce for your beans, grab some tomato sauce, a tablespoon of mustard, and two tablespoons of dark brown sugar plus one tablespoon of soy sauce.

Step 5: Combine Everything Together

At first, layer your cooked salt pork pieces on top of your drained and cooked beans, then add around three to four bacon strips on top. Spread over the mustard mixture which we made in step (4), and pour enough water to almost cover everything up to an inch below.

Step 6: Cook Your Boston Baked Beans

Cover with a tight lid or aluminum foil before putting inside your pre-heated oven. Bake your Boston baked beans for around 2 hours, regularly adding more water to prevent it from drying up. You can remove the lid and bake for an extra 30 minutes to brown the top of the beans.

Step 7: Serve Hot!

Boston baked beans are best served hot off the oven. Add some fresh parsley as a garnish and taste your creation. You can also serve it with bread, beef, or better yet on toast. Enjoy your slow-cooked beans with a glass of rose wine and live it up like the British do!

Substitutions and Variations

 Brown sugar and spices make the perfect bean blend
Brown sugar and spices make the perfect bean blend

As with any classic recipe, there are always variations and substitutions that can be made to suit your preferences or dietary needs. Here are some suggestions for changing up the traditional British baked beans recipe:

– Instead of using navy or haricot beans, try using pinto beans for a slightly different texture and flavor.

– For a vegetarian option, omit the salt pork or bacon strips and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

– Add some heat to your baked beans by adding a diced jalapeno pepper or a dash of hot sauce.

– Swap out the dark brown sugar for honey or maple syrup for a sweeter taste.

– If you don’t have access to fresh parsley, you can use dried parsley flakes as a substitute.

– For those who are gluten-free, substitute soy sauce with tamari.

It’s worth noting that some substitutions may alter the taste and texture of the dish. So it is recommended to start with small adjustments and gradually increase if necessary.

Additionally, some variations of British baked beans can also be served on toast, topped with beef, or even on crusty bread as an open-faced sandwich.

Whether you decide to stick to the traditional recipe or make some adaptations according to your taste preferences, one thing is certain: there’s nothing quite like the savory flavor of British baked beans accompanied by freshly-baked bread!

Serving and Pairing

 You can't have a true UK-style cooked breakfast without these beans
You can’t have a true UK-style cooked breakfast without these beans

What makes British Baked Beans so irresistible is that they can be served in a variety of ways. Whether you enjoy them on top of toast or as a side dish, baked beans add an extra flair of warmth and comfort to any meal.

My personal favorite way to serve these beans is with some freshly baked bread, preferably sourdough. The tangy taste of the bread combined with the rich flavor of the beans makes for a perfect pairing. Spread some butter on the bread and dip it into the beans, and trust me, you won’t be able to stop!

For a more substantial meal, try pairing these beans with a nice beef roast. The savory taste of the meat complements the sweetness of the baked beans, making for a satisfying and filling meal.

If you’re looking for something less traditional, try pairing these beans with some slow-cooked tomatoes seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. The acidity of the tomatoes balances out the sweetness of the beans, creating a unique and flavorful dish.

For breakfast or brunch, British Baked Beans are particularly delicious when served alongside some crispy bacon strips, sausages or black pudding, even as part of a traditional English breakfast accompanied by sunny-side-up eggs.

These beans are quite versatile and work well as a side dish for many meals. They complement roasted and grilled meats perfectly or cooked greens like collard greens or spinach for vegetarians.

Overall, these baked beans are incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed in many ways. So go ahead and experiment with different pairings to find your perfect combination!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A savory side dish that’s packed with protein - Boston baked beans
A savory side dish that’s packed with protein – Boston baked beans

The British Baked Beans recipe can be easily made ahead of time and stored for later consumption. Whether you are planning a picnic or just need something to grab for a quick meal, these beans are perfect for any occasion.

To make ahead, let the beans cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When ready to reheat, stir in a splash of water and gently heat in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through.

If you have leftovers from a big batch, these can also be frozen in individual portions for later use. To freeze, place the cooled beans in a freezer-safe container or bag and store them laying flat in a single layer until frozen solid. Once they’re frozen, you can stack them together. They will keep well for up to 3 months.

Reheating frozen baked beans is easy. Simply remove them from the freezer and let them thaw slowly overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, transfer the beans to a saucepan, add a splash of water and heat them over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until thoroughly warmed through.

One of my favorite variations of reheating baked beans is to put them on toast or bread with some fresh parsley on top. It makes for a quick, filling and delicious English breakfast that’s worth getting up early for.

Pro tip: If you reheat the baked beans on low heat or use the slow cooker method instead of microwaving, it helps retain their texture and flavor. Microwaving may cause the beans to become mushy or bland if not properly reheated. So go slow and be patient!

