Homemade Baked Beans with Bacon are bathed in a sweet and savory sauce and are a perfect side dish for spring and summer grilling.

Instead of taking the easy route and opening a can of baked beans, try these Boston Baked Beans from Scratch!

Bowl of boston baked beans in a white bowl with a bamboo fork

Why You’ll Love this Baked Bean Recipe

  • When you make them from scratch, you can adjust the flavors. Use more or less brown sugar, mustard, etc.
  • This recipe appeared in the New York Times, but the only sweetness was from molasses. I tweaked their recipe to reflect our palates by adding some brown sugar.
  • There are cubes of bacon in this recipe, providing that umami that’s so wonderful in savory dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Boston Baked Beans?

Boston Baked Beans is a dish made of navy beans, salt pork, molasses, and brown sugar. They’re named after the Puritanical Boston women who made them on Saturdays to serve again on Sundays for breakfast and/or lunch since cooking was not allowed on the Sabbath.

Are Baked Beans Healthy?

Navy beans are low in fat, and high in plant-based protein and fiber. They also contain iron, zinc, and folate. Pulses like beans are known to lower cardiovascular risk and stabilize blood sugar. 

A few of the other ingredients in baked beans, like brown sugar and bacon, may counteract some of the obvious health benefits.

Can You Freeze Baked Beans?

Yes, baked beans can be frozen for up to 6 months if kept in an airtight container. To reheat frozen baked beans, defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then gently heat on the stovetop for 10-15 minutes.

homemade baked beans in a blue bowl with a bamboo fork to the lower left

Tips for Making Boston Baked Beans

  • Use dried navy beans or pea beans to make the most authentic Boston Baked Beans. Other thick-skinned beans that soften when cooked like kidney beans, pinto beans, or Great Northern beans can be used.
  • PRO-Tip: You can also use canned beans to make a quicker version of baked beans, but they are often more fragile. Use four 15-ounce drained cans of white beans.
  • Soak dried beans for at least 6 hours or overnight to help hydrate them before cooking.
  • Add cubes of slab bacon or ham to add delicious flavor to your beans.
  • PRO-Tip: Use leftover Easter ham instead of bacon to flavor your beans.
  • To keep the beans intact, don’t stir too frequently or vigorously when cooking.
  • The natural starches in the beans will help thicken the juices. If your baked beans are still too runny, you can add a slurry of cornstarch (mix cornstarch with water, stir in and bring to a boil), add some tomato paste, or simmer longer to help evaporate the excess liquid.

Ingredient Notes:

  • Navy Beans – The most popular bean for making baked beans. Dried beans are very economical, but they need to be soaked before using in this recipe.
  • Salt – A flavor enhancer. The results will be bland without salt.
  • Slab Bacon – Adds the 5th sense of taste or umami along with infusing sodium, another flavor enhancer as noted above. Ham or even chorizo sausage can be used instead.
  • Onion – An aromatic that sweetens when sauteed. Garlic is another aromatic that can be sauteed along with the onion if you’d like garlicky baked beans.
  • Molasses – Adds a warm sweet flavor with slightly smoky undertones.
  • Brown Sugar – Adds caramel flavored sweetness.
  • Dry Mustard – Adds a strong, pungent, slightly bitter taste.
  • Black Pepper – Also adds a pungent heat with citrus or piney undertones.
Blue ceramic bowl filled with homemade baked beans

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small white bowl filled with baked beans in front of a blue Dutch oven filled with beans

Boston Baked Beans Recipe

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Additional Time 6 hours
Total Time 12 hours 15 minutes
Yield 8 servings

A classic baked beans recipe flavored with bacon and molasses

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried navy beans
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 8 ounces slab bacon, cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Soak the beans in a large bowl of water for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. After they're done soaking, drain and add to a Dutch oven with a lid.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches.
  4. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 40 minutes.
  5. Drain into a colander.
  6. Place the Dutch oven on the cooktop and bring the burner to medium-high heat. Add the chopped bacon, and brown, Add onions and cook until they begin to brown and soften, then add the reserved beans.
  7. Mix together the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and pepper, and add this mixture to the pot.
  8. Preheat the oven to 250°
  9. Pour enough boiling water into the pot to cover the beans, put on the lid, and bake until the beans are just tender, about 4-5 hours.
  10. Add boiling water as needed to keep the beans covered.
  11. Once the beans are tender but not falling apart, remove them from the oven, add remaining salt or salt to taste, then return to the oven without the lid and cook about 45 minutes longer until the sauce thickens.

Notes

Recipe adapted from New York Times Cooking

If you'd like to thicken the sauce even more, make a slurry of cornstarch and water (start with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with 4 teaspoons of water), add it to the beans and bring the beans to a boil on the cooktop. Stir to combine.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 325Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 1278mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 9gSugar: 19gProtein: 17g

Thatskinnychickcanbake.com occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although thatskinnychickcanbake.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on thatskinnychickcanbake.com recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.

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