British-Style Beans on Toast Recipe

British-style beans in tomato sauce on toasted white bread.

Sydney Oland

Why It Works

  • Dried beans retain their shape after a long simmer.
  • This large volume recipe leaves plenty of leftovers for a British breakfast.

As a late-night snack, a light supper or even a quick snack, beans on toast makes an ideal comforting meal when what you need is something warm in your stomach. Another excellent reason to love this simple, hearty dish is that it is very gentle on the wallet. Even after making this filling dish, you should have enough money left to afford a pint or two at the pub.

One of the big money savers comes from using a bag of dried beans; this also ensures that the beans have the right texture after several hours of simmering away. Soaking the beans does mean you need to plan ahead, but between the room in your wallet and the final result, you'll be glad you made the extra effort.

Dried white beans on a white and brown plate.

Sydney Oland

This yields a good amount of food, even if you, like myself, need a nice big serving when eating beans for dinner. Even with a few big helpings for dinner you should still be able to have enough leftover to have a good fry up in the morning.

Although pork has not been a part of British baked beans since rationing was in place during World War II, you can include a few slices of bacon to add some smokiness to the final product. But if you're used to the classic British bean, this version won't disappoint.

Editor’s Note: This recipe originally appeared as a part of Sydney Oland’s recipe series British Bites.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 13 hrs 30 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound (454 grams) dry navy beans

  • 1 gallon (3.8 liters) water

  • 1/4 cup (34 grams) kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vegetable oil

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup / 160 grams)

  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon / 9 grams)

  • 6 cups (1.4 liters) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2 1/2 cups (590 ml) tomato purée

  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons (45 milliliters) molasses

  • 3 tablespoons (45 milliliters) Worcestershire sauce

  • 3 tablespoons (45 milliliters) apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons (33 grams) tomato paste

  • 3 whole bay leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 8 slices sourdough bread

  • Chopped fresh parsley to garnish, optional

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cover beans with 1 gallon of cold water. Add 1/4 cup kosher salt and stir to dissolve. Let soak overnight at room temperature. The next day, drain in a colander.

  2. In a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add soaked navy beans, 4 cups chicken broth, tomato purée, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are cooked, about 5 hours, adding additional broth if beans begin to look dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. Toast bread, then top with a generous portion of beans. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Special equipment

Large Dutch oven