Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

If you want to save time, you can used 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.

  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10 as a side


  • 1 pound dry cannellini, borlotti or Great Northern beans
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced (can sub fresh rosemary)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chile flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 2 Tbsp 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 Tbsp 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 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 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.

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4 Sauté 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.

5 Add garlic, chili flakes, sage, then add tomatoes and stock: Add the garlic, chile flakes and sage and cook for 1-2 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.

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

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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 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.

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  • cleo

    I’ve also used this recipe for a Vegetarian option, but I just used regular cooking oil and didn’t substitute anything for the meat, and it turned out really well. For me it’s become a go-to to make ahead whenever my boyfriend and I go camping for a few days and will want substantial food to eat that doesn’t need to be heated-up to eat.

  • Tatiana

    Have you or anyone tried canning this recipe?

    • Elise Bauer

      I have not tried canning this recipe. If you do, you’ll need a pressure canner.

  • Peace Peace

    I would like to ask about using Balsamic Vinegar. Can I use the white vinegar instead of? Thank you so much.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi, balsamic vinegar is sweeter than regular vinegar, so if I were to use white vinegar, I would suggest adding a little honey or sugar.

  • natasaha

    this helped me out because all I had in the cupboard was a tin of cheap baked beans , some fresh sage reduced, some tomato sauce my friend gave me, chilly power , rosemary, and a jacket potato. I would not know these things would go well together. thanks, coz Im eating it now. nice.

  • Mark

    Made a vegetarian version of this a couple of times. I used ghee (clarified butter) instead of the oil\fat from the bacon, which stops the beans from tasting ‘thin’ (there is a bit of a pun in there!) and added some intensity to substitute for the bacon flavour with a handful of sun dried tomatoes, sliced thinly.

    Very popular with everyone, I must say.

    Thank you!

  • naomi

    I want to use a glut of fresh tomatoes also butter beans . can these be used ? also does it freeze ?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Naomi,
      Great questions! If I were to use fresh tomatoes, I would score them and blanch them, and then remove the peels. Then I would chop them up and cook them until they are cooked through before using them for this recipe. As for butter beans, I’m assuming they would work, it’s worth a try. As for freezing, I don’t know! I haven’t tried freezing this.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Made this recipe, loved it, and blogged it. Thanks!


  • Garrett

    This. Was. Delicious.


  • laetitia

    I made this just now and being a poor student, i used a can of 60 cent heinz white beans and tomato sauce.
    i chopped half an onion and some bacon, cooked it in some olive oil with assorted herbs, threw in the the contents of the can, let it simmer for a while for all the flavors to combine, and then added a dash of balsamic vinegar and honey.
    only having to buy the canned beans, onion and bacon, this was the cheapest meal ever! less than three euros spent!
    also very very tasty!

  • Mara

    I’ve been looking for a new way to eat white beans. So delicious and so full of good-for-you ingredients! I’m vegetarian, though. Think tempeh could be substituted for the bacon/pancetta?

  • Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul

    This looks so delicious.
    I’ve been wanting to make baked beans for a while. I might try to veganize this recipe; though I wonder what would be the best replacement for the bacon flavor?

    • Victoria

      I use a couple of dashes of liquid smoke in recipes I want to replace bacon along with a bit more oil. Gives it that subtle smokiness that you miss without the meat.

  • Omeghan

    I would probably add a bit of baking soda to the soak water….to eliminate possible flatulance.

    I find adding baking soda to my first boil of whole yellow soup peas, for pea soup, eliminates flatulance.

    So I have to presume this would work here as well…

  • chris ester

    First, I want to say that I love your website. The recipes are great. I will definitely be back.

    I don’t know if anyone else mentioned it, but acid and salt will also keep beans from softening. That is why you add salt after your beans are cooked. I have been vegetarian for about 20 years now and started in college surviving on beans and rice, so I learned a lot about beans. I added salt and tomatoes to a pot full of beans once and it took two days in the crockpot to get them edible!!

  • Debbie

    I love most all kinds of beans, but for some reason white beans are my least favorite. I do remember eating navy beans when I was a kid though so that is what I used in this recipe. This was so good! I used the lesser amount of chili flakes suggested, but I think I will use the larger amount next time. Thanks!

  • laura @ alittlebarefoot

    these look so good, and more like british baked beans, which i grew up eating and loving! yum.

  • Sally Cameron

    Looks great Elise. I love white beans, Cannellini are my favorite, from Rancho Gordo. I have 4 pounds in the pantry now. Just made a pot two days ago and we are still enjoying. Added shredded roast chicken and made a soup/stew. Love your baked version. I’ve always loved baked beans. Also really good advice on cooking beans, like the hard water tip. Thanks.

  • T Street

    This looks like a great recipe! One question though:

    “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.”

    Does any one know if this may hold true for Wild Rice as well? I bought some a few weeks ago, cooked according to directions, and it was like eating little sticks :(