Beans on Toast and other British toast-based snacks

image by fritish

The other day I told a Canadian friend I had eaten beans on toast and he said “How British”. Then I got to thinking about how the British seem somewhat obsessed by toast and thought I’d build a list of British toast-based snacks, as you do.

Beans on Toast

Normally Heinz beans are the best. Most other beans are basically inferior tasting and cheapen the experience. Really medium/thick-sliced white bread with butter on tastes the best and if you put some thinly sliced cheddar cheese on top, it rocks. Some people have also been known to pop a fried or poached egg on top as well.

Canadians – notice how the British bean tin in the photo is blue not brown. Also I think Canadian beans are sweeter.

Cheese on Toast

Normally you’d use cheddar cheese. Somehow when the cheese it melted it becomes stronger in flavour, it’s weird. It’s common to add Worcester Sauce, Brown Sauce, Branston Pickle or Tomato Ketchup to the cheese. There’s even a fancy version called Welsh Rarebit. Note that you have to make this under a grill, you can’t just make toast in a toaster and then stick cheese on it, or it won’t melt properly.

An alternative to cheddar is cream cheese on toast. You can do the toast in a toaster and use a brand of cream cheese like Philadelphia. It’s pretty delicious if the toast remains hot enough after applying cold cream cheese.

Egg on Toast

You can bung a fried or poached egg on toast and add a bit of salt and pepper, and maybe brown sauce, and it is delicious. What’s good is that when you burst the yolk you can mop it up with the toast.

Also popular is scrambled eggs on toast of course. I prefer the toast buttered and soft as otherwise it’s too dry for me. The difference between good and bad scrambled eggs on toast is huge. Once, bizarrely, I cracked a tooth eating scrambled eggs on toast!

Marmite on Toast

Lots of people in the UK like Marmite, but plenty hate it too. The Australians swear by Vegemite instead, but it really is not so good compared to Marmite ;-p You’d normally butter the toast before adding Marmite otherwise it would be too dry. White bread works fine but if you can get a nice soft good quality brown bread, it’s delicious. I like to wash mine down with a cup of tea. In fact pretty much all these toast snacks go down well with tea, except for maybe cheese on toast…

Marmalade on Toast

This is a typical breakfast snack. It somehow seems nicer if you can get fancy soft thick white bread to toast. The trick is to not over toast it so that the toast is still nice and soft, then you have to butter it quickly and add the marmalade before it all goes cold. Again, this is best served with a cup of tea.

Note that whenever I say “butter”, you could use real butter, but it’s a pain in the ass to spread and normally rips up your toast, so most people use margarine or some kind of soft butter spread.

Lemon curd on Toast

I’m not sure this is very popular any more, but when I was a kid we used to have Lemon curd on toast and it was pretty good. The brand we used to get was called Robertson’s and it used to have a picture of a “Golliwogg” on the jar. Thankfully they have since removed that particular imagery.

Peanut Butter on Toast

Some people like crunchy peanut butter and some people like it smooth. I still butter my toast before adding the peanut butter, something that my youngest son says is not required because after all you are using peanut “butter”.

One thing the British don’t do is mix it with jam and call it “Peanut Butter and Jelly”. I never had that until I came over to Canada, and it’s actually pretty good, although it feels somewhat excessive.

Jam or Honey on Toast

These are fairly obvious. A good quality jam on toast with a cup of tea always perks you up and can be eaten pretty much any time of the day.

Chocolate Spread on Toast

Hazelnut chocolate spread on toast is a pretty awesome guilty pleasure. I love it with a cup of tea. I’m pretty much incapable of eating anything chocolate without the savoury cleansing power of a nice cuppa – I don’t know why.

Pâté on Toast

Because I’ve been vegetarian for a long time, I only have vegetable paté on buttered toast, but plenty of people enjoy meat-based pâté and other meat spreads on toast.

Plum Tomatoes on Toast

This one might seem a bit weird but I used to eat this a lot as a young man on a limited budget. I would heat up a tin of plum tomatoes and pour them over some buttered toast. Then I’d add pepper and Worcester sauce, and sometimes cheese. It was delicious, warming and quick to prepare.

Soup and Toast

Often, when I eat soup, I make a few slices of buttered toast and dip them in the soup before taking a bite. Sometimes I fold the toast in half like a toast sandwich. Anyone else eat toast with soup or is it an oddity to my family?

Boiled Egg with Toast Soldiers

You soft boil an egg so the yolk is still runny and stick it in an egg cup and remove the top. Then you butter toast and cut it into strips that are called “soldiers” and then dip them in the yolk. It’s delicious providing that you don’t get egg shell stuck to the toast!

Cooked breakfast with toast

A traditional cooked English breakfast with all the trimmings normally comes with toast that you can use to mop up all the “juice” at the end, or eat as you go along, whatever takes your fancy.

Toasted Sandwich

Some people buy a sandwich toaster and make toasted sandwichs containing all manner of foodstuffs. I haven’t had one of these in a long time. Are they still popular in the UK I wonder?

OK I think that’s pretty much it. I know that not all of the above toast-based snacks are exclusive to Britain but many of them are.

If you can think of any more that I’ve missed out, please let me know!

6 Responses to “Beans on Toast and other British toast-based snacks”

  1. slenkar Says:

    Im british and I like beans and cheese on toast (at the same time)

  2. Flame Says:

    Isn’t “chip buttie” a British thing? Or is that more a sandwich?

  3. JTaylor Says:

    I thought bean will make your tummy gassy and your fart smelly ?

  4. Grey Alien Games Says:

    @Slenkar: me too, had it for lunch. These days I don’t have too much cheese though, just a smattering.

    @Flame Yes a chip buttie is a British thing and I had it for dinner! But it doesn’t count as a toast-based snack because it’s made with buttered bread.

    @JTaylor: For sure beans give you farts, but that’s never been enough to put us Brits off consuming them.

  5. Jon Howard (techdojo) Says:

    Plum tomatoes on toast harks back to when I was a small lad – used to live on ’em.
    Also fish-paste (the stuff you used to get in really small glass jars) – about 1/2 jar per slice worked well.

    Being a veggie – you’ll probably not appreciate the joy that was beef dripping (with the jelly) thickly spread on hot toast (or maybe you will)

    Then there’s my current favourite method of buttering the bread really thickly, folding it in half and then toasting the outside under the grill, then adding cheese when toasting the “other” side.

    I’ve found recently a new style of toasted sandwich where by you make a “sarnie” as normal and then drop them in these little bags (usually found at Lakeland plastics) which stops all the contents falling out and they work surprisingly well – the blurb even says you can cook beans in them (keeping OT here) and make proper beans on toast – in a toaster – nothing else required, never tried beans but I did cook frozen fishfingers and oven chips in them and it sorta worked.

    Lastly – not sure if it’s keeping with the original toast theme but surely you can’t forget and not pay homage to the classic “Eggy Bread!”

    (1 – 1 1/2 beaten eggs per slice, little bit of salt, splash of milk, all mixed up in a big bowl, soak the bread in the mix, leave it for a few seconds to soak up the egg then fry in a hot pan with some melted butter. Flip and do the other side when golden brown and serve on a plate with red sauce, Enjoy!)


  6. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Thanks Jon. Yeah I didn’t write about Eggy Bread (my wife makes it for my kids but I hate it) because it’s not really toast. I’ve never heard of that new style of toasted sandwich. I guess it appeals to people without the toasted sandwich maker plus its quicker.