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Gigantes Plaki (Greek Giant Baked Beans)

Gigantes plaki is a traditional Greek dish made from giant beans (butter beans) baked in a rich tomato sauce with olive oil, herbs, and feta cheese scattered over the top. It’s a simple vegetarian dish that is delicious mopped out with crusty bread, and ready in just 40 minutes.

a blue cast iron skillet of gigantes plaki, scattered with crumbled feta and fresh parsley

This simple but fail-safe giant white beans recipe is the perfect recipe to keep in your arsenal for lazy dinners, as it’s made from mostly pantry staples and is so easy, but always delicious. For more bean inspiration, make sure you’ve also checked out my viral creamy butter beans recipe, these summery red pesto butter beans, and these spicy harissa beans.

For a Greek feast, serve your gigantes plaki with lots of crumbled feta and a good drizzle of olive oil, alongside crusty bread, some Greek roasted potatoes and whipped feta, a simple Greek salad, and your other favorite Mediterranean sides.

Ingredient Notes

The exact quantities of the ingredients you need for this recipe are included in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. 

Here, I’ve added a few notes on the ingredients you need, plus a few potential substitutions you could make if you can’t eat/find a certain ingredient.

gigantes plaki ingredients shot: separate bowls of onion, feta, tomato paste, bay leaf, giant beans, garlic, diced tomatoes, and seasonings
  • White Beans: Gigantes plaki (Greek giant baked beans) gets its name because of the giant white beans used in the dish. Use butter beans – also known as lima beans – for this recipe. You could use dried giant white beans which you then soak and cook before using in this dish, or use tinned butter beans for a quicker method.
  • Onion & Garlic: Finely diced white onion and fresh minced garlic make up the base of this classic Greek dish.
  • Herbs: To give the tomato sauce the giant beans are baked in a rich and delicious flavor, we add a medley of dried oregano, thyme, a pinch of cinnamon, a bay leaf, and a scattering of red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper to taste, too.
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes: You’ll need canned diced tomatoes for this recipe, to create the chunky tomato sauce. If you can’t find canned diced tomatoes, canned plum tomatoes will also work – crush the tomatoes with your fingers before adding them to the pan.
  • Tomato Paste: A small amount of tomato paste also helps to elevate the rich tomato sauce.
  • Oil: With dishes as simple as these baked giant beans, a good quality olive oil does make a real difference to the overall taste of the beans. Don’t skimp on it if you can.
  • Parsley: I love this dish served with a scattering of fresh chopped parsley to garnish.
  • Feta: Gigantes plaki is often served with feta and crusty bread. In this recipe, I scatter crumbled feta over the beans both before and after baking, giving the beans a delicious cheesy element. To make this recipe plant-based, simply omit the feta cheese.

Variations & Substitutions

Some traditional gigantes plaki recipes will add celery and carrots to the base of the recipe (for a traditional sofrito), so feel free to add these when you add the onion to your pan if you like.

If you can’t find giant beans (butter beans), swapping them out for another white bean, such as cannellini beans or even navy (haricot) beans will also work fine!

How To Make Gigantes Plaki

Again, the exact step-by-step instructions and ingredient quantities will be in the recipe card at the bottom of this page. 

Below is an overview of making this recipe, plus some process shots to help you visualize how this recipe should turn out.

Step 1) Saute Onion & Garlic

Heat your olive oil in a pan (ideally, you’ll use a skillet or casserole dish that can go directly from the hob to the oven, but you can also transfer the beans into an oven-safe dish if you don’t have one!). 

Saute your diced onion for 5-8 minutes until it’s soft and translucent, and then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Step 2) Make the sauce

Add the tomato paste and herbs to the pan, stir it into the onion to break the paste down. Cook for a minute or so until the paste darkens in color and releases its fragrance, then tip in the canned diced tomatoes.

Step 3) Add the giant beans

Once you’ve stirred the sauce together, tip in your giant beans (if you’re using canned beans, drain and rinse them first), and stir into the sauce. Cook the beans for five minutes or so over a high heat, season to taste, and then scatter over half of your feta and transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the top layer turns into a light brown “crust”.

