Homemade baked beans with crispy pancetta

Baked beans on toast: a humble British classic with a tasty Italian twist

Homemade baked beans

The perils of waking up at 6am on a bank holiday! Was so looking forward to a lazy lie-in this morning after a slightly gruelling week, but as I’m up I thought I’d put my early start to good use. With a bank holiday brunch recipe, naturally.

Not sure about you, but the majority of my days are pretty much spent obsessing about food. If I’m not tucking into a towering salami and provolone sandwich, then I’m planning on when I will be, and the sausage cassoulet I’ll be rustling up later. It’s a cross any food lover has to bear.

Having woken up far too early on a much-needed day off, my stomach is already rumbling, so it’s time to plan a very early brunch recipe to start the bank holiday as I mean to go on. (A four-day food fest).

I’m always a little suspicious of people who don’t like beans on toast — I mean what is there not to like? Beans in tomato sauce served up on crispy, buttery toasted bread. Pretty much ticks all the boxes by my book. But if you don’t want to reach for the tin of Heinz in the back of your cupboard, try making homemade baked beans instead.

There’s always a time and a place for Heinz beans, but when you’ve got the time, the homemade version tastes so much better, and they don’t take long to make.

Combine cannellini beans with red onion, tomatoes, a sprinkling of spice and serve up with a few slices of crispy Italian pancetta — mmmm… baked beans with an Italian twist. The best way to start the bank holiday!

Serves 4


  • 1 tin of cannellini beans rinsed and drained
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 red onion (chopped finely)
1 garlic clove (crushed)
1 tbsp brown sugar
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1tsp of paprika
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A little tomato purée
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Smoked pancetta slices
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley
  • Sourdough bread

Baked beans with tomatoes and pancetta

To make

1. Put the beans into a pan of boiling water and simmer for about 5 minutes, then drain.

2. Lightly fry the onions and garlic in a good plug of olive oil, until soft.

3. Add the sugar and wait until the onions start to look golden brown and caramelised.

4. Add the cayenne pepper and paprika and let the flavours infuse into the onions for 2-3 minutes.

5. Str in the tomatoes, tomato purée, beans and Worcestershire sauce and leave to simmer for around 15-20 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half.

6. Grill the slices of pancetta until golden and crispy.

7. Season to taste, then serve up on toasted sourdough bread with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley, top with crispy pancetta.

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