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Old Fashioned Baked Beans

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Thick, smoky, sweet, and savory, this Old Fashioned Baked Beans recipe is one you’ll come back to again and again!  Serve these oven baked beans at your next BBQ, picnic, potluck or family dinner and watch your guests lick their plates clean and ask for more!  The best baked beans made from scratch!

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Baked beans are an American staple.  The combination of sweet, savory and smoky flavors makes them irresistibly delicious.  Making your own homemade baked beans from scratch is easier to make than you may think, you just need to set aside enough cooking time.  They need time to cook low and slow to allow the beans to soak up all those amazing flavors.

The perfect make-ahead dish, these baked beans are even better the next day after the flavors have had more time to develop!

What to Serve With Baked Beans

Baked beans is a versatile dish that can be served with any number of mains and sides.  Here are some popular options:

Can I Make Baked Beans in a Slow Cooker?

Yes.  While the traditional method cooking “baked” beans is to bake them in the oven, which is the method we present here, you can also make them in a crock pot.  The sauce may be thinner at the end of the cooking time in which case remove the lid towards the end of the cooking to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.

SLOW COOKER METHOD:  Follow steps 1 and 2 in the recipe and then pour everything into the slow cooker.  Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours or until the beans are tender.  Open the lid for the last 30 minutes or longer until the sauce has thickened.  If the beans are too thick at any point and too much liquid has evaporated, stir in a little extra water.

Why Are My Beans Still Hard After Hours of Cooking?

You’re not alone, this is a not an uncommon problem.  From Fine Cooking:  “Some beans refuse to soften. You can soak them overnight and then simmer them all day long, and they’re still hard as pebbles. The main causes of this are age and improper storage.”

As dried beans age the pores in the beans that allow water to enter close up which will prevent the beans from softening no matter how long they are cooked.

Be sure to follow the instructions to soak the beans overnight and then boil them for an hour.  For especially hard beans one classic trick you can try is to add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the beans while you’re boiling them (1/4 teaspoon for every pound of beans).  Be careful though:  If too much is added or if it’s added to beans that aren’t too hard, you could end up with mushy beans.

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Baked Beans Recipe

Let’s get started!

Soak the beans overnight in a pot of water.  Make sure the beans are covered by at least a couple of inches of water.  Drain the beans and put them in a pot of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.  Drain and reserved the bean liquid.

In a large pot or Dutch oven fry the bacon until crispy then add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

frying bacon and onions

Stir in the tomato sauce, molasses, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and bay leaf.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved bean water and the beans.

adding ingredients to the pot

Bring everything to a simmer for a minute or two to heat it up. 

In the meantime preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

place pot in oven

Transfer the Dutch oven with the lid on to the middle rack of the oven.  Bake for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened, removing the lid during the last 20-30 minutes to help the sauce thicken.

NOTE: If at any point during the cooking process too much liquid evaporates and the beans get dry, add a little more of the reserved bean water. The beans themselves can vary from batch to batch and you may end up either needing to add more liquid if the beans are too dry or you may need to bake the beans longer with the lid off if there is too much liquid. Adjust as needed.

Add more salt the pepper to taste.

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Serve immediately or let cool completely and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Enjoy!

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For other classic sides to complement your BBQ or cook-off be sure to try our:

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Old Fashioned Baked Beans

Deliciously thick, sweet, smoky and savory, these from-scratch Old Fashioned Baked Beans are sure to be a hit at your next BBQ, picnic, potluck or family dinner!
4.98 from 198 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Soaking and Boiling Time 10 hours
Total Time 12 hours 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 537 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 8 ounces thick cut bacon , diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion , finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 cup plain tomato sauce or ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions
 

  • Place the dried beans in a pot of water covered by a few inches of water and let soak overnight. Drain the beans, place them back in the pot with fresh water and bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour, then drain, reserving the liquid. See NOTE.
  • In a Dutch oven or other oven-proof pot fry the bacon until crispy then add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
    Stir in the tomato sauce, molasses, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and bay leaf.
    Add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved bean water and the beans.
    Bring everything to a simmer for a minute or two to heat it up. 
    In the meantime preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Transfer the Dutch oven with the lid on to the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened, removing the lid during the last 20-30 minutes to help the sauce thicken. 
    NOTE: If at any point during the cooking process too much liquid evaporates and the beans get dry, add a little more of the reserved bean water. The beans themselves can vary from batch to batch and you may end up either needing to add more liquid if the beans are too dry or you may need to bake the beans longer with the lid off if there is too much liquid. Adjust as needed.
    Add more salt the pepper to taste.
    Serve immediately or let cool completely and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  • SLOW COOKER METHOD: Follow steps 1 and 2 and then pour everything into the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours or until the beans are tender. Open the lid for the last 30 minutes or longer until the sauce has thickened. If the beans are too thick at any point and too much liquid has evaporated, stir in a little extra water.