Step 4) Remove & Garnish

Remove your pan from the oven and scatter over the remaining crumbled feta and the fresh parsley.

Serve with crusty bread and other meze dishes!

Top Tips \ Chef’s Notes

  • This dish is perfect for cooking in a skillet, as you can transfer it straight from the hob to the oven. If you don’t have a pan or skillet that is safe for the hob and oven, just cook your beans in a pan and then transfer them to a baking dish instead.
  • To give this dish a little more kick, you could scatter another ½ teaspoon of red chili flakes over the top of the dish, or even drizzle over some chili oil.
  • If your tomato sauce looks very thin, it should thicken up while cooking in the oven – but feel free to cook it on the hob on high heat for another 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken first before baking.
  • The top layer of the dish obviously won’t form a “crust” specifically – but you’ll know it’s done when the top of the baked giant beans has darkened significantly into a deep burgundy/brown color. See the photos for reference.
a close up shot of the greek giant baked beans topped with feta and parsley

Storage

This dish is best served hot (or at room temperature) but is also really tasty cold! If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Either enjoy cold or reheat in the microwave or in the oven (covered) for 20 minutes until warmed through.

This dish is also suitable for meal prepping. You could cook the beans up until the point where they’re ready to go in the oven, and then cover and refrigerate once cooled. Simply place the dish in the oven when you’re ready.

How To Serve?

Gigantes plaki can be served as a main dish with feta and crusty bread but is also a popular meze (small plate) served with other Mediterranean-inspired small plate dishes, such as:

a spoonful of the giant baked beans sprinkled with feta and parsley

FAQs

What should I do if I can’t find giant beans?

If you can’t find giant beans – butter beans – any creamy white bean will also work. Try cannellini beans or even navy (haricot) beans.

Will the sauce not stick to the bottom of my skillet?

No, the sauce doesn’t stick to the skillet when baking – placing the dish in the oven helps deepen the sauce’s flavor and create that delicious crust on the top of the baked beans.

Can I make this recipe vegan?

Yes, Gigantes plaki is a fantastic naturally vegan recipe if you simply omit the feta at the end.

an overhead shot of a skillet of gigantes plaki scattered with feta and parsley, surrounded by hummus and crusty bread
a blue cast iron skillet of gigantes plaki, scattered with crumbled feta and fresh parsley

Gigantes Plaki (Great Giant Baked Beans)

Yield: 2 - 3 portions
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Gigantes plaki - Greek giant baked beans - are a traditional Greek dish, served either as a main meal or as a meze side dish. Giant white beans are cooked in a delicious rich tomato sauce, ready in under 40 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.25 - 0.5 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1 400g can giant white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 50g feta cheese
  • 10g fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C | 390F
  2. Heat your olive oil in a skillet and add the diced onion. Saute for 5-8 minutes until the onions are translucent and soft, then add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the seasonings and tomato paste, and stir to combine.
  4. Tip in the diced tomatoes and bay leaf, stirring the sauce together. 
  5. Add the beans, and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. 
  6. Taste the dish and adjust any seasonings to your taste, then crumble over half of the feta.
  7. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the top of the beans have baked into a deep burgundy color.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and scatter over the remaining feta and the parsley.
  9. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce and enjoy!

Notes

This dish is perfect for cooking in a skillet, as you can transfer it straight from the hob to the oven. If you don’t have a pan or skillet that is safe for the hob and oven, just cook your beans in a pan and then transfer them to a baking dish instead.

To give this dish a little more kick, you could scatter another ½ teaspoon of red chili flakes over the top of the dish, or even drizzle over some chili oil.

If your tomato sauce looks very thin, it should thicken up while cooking in the oven - but feel free to cook it on the hob on high heat for another 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken first before baking.

The top layer of the dish obviously won’t form a “crust” specifically - but you’ll know it’s done when the top of the baked giant beans has darkened significantly into a deep burgundy/brown color. See the photos for reference.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 312Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 1385mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 10gSugar: 7gProtein: 14g

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