Crunchy Beans

This is a dish that I remember from living at home, but I didn’t know its origin. I just knew it wasn’t French! Out of the blue my sister recently asked me about crunchy beans, and I told her I was making them for the blog! With her being four years older, she had the distinct memory of how the very American recipe infiltrated our mother’s kitchen.

In my sister’s words: “In the early 60s, our family visited new friends Larry and Aimée, at their home for dinner. Crunchy Beans, all hot and bubbly from the oven, was served. Our mom was slightly insulted because, being French, she would never have served beans to guests.

She was very formal about those kinds of things and tended to judge accordingly. To her, a leg of lamb, one of several courses, would have been more appropriate. (She would even warm plates before serving food.) But, as it turned out, we loved the Crunchy Beans! It was an interesting and delicious combination of flavors that we were not used to, not to mention the catsup – quelle horreur! We acquired the recipe, and it became a family favorite.”

I found this photo from back then, my mother on the left with her poodle Minouche, Larry and Aimée (The Bean Cookers), and me with the long braids.

These beans are really easy to make, because you use canned pork and beans for the base. My husband, who grew up on such beans, recommends Van Camp’s brand.

Cooking beans from scratch is easy and economical, but there is something about this recipe that’s really fun. It’s also easy and good!

Crunchy Beans

3 – 15 ounce cans Van Camp’s pork and beans
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
4 celery ribs, finely chopped
2/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup bacon grease

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place all of the ingredients in a large Le Creuset or similar pot and bake for one hour.

They look like this when they’re done baking.

I served the crunchy beans with hot dogs!

And of course you can cut up the hot dogs and put them in the beans… but I wouldn’t.

But they’re definitely good with burgers and sausages.

By Published On: October 5th, 202064 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

64 Comments

  1. cookingwithauntjuju.com October 5, 2020 at 6:25 AM - Reply

    I can remember serving a corn dish as part of the menu to a Dutch group and they kind of laughed saying “corn was only fed to the cows” in Holland! Luckily there was staff from my hubby’s company there too. Interesting to add celery and carrots – I sometimes add green peppers and always onions. Must try your version!

    • chef mimi October 5, 2020 at 6:50 AM - Reply

      HAHAHAHAHAHA! I bet that was funny to them!

  2. Travel Gourmet October 5, 2020 at 7:25 AM - Reply

    What a great story. I would love to have met your mother – she always sounds so wonderful! And I love the photo.

    • chef mimi October 5, 2020 at 7:28 AM - Reply

      Believe it or not she’s still alive at 92. I wouldn’t call her wonderful but she was really passionate about cooking, and so talented in general. She’s just never loved life.

  3. Teagan R. Geneviene October 5, 2020 at 8:16 AM - Reply

    A perfect dish for an autumn-like day, Mimi. Hugs on the wing!

    • chef mimi October 5, 2020 at 8:16 AM - Reply

      Thank you so much! and what a wonderful book review! Congratulations!

  4. popsiclesociety October 5, 2020 at 8:49 AM - Reply

    Sounds more like: “never say no until you try it” 😉 I love beans! 😋

    • chef mimi October 5, 2020 at 9:00 AM - Reply

      Right. She’s just very European!

  5. Carrie Tyler October 5, 2020 at 10:10 AM - Reply

    Thanks for this recipe, Mimi! It reminds me of my childhood as my Mom made beans like this often. I will have to try this recipe!

    • chef mimi October 5, 2020 at 12:36 PM - Reply

      It’s really good actually!

  6. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen October 5, 2020 at 1:35 PM - Reply

    Crunchy beans! What fun!

    • chef mimi October 5, 2020 at 2:25 PM - Reply

      Good picnic food!

  7. savorthebestcooks October 6, 2020 at 7:58 AM - Reply

    Great way to make a meal out of pantry beans. Reminds me of my childhood

    • chef mimi October 7, 2020 at 8:21 AM - Reply

      I bet it does! It’s a very homey dish.

  8. My Little Italian Kitchen October 6, 2020 at 8:33 AM - Reply

    All your meals are fabulous Mimi! You always make “real” proper food! I always cook beans from scratch too, as you say, they taste so much better and it is definitely worth it.
    I love your picture with long braids :-)

    • chef mimi October 6, 2020 at 9:28 AM - Reply

      My hair was always close to my ankles when I was growing up, and it was to my knees in college. It’s hard to remember having that much hair!

  9. angiesrecipes October 6, 2020 at 9:52 AM - Reply

    Beans and meat are just super together. I have never had crunchy beans and definitely need to try it! Love your long braid, Mini :-)

  10. Raymund October 6, 2020 at 2:15 PM - Reply

    I use a lot of canned pork and beans a lot of times while cooking them from scratch is economical, the canned ones are a time saver. Love your recipe

    • chef mimi October 6, 2020 at 2:38 PM - Reply

      They definitely are! Especially if you just need 15 ounces to make a quick white bean dip!

