Home-Made (smoky bacon) Baked Beans

I think I’ll stick to using regular cans of baked beans

Supermarket shopping during the pandemic has been challenging, particularly if you don’t feel comfortable stepping foot into stores. Getting hold of your favourite brands can also be problematic and my son Will has particularly missed his barbecue baked beans. I’ve tried to explain to him that some things are more important, but he’s a teenager ;-).

So, to avoid a household ‘crisis’ I decided to try making Home-Made Baked Beans from the Hairy Dieters. They suggest using dried haricot beans and soaking them overnight, or using 2 400g cans of cooked beans. I chose the latter because spending up to 2 hours to prep beans when I could just open a regular can, even in lockdown, seemed ridiculous. If you opt for using canned beans, in total it will take you about 40 minutes to make this.

Will’s verdict on my smoky bacon beans was soul destroying. “They don’t really taste of barbecue Dad”. “Thanks son”. But the cheeky youth had a point – they were a little bland. The following day I was more liberal with the paprika and black treacle and the leftovers did taste more authentic. But, for the time and effort devoted to make them, I think the ungrateful boy is just going to have to wait until things return to normal.

Recipe: Home-Made (smoky bacon) Baked Beans

Calories: Veggie: 103 per portion; Bacon: 131 per portion

Serves: 8 as a side dish

Book: Hairy Dieters – Good Eating

Prep time: Approx 20 mins, plus soaking time

Cooking time: Approx 1 hour 45 mins


  • 200g dried haricot or other beans (or 2 x 400g cans of cooked beans)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 slice of onion
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 onion (very finely diced)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and very finely diced)
  • 1 celery stick (trimmed and very finely diced)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 400g can of tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Flaked sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

Smoky bacon beans

  • ½-1 tsp black treacle
  • 100g smoked back bacon (fat trimmed and meat finely diced)

Cost per portion: Approx 0.32p veggie beans, approx 0.45p smoky bacon beans

Method: If you’re using dried beans, soak them overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain the beans, then put them in a large saucepan, add water to cover generously and bring to the boil. Keep skimming off any foam that forms until it turns white. Add the bay leaves, onion slice and cloves and continue to boil for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down and simmer for 45-60 minutes. The beans should be cooked through but not too soft, so check them regularly after 45 minutes. Drain, discarding the cooking liquid, bay, onion and cloves.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. They should be chopped as finely as possible – almost to a puree – so you could use a food processor. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the vegetables and cook them slowly for 10 minutes. Towards the end of this time, turn up the heat slightly so the vegetables start to caramelise – this adds sweetness to the sauce. Pour in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, soy sauce, paprika and cloves. Season and leave to simmer for about half an hour until the sauce is well reduced.

Using a stick blender or ordinary, puree the sauce until smooth. Tip it back into the pan, then add the beans or canned). Simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to blend.

Smoky bacon beans

Prepare the beans and veg as above, adding the treacle at the same time as the tomatoes and soy sauce. Start with half a teaspoon, simmer the sauce for a few minutes, then taste and add more treacle if you think it needs it. Fry the bacon in a non-stick frying pan until crisp and brown, then add it to the pureed sauce. Drain off any fat from the pan, then deglaze the pan with a little water and add this to the sauce too. Add the beans and simmer for 15 minutes as above.


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