Beans on Toast: The Ultimate British Meal of Champions

The History of Beans on Toast

Here’s the big one! For us, anyway, as beans on toast has been a major part of our lives for as long as we can remember.

Previously, we’ve covered how baked beans are made. Now we want to detail the most famous meal you can make with them. And why you should want to.

What’s Beans on Toast?

It’s a super convenient meal consisting of baked beans on buttered toast. The dish is famous for its simplicity, cheapness, and tastiness.

However, it’s also often associated with lazy cooking or for anyone on a low budget.

The baked beans are in a tomato-based sauce and the most famous brand (here in the UK, anyway) is Heinz. Which is actually an American company.

In the US, baked beans are a bit different to here in the UK.

American versions contain much more sugar and salt. Frankly, we find the UK ones sugary enough already, so in the US it must be like having a bloody ice cream.

Anyway, due to the cheapness of a tin, baked beans are often associated with students at university on the prowl for a cheap meal.

You can get bargain tinned baked beans for as little as 32p (and lower), making it a great and affordable meal.

In England, the foodstuff is so popular it’s often created baked beans price wars. One was in July of 1994.

We remember no frills baked beans from Iceland supermarket costing about 6p. Bargain of the century right there.

What’s the History of Beans on Toast?

Heinz claims the dish was invented around 1927, but the probability is it’s been around for a fair old while before even then.

During WWI and WWII, the meal was cheap, cheerful, and filling. Along with fish and chips, beans on toast provided a feeling of security during dire times.

And so it’s stuck around big time as a national tradition.

Heinz is an iconic dish in the UK. Nods to it are all over the place, such as with The Who Sell Out concept album in 1967.

We’re sure the recipe is popular all across the world, it’s just one us Brits have particularly latched onto with a degree of real fervency.

English folk love comfort food like cheese on toast. A lot of Brits are fussy eaters, preferring simplicity over mind-bending complexity. And these traditions have become deeply entrenched in our national psyche.

And so slopping a tin of beans into a pan and heating it for a few minutes before dumping that lot on some toasted white bread? Ee ba gum! Reet proper.

Here’s a true story to highlight the homely nature of this dish in England.

We had one vegetable fearing housemate at university. Let’s call him Margaret.

Margaret can’t eat vegetables without almost vomiting (this is a common thing here, most of our male friends have a real issue with veg).

But baked beans are no problem for him. This is because Margaret loves baked beans! However, this discrepancy turned out to be because Margaret didn’t realise baked beans are a vegetable.

After explaining this to him at length, he appeared to accept the harsh reality. Although we should imagine he still awakes screaming at night.

How Do You Make Beans on Toast?

Beans on toast may seem like a simple recipe of two slices of white bread with the beans on top. Voilà and all that.

That’s how many people do make it, of course. Cheap white bread, margarine, and food splat on the baked bean goodness.

It’s fine. But there’s a bit more to it, if you want something extra special.

We try to aim for rye bread toasted. Then add the houmous on top. Chuck the beans on after and you’ve got a glorious meal.

You can spice up the beans with black pepper, of course, and consider chucking in a bit of finely chopped onion/shallots and garlic.

Truly, beans on toast doesn’t have to be a meal for working class scumbags. It can also be a work of bloody art!

How to Make Upper Class Beans on Toast

Here he is again. It’s gorgeous, hunky, ooh la la, hubba hubba, dreamboat stunner that is Jamie Oliver with his take on the classic recipe.

So, yeah, it’s kind of ironic baked beans were considered a posh, upper class dish. Just quite a long time ago, whereas these days it’s associated with working class/lower middle class reprobates such as ourselves.

Oliver really does do an upper class take on this classic recipe. Look at that lot!

We’re not sure what else you could do. Maybe chuck some caviar all over the thing. Otherwise, just stick to your usual tin from the local supermarket.


  1. Lovely dish but that’s not what I heard. Phaseolous vulgarous ( navy beans ) orig
    in South Africa . The delicious dish, baked beans, or as they were originally named, Boston Baked Beans, was stolen ( like most things ) from the American Natives by the colonists ( pilgrims) and made its way back to England with the English soldiers as they hurried post haste back to their homeland. They couldn’t leave empty handed. Love the pic of Jamie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Baked beans are also a staple here in NZ. One brilliant wheeze with them is to separate out the sauce from the beans. Heat the sauce separately while adding liberal quantities of chili powder. Carefully drizzle the sauce over the washed and warmed beans to build the sort of presentation usually found in high-end cookbooks. Then invite people to eat it, omitting to mention the actual origins of the dish. Or the chili.

    Liked by 1 person

Dispense with some gibberish!

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