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killer home baked beans in 2 easy steps

Have you ever gone out for breakfast and been blown away with just how amazing baked beans can be?

If you live in Sydney, the Bather’s Pavillion in Balmoral serves such beans. Even though it has been a few years since I last ate there, I still think of those beans. Every now and then I get foolishly inspired to make my own.

Images of the hassle involved in my last bean baking expedition creep into my mind.

Does any of this sound familiar?

i. Soak the beans for 6-8 hours or overnight.
ii. Simmer beans in boiling water for 1-2 hours.
iii. Drain and reserve cooking liquid
iv. Place beans in a casserole dish with other ingredients
v. Bake beans for 2 hours

Way too hard.

Recently, I was talking to a colleague about baked beans (as you do). He mentioned that he loves to pop his beans in the oven before going to bed. The beans gently cook while you dream and you wake to a house brimming with the most delicious aroma. An aroma that will lure you out of bed, even if it is a Sunday.

Sounded like something worth the effort.

Then I decided to take it one step further. The main reason recipes call for soaked beans is that it reduces the time it takes them to cook. It also helps them cook more evenly and avoids splitting.

But if the cooking process was going to be long and slow anyway, why not just skip the soaking and the simmering and cut it all down to two easy steps?

The results – seriously amazing tasting beans with minimum effort. You have to be happy with that.

killer home baked beans
serves 6

These beans are the business and so so easy. The only thing is that you need to do a bit of planning in advance. At first I was a little worried about not sweating the onions first but trust me, this long slow cooking method gives them plenty of time to melt into the sauce.

If you want to make a vegetarian version just ditch the ham hock and if you have any, add a tablespoon of smoked paprika and a bit more salt to enhance the flavour. Without the meat this would probably only serve 5 hungry vegetarians. (see vegetarian recipe below)

Traditionally baked beans use maple syrup to sweeten. I’ve kept it more basic and used brown sugar but by all means substitute in the more authentic maple syrup if you happen to have it on hand.

500g (1lb) dried beans, cannellini or navy
1 smoked ham hock (approx 1kg or 2lb) or 500g (1lb) piece bacon or pancetta
1 red onion, peeled & diced
2 x 400g (14oz) cans tomatoes, chopped
3T dark brown sugar
3T Worcestershire sauce
1t wholegrain mustard
2 sprigs rosemary
1t sea salt flakes
2 1/2C water

Step 1. Place all ingredients in a large casserole dish and season generously. Stir to combine and cover tightly with a lid or foil.

Step 2. Turn your oven on to 140C (280F) and bake overnight for approximately 7 – 8 hours or until beans are soft and the sauce has thickened. If they look a little dry, add more water. Shred ham hock meat and discard the skin and bone or slice pancetta. Enjoy.

Note: If you do forget to put your beans in the oven the night before, all is not lost. Use the fast track cooking method and bake at 180C (350F) for 2 1/2 – 3 hours instead. You may have a few split beans but they’ll still be absolutely delicious.


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killer vegetarian home baked beans
serves 6

500g (1lb) dried beans, cannellini or navy
2 red onions, peeled & diced
4 sticks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 x 400g (14oz) cans tomatoes, chopped
2T dark brown sugar
1T soy sauce
1t wholegrain mustard
1T smoky paprika
2 sprigs rosemary
1t sea salt flakes
2 1/2C water

Step 1. Place all ingredients in a large casserole dish and season generously. Stir to combine and cover tightly with a lid or foil.

Step 2. Turn your oven on to 140C (280F) and bake overnight for approximately 7 – 8 hours or until beans are soft and the sauce has thickened. If they look a little dry, add more water and stir well.


{ 22 comments… add one }

  • Johanna 24 August, 2009, 10:57 pm

    This looks great – I have another bean recipe which has similar low oven on for a long time – now I want to make both recipes and winter time is fast running out. I am sure this would work as a vegetarian dish – I love smoked paprika and have some vegetarian worcestershire sauce as well as maple syrup

  • susan 25 August, 2009, 8:45 am

    i love your bean recipe! i usually always use canned beans because i don’t have enough forethought to do the whole soak overnight and simmer method. your recipe simplifies all those problems and i can sleep through the whole cooking time. yay.

