Homemade Boston Baked Beans are so darn’ good!
Homemade Boston Baked Beans are far more yummy than canned beans and worth the small extra effort to prepare them. This Boston Baked Bean recipe is all about easy comfort food. When I was a kid growing up here in New England, every Saturday supper we had “beans and franks” and brown bread. There is a reason that Boston is referred to often as “Beantown” and this traditional recipe is a New England classic.
What are the best beans to use for Boston Baked Beans?
In my opinion, this recipe makes the best Boston Baked Beans. Most likely my opinion is based on the fact that it was my Nana’s recipe that we had almost every Saturday night. She always used a small dried bean, usually navy beans but occasionally pinto beans. Although the packaged dried beans are usually clean, it is advisable to pick thru the beans to discard any discolored beans, and occasionally I have found tiny pieces of rock and stems, neither of which you would want to bite down on when eating your beans.
How do you prepare the beans?
Making traditional Boston Baked Beans is not a quick process so you need to start preparing the night before. I use a oven-proof Dutch oven. A 5-6 quart Dutch oven works the best. The night before I thoroughly rinse the beans in a colander to remove any dust and dirt. Then I soak the beans in the Dutch oven in salted water (1 tbs. of salt). In the morning I add a pinch of baking soda to the pot and bring the beans to a boil, then simmer them over medium heat for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them and top with water if necessary. Drain the beans with a colander over a bowl and reserve all the bean liquid. Preheat oven to 250°F. Prepare the sauce portion of the beans by mixing the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, black pepper and a pinch of salt together. I use a Pyrex glass measuring cup that I coat with vegetable oil before adding molasses as it will make it easier to get all the molasses mixture out of the cup.
Take a knife and score the salt park on the fatty side cutting down within a 1/4 inch of the rind. Lightly brown the salt pork in the Dutch oven over medium high heat until pork lightly browns and pork fat is rendered (takes about 5 minutes). Remove pot from heat and dump the beans in on top of the pork and gently stir in the diced onion. Add the molasses mixture and enough reserved bean water to completely cover the beans. Stir gently to mix. Bring the beans to a simmer. You do not want to see any beans poking through the surface. They should be completely covered with liquid. Add more bean liquid if necessary. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hrs. Remove the cover, stir gently and add hot water to just cover beans if needed, checking every hour to be sure that the beans are just covered with liquid. Add more hot water if needed. Stir gently each time you check. Beans should be getting tender, so stir the beans thoroughly but gently one last time. Do not add any more water unless the level gets very low. Allow the Boston Baked Beans to form a dark brown crust on top.
A classic Boston Baked Bean Recipe just like Grandma used to make!
So for my Boston Baked Beans I go traditional – Old school slow oven cooking in the bean pot. We are in the process of remodeling the kitchen so the wood cookstove isn’t hooked up yet. That’s the way I usually cook them. Get all the ingredients in the bean pot and tuck them in the back of the oven. Run the woodstove “low and slow” and let the beans cook all day. I check them periodically to see if I should add water but that’s it. They’re a really easy dish to make and soooo much better than canned baked beans. Sorry, Duke but you can keep guarding the Bush family recipe! Cooking them in the woodstove also saves money. The wood energy gets to perform 2 tasks for the same price. It heats the house and cooks the beans. But this time I put them in the electric built-in oven. Traditional baked beans are a long process. There’s only one thing you can do to speed the process and that’s at the beginning. You either soak the beans overnight (12-14 hours) in cold water or you can wait till the next day and boil them in water for about 1 hour. The test for readiness “to bake” is to put a bean in a spoon and gently blow on it. If the bean is boiled enough, the skin will come off the bean as you blow. I do a combination of both. I do the overnight soak and them boil them for about 20-30 minutes and then do the “bean skin test”.
How to store your Boston Baked Beans
I no longer have three hungry boys to feed so an entire pot of beans seems to be with us for weeks But I plan them into a couple of meals through the week. One night we’ll have chili and another we’ll have some chili dogs or baked ham and beans. There are lots of possibilities. Beans go with a lot of things. I freeze the rest for later consumption. To freeze them, you just let them chill in the fridge and then put them in air tight containers. Be sure to mark the date on the container and use them in 3-6 months. They’ll taste as good as the day you made them.Print
Nana Smith’s Boston Baked Beans
An old New England Saturday night favorite was baked beans and franks. Nana always served it with steamed brown bread. Here’s her old recipe tried and true 100 years later!
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 8 hours
- Total Time: 8 hours 15 mins
- Category: VEGETABLE
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: AMERICAN; NEW ENGLAND;
- 1 lb. dried beans, preferably navy
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 lb. piece of salt pork (you can also use diced bacon or a small ham hock)
- 2/3 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp. Dijon or brown mustard
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. coarse ground black pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- Pick out discolored beans and any field derbris (stone pieces and stems). Soak beans overnight in cold water and 1 tbsp. of kosher salt.
