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Best baked beans

Cheapest, lowest sugar, gluten free? Find the beans of your dreams. 

Last updated: 09 June 2023


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • Baked beans are nutritious, although how healthy depends on how much salt and sugar is in the sauce
  • The products we review range in price from 15–90 cents per 100g
  • Our experts have rated 16 baked beans products on taste and nutrition

There's so much to love about baked beans.

They're incredibly versatile and are equally at home as a meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can liven them up by pairing them with a cheesy jacket potato, or fried eggs to create huevos rancheros. Or just keep things simple and eat them piled on top of buttered toast. 

We got people talking in the CHOICE Community about how they eat their baked beans, and we discovered that it's rare that they're eaten alone. It seems people love adding baked beans to their toast, potato and eggs, and they're also a popular jaffle filling.

Their low cost means baked beans are super easy on the hip pocket

The meals to be had from a humble can of baked beans can often be ready to eat within minutes of opening the lid, which is always a bonus. 

And of course, their low cost means baked beans are super easy on the hip pocket. No pantry cupboard is complete without a can (or three). 

So which store-bought baked beans are best? We compare the price, ingredients, nutrition and country of origin of 16 baked beans products from Aldi, Coles, Heinz, SPC and Watties to find the healthiest, the best value, and more.

Best baked beans

Here are our top six recommended baked beans, based on taste and nutrition.

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Watties Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce 420g

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 80%
  • Taste test score: 76%
  • Price: 52c per 100g
  • Health Star Rating: 4.5
  • Expert comments: "Nice colour, whole, plump beans, rich looking sauce, smokey tomato flavour,  and well-cooked beans."
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Black & Gold Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce 420g

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 79%
  • Taste test score: 79%
  • Price: 15c per 100g
  • Health Star Rating: 4
  • Expert comments: "Deep red colour, fresh aroma, balanced flavour and a nice balanced texture for the sauce and beans."
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SPC Baked Beans Rich Tomato Sauce 425g

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 79%
  • Taste test score: 79%
  • Price: 52c per 100g
  • Health Star Rating: 4
  • Expert comments: "Rich sweet red colour, smooth, rich and balanced flavour, beans are well-cooked, slight bite to it."
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Coles Baked Beans Smart Buy 420g

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 77%
  • Taste test score: 75%
  • Price: 26c per 100g
  • Health Star Rating: 4
  • Experts say: "Nice colour, whole beans, sage and tomato flavour, balanced, beans smooth and well cooked."
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Coles Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce 425g

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 76%
  • Taste test score: 74%
  • Price: 35c per 100g
  • Health Star Rating: 4
  • Expert comments: "Nice colour, whole beans, rich-looking sauce, sweet tomato aroma, slight bitter tang, beans a little firm."
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F Whitlock & Sons Killer Beans Fred's Ballistic Tomato & Basil 420g

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 76%
  • Taste test score: 65%
  • Price: 90c per 100g
  • Health Star Rating: 5
  • Expert comments: "Nice homemade-looking beans, looks fresh, strong aroma and taste, beans have a good mouthfeel."

Are baked beans healthy?

Essentially, baked beans are legumes in a tomato-based sauce. And it's fair to say they tick multiple boxes when it comes to nutrition. 

For starters, beans/legumes are:

  • a source of plant-based protein
  • rich in quality carbohydrates, with a low glycemic index (for blood glucose control)
  • a good source of B-group vitamins (especially folate), iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium
  • full of dietary fibre (both the insoluble and soluble varieties)
  • low in fat.

And the tomatoes in the sauce contain the antioxidant lycopene, which is actually more easily absorbed through processed tomato products such as baked bean sauce than in fresh tomatoes.

The more you eat the more you… what?

If you get an upset stomach from eating beans it's likely because of compounds called fructans and oligosaccharides, which form part of the group of carbohydrates called FODMAPs.

If you're overly sensitive to these compounds you'll need to limit your intake of baked beans to avoid gut issues, but if you can tolerate them in moderation, consider including them in your diet as they certainly hit the nutrition mark.

One of your five vegie serves

As an added bonus, baked beans count towards the five serves of vegies we should be (and often aren't) eating every day – half a cup (75g) is considered to be one serve.

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Store-bought baked beans are usually 50:50 beans to sauce. But they have varying levels of sugar and salt.

Salt and sugar

Store-bought baked beans have a fairly consistent ratio of roughly 50:50 beans to sauce (although bean content does range from 46–51%). So what tends to make them more or less healthy is the amount of added salt and sugar in the sauce.  For this reason, a few products stand out.