  11. Kim Bultman October 7, 2020 at 5:50 AM - Reply

    Your whole post had a picnic-y air about it, Mimi. Very enjoyable. Loved the thermos photos and your incredibly long braids, too. Wow!

    • chef mimi October 7, 2020 at 6:24 AM - Reply

      Ha! Yeah, I used to have to tie them up when I bicycled. Thanks for the compliment. My girlfriend said, “I have a fall blanket and thermos you could use!” Glad I took her up on that!

  12. David @ Spiced October 7, 2020 at 6:32 AM - Reply

    Wow, your hair was so long, Mimi! Crazy. So I’ve never heard of crunchy beans (I’m assuming the crunch comes from the carrots + celery?) However, this seems like one of those all-time favorite comfort food recipes. It’s the kind you curl up with on a cold day! And serving with hot dogs? Magnifique! (With all due respect to your mother there…haha.)

    • chef mimi October 7, 2020 at 7:11 AM - Reply

      Ha! Yeah, she’s something! I still can hardly believe she “accepted” the recipe as her own, but glad she did. the beans are really good.

  13. David Scott Allen October 7, 2020 at 8:09 AM - Reply

    Love when you share your family memories, Mimi! Fun recipe made even more fun by the story. And, by the way, Mark (older in sensibilities than in years) warms the plates for our dinner every day.

    • chef mimi October 7, 2020 at 8:14 AM - Reply

      Wow. Are you serious? Amazing. I even have a copper thing with a handle that was for warming plates in the fireplace! It’s a really nice thing to do, warming plates, but I would just end up burning myself!!!

      • David Scott Allen October 7, 2020 at 9:35 AM

        We used the stove for ages, and then a weird pad thing (which died quickly), till he decided to use the microwave and, voilà, warm plates every night. It might be killing us, though. Who knows?

  14. kitchenriffs October 7, 2020 at 9:27 AM - Reply

    Good dish! We sometimes make baked beans using a similar recipe (no carrots, though, and I usually substitute BBQ sauce for the ketchup). My mom used to make a version of this, too — hers came from an older edition of _Joy of Cooking_ (it’s not in the current edition — I’ve looked). Fun memories — thanks.

    • chef mimi October 7, 2020 at 10:15 AM - Reply

      Well that would be really good as well! I might at least try half and half next time. Depends on what else is being served.

  15. Lauren - BasicGinger.com October 7, 2020 at 4:50 PM - Reply

    I can’t say I’ve ever had a recipe like this, but I definitely want to try it! I love the story behind it and it was fun seeing pictures of you and your family from back in time, love your braids! So cute!

    • chef mimi October 11, 2020 at 4:13 PM - Reply

      Thanks. It’s pretty good! I like traditional Boston baked beans as well. When I was first married I tried every kind of baked bean recipe, since they were all new to me!

  16. Fran @ G'day Souffle' October 7, 2020 at 6:20 PM - Reply

    You know what they say about beans- the musical fruit- the more you eat, the more you ….! Sounds like a great dish for the ol’ American Barbecue. I find that canned beans are a little on the ‘squishy” side, but adding the onions and carrots will indeed give the beans just the right amount of crunch. (BTW, I can’t believe how long your braids were)!

    • chef mimi October 11, 2020 at 4:14 PM - Reply

      We have a lot of long hair in my family. My grandmother, when she married, her hair “puddled” on the ground. And she was 5’1” tall! Canned beans are soft, you’re definitely right about that.

  17. Tandy | Lavender and Lime October 8, 2020 at 2:44 AM - Reply

    I have no idea if we get tinned pork and beans here. I have never looked! We have warm plates every night and it is a habit I have ‘passed on’ to my parents. Lovely photo Mimi :)

    • chef mimi October 8, 2020 at 1:02 PM - Reply

      Well they are handy when you’re camping! Warm plates are really nice, I’m just too lazy!

  18. Molly Pisula October 8, 2020 at 10:38 AM - Reply

    Looks yummy! I like beans in pretty much any form, and this recipe looks delicious and easy too.

    • chef mimi October 8, 2020 at 1:02 PM - Reply

      They’re pretty good! In retrospect, I was really surprised my mother liked them, or at least pretended she didn’t!

  19. Katherine | Love In My Oven October 8, 2020 at 3:33 PM - Reply

    We just made baked beans this weekend, and they were wonderful. Everyone keeps talking about them! Now I need to try your crunchy beans!

    • chef mimi October 8, 2020 at 5:23 PM - Reply

      Give them a try. They’re actually really good!

  20. sherry October 9, 2020 at 12:50 AM - Reply

    i love that photo! such long long hair! amazing. beans are good stuff!

