Baked beans

Baked beans
A dish of baked beans over scrambled eggs on toast.

Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but, despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce. Most commercial canned baked beans are made from haricot beans, also known as navy beans – a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris – in a sauce. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, a tomato and sugar sauce is most commonly used. In the United States there are multiple styles, Boston baked beans use a sauce prepared with molasses and salt pork, the popularity of which has led to the city being nicknamed "Beantown". Beans in a tomato and brown sugar, sugar or corn syrup sauce are a widely available type throughout the US. Maine and Quebec-style beans often use maple syrup. Canned baked beans are used as a convenience food, shortening cooking times for a meal, or may be eaten straight from the can, in camping or emergency settings as they are pre-cooked.



The beans used to make baked beans are all native to North America and were introduced to Italy in 1528 and to France by 1547. Beans, squash and maize were grown together by Native Americans using the Three Sisters method of farming. The dish of baked beans is commonly described as having a savory-sweet flavor and a brownish or reddish tinted white bean once baked, stewed, canned or otherwise cooked.

According to alternative traditions, sailors brought cassoulet from the south of France, or the regional bean stew recipes from northern France and the Channel Islands. Most probably, a number of regional bean recipes coalesced and cross-fertilised in North America and ultimately gave rise to the baked bean culinary tradition familiar today.

While many recipes today are stewed, traditionally beans were slow baked in a ceramic or cast-iron beanpot. There's a tradition in Maine of "bean hole" cooking, considered originated by the native Penobscot people and later practiced in logging camps, where by a fire would be made in a stone-lined pit, allowed to burn down to hot coals, and then eleven pounds of seasoned beans in a cast iron pot would be placed in the ashes, covered over with dirt and left to cook overnight or longer. These beans were a staple of Maine's logging camps, being served at every meal.[1]

Canned beans, often with pork, were among the first convenience foods. Canned salt pork and beans with stewed tomatoes was supplied to the US Army during the American Civil War in the 1860s.[2] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated in 1996 that "It has for years been recognized by consumers generally that the designation 'beans with pork,' or 'pork and beans' is the common or usual name for an article of commerce that contains very little pork."[3] This is typically a piece of salt pork to add fat to the dish.

United Kingdom

Beans on toast

In the United Kingdom, the term baked beans refers almost exclusively to canned beans in a tomato sauce. Many people regard baked beans as integral part of the modern Full English Breakfast, including beans on toast. As the top selling brand of baked beans, historically the H. J. Heinz Company has become synonymous with them, although the growing popularity of other brands such as Branston Baked Beans, own brands, and HP baked beans (later purchased by Heinz), has reduced this.[4] Heinz Baked Beans were first sold in the UK in 1886 in the upmarket Fortnum & Mason store in London as an exotic import at a high price.[5] Although they are now a staple food, and arguably a downmarket one, the store continues the tradition of selling Heinz Beans among its more expensive wares. Up until the Second World War cans of Heinz Baked Beans were produced with a piece of pork - this was removed from the cans due to rationing and never made it back in again.

Baked beans are also considered to be a staple food of students, as they are typically easily heated in a microwave and are very cheap. British supermarkets may sell store brand baked beans for less than thirty pence a tinned can[6] although some premium organic brands price at 79 pence [7] Baked beans are a classic example of a loss leader, a product sold by supermarkets for an abnormally low price, often less than cost. Baked beans have recently begun appearing in conjunction with other foods, such as a filler inside sausages, as a sidedish with bacon, eggs and toast as part of a full breakfast, or as a pizza topping.[8]

UK style baked beans are also popular in Australia and New Zealand.

United States

In the United States, Bush's (Bush Brothers and Company), Van Camp's, B&M (Burnham & Morrill Inc.), Allens, Inc., the H. J. Heinz Company, and the Campbell's Soup Company are well-known producers or brands of packaged baked beans. B&M specializes in Boston-style baked beans often sold in beanpot shaped jars, and canned brown bread, a traditional regional accompaniment to baked beans. Whereas Bush and Van Camp produce multiple flavor varieties of canned beans, some styles using cured bacon to add its flavorings to the products.

Three beanpots used for cooking homemade baked beans. The small one is glazed with the letters "Boston Baked Beans"

In the New England region baked beans are flavored either with maple syrup (Northern New England), or with molasses (Boston), and are traditionally cooked with salt pork in a beanpot in a brick oven for six to eight hours.[9]

In southern states and along the eastern seaboard of the US, the beans become tangier usually due to the addition of yellow mustard. For example the baked beans of Tennessee based Bush's include mustard in most of their varieties of beans. Ground beef may also become common alongside bacon in the home versions some of these bean styles. They may take on a flavor similar to Cowboy Beans, a home mixed stew, somewhat similar to a chili but made instead with sweet baked beans.

Heinz baked beans became very successful as an export to the UK, where canned baked beans are now a staple breakfast food, in America the H. J. Heinz Co. continue to sell baked beans, however they are not always as widely distributed as competing American brands. Despite their international fame there are currently substantial differences between the Heinz baked beans produced for the UK market (descended from the original American recipe) and the nearest currently equivalent American product (Heinz Premium Vegetarian Beans). The American product contains brown sugar where the British beans do not, and the US product contains 14g of sugar per 16 oz tin[10] compared to 7g for the British version (equating to 140 vs 90 calories). The US beans have a mushier texture and are darker in color than their UK counterpart. This has resulted in a situation where the product is now imported to the brand's home country. For several years, the UK Heinz Baked Beans have been available in the US, either in different sized cans from those sold in the UK or in a 385 gram can (the same can as the 415 gram can in the UK) with an "export" label with American English spelling and the word "baked" dropped from the title on the label. These are sold in many US specialty stores, such is the popularity of baked beans and their appeal to expats.

