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Baked beans review

Cheapest, lowest sugar, gluten free? Find the beans of your dreams. Plus, how to make baked beans in your slow cooker.

baked beans on toast
Last updated: 02 June 2020

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 $0.15 to $0.85 per 100g
  • Use our recipe to make homemade baked beans in your slow cooker

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 keep things simple and eat them piled on top of buttered toast. 

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 17 baked beans products from Aldi, Coles, Heinz, SPC and Watties to find the healthiest, the best value, and more.

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, and are a source of vitamin C, which can help your body absorb more of the iron from the beans. 

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.

Store-bought baked beans have a fairly consistent ratio of roughly 50:50 beans to sauce (although bean content does range from 46% to 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:

heinz beanz the one for all salt reduced
spc aussie made baked beans salt reduced rich tomato
heinz beanz the one for two no added sugar 3 pack

Least salt

  • Heinz Beanz Salt Reduced
  • SPC Aussie Made Baked Beans Rich Tomato Salt Reduced

These two 'salt-reduced' products contain half as much sodium as those at the top end of the scale (and at least 25% less than the regular product in each brand). The salt content of store-bought baked beans is usually fairly moderate – all but five products contain less than 400mg per 100g.

No sugar

  • Heinz Beanz No Added Sugar

This is the only one of the 17 products in our review to contain no added sugar. Heinz Beanz No Added Sugar instead contains non-nutritive sweetener steviol glycoside – additive 960, more commonly known as stevia – which adds a sweet taste without the kilojoules of added sugars. 

The sweetest products in our review, Watties Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (7.3g per 100g) and Aldi Corale Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (green label, 7.5g per 100g), contain almost four teaspoons of sugar per serve.

aldi corale baked beans in tomato sauce green label
aldi corale baked beans in tomato sauce blue label
woolworths baked beans in tomato sauce

Cheapest baked beans

  • Aldi Corale Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (green label) ($0.65 for 425g can)
  • Aldi Corale Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (blue label) ($0.65 for 420g can)
  • Woolworths Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce ($0.65 for 420g can)

At $0.15 per 100g – and less than $1 a can – these three are the cheapest baked beans in our review. So while baked beans are an economical source of nutrition generally, these give you the most bang for your buck.

Are baked beans gluten free?

Fifteen of the 17 baked-beans products we looked at don't have gluten – or gluten-derived ingredients – in their ingredients lists and make no reference to gluten in their allergen statements.

The exceptions are Watties Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce, which contains wheat flour, and Coles Baked Beans in BBQ Sauce, which includes a flavour that contains wheat.

Beanz Meanz Heinz?

Heinz is the market leader in the baked beans category – in part due to its catchy 'Beanz Meanz Heinz' advertising slogan created way back in the 1960's and immortalised by Tim Brooke-Taylor in The Goodies' spoofs of the Heinz ads.

Not only does Heinz offer the largest range of baked beans flavour variations, its products are often sold in multiple pack sizes.

We collated the prices of all the variations to find the best value, so if you're one of the many people for whom 'Beanz Meanz Heinz', choose the Heinz Beanz 300g 3-pack, which works out at $0.33 per 100g.

spc aussie made baked beans rich tomato
spc aussie made baked beans salt reduced rich tomato

Most Australian ingredients

  • SPC Aussie Made Baked Beans Rich Tomato (49%)
  • SPC Aussie Made Baked Beans Rich Tomato Salt Reduced (49%)

SPC is the only brand to use Australian ingredients. Heinz and Watties 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.

Homemade baked beans recipe

This slow cooker baked beans recipe from Fiona Mair, CHOICE home economist, is simple to make and absolutely delicious. Paired with thick slices of buttered toast, it's a perfect antidote to winter blues.

Store-bought baked beans typically use navy, or haricot, beans. But for this recipe you can use cannellini or borlotti beans, which are more widely available in Australia.

homemade baked beans ingredients on benchtop2
homemade baked beans cooking on the stove
homemade baked beans in bowl with crusty bread

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups dried cannellini or borlotti beans (soak overnight, drain and rinse = 3 cups soaked)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 400mL vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or treacle
  • 1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.

Method

  • Heat the oil on medium-high heat in your slow cooker using the sear function (if you have no sear function, use a saucepan on your cooktop – a Dutch oven is ideal)
  • Cook the onion and garlic until soft 
  • Add paprika and mustard and cook for 1 min 
  • Add the beans and the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil 
  • Cook in your slow cooker for 5–6 hours on a high setting. If after that time the sauce is too liquid, then remove the lid and cook on high for a further 15 mins
  • Serve with thick, buttered toast.

Serving suggestions

  • Add fresh chilli or chilli powder
  • Add chopped bacon when frying off the onions and garlic
  • Add fresh herbs such as coriander or parsley
  • Add a dash of red-wine vinegar
  • Sprinkle over grated cheese when serving
  • Serve with cheese kransky.