- The next morning I simmer the beans in the same water for 30-45 minutes until tender and bean skins can be gently blown off bean. Drain the beans reserving the liquid.
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- Take piece of salt pork and with rind side up, use a sharp knife and score the meat with cuts ½ inch deep making a crosshatch pattern. Sear the salt pork in hot Dutch oven over medium high heat till it is golden brown. Place in the bottom of Bean pot or covered Dutch oven.
- Arrange the beans on and around the salt pork and layering them with onion.
- In a bowl, combine molasses, salt, pepper, mustard, and brown sugar. Pour over beans. Pour in the reserved bean liquid. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid.
- Bake for 6-8 hours in the preheated oven, until beans are tender. After 2 1/2 hours, remove the cover, stir gently and add hot water to just cover beans if needed. Continue checking every hour to be sure that the beans are just covered with liquid. Add more hot water if needed. Stir gently each time you check. Beans should be getting tender, so stir the beans thoroughly but gently one last time. Do not add any more water unless the level gets very low. Test for tenderness. Allow the beans to form a dark brown crust on top.
Keywords: Boston Baked Beans
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DAWN B says
I’m excited that I found your Blog!! Can’t wait to go through all of your no-nonsense recipes!
Sheryl T says
That’s my take on food – no nonsense. I sometimes have to laugh at these celebrity chefs in competitions like Top Chef. They spend so much time putting bizarre ingredients together just to be different. All the “expert judges” sit around eating it and are afraid to say it’s weird because they all want to be “cool foodies”. It reminds me of “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”. Food should look good, smell good, and most importantly, taste good! It doesn’t need fancy names or fancy ingredients!
Probably it would be fine, but there are crock pot liners on the makret. (I think made by the Reynolds Wrap people) They’re supposed to keep the crock pot clean. I used one once and everything started out just fine, but after a few hours, the bottom of the crock pot broke! I had to throw away the meal just before dinner! NOT COOL!!! I had the kind that you can pull the pot out for washing. It was fairly new and had no cracks before I started. Maybe I just had bad luck, but I don’t recommend them to anyone!I would write to the company that made your crock pot and tell them that you love it and have used it so mcuh that the paint/glaze is wearing off. Who knows-they might just replace it for you to keep a customer happy. At least they would know if it was safe or not.
Those look wonderful! I can’t wait to try them.
P.S. I’m doing a $50 Shabby Apple giveaway on my blog. You should check it out here: http://meandmr.com/post/35113285949/shabby-apple-50-giveaway
Katherines Corner says
Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things hop. Wishing you a happy weekend. xo
Shiloh Barkley says
Found you at seasonal nspirations party! The beans look amazing. I’ve made baked beans once from scratch. I need to half the recipe next time…we can’t eat them all!
Sheryl T says
My solution to that is to freeze them! They are just as good and you get 2 or 3 meals for the initial effort!
Natalia @PrepUtilityVehicle says
Reading this, I was so upset that Bill (apparently) appreciated your cooking so little he gave it to the dogs!!! Obviously the two of your lived through it, though. I think that would be a VERY sore spot with me. 🙂
You’ve inspired me to make baked beans now. Like you, I prefer smaller beans. An older lady friend of mine gave me her recipe that also included salt pork, which I’d heard of in books but never seen!
My mouth waters at the thought of beans cooking all day in a wood oven. Do they take on any smoky taste at all?
Thanks for the inspiration.
Sheryl T says
I was a little angry but I loved that dog and she really enjoyed it! We were much younger then….that was almost 40 years ago and as I look back at it, I laugh about it now! The expression on my son Ed’s face is seared into my memory. He was horrified. He really wanted that Chop Suey!
The beans don’t take a smoky taste. The oven in the woodstove is separate from the firebox so the smoke doesn’t get in the oven compartment. Now when we do beanhole beans out in the yard, they do get a smoky flavor. Beanhole beans are cooked in a stone lined pit in the ground surrounded by hot coals and they do have a smoky flavor. It is an old Northwoods Logging camp dish. We cook them every year for Fourth of July. I am going to document it next year on the blog.
Yes I say yes to anything Boston and double yes to baked beans. =)
Stopping by to say “hi” and to follow you here. AND… to invite you to join me for An ALOHA Affair. It’s a truly unique chance to share your beautiful work with other bloggers and creative souls who are interested in growing in meaningful ways. ‘hope to see ya soon.
[email protected] says
Thanks for your post! I really enjoyed the story behind your baked beans. I’ve never made them but your recipe is tempting! Blessings!
Sheryl T says
Baked beans aren’t a lot of prepwork. Once they are in the pot, they just cook themsekves and the difference between canned beans and baking your own is amazing. The flavor really rocks! Try them on a weekend when you have a lot of time to keep an eye on them. You can also do them in a slow cooker!