Delicious, sweet and savory Boston Baked Beans are the perfect side dish for BBQs, potlucks, brunches or just when you’re craving some real comfort food. Or, make it the main attraction by adding some chopped sausages and serving with cornbread.
Boston Baked Beans Recipe
In Canada, we have a wonderful winter tradition of taking the kids to Sugar Shacks (or Cabanes a Sucre) where maple sap is harvested and cooked into maple syrup.
Most of these places also offer a pancake breakfast – which, along with the amazing smell of maple syrup cooking over campfires – is the main draw for most of us. While some places really call it in with boxed pancake mix and maybe one or two side offerings, the real MVPs are the Sugar Shacks that offer sausages, bacon, ham, baked beans, scrambled eggs, pickled vegetables – and of course, plenty of complementary maple syrup to douse your whole plate in.
I have so many fond childhood memories of those delicious breakfasts, I wanted to really treat my family with a big, traditional brunch spread complete with all of those indulgent side dishes – including those sweet and salty baked beans in a rich molasses-tomato sauce.
After a ton of research and recipe experimenting, this super simple version is a clear winner. Not only is it simple to prepare and requires minimal ingredients, it really delivers on that classic Boston Baked Beans flavor – sweet, salty with tender beans in a rich glaze with little hits of caramelized onions and fall-apart bacon adding a wonderful smokiness.
These Boston Baked Beans differ from “Montreal Baked Beans” in that I cooked the beans in a molasses-based sauce rather than a maple syrup-based sauce. You can use maple syrup if you prefer. Montreal Baked Beans would also use salted pork instead of bacon.
It may seem weird at first to cover the recipe in the water that you boiled the beans in, but this prevents the glaze from burning before it’s fully cooked and will be completely absorbed by the time the recipe is done cooking. The bean starch in the cooking water also thickens the glaze. If your beans still appear too watery, you need to continue cooking a bit longer.
Do I need to soak beans for Boston baked beans? Yes, not soaking the beans results in a much longer cooking time. I also cook the beans for 15-20 minutes before assembling the recipe to ensure that they turn out perfectly tender. You can skip step and increase the baking time, but I personally recommend sticking to the recipe as written for best results.
Can I make this recipe in my slow cooker? Yes, you can make Boston Baked Beans either in the oven or a slow cooker. To prepare in a slow cooker, rinse and cook the beans beforehand, and then layer into the slow cooker as indicated below. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Are Boston Baked Beans bad for you? Baked beans provide fibre, protein and plenty of nutrients. While we are adding a bit of sugar and molasses to the sauce, each 1/3 cup serving of our finished recipe contains less than a teaspoon of sugar which is way less than if you were eating a processed version.
Can I use a different type of bean? We use White Navy Beans for this recipe as they deliver the same look, texture and taste that I associate with Boston Baked Beans. The benefit of using these is that their small size cooks quickly and results in tender baked beans. You can use larger white beans but the cooking time may need to be extended to achieve that same, soft, perfectly cooked texture.
Baked Bean Variations:
- swap out the bacon and molasses for salt pork and maple syrup for a Montreal twist
- be like James Beard and swap out the bacon for shredded beef ribs
- add diced jalapeños for some spicy heat
- add 1/2 cup of dark stout or ale for more depth of flavor
- add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke for a smoky flavor
- add 1 teaspoon fish sauce or soy sauce for an umami note
Boston Baked Beans Ingredients
- 2 cups white navy beans, dry and uncooked (or 4 cups cooked)
- 6-8 strips bacon, as needed
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 Tablespoons molasses
- Salt and pepper, as desired
- 2 teaspoons mustard powder
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
Scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements.
Tip: canned beans can be substituted, if desired – use the soaking liquid in place of the cooking liquid indicated below.
Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful
- Ceramic Baking Dish or Dutch Oven
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Mixing Bowl
- Whisk or Spatula
- Sharp Kitchen Knife
- Cutting Board
How to Make Boston Baked Beans
Soak the navy beans in 4 cups of water overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans and then place in a large saucepan or stockpot.
Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 15-20 minutes, then drain – reserving the cooking water.
While the beans are cooking, combine the sauce ingredients in a large bowl.
When the beans are done, add them to the sauce and stir to coat completely.
Preheat oven to 325F.
In a casserole dish, layer the beans with the bacon and onions: 1/2 of the chopped onion, 3-4 strips of bacon, 2 cups of beans, then remaining 1/2 onion, remaining 3-4 strips bacon and remaining 2 cups beans.
Pour enough of the bean cooking water over the beans to cover in about 1/2” of water.
Place the casserole dish in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 3-4 hours until all of the water appears to be absorbed.
Stir well and serve.
Grab your free printable recipe card for our Boston Baked Beans recipe:
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. Sugar, Spice and Glitter uses an auto-generate nutrition calculator. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate unless analyzed in a scientific lab, so these should be considered more of a guideline than medical information.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 159Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 211mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 9g
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Sugar, Spice and Glitter uses an auto-generate nutrition calculator. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate unless analyzed in a scientific lab, so these should be considered more of a guideline than medical information.
I hope your family loves this super simple Boston Baked Beans recipe as much as mine did! Even my dad who is a staunch canned baked beans fan admitted these were better!