Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

White beans bake in tomato sauce with bacon, onions, garlic, honey, stock, and chili pepper flakes. The result is a unique tangy, savory version of baked beans.

Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

White beans are so versatile. We usually have several cans ready to go and at least a pound or two of dried beans in the pantry.

A Savory Baked Bean Recipe

This is a simple baked bean dish, with the beans first cooked in simmering water and then baked in a tomato sauce, flavored with bacon and sage, sweetened with honey, and spiced up with some chile flakes.

You could also use pancetta in place of the bacon, or rosemary instead of sage. If you swap out molasses for the honey you'll have something a lot closer to Boston baked beans.

How To Cook Tender Beans

I learned a useful bit of cooking information recently from reading Shirley Corriher's CookWise, and that is that both sugar and calcium will keep beans from softening. Which is why if you are cooking with hard water, you may find your beans taking a lot longer than you might expect to cook to tenderness.

Molasses and brown sugar contain calcium which is why you can cook a pot of baked beans with molasses all day and the beans still retain their shape.

Sugar naturally occurs in tomatoes and in onions, so once the beans go in the sauce in the following recipe, they will take a long time to soften if they aren't already cooked.

Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

Prep Time 60 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Servings 8 to 10 servings

If you want to save time, you can use canned beans instead of dry. Use 3 or 4 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed, and proceed to step 3. If you want a vegetarian version, skip the bacon, increase the olive oil, and use vegetable stock.


  • 1 pound dry cannellini, borlotti or Great Northern beans

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, roughly chopped

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced (can sub fresh rosemary)

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce

  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock (use gluten-free stock for gluten-free version)

  • Salt

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


  1. Soak the beans in water:

    Pre-soak the beans, either by covering with two inches of water and soaking overnight, or by pouring boiling water over them and soaking them for an hour.

  2. Drain the beans, cover with water, cook until tender:

    Drain the beans and put them in a medium-sized pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook until the beans are just soft enough to eat, about 1 hour, give or take 15 minutes or so, depending on how old the beans are (older beans will take longer to cook).

  3. Cook the bacon or pancetta:

    Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a 3 or 4 quart heavy-bottomed, oven-proof, lidded pot such as a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook slowly until lightly browned and crispy.

    bacon cooking in pot for baked beans

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

  4. Sauté the onions:

    Add the chopped onions and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to brown. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.

    onions and bacon cooking in pot for baked beans

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

  5. Add the garlic, chili flakes, sage, then add tomatoes and stock:

    Add the garlic, chile flakes and sage and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the honey and tomato paste. Stir well to combine.

    Add the tomatoes or tomato sauce and the stock. Bring to a simmer. Taste for salt and add some if needed.

    bacon, onions, and spices cooking for savory baked beans

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    tomatoes added to pot for baked beans

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

  6. Add the beans, cover, cook in oven:

    Drain the beans and add them to the pot. Stir well.

    Cover the pot and cook in a 325°F oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

    If still a bit wet, remove the cover and cook for 15 minutes more.

    beans added to tomato sauce in pot

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    finished savory baked beans in tomato sauce

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    Note that the cooking time will depend on several things, the most important being how thoroughly the beans were cooked to begin with when they were simmered.

    If the beans are still a bit hard when they go in the oven, it may take several hours to soften them, once the tomato and honey have been added.

  7. Stir in the parsley and balsamic vinegar:

    Right before serving, gently stir in the chopped parsley and balsamic vinegar. Taste for salt, add more if needed to taste.

    Serve either hot or at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
212 Calories
2g Fat
37g Carbs
13g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 212
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 251mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 14%
Dietary Fiber 8g 29%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 10mg 51%
Calcium 139mg 11%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 1135mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.