Baked beans is a dish containing beans, baked (or, despite
the name, usually stewed) in a sauce. Most commercial canned baked beans are
made from haricot beans, also known as navy beans - a variety of Phaseolus
vulgaris - and sold in a sauce.
Left: Baked beans
and scrambled egg on toast.
A similar dish is pork and beans and bean recipes which include pork are often
referred to as baked beans.
In the United Kingdom, tomato sauce is most commonly used. In the U.S., Boston
baked beans use pork and a sauce of molasses and are so popular the city has
become known as Beantown. Maine and Quebec-style beans often use
The beans used in the dish are all native to North America
and the USA and were introduced to Italy in 1528 and France by 1547. Beans,
squash and maize were grown together by Native Americans using the Three Sisters
method of farming. According to alternative traditions, sailors brought
cassoulet from the south of France, or the regional bean stew recipes from
northern France and the Channel Islands.
Most probably, a number of regional bean recipes coalesced and cross-fertilised
in North America and ultimately gave rise to the baked bean culinary tradition
While many recipes today are stewed, traditionally beans were baked in a ceramic
or cast-iron bean pot. Bean hole cooking as practiced in Maine's logging camps
used stone-lined fire pits where the bean pots would be buried to cook overnight
Canned beans (often with pork) were among the first convenience foods. Canned
salt pork and beans with stewed tomatoes was supplied to the US Army during the
American Civil War in the 1860s.
In the United Kingdom, the term baked beans refers almost exclusively to canned
beans in a tomato sauce. Some people regard baked beans as integral part of the
Full English Breakfast. As the top selling brand of baked beans,
historically the H. J. Heinz Company has become synonymous with them, although
the growing popularity of other brands has reduced this. An
estimated 95% of baked beans are consumed in the UK.