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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. This recipe is INSANELY good, and I have wowed many people with it. Question: does it freeze well? As a busy mom, I would love to cook a double batch and then freeze half for a quick reheat later.

    1. Making them tomorrow, how many cups of dried navy beans did you soak?
      2 cups……. Is what I’ve figured from googling.

      Cheers

  2. Hi there Kimberly, Looking forward to trying these. Have you ever used Dijon instead of yellow mustard? I don’t know how the flavor would turn out if I used dijon instead. I’m curious. Thanks for putting out such excellent recipes!

  3. I have read mixed opinions on whether adding salt to any dry beans at the beginning of the cooking process makes them tough and hard. But this recipe adds the salt with the rest of the spices at the beginning? Have you tried it both ways?

    1. Hi Nancy, you’re not alone. Not adding salt at the beginning of cooking has been the conventional wisdom for a long time. And it turns out, it’s a MYTH! Adding salt right at the beginning improves both the flavor and the texture of the beans. If you look that question up online you’ll find some reputable resources that debunk that myth and lay out all the reasons why, including Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen. Happy cooking!

  4. I made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious. My wife who never likes baked beans loves them. Making another batch tomorrow.

      1. It was my first time making baked beans and this recipe is absolutely delicious! I even was missing five of the ingredients and didnt save the bean water!! Definitely will make this again, for sure. There’s absolutely no comparison to canned beans!

  5. Hi, I’ve good this twice with great success but need to do a vegetarian version for my next family bbq. Is it as simple as not using the bacon, ir is there something you can recommend to keep the depth of flavour?

      1. Hi, I ended up using smoked sea salt (quite easy to get here in Suffolk UK) and smoked garlic and they worked an absolute treat to give it a real smokey depth.

  6. I would like to add a little heat to it with some jalapeño and cayenne pepper have you ever tried that

    1. Hi Aaron, you can absolutely do that and either one will work (if using jalapeño cook it with the onions, if using cayenne add it along with the other spices). The quantity just comes down to how much heat you like.

  7. You asked for tomato sauce, but the photo looks like it is tomato paste….could you please charify that for me ?

      1. Hi going to make this today! Hope I’m able to get a reply :)
        Recipe says ketchup or tomato sauce. What’s the difference as I have no sauce on hand. Could easily run out and buy it but prefer to use what’s on hand. Would it be sugar context and maybe ketchup requires less sugar? Thanks this recipe looks delicious !!!

        1. Hi Jocelyn, yes ketchup has a good amount of sugar in it so it largely comes down to how sweet you like your beans. You could reduce the brown sugar by a tablespoon or two if you use ketchup or just use the full amount – it’s just personal preference. I don’t personally find the beans too sweet when I use ketchup and the full amount of sugar :)

  8. Amazing beans! I’m a very experienced cook, but this was my first time making baked beans, so I pretty much just stuck to the recipe. I used crushed tomatoes instead of ketchup because I had some leftover, and they turned out perfectly! Rave reviews from my whole family! Thanks for sharing!

    1. In the process of making this recipe, preparation for Easter side dish. It’s in the oven. I doubled the recipe to feed 12. Will check on it after 1 hour to see if I need more liquid.

  9. I found this to be a tad too sweet and acidic for me (I used ketchup, FYI), but it is a really good recipe and easy to adjust ingredients to taste. The second time around, after making adjustments, it was a solid 5.

    1. Hi Mary Anne, yes but you would need to adjust the liquid levels because the canned beans will absorb differently than the beans cooked from dried. I haven’t tried it with canned beans so I’m not sure what the exact adjustments would need to be.