How to Make Baked Beans

Let’s put these motherz out of businezz

I used to love baked beans when I was a kid, and it looks like that’s been passed on to my lovely daughter. Her mum, however, isn’t nearly as keen – mainly due to the huge amount of salt and sugar that are unnecessarily added to the tinned varieties. So I decided to whip up my own and, after posting a picture on twitter, it seems quite a few of you are interested in doing the same.

There are lots of other reasons to try this: it works out cheaper, you know exactly what’s gone in there, and of course you can tweak the recipe as required. I was making these for a kid so I shied away from adding anything too spicy, but if I was making them for myself you’d better believe there would be some chilli in there or maybe even a touch (just a touch) of curry powder. But as a starting point I think this is pretty good.

Bear in mind that my goal was to do this once and have enough to last several months, so this recipe will produce a full saucepan and roughly two-three tupperware containers. Two of those went in the freezer and the one with a bit less went in the fridge. You could easily do half of all the quantities I used, and still get a fairly big amount.

Let’s do this.


Preparation time

15-20 minutes


1 small-to-medium onion (if in doubt, always put less onion)

1 clove of garlic

3 slices of smoked bacon

1/2 a teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tins haricot beans

1 litre of passata (usually sold in 500ml cartons)

Splash of red wine, remainder of the bottle for the chef


1. Trim the fat off the bacon and cut into small cubes, whack it in the saucepan at a medium heat with a tiny bit of vegetable oil.

2. Finely dice the onion / garlic and add to the bacon after 2-3 minutes

3. Season with half a teaspoon of paprika, and salt and pepper, then allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion’s going translucent.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever

This is the paprika I use. It’s stronger than other varieties, I find, so if you’re using a different or non-smoked variety you may want to add a little more. I’d be cautious, because I love paprika but it can easily overpower a dish and you’re left with paprika beans. Which actually sounds pretty nice but it’s not what we’re going for.

4. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar (not a heaped tablespoon) and allow that to caramelise the onion mix, around a minute will do it.

5. At this point I added a splash of red wine, mainly to mop up the little bits you start to get around the pan from the bacon. You want the pan’s surface to be smooth when we’re adding the passata, and all of those little tasty bits to be going into our sauce. It doesn’t really matter what you use though, red wine vinegar would do just as well. If you *do* use red wine, make sure to give it a minute or two’s cooking before adding all the cold passata on top.

5. Add the passata, mix it around and give it a minute or two to heat up.

6. Drain and rinse the haricot beans, and add them. Do rinse them because just draining often leaves residue from the tinned water they’ve been stored in.

7. After a minute or two on the medium heat, turn it down and let that bad boy bubble away for 10 minutes or so. I found a litre of passata to be just *slightly* too much sauce, around 800-900ml would’ve been perfect, but I think reducing it may have led to a very nice flavour.


That’s it! A perfect thing to have in the fridge for a quick lunch with a bit of toast, or for dinner with a nice baked potato. And if you’re a parent, just the ticket for hungry mouths 🙂