Classic Boston-style baked beans, made from dried beans, flavoured with molasses and cooked low and slow with bacon and onion.
There is no doubt that baked beans made from scratch are a real treat, but they need two things – dried beans and time to shepherd them through a long cooking time. Since a lot of us have those two things covered right now, I thought it was the perfect time to share this homemade baked beans recipe.
Flavoured with molasses and cooked low and slow with bacon and onion, these Boston-style baked beans are a classic and so easy to do. Perfect as a side dish anytime, on the Easter table with your ham or for your summer BBQ.
Here are the ingredients you will need …
- Dried navy beans (aka Pea beans) – a fresh bag is best vs that one that has been at the back of your cupboard for a few years :)
- Bacon – or omit for vegetarian baked beans
- Salt and Pepper
- Molasses – “Fancy” molasses recommended. See FAQ below for other options
- Dry mustard powder
- Light brown sugar – See FAQ below if you only have dark brown sugar
- Boiling water
Step by Step Photos
Here are the easy steps to make homemade baked beans …
- Step 1: Soak your dried beans overnight in a large uncovered pot of cold water, covering the beans by about 2 inches of water. Next morning, drain the soaked beans and place into a large pot. Cover the beans with several inches of cold water and bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to the level that will maintain just a gentle simmer, to avoid splitting the skin of the beans. Continue gently simmering the beans, stirring once in a while to prevent sticking and adding additional hot water to the pot if needed to make sure the beans are covered with water while cooking. Simmer until the beans are tender, but not mushy, about 1 hour (taste test to be sure they are tender).
- Step 2: Mix together your sauce ingredients and measure out your water. Set aside. Chop your onion and bacon. Set aside. When beans are tender, drain well and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Preheat oven to 275F.
- Step 3: Add 1/2 the bacon and 1/2 the onion to the bottom of an oven-safe pot with a lid. Top with 1/2 the cooked beans. Add the remaining bacon and onion, then top with the remaining beans.
- Step 4: Combine the sauce and boiling water, then pour over the beans and stir gently to combine. Place lid on your pot and place in a preheated 275F oven. Set the timer for 4 hours.
- Step 5: After 4 hours of cooking, remove the pot from the oven and stir. Your beans should still be somewhat liquidy enough at this point, but if not add a bit of water. You want don’t want to completely cover the beans with liquid, but you should have puddles of liquid on top at all times.Return pot to the oven, checking the beans every 30 minutes for the last 2 hours of cooking and stirring, then adding a bit more water if needed, to keep those puddles on the top.
- Step 6: After 6 hours of cooking, your beans should be done and the sauce should be nice and thickened. Let the beans stand 5 minutes uncovered or 10-15 minutes covered to allow the sauce to thicken further. If for some reason, your sauce is too liquidy, place your pot on the stove-top and simmer it over low heat for a bit to reduce the sauce.
- Step 7: Finally, taste your beans and add assess whether additional salt ais needed. The sauce has a minimum amount of salt added to keep the beans tender and to avoid the pot from getting overly salty as a result of the long cooking process, so you may need a touch more at the end to just to really round out the flavours.
Be sure your beans are tender before you stop simmering them on the stove-top. Taste test a couple just to be sure. You may think that the 6-hour oven time will further soften your beans, but in reality, if your beans go into the oven tough, they may still be that way even after 6 hours in the oven. Don’t be afraid to simmer as long as needed, to make sure they are tender before baking.
How long will the baked beans keep in the fridge? Leftover baked beans will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, though they are best eaten within about 2 days.
Can I freeze baked beans? Yes, BUT you can only freeze them once fully cooked. Baked beans will keep well in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Can I use Dark Brown Sugar? Yes. As dark brown sugar has more molasses in it already, reduce the added molasses slightly.
Can I use Cooking or Blackstrap Molasses? If you only have blackstrap molasses, you would probably be best to seek out a baked bean recipe written specifically for blackstrap molasses, as I don’t have any guidance on how much you would use and quite honestly, I feel like the flavour would be much too harsh for these Boston-style baked beans.
If you only have Cooking molasses, which is a blend of Fancy and blackstrap molasses, you could possibly try reducing the amount of molasses in half and replacing the extra with honey or maple syrup. I haven’t tested this myself.
Can I make these in a slow cooker/instant pot? As I often like to say, you can do whatever you like, but this classic recipe is written to be baked in the oven and that is the only way I have ever made them. As such, you might be better to seek out a recipe written especially for the slow cooker or instant pot for the adjustments that would be needed.
