Learn how easy it is to make a fragrant, deeply flavored, soul-satisfying pot of sweet and savory goodness that'll stand proudly next to any barbeque or picnic dish on your summer menu. Heck, your homemade baked beans might even steal the whole show. I'll show you how to make baked beans from scratch, with an optional shortcut that will save you a little time.

By Vanessa Greaves
July 01, 2020
Advertisement

How to Make Summer's Best Homemade Baked Beans From Scratch

Making baked beans using dried beans instead of canned beans is a lot easier than you might think. It comes down to two basic steps:

  1. Soaking and/or parboiling dried beans to soften them up.
  2. Baking the beans with added flavorings until they're perfectly tender.

It's that simple. But, I'm not going to lie — making baked beans from scratch takes time. Yet, almost all of the time is hands-free and there are no fancy or complicated prep steps. Scratch-made baked beans practically cook themselves, and all that hands-free time means you can turn your attention to other dishes or you can just kick back for a few hours. I know what I'd do.

Try this recipe: Chef John's Boston Baked Beans

To show you how to make baked beans from scratch, we'll use Chef John's recipe for Boston Baked Beans. Here's what you'll need:

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry navy beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Directions

  1. Pick through beans to remove any random debris and shriveled or broken beans. Rinse beans to remove dirt or dust.
  2. Soak beans overnight in a large bowl with enough water to cover by several inches. Drain and place beans into a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with 6 cups fresh water, baking soda, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, saving bean-cooking liquid. You'll use this liquid later when you bake the beans.
  3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  4. Transfer beans into clean Dutch oven and stir bacon, onion, molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, and black pepper into beans. Pour enough of the hot reserved bean liquid in to cover beans; stir.
  5. Cover Dutch oven and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Check liquid level and add more of the reserved bean liquid to bring liquid up to cover beans. Return to oven and continue baking until beans are tender and almost all the liquid has been absorbed, about 1 hour.
  6. Raise oven heat to 350; bake beans uncovered in oven until top develops a flavorful crust, 20 to 30 more minutes.

Alternate Time-Saving Directions

Instead of following step 2, cook your sorted and washed beans in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker for 30 minutes to soften the beans. (Follow manufacturer's directions for using your appliance.) After the beans are cooked, drain the beans, saving the liquid, and proceed with steps 3 through 6.

Substitutions

Recipes for baked beans are meant to be tinkered with so you can adjust the flavorings and the prep methods to suit your own tastes. Here are just some of the ways Allrecipes home cooks made this recipe their own:

Flavorings

  • Salt pork instead of bacon
  • Smoked pork chops instead of bacon
  • Smoked pork hocks instead of bacon
  • Breakfast sausage instead of bacon
  • Maple sugar instead of molasses
  • Dijon mustard instead of dry mustard

Additions

  • Chili flakes
  • Liquid smoke
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Curry powder
  • Garlic

Preparation

  • Slow cooker instead of oven
  • Baking dish instead of Dutch oven
  • Large cast iron skillet instead of Dutch oven

More to Explore