Heinz Beans, produced in England, are a staple for many Brits both in the UK and abroad. If you’ve ever been to the UK, you might have been surprised to see the beans included in a full English breakfast. Heinz beans are the ultimate in comfort food, no matter how they are served.
The UK version of Heinz beans is an absolute favorite of the Master Taste Tester. Through the years, I tried unsuccessfully to reproduce this humble product. However, RecipeTin Eats published a copycat recipe that looked so much like the real thing that I just had to give it a try. They were about as close to the real thing as I could have imagined.
About Heinz Beans
Heinz is an American company founded in 1869 in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1886, Heinz baked beans were exported to England and first sold in Fortnum & Masons.
Originally, the beans included pork and much more sugar than now. Over the years, the sugar level was decreased to suit the British taste. Because of meat shortages during World War II, pork was omitted.
Some significant differences exist between the Heinz beans produced in the UK and those produced in the US. The two main differences are the sugar level and the sodium level.
The US variety has twice the amount of sugar, and almost double the amount of sodium, both of which are unnecessary, at least in my opinion.
Today Heinz beans are produced near Wigan, in Northwest England. The Wigan factory is the largest food factory in Europe. An astonishing 3 million cans are produced every day. Of that, over 2 million cans of beans are consumed every day in the UK.
If you’re interested, you should check out the Inside the Factory episode showing the amazing process whereby these delicious beans are produced.
Ingredients: Here’s What You’ll Need
- The Beans: While different beans can be used, my choice was the dried Navy bean, known as the haricot bean in other countries. This is the bean that is used to make the Heinz beans.
- The Liquid: The liquid noted on the Heinz can is water. However, I used a combination of chicken broth and water. I also included some Worcestershire sauce and cider vinegar.
- Tomato: I used two types of tomato products: (1) Ketchup; and (2) Tomato Paste.
- The Spices: For the spices, I used garlic powder, onion powder, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
- The Sweetener: My sweetener of choice was light brown sugar.
- The Magic Ingredient: Towards the end of cooking, the beans needed a thickener to produce the telltale sauce. I used none other than cornstarch for this.
Step 1: Soaking the Beans
Because the beans are dried, they need to be reconstituted. This is done by soaking the beans in water.
Two methods can be used to soak the beans: (1) long-soak in cold water; or (2) quick-soak in boiling water. I tried both methods and prefer the quick-soak method because it’s quicker and does as good a job as the long-soak method.
With the quick-soak method, I rinsed the dried beans and added about 6 cups of filtered water to them in a Dutch oven. I heated the water to boiling and let the beans boil for about 2 minutes. Then, I removed the pan from the stove, covered it, and let the beans soak for about an hour.
Step 2: Cooking the Beans
After the beans soaked for an hour, I drained and rinsed them. Now, it was time to cook the beans.
I returned the soaked beans to the Dutch oven and covered them with about 6 cups of filtered water. I brought the beans to a boil. Then, I reduced the heat to medium-low, covered the pan, and cooked the beans for about 45 minutes, just until the beans were tender, but still slightly firm on the inside. The actual time will vary depending on the beans.
After 45 minutes the beans were perfect. They were soft on the outside and slightly firm on the inside. I wanted to be careful not to overcook the beans at this point. The reason was that the beans still needed some cooking in the sauce.
Once the beans were cooked, I drained them and set them aside to make the sauce.
Step 3: Making the Sauce
Beans are beans. However, it’s the sauce that defines Heinz beans.
Making the sauce is super simple. Basically, I whisked together all of the sauce ingredients in the same Dutch oven that I used to cook the beans. That’s it!
Step 4: Finishing the Heinz Beans
Once I had whisked together the sauce ingredients, I added the cooked beans to the Dutch oven. I stirred everything together and set the Dutch oven over medium heat.
After the mixture came to a slow boil, I reduced the heat to medium-low and cooked the beans uncovered for about 20 minutes, until the beans were perfectly done.
After 20 minutes, a poured in a slurry of cornstarch and water. I stirred the beans constantly until the sauce had thickened.
The transformation was amazing. Before my very eyes, the soupy, nondescript mixture turned into thick tomato-coated beans that looked just like the Heinz beans!
I let the beans cook for about five more minutes before removing them from the heat.
How I Serve Heinz Beans
Heinz beans are amazingly versatile. All that is required is to heat them up either in the microwave or on the stovetop.
When we want the ultimate in simplicity and comfort food, we have beans on toast. This may sound odd to Americans but is delicious.
Sometimes, we do as the British do and have a jacket potato (a.k.a. baked potato) loaded with Heinz beans. This may also sound odd to Americans. However, it’s delicious.
This recipe for Heinz Beans is about as close to the real thing as I can imagine. If you’re a fan of this British staple, you should give the recipe a try. Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
I like to use filtered water to minimize any added flavor from unfiltered water. However, it’s fine to use unfiltered water if you so choose.
For a vegetarian recipe, you can either omit the chicken broth and replace it with the same quantity of water or use vegetable broth.
As the beans cook, they tend to produce foam on top of the water. You can spoon the foam off, or just leave it. Over time, the foam will disappear.
Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat the beans in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Other British Recipes
If you’re a fan of British food like I am, you should try these amazing recipes:
This is a repost of the Copycat Heinz Beans from May 18, 2020. This repost includes the same great recipe with the cooking times tweaked a bit from the original post. It also includes updated text and photographs.
I first posted this amazing recipe on May 18, 2020. Since then, I’ve made this recipe number of times. This update contains improved text and photographs. It also includes the same great recipe, with the cooking times tweaked a bit.
I hope you liked this recipe for Copycat Heinz Beans as much as I do. If so, please consider rating it and leaving a comment. Also, if you’d like to receive notifications of new posts by email, enter your email address in the Subscribe box.
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Heinz Beans (Copycat)
- 16 ounces (2 cups) dried Navy beans
- Water for soaking the beans (See Tip 1)
- 2 cups (16-ounces) chicken broth (See Tip 2)
- 1 cup (8-ounces) water
- 6 Tablespoons ketchup (See Tip 3)
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup water
- Rinse the beans well. Place in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Cover with water (I used 6 cups). Bring to a boil over high heat; boil for 2 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 1 hour. (See Tip 4)
- Drain and rinse beans. Return to Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low. Cover pan and cook until the beans are tender but still hold their shape, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (See Tips 5 and 6)
- Drain beans in colander. Set aside.
- Whisk together the chicken broth, water, ketchup, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper in the same pan as was used to cook the beans. Add the cooked and drained beans.
- Heat over medium heat until mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the beans are perfectly cooked.
- Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Slowly add to bean mixture, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Continue cooking for five minutes.
- Yield: 14 servings. (See Tip 7)
- I always use filtered water when I soak beans and when I cook them. Is this absolutely necessary? Probably not. However, I want to minimize added flavor to the beans from unfiltered water.
- I used low sodium chicken broth. For a vegetarian dish, use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.
- I used low sugar ketchup, but you can use regular ketchup if you prefer.
- As the beans cook, they tend to produce foam on top of the water. You can spoon the foam off, or just leave it. Over time, the foam will disappear.
- Watch the beans carefully to ensure that they aren’t over-cooked. You want them to still be very slightly firm in the center. The reason is that the beans will continue to cook in the sauce.
- The timing is based on using the quick-soak method. If you prefer, you can soak the beans over night or up to 24 hours in cold water. With this soaking method, the beans will take longer to cook – between 1 hour and 1 ½ hours.
- Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat the beans in the microwave or on the stove top.