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5 May 2021

Best baked beans

With supermarket own-brand baked beans costing less than half as much as the likes of Heinz and Branston, there’s money to be saved on this store cupboard staple. That's why we had our taste-test panel try out 11 varieties of beans, including nine supermarket own-brands, to find the tastiest and best-value options.
Baked beans on a fried breakfast
Baked beans on a fried breakfast
Michael Passingham

In October 2020 we pitted the big baked bean brands of Branston and Heinz against nine supermarket own-brand alternatives to see whether paying more for a tin of beans gets you a tastier product.

We found just two products worthy of Best Buy status, and neither of the big brands got a look in at the top spot. Nearing the bottom of the table were a few supermarkets you might not have expected to produce below-par beans.

Read on to see which own-brand baked beans we recommend, and the ones to avoid. 

Best baked beans revealed

Only logged-in Which? members can view our full results and tasting notes below, and discover which baked beans we rated highest. 

If you're not yet a member, you can see which baked beans we tested below, listed in alphabetical order. To get instant access join Which? today. 

All prices correct as of January 2021.

Aldi Corale Premium Quality Baked Beans

£0.29 for 420g (7p per 100g)

Aldi baked beans

Aldi’s beans are some of the cheapest around but also promise ‘premium quality’. Too good to be true or a savvy bargain?

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Available from Aldi.

Asda Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

£0.29 for 410g (both 7p per 100g)

Asda baked beans

Asda is known for its good-value everyday essentials, so while these beans are cheap, expectations of quality are high. 

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Available from Asda

Branston Baked Beans

£0.75 for 410g (18p per 100g)

Branston baked beans

It might be best known for its pickles, but Branston also has a variety of beans available in the supermarkets. Should you bring out the Branston for your beans on toast?

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Available from Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

Co-op Baked Beans

£0.32 for 400g (8p per 100g)

Is your local Co-op hiding the UK’s best own-brand baked beans within its aisles? We’ve put them to the test.

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Available from Co-op.  

Heinz Baked Beans

£0.85 for 415g (20p per 100g)

Heinz baked beans

The name you think of when it comes to baked beans faces a challenge from the UK’s biggest own-brands. Can it see them off and earn the title of Which? Best Buy beans?

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Available from Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco, and Waitrose.

Lidl Newgate Baked Beans

£0.29 for 420g (7p per 100g)

Lidl baked beans

The joint-cheapest tin on test, did our taste testers notice the difference or has Lidl produced excellent-value baked beans?

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Available from Lidl stores only.

M&S Baked Beans in a Rich Tomato Sauce

£0.35 for 410g (9p per 100g)

M&S baked beans

These aren’t just baked beans. Well, they are, but they are M&S’s branded baked beans, so perhaps expectations are elevated. 

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Available from Ocado.

Morrisons Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

£0.30 for 410g ( 7p per 100g)

Morrisons baked beans

Morrisons’ beans have a higher level of sugar in them than most of the competition. Will this work for against the Yorkshire-headquartered supermarket chain?

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Available from Morrisons.

Sainsbury's Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

£0.30 for 400g (8p per 100g)

Sainsbury's baked beans

Sainsbury’s beans come in a self-described ‘tasty’ tomato sauce. Our tasting panel are the judges of that, so read on to see how they fared.

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Available from Sainsbury's.

Tesco Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

£0.30 for 420g (7p per 100g)

Tesco baked beans

For the UK’s biggest supermarket chain, surely the basic baked bean isn’t too much of a challenge? See how it fared.

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Available from Tesco.

Waitrose Essential Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

£0.35 for 400g (9p per 100g)

Waitrose baked beans

They’re marked as essential, but are they really a must-have in your weekly shop?

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Available from Waitrose.

Baked beans salt, sugar and calorie content

While Branston, Heinz and several of the supermarket chains offer low salt and sugar baked beans, it’s important to note that, per half-tin serving, baked beans are not especially high in salt or sugar. Some of this sugar will come from the concentrated tomato puree used in the sauce, too, so there are far worse foods for added sugar. On average, half a tin of beans contains 177kcal, with M&S containing the most at 184.5 and Heinz the least at 162.

All the products slot into the government’s food traffic light system with an amber rating for salt and sugar if you consume half a tin at a time, but if you’re watching salt and sugar intake for you or your family, consider what you’re serving the beans with to ensure you don’t start overdoing the salt and sugar, particularly if you’re serving them with oven chips and ketchup. 

Speaking of: read our guides to the Best oven chips  and the best Heinz ketchup.

It’s worth noting that we found no correlation between a product’s score and its salt and sugar content, so there is certainly more subtlety to the quality of a tin of baked beans 

How do low salt and sugar alternatives compare?

We conducted a separate taste test between just two varieties: Heinz’s standard Baked Beanz and its no-added-sugar variety. Instead of using sugar in addition to the natural sugar of tomatoes, Heinz uses sweeteners in the form of steviol glycoside to boost the sweetness. This means, per serving, the reduced sugar version of Heinz’s product has 3.9g of sugar compared with 9.8g in the standard variety. This change also has an impact on calorie content, with the reduced sugar variety containing 136kcal per serving, while the standard variety containing 162kcal. It also contains a bit less salt – 0.9g compared with 1.2g. 

If you were hoping for a stealthy swap for the kids, they may notice the difference. In our head-to-head test, just 24% of tasters said they preferred the reduced sugar beans to the standard variety. With that said, there wasn’t a huge difference in the scores for flavour, so while it is a noticeable change, it’s not as stark as you might imagine. 

Baked beans ingredients: What’s in baked beans?

The eponymous baked bean is a haricot bean. Most of the brands tested here specify haricot beans in their ingredients list, but the M&S and Aldi tins simply list ‘beans’ as the main ingredient without specifying the type. 

For most of the products the next key ingredient was tomatoes or tomato puree, along with water.

After that, it’s sugar and then variations on onion powder, spirit vinegar, paprika, salt and colourings, and some also contain rapeseed oil, white pepper, cloves and cinnamon.

How we taste test baked beans

The tins were assessed by a large panel of consumers who regularly buy and consume baked beans. The make-up of the panel broadly represents the demographic profile of adults in the UK.  

Each baked bean variety was heated in the microwave and assessed by 62 people. The panelists rated the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of each product and told us which one they preferred overall.  

The taste test was blind, so the panelists didn’t know which brand they were trying. The order they sampled the beans was fully rotated to avoid any bias.

Each panellist had a private booth so they couldn’t discuss what they were tasting or be influenced by others. 

The overall score is based on:

  • 50% taste 
  • 20% appearance 
  • 15% texture 
  • 15% aroma