Homemade Baked Beans

Chef, food writer, teach and advocate for real cooking, Gill Meller has transformed this comfort food favourite into a culinary delight. Whether piled onto warm, buttered toast at breakfast, or served in the evening alongside some smoky sausages or crispy fried squid, these homemade baked beans aren't quite the same as the ones you find in a can...

Homemade Baked Beans

Serves 6 to 8


300g (10½oz) dried haricot or cannellini beans 
2 tablespoons fine salt, for soaking the beans
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cracked coriander seeds
4 bay leaves
3 or 4 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1 x 400g (14oz) tin good-quality chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
½ tablespoon molasses
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with water. Add the fine salt, give the beans a stir and allow them to soak for 10–12 hours or overnight.

Drain the beans and place them in a large pan. Cover with more water and set over a medium–high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender, about 35–40 minutes.

Meanwhile set a large heavy-based casserole over a medium–low heat. Add the olive oil followed by the sliced onions. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook, stirring regularly, for 10–12 minutes, until the onions have softened.

Add the garlic, smoked paprika, coriander seeds and all the herbs. Cook for a further 2–3 minutes, then add the canned tomatoes plus half a can of water, and the mustard, sugar, molasses and vinegar and stir well.

Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered over a low heat for about 2 hours, until you have a rich, deep-flavoured sauce that will cling to the tender beans. You might need to top up with water if the mixture looks a little dry.

Add the beans and cook for a further 15–20 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow the beans to stand for 10 minutes before tasting, adjusting the seasoning if necessary, and serving. 

Recipe from Time: a year and a day in the kitchen by Gill Meller (Quadrille, £25.00) Photography: Andrew Montgomery