Notes

Depending on the age and storage condition of the beans some can remain hard even after hours of cooking.  A classic trick is to add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the beans while you’re boiling them (1/4 teaspoon for every pound of beans).  Be careful though:  If too much is added or if it’s added to beans that aren’t too hard, you could end up with mushy beans.

Nutrition

Calories: 537kcalCarbohydrates: 78gProtein: 22gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 1196mgPotassium: 1319mgFiber: 19gSugar: 33gVitamin A: 267IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 168mgIron: 6mg
Keyword Baked Beans
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet August 30,2020

kimberly killebrew the daring gourmet

Hi, I’m Kimberly Killebrew and welcome to Daring Gourmet where you'll find delicious originals, revitalized classics, and simply downright good eats from around the world! Originally from Germany, later raised in England, world-traveled, and now living in the U.S., from my globally-influenced kitchen I invite you to tour the world through your taste buds!

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Recipe Rating




4.98 from 198 votes (132 ratings without comment)

231 Comments

  1. I’ve cooked all my life and feel quite comfortable making baked beans. I think this is a great recipe and for the most part follow it as written. A couple new take-aways for me is to fry my bacon and oinions before adding to the beans also the bayleaf is a new flavour addition that I will continue to use. I never have a problem with too much or too little liquid in my beans as some have noted. I just start by barely covering my beans with liquid and topping up with water as needed through out the cooking process. I remove the cover to thicken and darken the sauce near the end of the cooking process and after the beans have reached the desired tenderness.
    Great recipe.

  2. Not good. You need WAY more than 1.5 cups of water at 325. 4 cups would have been perfect. Dish ruined. Thanks.

    1. You didn’t follow the directions, Jimmy: “If at any point during the cooking process too much liquid evaporates and the beans get dry, add a little more of the reserved bean water. The beans themselves can vary from batch to batch and you may end up either needing to add more liquid if the beans are too dry or you may need to bake the beans longer with the lid off if there is too much liquid. Adjust as needed.”

  3. Awesome flavor. It takes a little work to get the thick sauce in a slow cooker, but recipe was great. Thanks.

  4. This is now my favorite bean recipe! The only variations I make is to put in a little less brown sugar (but I’m sure that the recipe ‘as is’ would be fine for the taste of many), plus I add a teaspoon of sage, and a teaspoon of thyme, and an extra teaspoon of Dijjon mustard, for a little more savory taste.

  5. The beans are not saucey,they are not sweet, and the need more salt. I love baked beans and I am disappointed. I hope I can doctor them enough to help them to taste better. I will say that the sauce, by itself was delicious.

  6. I soaked the beans for 3 hours, pressure cook in Instant Pot for 5 minutes and did manual release. I find it is too sweet so I adjusted the molasses to 2Tbsp, the brown sugar to 1/4 cup, and the salt to 1 tsp. Used 2-1/2 to 3 cups of the bean water. Cooked on the stove top at low for at least 2 hours or more. Beans texture was perfect. Great recipe! Thank you!

  7. I started with dried beans straight into the Instant Pot. Pressure cook for 30 min. I though 10 minutes should be enough but I had to do it 3 times. Other than that I followed the recipe using ketchup vrs tomato sauce. Oven at 325 for 2 hours. Had to top up the water once from the saved pressure cooker water. Super good.

  8. Our beans lost ALL their juice while cooking and the simmer only yielded 1.5c of bean water so we topped up with chicken stock. Other than that, great recipe.

  9. This is my go-to bean recipe. It’s delicious.!!! The beans freeze well and taste even better the next day! I’ve made them in the slow cooker and in the oven and I think in the oven is the way to go. Both are great, but the oven turned out even better! I popped my slow cooker batch in the oven for about half an hour and made all the difference. It seems to caramelize more just my opinion!! Love Love Love the recipe!!

  10. Wow! These were fantastic! We do have really hard water, so I added the baking soda. Can’t wait to make them for our next family BBQ.