You’re left with a half-empty can of Heinz baked beans, and you don’t want to eat the rest in the next couple of days.
Or maybe your canned baked beans are nearing the printed date.
That’s when you start wondering: can you freeze baked beans?
You can freeze baked beans, and they can be frozen for at least 6 months. Canned baked beans last months, so it’s best to only freeze the leftovers the same day you cooked them. Let the beans cool completely, then portion them into freezer-safe containers and freeze.
Leftover baked beans can sit in the fridge for only so long. And if you can’t or don’t want to eat the rest anytime soon, the refrigerator isn’t an option.
That’s when freezing comes in handy. If you haven’t frozen baked beans yet, this article is for you.
When Freezing Baked Beans Makes Sense?
Before you go all gung-ho about freezing this dish, let’s talk when it makes sense, and when it doesn’t.
Do Baked Beans Freeze Well?
Baked beans freeze very well. The beans and the meat that sometimes accompanies them freeze just fine. The same goes for the sauce that binds it all together.
That said, beans straight from the can taste better than frozen. But if your only options are freezing and discarding, the former is a way better option.
Can You Freeze Canned Baked Beans?
Baked beans in cans and jars you buy in the supermarket have quite a long shelf life, usually longer than a year. That means there’s plenty of time to get to that container, and no reason to even think about freezing at this point.
And as you probably know, food products in unopened cans and jars tend to last for weeks (if not months) past their dates.
But once you crack the container open, things change. The dish keeps in the fridge for only a couple of days, so it’s either eat it now or freeze for a later date.
Long story short, in most cases, it only makes sense to freeze leftover baked beans.
Freezing Homemade Baked Beans
You can freeze homemade baked beans the same way you freeze canned baked beans. You let the leftovers cool, then portion them into airtight containers and freeze. They can sit in the freezer for at least 3 to 6 months without major quality loss.
If you make your baked beans from scratch, you can save time by making a batch large enough for a couple of meals and dividing it into meal-sized portions for freezing.
How To Freeze Baked Beans
The process is as simple as it gets. Grab a freezer container or bag (or a couple if you have a load of baked beans to freeze), and let’s get it done.
Here’s how you freeze baked beans:
- Cool to room temperature. Give the leftovers some time to cool to room temperature. To speed things up, spread them on a plate instead of keeping them in the saucepan you used for cooking. Make sure this cooldown phase doesn’t last longer than an hour or so, for safety reasons.
- Portion the beans. If you have a big pot of beans that’s enough for a couple of meals, divide it into several, portion-sized freezer containers or bags. This way, you can thaw and reheat enough for a single meal. The better job you do of portioning the beans now, the easier it will be to cook them later on. Make sure to leave a bit of head-space, as the volume increases a bit when the beans freeze.
- Seal the containers or bags. If you’re using bags, remove as much air as you can before sealing. Label the containers with name and date if you like. I skip this part because I usually use all the foods that I freeze within a few weeks tops.
- Freeze everything. That’s it; put the containers or bags in the freezer, and you’re done.
That was a breeze, huh?
You can keep the baked beans in the freezer for at least 6 months without significant quality loss. Over time (think months), the taste might slightly alter for the worse, but the beans should still turn out pretty good after thawing and cooking.
Using Freezer Bags
You can freeze baked beans in freezer bags if you wish.
If you freeze them flat, the beans defrost much quicker than if they were in a container. That’s a great solution if you want to be able to defrost and reheat them quickly.
When using freezer bags, place each bag in a bowl before pouring the beans into it. This way, if the bag is leaky, you won’t have to clean up the whole countertop (or half of your kitchen, if you’re me). And make sure the bag is leakproof before you place it in the freezer. You don’t want a huge mess in there, either.
How To Defrost Baked Beans
Baked beans defrost slowly, so plan accordingly. And the bigger your container, the longer it takes to defrost.
Sure, you can defrost the dish in a saucepan on the stove, but that still takes anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes (depending on the amount) and requires you to watch it closely so it doesn’t burn.
That being said, here are your options for defrosting baked beans:
- Overnight in the fridge. The classic method of thawing any food. It works great, and it’s perfectly safe, but it also takes a lot of time. If you happen to have a big (larger than 16 oz or ~475 ml) container to thaw, it might take longer than 8 hours to thaw. All you need is some planning ahead, so you know when you should start defrosting the beans.
- Microwave. Once the big clump of beans starts to melt, microwave it in short (like 30 seconds) increments and flip it upside down often, so it defrosts more evenly. Remember to use the defrost option and add a bit of water when it’s starting to dry out. Cook the baked beans right after.
- On the stove. Put the beans in a saucepan or a non-stick skillet on low heat, and let them slowly thaw. Flip and stir the dish often, so it doesn’t burn. Like with the microwave, add some water whenever needed and cook immediately after defrosting.
All in all, I think that defrosting in the refrigerator is the best option because it’s the only hands-off one. You just put the whole thing in the fridge and let the temperature do its job. The only downside is that you need to plan ahead.
The other options take much less time, but require you to watch the beans so they don’t dry out and burn. If you just want something to eat as much as possibly, they get the job done.
How To Reheat Baked Beans
Probably the best way to reheat baked beans is to do it the same way you usually cook the beans. Once the dish is properly defrosted, feel free to follow the same process you use for cooking the beans.
In case you’re wondering what options are available, here are some popular ones:
- Microwave. If you’re in a hurry and want to do other things as the beans warm up, there’s nothing better than the good old microwave. Once the beans are defrosted, reheating usually doesn’t require much oversight.
- In a saucepan. Probably the way most of us cook our baked beans. You can defrost then on the stove and simply continue cooking until they’re warm enough to eat. Have water on hand in case you need to add some to avoid burning.
- In the oven. Use a heatproof dish with a lid, so the beans don’t go completely dry. Don’t go overboard with the temperature: 360°F or 180°C for 10 to 15 minutes should be enough. The time depends on the dimensions of your dish and the volume of beans you reheat, so adjust accordingly.
That’s it. Now that your baked beans are nice and hot, it’s time to eat them the way you like them most. No matter if you like them on bread, over scrambled eggs on toast, or any other way, they should be pretty much as good as fresh.
Can You Refreeze Baked Beans?
You can refreeze baked beans, but it’ll make their quality worse. In other words, it’s safe to do if you follow good practices, but it’s best to avoid it if possible.
There are two ways to go about refreezing baked beans:
- If you thawed them in the fridge, and they never left the fridge, you can return them into the freezer.
- If you defrosted them on the counter, microwave, or the stove, cook them through, then freeze them the usual way. Cooking them through is crucial to make sure they’re safe.