We Ranked the 6 Best Canned Baked Beans

One of the first things I did during the pandemic was move back to rural Pennsylvania and purchase a book called Beans: A History. A thrilling title, I know, but I actually became enamored with beans and what they’ve represented over the course of human history. Every civilization cultivated a species of bean, and in every one, beans were seen as a food for the lower and working classes. They were “the poor man’s meat.” To me, beans are the everyman’s food. They represent the underdog, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If humankind had a collective soul, I would argue it exists in the humble bean.

Baked beans are all about tasty, filling sustenance. When done right, a can of baked beans can be a delicious meal. So, what did we look for in this taste test? We wanted good quality, first and foremost. And texture is paramount. Beans should be slightly firm, but rich, buttery, and creamy in the middle. Beans should never be grainy, which several brands we tried unfortunately were. Also, the sauce that comes in the can should be a balance of sweet and tangy. Extra notes of smokiness were a bonus. We of course hoped for good seasoning. And while bacon isn’t a must, if you advertise it, don’t be stingy with it. 

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best canned baked beans

Best of the Best

Bush’s Brown Sugar Hickory Baked Beans

Bush’s is synonymous with baked beans for a reason; they just understand the flavor aesthetic. Bush’s Brown Sugar Hickory beans have that quintessential baked bean taste—sweet, tangy, and a little tomatoey. The addition of smokiness goes a long way, and the hickory adds a nice, standout complexity. The beans themselves are creamy and buttery just like we want. When it comes to baked beans, Bush’s understands, more than anybody else, that sweetness is the move. These have the most pronounced sugary taste of the bunch, and that’s why they’re number one. This is what baked beans are supposed to taste like.

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

best canned baked beans

Best Bacon

Bush’s Maple & Cured Bacon Baked Beans

This can actually had some big chunks of bacon in it, which made it stand out because some of the other cans with added bacon skimped on the bacon. Bush’s Maple & Cured Bacon baked beans have the feeling of a full English breakfast, with an American edge. Like all of Bush’s baked bean products, these are deliciously sweet and the beans are tender. The maple flavor is great, with a molasses-like quality that permeates every bite. This is a really solid can of baked beans, especially if you’re not into frying your own bacon.

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Vegetarian

Amy’s Vegetarian Organic Baked Beans

You’re going to see a lot of vegetarian beans on this list from here on out, and Amy’s is the best vegetarian can of baked beans we tried. It’s very tomato-forward but there’s some sweetness, too. Plus, the bean quality is just excellent. Amy’s uses white beans that are a bit smaller. They kind of clump up together, sticking to each other with sweet tomatoey goo. I thought these were absolutely delicious, and if you ask me, you don’t need bacon for baked beans to work. The beans can shine without the meat.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best To Add To

Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans

The bean texture of these just isn’t as creamy and firm as Amy’s. However, we do adore the sweet taste that Bush’s brings. This is a solid vegetarian option that honors the classic baked bean aesthetic. Plus, you can find and cook better bacon than whatever the hell these companies put in their cans. That’s why this is the best can of beans if you want to add your own fixins. If you’re willing to put in some effort, you could really dress up these beans with some bacon lardon, ham, cut up hot dogs, or sweet caramelized onions. The main thing going for this can of beans is that classic Bush’s taste. 

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Secret Ingredient

Heinz Vegetarian Baked Beans in Rich Tomato Sauce

Closing out a trio of vegetarian baked beans is Heinz Vegetarian Baked Beans, which are sweet, fruity, and slightly tangy. Heinz lists mustard seed, distilled vinegar, garlic powder, and paprika in the ingredients, but honestly, the thing we tasted most was cinnamon (I’m guessing that falls under “spices”). The cinnamon adds an almost dessert-like quality to these baked beans that we quite enjoyed. They tasted much different from everything else we tried.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Firm

B&M Original Baked Beans

The quality of the beans here is really good. I think a bean is best when it’s firm to the touch but super creamy in the middle, and B&M beans are really firm. I think this is the firmest you can serve a baked bean without calling it al dente. The middle, however, is luscious and buttery. The sauce that comes with the beans, however, is lacking in the flavor department. If you buy these, you might want to add some brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, etc. Basically, experiment with what’s in your fridge to take these up a notch, flavor-wise.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Other products we tried: Great Value Baked Beans, Great Value Maple and Cured Bacon, Bush’s Original, Trader Joe’s Baked Beans, Bush’s Country Style, Dakota’s Pride Original, Dakota’s Pride Maple, Dakota’s Pride Country Style, Whole Foods 365.

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About the Author

Danny Palumbo

Danny is a comedian, cook, and food writer living in Los Angeles. He loves gas station eggs, canned sardines, and Easter candy. He also passionately believes that all the best chips come from Pennsylvania (Herr's!). If you can't understand Danny when he talks, it's because he's from Pittsburgh.

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  • No offense at all, Danny – solid list here – but HOW, when you folks are part of Mythical Entertainment, do you not have a “Best Rhett Beans” in here??? He’s the Bean Aficionado, after all! The King of Legumes! What would *HE* choose?

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