  • Anna 25 August, 2009, 9:10 am

    Can’t wait to try this recipe – my mouth is watering already!

  • jules 25 August, 2009, 6:36 pm

    hi johanna
    I second you on the smoked paprika. good point that you’d need to find vego worcestershire sauce if you want to make the dish for vegetarians.

    hey susan
    that’s it. you get the great flavour and texture of dried beans without all the work.
    I had the beans again for lunch today. I think I’m going to need to make a new batch soon

    good luck with it anna.
    am sure your tastebuds won’t be disappointed

  • Andrew 26 August, 2009, 10:01 pm

    This looked so good, I just put a batch on tonight, but using a slowcooker instead…fingers crossed it works ok. Looking forward to having them on toast in the morning.

  • jules 27 August, 2009, 6:01 am

    Good luck Andrew. I haven’t used a slow cooker before. Enjoy your breakfast.

  • 'neen 28 August, 2009, 11:49 pm

    Perfect hearty autumn food for the change in seasons coming up here in the Northern Hemisphere!

  • jules 29 August, 2009, 7:05 am

    hey neen,
    yep you’re right.. these beans are perfect for autumn…

  • Hookturns 30 August, 2009, 1:03 pm

    I made this dish, but had the oven at 130 instead of 140. Unfortunately, they still came out burnt.

  • jules 30 August, 2009, 4:53 pm


    so sorry your beans were burnt. I hate when things like that happen.

    were you using a fan forced oven? if you were you’d need to set it at 120C. – I should have made that clearer in the recipe.

    the other thing is if the pan wasn’t covered tightly the water would evaporate while the beans are cooking and lead to burning

  • Lindie 1 September, 2009, 10:38 pm

    My problem with cooking overnight is the smells keep waking me all night!

  • jules 2 September, 2009, 8:16 am

    That’s really cute.
    You must be a light sleeper. Or at least have a seneitive nose.
    Although the smell is so good I’m wondering if you mind being woken up?

  • Johanna 8 September, 2009, 10:04 am

    i tried a variation of these last week – they were a bit intense because I added molasses but very good – look forward to trying these again – I didn’t manage to just leave them overnight but was pleased with bypassing the soaking of beans

  • noble pig 8 September, 2009, 3:10 pm

    I believe you, now I must make them.

  • Beck 3 August, 2010, 4:22 pm

    Thanks for such a great recipe – I made these during the day as my oven has one of those timer thingamajigs that switches it off every few hours. I cooked these at 120 (fan forced) and they still would have dried out if I hadn’t kept an eye on them. I needed to use at least double the water in the recipe… and they came out tops! So, so good with a poached egg on top of sourdough toast – now I’m making myself hungry again just thinking about them! Cheers, Beck

  • jules 4 August, 2010, 7:00 am

    glad you enjoyed the beans beck.
    interesting that you needed so much extra water – thanks for the feedback

  • Deanne 24 August, 2012, 6:23 pm

    My husband made this for the family at a recent holiday – 3 generations absolutely loved every mouthful!! Delicious. We intend making this a regular family favourite.

  • Hester 2 May, 2013, 4:27 pm

    I usually don’t get around to leaving feedback, but these are so good. The only change I make is that I liquidise all the sauce ingredients before I put them in. Then cook in the slow cooker all day, perfect for tea, and loads left over which I freeze. Yum yum…..

  • Sherry 14 June, 2015, 1:19 pm

    These are delicious. I’ve just made the vegetarian version. I also end up adding more water. Great for potlucks!

  • Madlaina 15 August, 2015, 2:46 pm

    Best baked beans ever. I detest the canned baked beans and was reluctant to cook my own version for that reason. Not any more. I cooked them with pancetta and added some garlic and a couple of pieces of parmesan rind I had an the fridge. Crumble some fetta over the top and serve with homemade sourdough. Perfect weekend breakfast.

    • jules 18 August, 2015, 2:58 pm

      so glad you liked them Madlaina!

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