Bush, Van Camp, B&M, and Heinz all produce pork-free baked beans labeled as vegetarian beans, making this American dish available to people who abstain from pork for religious, dietary, or ethical reasons.


Home made Polish baked beans a la bretonne.

Traditional cuisines of many regions claim such recipes as typical specialities, for example:

Many unusual dishes are made with baked beans including the baked bean sandwich. These are slices of bread topped with beans and other additions, such as melted cheese.


In 2002 the British Dietetic Association allowed manufacturers of canned baked beans to advertise the product as contributing to the recommended daily consumption of five - six vegetables per person. This concession was criticised by heart specialists who pointed to the high levels of sugar and salt in the product. However, it has been proven that consumption of baked beans does indeed lower total cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, even in normo-cholesterolaemic individuals.[12][13] Some manufacturers produce a "healthy option" version of the product with lower levels of sugar and salt.


Baked beans are known on occasion to cause a considerable increase in flatulence following consumption;[14][15] this is due to the fermentation of polysaccharides (specifically oligosaccharides) by gut flora, specifically Methanobrevibacter smithii. The oligosaccharides pass through the upper intestine largely unchanged, and when they reach the lower intestine, bacteria feed on them, producing copious amounts of flatus.[16] This condition is the basis for the children's song, "Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit".


  1. ^ Foodways Research: A Taste of Maine, Maine Folklife Center
  2. ^ Conagra Foods
  3. ^ New York Times article That's What and Beans? Pork Defends Its Image published April 1, 1998
  4. ^ "Baked Beans - Icons of England". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  5. ^ "1815: Our Waterloo". F&M. 2006-05-11. Retrieved 09/01/2009. 
  6. ^ "Tesco Price Check - Online Shopping Price Comparison for Groceries -". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Farmer, Fannie (1896). Boston Cooking-School Cook Book'. p. 212. ISBN 0-451-12892-3. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "We can see certain influences from the west (from France we took baked beans a la bretonne, surprisingly not known in today's Brittany) [in:] Culinary cultures of Europe: identity, diversity and dialogue by Darra Goldstein, Kathrin Merkle, Stephen Mennell. 2005
  12. ^ Susan M. Shutler, Gemma M. Bircher, Jacki A. Tredger, Linda M. Morgan, Ann F. Walker and A. G. LOW (1989). The effect of daily baked bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) consumption on the plasma lipid levels of young, normo-cholesterolaemic men. British Journal of Nutrition, 61, pp 257-265 doi:10.1079/BJN19890114.
  13. ^ Donna M. Winham, Andrea M. Hutchins. Baked bean consumption reduces serum cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic adults. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.) 1 July 2007 (volume 27 issue 7 Pages 380-386 DOI: 10.1016/j.nutres.2007.04.017).
  14. ^ "Health | Experts make flatulence-free bean". BBC News. 2006-04-25. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  15. ^ "Flatulence - Overview - Introduction". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  16. ^ McGee, Harold (1984). On Food and Cooking. Scribner. pp. 257–8. ISBN 0-684-84328-5. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Baked Beans — avec œufs brouillés sur pain grillé. Les baked beans sont des haricots blancs cuits dans une sauce tomate aromatisée. Traditionnellement, ils sont cuisinés au four mais ils sont souvent mijotés dans une casserole,en dépit du nom. C’est un plat… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Baked beans — avec œufs brouillés sur pain grillé. Les baked beans sont des haricots blancs cuits dans une sauce tomate aromatisée. Traditionnellement, ils sont cuisinés au four mais ils sont souvent mijotés dans une casserole, en dépit du nom. C’est un plat… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Baked Beans — auf Toast Baked Beans (Engl. /beɪkt biːnz/, gebackene Bohnen) sind ein traditionelles britisches und US amerikanisches Gericht aus weißen Bohnen, die mit Tomatensauce oder Ketchup im Ofen gebacken werden. Baked Beans sind fester Bestandteil des …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • baked beans — baked′ beans′ n. pl. coo Boston baked beans • Etymology: 1825–35 …   From formal English to slang

  • baked beans — ☆ baked beans n. Boston baked beans or other similar preparations variously seasoned …   English World dictionary

  • baked beans — n [plural] small white beans cooked in a sauce made from tomatoes, usually sold in cans …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • baked beans — [ ,beıkt binz ] noun plural beans in a sweet, SPICY brown sauce, traditionally made by cooking them slowly with onions, MOLASSES, and BACON …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Baked beans — Tostada con un huevo frito y recubierto de baked beans …   Wikipedia Español

  • baked beans — N PLURAL Baked beans are dried beans cooked in tomato sauce in Britain or cooked with salt pork in North America. Baked beans are usually sold in cans …   English dictionary

  • baked beans — small white dried beans that have been baked, usually with salt pork, brown sugar or molasses, and seasonings. Also called Boston baked beans. [1825 35] * * * …   Universalium

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