Guernsey Bean Jar Recipe

Bean jar 3

Bean jar is a very traditional Guernsey dish; I have talked about it on the podcast previously.  Apparently, islanders used to eat it for breakfast up until the 1920’s.  I have read somewhere that it used to be cooked, overnight, in bakers’ ovens after they had baked bread for the day.

Bean jar is a slow-cooked bean casserole. As you can see, it’s not exactly “pretty” food; but it’s cheap, filling and tasty.  It makes a lovely rustic lunch or dinner served with crusty bread and a glass of local cider.

Everyone’s bean jar recipe is slightly different. Here’s mine:


  • 500g dried beans (I use a half and half mix of haricot beans and butter beans)
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 onions
  • A little sunflower oil
  • 1 large ham/pork hock, a pig’s trotter or a shin of beef
  • 3 bay leaves and any herbs of your choice
  • Enough stock to cover the beans (use a stock of your choice)

You will also need a large oven-proof casserole dish/pan with a lid.


  1. Soak your beans in water overnight.
  2. The following day, drain your beans.
  3. Pre-heat your oven – it should be low, about 150 degrees centigrade or equivalent.
  4. Peel and dice the onions and carrots.
  5. Fry the onions and carrots in the large casserole dish/pan to soften them.
  6. Make a hole in the centre of the onions and carrots in the pan and add your meat.
  7. Add the beans to cover the meat.
  8. Add the stock (enough to cover the beans).
  9. Add your herbs and carefully stir but make sure the meat stays covered.
  10. Cook for a minimum of 5 hours in the oven; check it occasionally to ensure that it has not dried out and to give it a stir.  Add more boiling water as needed. Taste it when you stir it; add salt and pepper to taste.   Take it out of the oven when you are happy with the taste and consistency.  The bean jar in the photo cooked for 7 hours.
  11. Remove the bones and bar leaves; serve withh crusty bread.

A lot of people cook bean jar overnight but I’d prefer to get up early and cook it over the course of a Saturday or Sunday. That way, I can keep checking it and enjoy it for dinner! Also, it freezes really well.

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10 responses to “Guernsey Bean Jar Recipe

    • Oooh super. I suspect it will need a bit more seasoning and more herbs to give it lots of flavour. You must have lots of veggie tricks up your sleeve. It probably will not need to cook as long too. Do let me know how it goes :-)


  1. your photo looks like our amercian baked beans .. Not the same ingred.. but the same outcome..
    I make Ham and Bean soup with the ingred. you used in your recipe,
    But I don’t Bake it.. I either cook it on the stove all day , adding water when nec. or in the Crk Pot.. served with corn bread of course ! :-)


    • That’s interesting! It’s not an attractive dish – but yum. I think bean jar could be successfully cooked in the slow cooker (like a Crock Pot I think). Thanks for commenting!


    • Hi Tony – I saw this one. I am not sure about adding the Quorn. I just don’t think it needs it as the Quorn won’t add any flavour. I think if anything it may need more herbs and seasoning to make it really flavoursome. I sent a tweet out to see if anyone can suggest ways to add flavour to the veggie one without much success. It’s worth experimenting though! :-)


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