Get the Recipe: Homemade Baked Beans from dried beans
- 1 lb. dried navy beans
- 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
- 1/2 lb. bacon, diced
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 5 Tbsp molasses, Fancy (not Cooking or Blackstrap)
- 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- Soak beans in a large bowl over-night, covering with about 2 inches of cold water.
- In the morning, drain soaked beans and place in a large pot. Cover with several inches of water and bring just to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to somewhere between medium and medium-low or whatever level maintains a gentle simmer. Cook beans for 50-60 minutes, or until beans are tender (but not mushy). Taste test to be sure they are tender before you stop cooking. Drain beans and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Preheat oven to 275F. Start 1 1/2 cups water to boil.
- In a large oven-safe casserole dish with a lid (or alternately, to be covered with aluminum foil), scatter 1/2 of the onion and 1/2 of the bacon over the bottom of the dish. Add 1/2 of the cooked beans. Scatter the remaining onion and bacon, then top with the remaining cooked beans.
- In a 4-cup measuring cup or similar sized bowl, stir together the sauce ingredients well. Add 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and stir. Pour over beans and mix gently with a fork. If necessary, add a bit more hot water so that the liquid just barely covers the beans. Cover the pot with a lid or doubled up aluminum foil and place in preheated 275F oven.
- Beans will cook in the oven for a total of 6 hours, but should be checked at intervals to ensure there is enough liquid in the pot.
- Cook beans for 4 hours, then remove from oven and gently stir with a fork. There should still be enough liquid in the pot to just barely cover the beans, but if not, add more as needed.
- Return pot to the oven, covered, checking beans every 30 minutes for the last 2 hours of cooking, first stirring, then adding a bit more water to the pot, if needed. You want to have some puddles of liquid showing on the top of the beans, but you don't want to add too much water to the pot.
- After 6 hours of cooking, remove from oven and stir gently with a fork. Let stand, uncovered for 5 minutes or covered for 10-15 minutes before serving.
can this recipe be canned? I want to make homemade bake beans to can so I don’t have to buy them in the store.
Hi Kimberly and I’m sorry, but I have no idea. I suggest finding a good resource for canning for guidance.
Doubled the recipe and will never look elsewhere. These beans were absolutely delicious!
So glad to hear, Carol :) Thanks so much!
These were the best baked beans I’ve ever had! I’ve never made beans from scratch and it was actually pretty easy. I will be making these for every BBQ or potluck I go to for the rest of my life lol. Thank you so much for this recipe!
So glad to hear Kat :) And yes, baked beans are surprisingly easy to make and so much nicer than canned. Thanks so much!
I made this recipe last fall and my family devoured it that same weekend. When my husband went deer hunting a few weekends later, I made this but 5x the recipe and then froze the packages in 1 pound packages of air sealed packages. It was amazing to have these to thaw as an easy side dish. However, when I went to make more, I couldn’t find the specific recipe again, it had disappeared. I tried another that was close, but it was dry and the flavor was not there. Then I found this again and am SO happy. I plan on making again this weekend. A tip- buy the bacon ends and pieces… You cut it up anyway and it’s far less expensive. In addition, it has all that extra smokieness because it’s the bacon on the end and so has more exposure during the curing process.
So glad to hear and happy you all are enjoying the beans ;) And great tip about the bacon, too. Thanks so much!
Oh this looks so good! I’m making this weekend. One question, can I put everything in a crock pot to cook rather than oven?
Hi Susan, I honestly don’t know how these will work in a crock pot. I have only ever done them in the oven.
I came across your recipe when searching for homemade baked beans and it looks delicious-can’t wait to try. I’ve only ever made baked beans with canned beans so this will be much tastier. Just a quick question-you don’t fry the bacon first right?
Hi Kristen and no, you don’t need to fry the bacon at all. Just add it as is :) Enjoy!
I’ve been making this recipe for 35+ years. It was the way my mother made them and her mother before her. Old school recipe that tastes delicious! So much better than canned beans.
It is definitely worth the extra time, Laurie :) Thanks!
Can u cook beans the day before,refrigerate and bake the next day?
Hi Judy, I haven’t done this myself, but it should work just fine. Let me know how it works out!
Thank you for the scale to increase amount. Wonderful recipe I did for 50+ people. Of course everyone adds their own touches but this recipe very similar to my Grandmothers.
So glad to hear, Deb :) Thanks so much!
I just made this recipe today. And it was my first time making baked beans. They turned out great. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!!
So happy to hear Luisa :) Thanks so much!
can you use kidney beans instead of navy beans ?? because I always thought baked beans where made with Kidney beans traditionally ????
