in pursuit of more

living with just a little less

Homemade Baked Beans On Toast – Part One

I think it is safe to say we all need a little comfort in the form of our favourite foods here and there. Growing up, one of my most favourite snack foods was just this – comforting – not to mention dirt cheap and easy to make. After all, what is easier than opening up a can of beans and heating them up? Toss a few pieces of bread in the toaster and slather on the butter….just thinking of it brings me right back to 4th-grade heaven.

My 30 something-year-old self now knows that while the old canned standbys are still good in a pinch, there is nothing better than a warm bowl of home cooked beans and a fresh piece of bread hot out of the oven. Especially when they are this cheap, and this easy. All you need is (just a little) love. And (just a little) time.

Having just celebrated another birthday, I find myself of late quite keenly aware of the fleeting nature of our lives. As I think back to my days as a young child I can tell you my defining moments just as easily as I can tell you what my favourite things to eat were. Most often, and particularly at the beginning of each new school year, I think back to me and my siblings, convening after a long day at school to watch TV and eat food we could make on our own. Hot beans in a bowl. With toast. Childhood comfort food. Three’s Company. Let’s do it!

Homemade Baked Beans:

(2) cups dry white Navy beans, soaked in cold water
(1/3- 1/2 cup) good olive oil
(2) medium-large yellow onions, chopped
(2) tsp salt
(1) small can tomato paste (about 1/2 cup)
(3) tbsp honey, brown sugar, or another plant-based sweetener
(8) cups cold water for cooking
Lots of love of and plenty of time

Start by soaking your beans in plenty of cold of water for anywhere from 8 – 20 hours (8 is about the minimum to soak thoroughly and don’t worry if you ill time the soaking – they can sit there for a while). When ready to cook, drain the beans and rinse in the colander under more fresh cold water. Next, heat the oil in a large soup pot and add the chopped onion and salt. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, being careful not to burn them. Stir here and there, after 10 minutes the onions should be soft and translucent.

Next, add the tomato paste, beans, and 4 cups of cold cooking water. Stir well to dissolve the paste and bring to a boil over high heat with the lid on. Once the boil is reached, stir again and reduce the heat to medium, to keep the simmer at a jolly roll (not boiling but cooking nicely). Cook the beans with the lid ajar for 1.5 hours, stirring here and there and adding the remaining 4 cups of water in increments as the sauce reduces. After the first hour, add whatever water is left, and the honey or sweetener, and cook for 30 minutes until the mixture is deliciously saucy. From here, you can let the beans hang out until you are ready to bake them (you can even sneak in a bowl to eat at this point).

To bake, transfer the beans to a casserole and bake, covered either with the casserole lid or with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and serve hot with fresh bread or toast. These beans will keep extremely well and should be good to eat up to a week after they are made. A little goes a long way here as these guys are hearty and filling, so pile them into a container for those moments during the week when you need a little comfort. Paired up with the bread recipe lined up for the next post, you’ll wonder if there could possibly be anything simpler or more nostalgic (especially if you grew up in my family).

I was pleased to see that 25 years later, kids still love this food as a filler up after soccer practice or after a long tough day as a teenager (because let’s face it, that is exhausting work for those of you who may recall).  Next, I’ll share with you the bread recipe that has literally changed my life since I discovered it. Turns out, it’s never too late to be a baker, even if you’ve never even made bread before! Stay tuned, I am really excited about this one!

91 responses to “Homemade Baked Beans On Toast – Part One

    1. Totally agreed Annie – this bread is ridiculous in how it never fails…I swear I’ve made it 10 times in two weeks (and the kids devour it too). Love it! X

  1. Lovely post.

    And THANK YOU for saying “it’s never too late to be a baker.” (Not only has my girlfriend gotten really into bread baking in the past year, but just this week she has decided to change her plans from nursing school to a certificate/degree in artisan bread and pastry making… it’s a huge nerve-wracking change to make, but she’s doing what makes her happy!)

    1. Thanks Allison! And it is true I think…though the level to which people ‘go for it’ is not something I could ever aspire to – sending good vibes to your brave friend! I love stories like this! X

    1. Glad you like it Alice – and thank YOU! I never know if folks will dig these simple things as much as I do…always so happy to hear when they do 🙂 Thanks! X

  2. Why have I never tried homemade baked beans before? These sound so good. It’s been raining all day, and I’m craving a little comfort food to take the chill off. These will certainly do the trick. Thanks Shira!

  3. Ha I loved when I read “4th grade heaven” — you were a sophisticated little one then! I love the idea of this comfort food. Sort of reminds me of dipping your bread into chili, you just totally reinvented that pleasure.. yum.

    1. Haha! Agreed! A new bread dipping pleasure! So glad you enjoyed that little play on words….if you only knew the levels to which I strived for sophistication back then 🙂 Thank you for reading Kathryn! X

    1. Great question Michelle, and now that you ask, I do (just a litlle!) – we ate this all the time growing up but the closest British connection would be my two grandmothers…I guess it filters in some way?! Happy you like them! X

      1. We’re just back from a month in Normandy in a rental house with British satellite TV. So, I saw lots of beans and toast references! I’ve never had them on toast, but I do so love homemade baked beans.

