Comforting Smoky Baked Beans

I've been craving serious comfort food recently. I think it's all the endless dark and chilly evenings. By the time I get home from work, I'm usually in need of a quick supper. Something soothing and hearty to warm the soul. There's nothing like a plate of baked beans to do the trick!

Baked beans are one of those staple foods that always seem to hit the spot. Baked beans on toast, baked potato, beans and cheese, shepherd's pie and beans, beans and pasta (yes really!), sausage, mash and beans... My list goes on. Honestly, I used to have beans with just about anything! In fact, some of my fondest and most distinct childhood memories take me back to tucking into plates of warm soggy toast covered in Heinz baked beans on our annual cycling holidays in Wales. Lots of hungry children gathered round a big country table, knives and forks at the ready. It's funny how certain memories stick.

I actually looked up the definition of 'comfort food' to see if it fits with what I have in mind when I think of comfort food. Is it what others think of too?  Here's what I found...


  1. food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically having a high sugar or carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.

    "single people tend to eat more comfort foods"

This definition really made me smile. It sums up my comfort food cravings rather too well!  Now, as much as I'm all about moderation (a tin of shop brought beans every now and then isn't going to cause anyone any serious harm), having tinned beans on a regular basis probably isn't the best idea. Unfortunately the majority are high in refined sugars and preservatives. I decided it was time to try and create my own to settle my comfort food fix.

Although I've made baked beans a few times before, this was the first time I made a note of the recipe. Each serving of this recipe packs in at least two of your five-a-day, and then maybe more depending on what you serve it with. I went for one classic way to serve my beans (beans on toast) and one slightly different way (a smoky beans buddha bowl). I'd love to know how you like to serve yours. What's your favourite way to have baked beans? Comment below or tag me @mylifeisforliving to let me know. Who knows, if your idea grabs me, I might whip out my final portion (currently waiting in the freezer) and give it a try myself!

My buddha bowl of smoky baked beans, quinoa, kale and sauerkraut.  

My buddha bowl of smoky baked beans, quinoa, kale and sauerkraut.  

Comforting Smoky Baked Beans

Time: 60 minutes 

Serves: 3-4 (make double if you want more leftovers to freeze)

Vegan. Dairy Free. Gluten Free. 


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin 
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika 
  • 1 tsp. dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree 
  • 1 x400g tin of chopped tomatoes 
  • 100-150ml water
  • 1 x400g tin butter beans
  • 1 x400g tin cannellini beans
  • 1-2 tbsp. maple syrup (or honey) 
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste


  • Heat the oil over a medium head in a saucepan or casserole dish.
  • Add the onion, leek, garlic, cumin, paprika, and mixed herbs, and cook gently for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften and brown. 
  • Add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, and a generous splash of water. 
  • Bring to the boil, then add the tinned beans, maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
  • Turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 40 minutes.  Stir the beans regularly to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan and add a couple more splashes of water if needed. 
  • Once the sauce has thickened and the beans have softened, remove from the heat and serve with your choice of accompaniments. It's time to tuck right in! 

Until next time,

Hannah x