Hi Cindy, in my part of the world (Canada) baked beans are always made with navy beans. There may be other parts of the world or adaptations that use kidney beans instead, but not around here :) I suspect dried kidney beans would work just like dried navy beans, though I’ve never tried it, so can’t say for sure.
Have you ever made a really large batch of these for something like a grad party? Just wondering about how many batches you thought would fill up a big electric roaster pan.
Hi Sara, it’s hard for me to guess, as I can’t picture how big your roaster pan is. I’m guessing quite big though, so you are probably looking at 3 or 4 times this recipe.
I made these beans and they’re delicious! About how many cups cooked beans does this yield? Trying to figure how much a serving is.
So glad you enjoyed them, Aimee :) I have no idea how many cups this yields. The best guide is using the serving amount of 10 servings, so one serving is 1/10th of the pot.
These are delicious! Just made a pot of them, they taste just like the ones my Father would make on a Saturday. Just waiting to put in my loaf of brown bread, made from scratch with my Nanny’s faded recipe. I guess it’s time to make a copy of it before it’s illegible, ( the recipe is over 50 years old, hand written on a piece of cardboard). Thank-you for posting this recipe. 💕
So glad to hear, Lorraine :) Brown bread sounds lovely with these (and yes, you’d better make a copy!) Thanks so much!
Hi. This looks great. This is my first time making home made so I have 2 questions. 1 – can i make them the day before (I’m making pork ribs in the oven for dinner and concerned about heat and timing) 2 – I’ve only got 5 people in my family so should I cut the recipe in half?
Thanks for your help
Hi Andrea and yes, you can absolutely make these ahead. Simply refrigerate, then re-heat covered, in the oven until warmed through. If they thicken up a bit in the process, just add a small splash of water to loosen them back up :) I wouldn’t cut the recipe in half. If you’re cooking something that long, you might as well have plenty and any leftovers will keep well in the fridge for several days. Enjoy!
These are absolutely delicious. I fried the bacon till about half done before adding, but probably wasn’t necessary. Also added 3/4 teaspoon liquid smoke. Keeper recipe for sure!
So glad you enjoyed them, Kathy! Thanks so much :)
Hi, could I use ‘normal’ mustard in stead of the dry mustard powder? (We don’t use that in the Netherlands, so it’s hard to come by)
Hi Linda and certainly, go ahead and use regular mustard. The rule of thumb is 1 Tbsp of regular mustard to replace 1 tsp of powdered mustard.
Made these today- my first time making baked beans from scratch so I was a little worried I would mess it up. They are absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!
So glad to hear, Michelle :) Thanks so much!
Could this be made in a crockpot, and if so, do you know for what amount of time?
Hi Martha, I suppose it could, though I haven’t tested it, so I can’t say for sure. I would think any timing would be something like 6-8 hours on low.
Can this recipe be made with a medley of beans as opposed to navy beans only?
It can, June, but you would just need to cook each of the beans in the medley separately, until each respective one is cooked to tender (different beans will take different amounts of boiling time). Al the beans need to be cooked (boiled) to tender before adding to the pot to bake.
I made these today and they were delicious! I had them in the oven along with a pork shoulder that I was roasting for pulled pork. What a combo! I’m normally a Heinz baked beans person but these were well worth the effort and I’ll definitely make them again
So glad to hear, Molly! Thanks :)
This is a great recipe to share right now as we all have plenty of time to spend in the kitchen.
Thanks Karen and yes, it’s not always easy to devote the time to baked beans, but now is a perfect time to enjoy them!
The recipe says to preheat oven to 275 but in step #2 the note says 225. Can you clarify?
Hi Claire, it is 275F. Sorry. Typo :) It’s fixed now. Thanks!
One of my husband’s favorite side dishes Jennifer. Can’t wait to try your recipe!
Thanks Mary Ann!
I’ve always wanted to make scratch baked beans! This is a great recipe to make right now and I’m positive my husband would be thrilled. Thanks Jennifer ;)
Thanks Tricia and yes, there’s no better time than now to scratch this one of your list :)
I’m pretty sure I could eat that whole pot. It looks so good!
Thanks so much, Chris :)
We love homemade beans and these look delicious! Total comfort food, perfect for any meal of the day! I could devour a huge bowl right now with a big hunk of homemade bread :) Hope you are doing well!!
Thanks so much, Dawn and you, too :)
Homemade baked beans are the best!!!! I could honestly make a meal out of just these beans.. any maybe some bread for sopping up all that yummy liquid! Your recipe looks and sound perfect! I can’t wait to try these! Cheers – I hope you are staying safe and healthy!
Thanks so much, Cheyanne and you, too!