Least salt

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) states that anything with a sodium level of less than or equal to 120mg per 100g is low salt. Unfortunately, none of the baked beans we tested in this review are below this level. 

We also noted that products that made claims about having reduced or low salt didn't necessarily have the lowest amounts.

The products with the lowest salt contents are:

  • Just Organic Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce – 210mg per 100g
  • Macro Woolworths Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce – 225mg per 100g
  • SPC Baked Beans Salt Reduced Rich Tomato – 226mg per 100g

These products contain about 200mg less sodium than those at the top end of the scale, which is quite a significant difference, especially if you're trying to reduce your salt intake.

Low sugar

All the baked beans we reviewed contain added sugar, but half of them are low in sugar, which FSANZ defines as less than 5 grams per 100g. F Whitlock & Sons' 'Killer Beans Fred's Ballistic Tomato & Basil' has the lowest sugar content, with 2.9 grams of sugar per 100g. 

High sugar

While food packaging doesn't have to differentiate between naturally occurring sugars (such as the sugar in tomatoes) and added sugars, we used the FoodSwitch added sugar estimate to identify the products with the most added sugars. Combined with naturally occurring sugars, these two products each have a total of more than three teaspoons of sugar per serve: 

  • Watties Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce – 6g total sugars per 100g
  • Black & Gold Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce – 5.9g total sugars per 100g

Both these products rated highly in our taste test, which isn't surprising considering how much added sugar can increase palatability.

Cheapest baked beans

  • Black & Gold Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce – $0.15 for 420g can 
  • Aldi Corale Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce –$0.24 for 420g can

At 15 cents per 100g – and less than $1 a can – the Black & Gold beans are the cheapest in our review. They're also the third-highest rated by our experts, meaning they're delicious, nutritious and affordable – which is great considering the rising cost of living. Although as noted above, they're relatively high in sugar. 

Are baked beans gluten-free?

None of the baked beans in this test specifically had a gluten-free claim; 14 of the 16 baked bean products we looked at don't specifically mention gluten (or gluten-derived ingredients) in their ingredient lists, and make no reference to gluten in their allergen statements. This doesn't necessarily mean they're gluten-free though, or safe for coeliacs.

Exceptions are Watties Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce, which contain wheat flour, and SPC Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce & Vegemite, which include barley and wheat in the Vegemite powder.

Highest proportion of Australian ingredients

  • SPC Aussie Made Baked Beans Rich Tomato & Vegemite (48% Australian ingredients)
  • SPC Aussie Made Baked Beans Rich Tomato (47% Australian ingredients)
  • SPC Aussie Made Baked Beans Rich Tomato Salt Reduced (47% Australian ingredients)

SPC is the only brand to use any Australian ingredients. Heinz, Watties and F Whitlock & Sons baked beans are made in New Zealand, and other brands tend to be packed or manufactured in Italy using beans from the USA or Canada.

How we tested

We chose 16 traditional baked beans in tomato sauce products available in major supermarket chains nationally. We then set up a blind taste test where each product was tasted by experts, who gave a rating based on flavour, texture, appearance and smell. 

Not all characteristics in the taste test were treated equally, with flavour being the most important and weighted heavier, followed by texture, appearance and aroma. The CHOICE Expert Rating, our overall score, is made up of the taste test score (70%) and the nutrition score (30%).

Awards _6292

Our baked beans taste testers (left to right): Petr Valouch, Michele Walsh and Daniel Abou-Chedid.

Meet the taste testers

Daniel Abou-Chedid has more than a decade of experience as a professional chef and consultant within the food industry. He's been a cooking ambassador for kitchen appliance brands, delivered live culinary demonstrations across Australia for companies including Domayne and Westfield, and made guest appearances as a chef for P&O Cruises. As well as his consulting work, Daniel runs the onsite catering business Fork n' Knife, which he established, as well as Gosford eatery At Baker Street.

Michele Walsh has worked in the baking industry for more than 30 years, starting as an apprentice and now working as a tertiary-educated professional in the vocational education and training sector, where she delivers training to apprentices and non-apprentices in retail baking and patisserie. She has more than 15 years of experience in judging, including the RAS Professional Bakery and WorldSkills trades competitions. 

Petr Valouch has more than 25 years of experience being a CHOICE expert tester. A self-confessed baked beans lover, Petr was quick to volunteer himself for this test – a slight departure from his usual job testing whitegoods in our labs.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.