Worcestershire Sauce Is The Magic Ingredient For Better Baked Beans

You can add bacon to homemade baked beans for an umami boost or upgrade canned baked beans effortlessly with ingredients like hot sauce. But whether you prefer to crack open a can of baked beans or make the classic side dish from scratch, both varieties benefit from a bit of Worcestershire sauce. It's probably already in your pantry, and it will add layers of umami and rich, savory flavors — just as it does when it's applied in more traditional ways, such as drizzled on a burger or mixed into a steak marinade. 

Inside a bottle of Worcestershire sauce is a blend of flavor-rich ingredients including vinegar, onion, garlic, anchovies, tamarind, salt, and sugar, just to name a few. Of course, every brand is different. All of those flavors will translate to baked beans, negating the need to use the ingredients separately. 

The rich sauce will also contrast with the acidity of tomatoes and the sweetness of brown sugar, two ingredients that often tend to make it into a pot of baked beans. You won't need much of the sauce (more about that later), but it will help smooth out the consistency since it's a liquid. It's also low in calories, so you'll get loads of flavor without indulging too much — though you should be mindful of the sodium levels. 

A little Worcestershire sauce goes a long way in baked beans

So, how do you elevate your next batch of baked beans with Worcestershire sauce? Some recipes that make about six servings only call for 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce whereas other recipes with similar serving sizes recommend using 3 tablespoons. Your best bet is to add the flavorful sauce according to your desired taste profile after considering the other ingredients in the pot. And don't forget to taste as you go. Regardless, you'll first combine the Worcestershire sauce with the other flavoring ingredients such as brown sugar and mustard, then combine this mixture with the beans to cook off on the stovetop or in the oven.

To sample Worcestershire sauce in homemade beans, try it with Tasting Table's slow cooker baked beans recipe alongside other ingredients including molasses, brown sugar, and gochujang. And if you want to taste test the addition of Worcestershire sauce with less work, check out our ranking of the best canned baked beans, which features Bush's Original in the number one spot. For anyone who leads a meat-free diet — or is hosting dinner guests who do — don't forget to find a vegetarian-friendly brand of Worcestershire sauce or use liquid aminos to supply similar umami notes without the anchovies.