Tips for Perfect Results

 When the weather outside is frightful, bake up some delightful beans
When the weather outside is frightful, bake up some delightful beans

As a chef specialized in British cuisine, I have learned some tips and tricks that could help you achieve the perfect Boston Baked Beans recipe. Here are some tips to ensure that you get great results every time:

First, make sure to use high-quality ingredients. Since most of the flavor comes from the beans themselves, it is essential to select the best quality beans possible. When looking for beans, I recommend using navy beans or haricot beans. These beans will give the dish a rich, creamy texture.

Secondly, soaking the beans overnight is crucial. Ensure to soak your dried haricot beans overnight in cold water before cooking them. The process helps remove some of the indigestible sugars and makes them easier to digest. The next day, rinse them in fresh water.

To add depth and complexity to your Boston Baked Beans, add bacon strips or salt pork while cooking. It adds smoky meatiness to the dish.

In addition to that, balance sweetness and acidity by adding tomatoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce or dark molasses into the mix that helps create a pleasant balance between sweet and tangy flavors

Don’t forget celery ribs (roughly chopped 2) and fresh parsley (chopped 2 tbsp). They add a refreshing, earthy note that balances out the richness of the dish.

If you opt for canned beans rather than soaked overnight beans or pressure-cooked white ones, rinse them thoroughly with running water before using so that they can retain their nutrients.

Lastly, patience will be your key ingredient since this recipe is all about slow cooking – it’s not meant to be rushed! Worcestershire sauce or black treacle can also help enhance depth and umami flavors as well as open shredded beef sandwiches.

Following these simple steps can help you master the recipe for Boston Baked Beans like a true pro!


As we’ve explored the ingredients and instructions for making Boston Baked Beans, you may still have questions that need to be addressed. Here in this FAQ section, I’ll provide you with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this recipe that may be helpful for you as you embark on your cooking journey. So, let’s dive in!

What makes British baked beans different?

One can find baked beans in the United Kingdom, which are made with navy beans called haricot and coated with a tomato-based sauce. These beans are still sweet, but not as much as the American version, as they do not contain any pork. It is worth noting that Heinz is the dominant brand for baked beans in Britain, but there are alternatives.

What type of baked beans do they use in the UK?

When it comes to crafting the traditional British baked beans, the go-to legume is the navy bean, also referred to as haricot beans in the UK. Whether you prefer to use dried or canned beans, the end result is a wholesome and flavorsome dish.

What makes Boston baked beans different?

When it comes to baked beans, there are two major ways to prepare this traditional dish. One method involves the use of brown sugar to add sweetness to the savory tomato-based sauce. However, another popular way to prepare baked beans is known as Boston style, which makes use of molasses instead to add a luxurious and indulgent sweetness to the dish.

What do British call baked beans?

The classic British dish of baked beans on toast has its roots in the traditional use of navy beans, also known as haricot beans in England. These small, white beans have been a staple ingredient in the UK for centuries and are also referred to as Boston beans and white pea beans.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the British version of Boston Baked Beans is a perfect accompaniment for any meal or a delicious snack on its own. It’s hearty, filling and full of flavor. This dish can be made using either canned or dry beans, slow-cooked or pressure-cooked, and can be prepared with various seasonings and tweaks to suit individual tastes. The use of bacon, onions, mustard, and molasses add depth to its rich and savory taste that will leave your taste buds wanting more.

So whether you are serving it up with beef or bread or just relishing it as English Breakfast beans or as a tomato sauce-based dish in its own right, this British take on Boston Baked Beans is sure to impress. The recipes provided can offer you excellent guidance on how to cook this traditional food in a way that will make your guests want seconds. With its versatile spices and ingredients, there is no doubt that these beans will find their way onto your dinner table soon.

Give this recipe a try and experience firsthand the rich and authentic flavors that serve as testimony to British culinary finesse.

Boston Baked Beans - Uk Style

Boston Baked Beans - Uk Style Recipe

Looking at the recipes on here a lot call for items that aren't commonly used in the UK. This version uses readily available ingredients and is great on wholegrain toast with some cheddar on.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine British
Keyword < 60 Mins, Beans, Brunch, Lunch, Vegan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Calories 203.2kcal


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200 g tomatoes
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 400 g mixed beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 slices bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  • Heat the oil and fry the onion over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add celery and garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, stock and soy. Turn up the heat until it boils. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add sugar, mustard and beans and cook for a further 5 mins until the beans are hot.
  • Toast the bread, add the parsley to the pan and stir well. Serve a dollop of beans on each slice of toast.


Serving: 233g | Calories: 203.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 29.6g | Protein: 4.7g | Fat: 8.1g | Saturated Fat: 1.1g | Sodium: 772.1mg | Fiber: 3.3g | Sugar: 12.9g

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