    • chef mimi October 9, 2020 at 9:02 AM - Reply

      Beans are great. This dish is fun. I think of it as good picnic food.

  21. I love beans, but they don’t love me LOL…this looks really comforting and tasty!

    Angie
    http://angiesrecipes.blogspot.com

    • chef mimi October 9, 2020 at 9:01 AM - Reply

      Oh no! I’m so sorry!

  22. p.s I love your long braids!

    • chef mimi October 9, 2020 at 10:28 AM - Reply

      Ah yes, crazy long hair in my family!

  23. sippitysup October 9, 2020 at 3:12 PM - Reply

    How exactly are they crunchy? GREG

    • chef mimi October 9, 2020 at 3:54 PM - Reply

      The onions, celery, and carrots are the crunchy part!

  24. cookingontheweekends October 10, 2020 at 11:38 AM - Reply

    First, what a great family photo. Beautiful family. Your long braids are amazing!
    The recipe sounds delicious and I like the irony of how they became a family favorite after their inappropriateness of showing up at a dinner party. I’ll try these for sure. :-) ~Valentina

    • chef mimi October 10, 2020 at 9:05 PM - Reply

      Hahahaha! My mother was and is, as you might say, “very French.”

  25. sherry October 11, 2020 at 11:12 PM - Reply

    love that family photo and love your hair. crunchy beans? how come? :)

    • chef mimi October 12, 2020 at 7:00 AM - Reply

      The onions, celery, and carrots stay crunchy. I have no idea why!

  26. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons October 12, 2020 at 4:44 PM - Reply

    I loved the picture of you with your mother. Her sensibilities sound like my own mother, raised in France. And warm plates are a given in our house, I’ve even passed the custom onto friends. It’s criminal to have warm food on cold plates.

    • chef mimi October 13, 2020 at 7:09 AM - Reply

      Yikes! I need to volunteer myself to culinary jail!!! Maybe I can try to get my husband to do that part…. 🤣🤣🤣

  27. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons October 13, 2020 at 8:40 AM - Reply

    30 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave, all it takes to warm the plates.

    • chef mimi October 14, 2020 at 7:28 AM - Reply

      Okay, I’m going to sound like a party pooper now, but my husband has an issue with lead in his system, and we found out that it gets leached from my Spode dinnerware 😳😳😳😳😳

      • Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons October 14, 2020 at 9:54 AM

        That’s awful! Spode is so beautiful. Well, I wouldn’t heat it unnecessarily either.

      • chef mimi October 15, 2020 at 10:02 AM

        You seriously might want to check the dishes you use for lead content. We have a naturopath, and this has been a mystery for a while. We’re hoping levels will go down without using coffee cups and heating dinnerware.

      • Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons October 15, 2020 at 1:36 PM

        It’s a great idea Mimi. Thank you, we will.

  28. Frank Fariello October 14, 2020 at 6:38 AM - Reply

    I guess I’m like your mother. I still think of certain dishes being fit for company, others only for family, and only recently realized that not everyone thinks that way. When I recently posted a dish and commented that it was too “homey” to serve to company, I got a fair number of comments along the lines of any dish is fit for company if it tastes good.

    On the other hand, I do serve beans to company, in particular at cookouts where beans “all’ucceletto” make a fine side for grilled meats or my ever-popular bean and tuna salad. Both are fine company dishes in my book. I guess that shows how culture dependent the whole idea is…

    • chef mimi October 14, 2020 at 7:26 AM - Reply

      Well as far as that goes, I think that’s all important as well. Except for really good friends, for whom I can put out chili and lasagna soup and they’re just happy to serve themselves from the stove and eat. Usually these are last minute get-together. I think casseroles are homey to most Americans, which they love, but i don’t make casseroles or eat them 😬 Even if they taste good !! And I am American! Although a make up of Italian and French, and yes, culture plays a role. But if this is old fashioned, I’m fine with it. Like men wearing tank tops on planes. Or wearing overalls and flip flops to a nice restaurant. Ew. I have a friend come and stay once a week when she comes into town for work, and we always have hors d’oeuvres, and I serve a nice dinner, with linens. It’s also about pride.And to be proud of what you serve, you have to love cooking. This would make a very interesting book!

      • Frank Fariello October 14, 2020 at 7:53 AM

        We’re on the same page. My pet peeve are people who show up at the theater or even the opera in blue jeans…

      • chef mimi October 14, 2020 at 8:08 AM

        Oh awful.

  29. Laura October 14, 2020 at 3:14 PM - Reply

    Oh my goodness, Mimi! Except for the celery and carrots this is so similar to my Dad’s Baked Beans! He always added a bit of mustard to the mix, too! I love these! He also always used VanCamps!

    • chef mimi October 14, 2020 at 3:32 PM - Reply

      Oh interesting. Just the onions would definitely be good for sure. They’re my favorite part of the three additions.

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