Baked beans are a British staple! Try these homemade vegetarian baked beans for a gourmet version – made in just 15 minutes.
We Brits are known for eating stuff on toast. There’s nothing that can’t be improved by serving it on a slice of crispy, buttery toasted bread! Mushrooms on toast, cheese on toast, and of course, best of all – baked beans on toast.
For a really special version, try these homemade vegetarian baked beans – they’re quick and easy to make, and they make an utterly delicious breakfast or lunch.
What are British baked beans like?
I know some non-Brits find it really strange that we eat baked beans on toast – but if pretty much everyone in the UK agrees that baked beans are awesome, it must be true.
As far as I’m aware, British baked beans are nothing like the American version. American baked beans are very sweet in a rich, dark sauce, whereas British baked beans are much lighter and more tomatoey, and nowhere near as sweet.
These homemade baked beans aren’t quite like the kind we buy in tins here – don’t be expecting that they’re a perfect replica of Heinz or Branston beans! Those are amazing in their own right, but these are gourmet baked beans, in a thick tomato sauce with heaps of flavour.
Rich tomato sauce
The recipe starts by cooking off some onion and garlic, then adding a few tasty ingredients that give the tomato sauce its beautiful flavour – smoked paprika, soy sauce, dried herbs, even a little sprinkle of sugar.
The sauce ends up being the perfect balance of smoky, salty and sweet – much richer than the canned version!
What beans should I use for homemade baked beans?
Then, just add some passata (tomato sauce) and some beans. I used cannellini beans, but baked beans you’d buy in a tin are made with haricot beans – so just use whatever you fancy.
Leave the beans to simmer for a while until they’re piping hot. The whole recipe only takes about 15 minutes in total, so it’s a really quick meal – not actually that much longer than opening a tin! And so much more satisfying.
How to use baked beans
We Brits usually eat our baked beans in a few different ways:
- on toast (sometimes with a bit of grated cheese on top)
- as part of a (vegetarian!) full English breakfast
- as a topping for a jacket potato
- as a side dish, especially with veggie sausages and chips!
Of course, you’re not limited to just these ideas – baked beans are also great inside a toasted sandwich, used as an ingredient in bean soups and bean stews, stirred through cheesy pasta with beans, and much more… I use them alllll the time.
Homemade baked beans on toast
If you do opt to serve your baked beans on toast, they make a great light meal.
I usually serve beans on toast for lunch, as it’s a bit more than I usually eat for breakfast, but plenty of people prefer beans on toast for breakfast.
Feel free to add some breakfasty extras on the side – a fried egg, some sliced avocado, grilled tomato, fried mushrooms… all British breakfast staples!
How can I adapt this recipe?
I feel like this entire blog post is just me giving you a thousand different ways to serve these baked beans – but I’m not going to stop just yet.
Feel free to adapt the recipe however you fancy – it’s the sort of thing you can pretty much throw anything into, and it will be great:
- add some Indian spices for curried baked beans (maybe served in chapattis instead of on toast!)
- or add TexMex spices for chilli-inspired baked beans to wrap up in a tortilla
- swap the cannellini beans for black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, or whatever else you have on hand
- add a dollop of BBQ sauce for a deeper flavour
Whatever you decide to do with the recipe, and however you choose to serve your homemade vegetarian baked beans, they’ll never fail to satisfy.
Homemade vegetarian baked beans
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- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 onion (or 1 small onion), finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- Black pepper
- 400 g tin cannellini beans or haricot beans, drained (240g, or ~ 1 1/4 cups, when drained)
- 125 ml (~ 1/2 cup) passata or tomato sauce
- Heat a dash of oil in a small saucepan, and add the diced onion and garlic. Cook over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree, soy sauce, sugar, smoked paprika, and dried thyme, as well as a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and mix well. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
- Next add the drained cannellini beans and passata, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 more minutes (or a little longer, if preferred), and serve hot. I garnished mine with a little parsley.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.