        1. Try them with toast! It’s the only way! Your holiday sounds superb Michelle! Thanks for sharing … I’d love to visit Normandy someday 🙂

  4. ooooh!!! just in time, i was looking for some recipes to tryout!! 🙂 and i don’t think i could mess this one up! haha! hope you’re doing well!! sorry, i’ve been kinda MIA lately! OH, and guess what I got in the mail today???? my cousins from Vancouver sent me some JJ Bean coffee!!!!! 😀 i can’t wait to try it!!!! it totally made my day!

    1. Hi Ames! Nope, you can’t mess these up!! Go for it! X
      Enjoy the coffee….what kind did you get? That is awesome, your cousin has the BEST taste!

  5. Gorgeous. The best homemade baked beans I had were at a National Trust restaurant – in fact my vegetarian daughter ordered them. We have never forgotten how good they tasted. A reminder of simple pleasures (and to get and make a pot myself).

  6. I’ve never had beans on toast. It looks delicious. But I hate canned beans, I find them inedible. We never use them in Greece, I didn’t know they exist until I left my country.. I always use dry beans for my soups.. I have to try baking them, they look so soft and perfect!

    1. I agree Villy – canned beans are no where near as good as cooking them fresh – and once you get the hang of it, it is so easy! Beans on toast, SO worth a try! I’d love to know what you think 🙂

  7. This is so true – I think baked beans on toast probably is one of the best comfort foods that one can come across. And also one of the constant things that I look out for while holidaying amidst the Buffet spreads or a simple breakfast in a guest house. BTW, looking forward to the next post – baking has always been a challenge for me. I definitely want to believe that ‘ it’s never too late to be a baker’!

          1. Awesome. I did some post rescheduling. Too worn out by all the awesomeness to do all the editing that needs doing. Putting up some old favorites instead, hey, they’re mine right? And they need transferring 😉

  8. You are speaking my language, friend: Bread, beans and back-in-the-day memories (you like my alliteration?) ha! Yeah, I was rather proud myself 🙂

  9. Every quote is a gem Shira.. Each post of yours that I read leaves me with food for thought and more..
    Can’t agree more about avoiding canned goods.. Have been trying to go unprocessed to the extent possible lately. Man! How difficult it seemed at first.. Ironic that good things seem so difficult to do!
    Also, never late to be a baker eh? Have been experimenting to get the perfect “fluffy” home baked whole wheat bread and can’t wait to hear about yours..

    1. Wonderful to hear from you Radhika! I admire you for taking the unprocessed route..indeed at first it seems difficult but it always amazes me how over time things become habit!
      So happy you enjoy the quotes too!
      Stay tuned for the bread….I hope folks enjoy the recipe as much as I have!
      Have a wonderful weekend!

  10. Mmmm baked beans & homemade toast – you are my Hero! I love how different you prepare baked beans than what I typically prepare them ( you have a bit more tomato 🙂 ) I will have to give your version a try!

    Maple is a must in my baked beans…and that secret bread recipe, if it is the one I am thinking of it is life changing, I am pretty sure I gained 5 pounds in a month from eating fresh bread everynight at dinner….whoops – but it is so good!

    Mac n cheese is my favorute comfort food & my moms shepards pie (veganize now!)

    Love this quote I have it on my fridge and read it everyday! “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.”

    1. Oh Heather! Happy to be a hero even very briefly – so happy to hear you make this dish too!
      I have seen many recipes using maple syrup too…perhaps that will be next!
      I too love a good Shepherds pie and you have inspired me to make one as it has been so long! X
      Have a great weekend! 🙂

  11. Oh, those beans look so good! I haven’t had real, home-cooked baked beans since I was a kid! I had never even thought to try and make them- but now I’m craving them! And that bread… Please, Shira, teach me how to be a baker!!!

    When I was a kid, mac and cheese was my comfort food. The Kraft Blue Box, Deluxe Version, to be more specific. As an adult, though, I don’t often crave pasta, but I wouldn’t turn down a bowl of vegan mac and cheese if someone offered! 😉

    1. Mac n cheese yes! You are the second to comment on this’s a sign….maybe I’ll have to get on that soon though I’d be challenged to make a good vegan one! Do you have a recipe? Stay tuned for the bread!! Have a great weekend Kristy!

  12. I ate baked beans on toast so often while living in Ireland, but I bet these taste a thousand times better than any I had there! This would be a big comfort food for me, I’ll have to try this 🙂

    Have a lovely Thanksgiving Shira! I know you will spend it in a supremely wonderful way with wonderful people 🙂

    1. Yes! That’s awesome Gabby I didn’t know – are they big in Ireland? I am so not familiar with the food there! Yes, these are a more natural version of most…perfect for the health conscious bean lover 🙂
      Wishing you a wonderful holiday weekend as well! We are currently en route to Whistler! xox

  13. Beans on toast are one of my favourite comfort foods too and they look like they could rival the Heinz beans that I grew up with (different to the ones that you find in the US that I don’t like, not sure about Canada!). Can’t wait for the bread recipe!

    1. Thanks Rachel! I agree with you…we grew up with the canned Heinz..easy to heat up and eat – and I am happy to report these are better! Enjoy! X

  14. I used to despise legumes as a kid–and how glad I am that times (and palettes) change! Tofu spicy ramen or congee is my favorite comfort food by far…nothing like a steaming hot bowl on a dreary day. Happy belated!

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