Want to learn how to make homemade baked beans from scratch? As a native New Englander, I can help! There is nothing more amazing than the smell of homemade baked beans in the oven. Sweet molasses and brown sugar give this bean recipe a deep brown color and deliciously sweet flavor. Once you have real, New England-style homemade baked beans, you will seriously turn your nose up at anything else!
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What Makes New England Baked Beans So Delicious?
I grew up in Connecticut. where homemade baked beans are practically a staple at most backyard barbecues. My parents and grandparents all had ceramic bean pots, whose sole purpose was to present those delicious little beans to the masses at every summer holiday.
I learned how to make this homemade baked beans recipe from my mother at a very early age. I took for granted that everyone knew how to make them. And then I moved south. Upon graduating from college. I moved to Texas. I soon realized that not everyone understands what the term ‘homemade’ means when it comes to a baked bean recipe.
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Homemade Baked Beans Do Not Start With a Can!
Those Texans (and the Georgia folks I currently reside with) somehow believe that ‘homemade’ means you open a can of baked beans from the grocery store, throw in some ketchup and onion and call it homemade. I was truly horrified.
My husband and I had moved halfway across the country from people who knew how to make old fashion New England-style baked beans! I knew it was up to me to teach these heathens what the word homemade really meant!
Which Beans Are Best for Homemade Baked Beans?
See that thing up there? That is a bean! I prefer to use Great Northern beans or soldier beans for my homemade baked beans. You can make homemade baked beans with pinto beans but my mom never did. Why? Pinto beans are much more popular in the south. And you know how much Southerners understand about real baked beans from scratch!
If you are looking for more bean recipes you should try my Black Beans and Rice with sausage. It’s a delicious dinner recipe loaded with protein and has loads of spice. Another favorite in my house is my White Bean Cherry Tomato Salad. It’s perfect for summer and uses up plenty of those garden cherry tomatoes.
You will dried beans in the grain section of your local grocery store. Start with real dried beans! It is cheaper and turns out MUCH tastier than anything you can find in a can! And honestly, the best baked bean recipe is cooked low and slow all day. You can’t do that with a canned bean or they get very mushy.
What About Vegetarian Baked Bean Recipes?
Okay, so, can you make homemade baked beans vegetarian? Well, yes. However, vegetarian baked beans just don’t have quite the same appeal to me. Or quite the same flavor.
Traditionally, my mom always used salt pork in her baked bean recipe. A small amount is finely diced and put INTO the beans as they cook. Then, a chunk is scored and placed on top but removed after cooking. Salt pork is a regional name, I think. Down here in the south, it is traditionally called fat back. Sometimes, you will see it called cured Lardo, Although, there are some slight variations between these.
You could use bacon in your bean recipe, however, I find that it adds too much bacon flavor. It really detracts from the flavor of the beans themselves.
How Long Do You Cook Baked Beans?
Real New England-style homemade baked beans are the epitome of slow food. You will want to set aside a time when you are going to be home for at least 7 or 8 hours to make baked beans from scratch. You will need to soak them overnight, rinse, and simmer for a short while.
After combining the beans with all the other ingredients, this delicious creation will need to cook in the oven for 5 to 7 hours. Watch your baked beans as they cook, adding a little of the bean cooking water as needed so they don’t dry out. Don’t overcook them or they will be too mushy.
How do you tell if baked beans are done? A great way to tell that beans are done or almost done is to blow on a spoonful of them. If the outer skins of the beans peel back (it’s very noticeable), keep a very watchful eye on them–they’re pretty much there. Check out The Joy of Cooking for more tips about cooking with dried beans.
New England Style Homemade Baked Beans
Remove the foil for the last hour or so to let your baked beans brown a bit on top. Once you taste these homemade baked beans you will NEVER again want to eat those abominations that come in a can!
Want more of my grandmother’s recipes? Check out her green tomato mincemeat recipe! Or, if you are looking for more bean recipes, try my Easy Vegetarian Crockpot Chili Recipe. It will feed a crowd and is really easy to make.
New England Style Homemade Baked Beans
Want real, New England style homemade baked beans? Real baked beans don't come from a can so check out this recipe before your next summer BBQ!
- 1 pound dried beans (old northern, navy beans, soldier beans)
- 2 quarts water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1/4 pound salt pork or fatback (cut in half)
- Rinse the beans and place in a large pot with 2 quarts of water
- Soak overnight
- Drain and rinse. Add 2 quarts of fresh water.
- Add 1/2 tsp to the water. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or til just about tender
- Drain and reserve cooking liquid
- Measure out 2 cups of the cooking liquid and place in a large bowl
- Add the brown sugar, mustard, molasses and onion. Stir until combined
- Place beans in a 2 quart casserole dish
- Dice half the salt pork into very small pieces and add to beans
- Pour in liquid and stir gently
- Score remaining salt pork and place on top of the beans
- Cover with foil and bake 5 to 7 hours at 300 degrees. Add more liquid if needed, just enough to keep beans covered.
- Remove foil for the last 30 minutes to 1 hour of cooking time to brown slightly
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving
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Serving Size:1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 205Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 495mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 3gSugar: 19gProtein: 4g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.
15 thoughts on “How to Make Real New England Style Homemade Baked Beans”
I never had any idea how to do this! This doesn’t seem as hard as I thought so I’ll give it a try this summer.
You really don’t see a lot of recipes that call for molasses anymore. These look great!
That sounds so good! Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe. I love baked beans.
I never thought about making baked beans like this!! MY husband would be all over this recipe this is one of his favorite summer time foods.
I have never made baked beans from scratch before, but I think I could do this. It looks like a delicious side and I could even throw in some sausage to make it a meal.
What onion? There’s no onion on your ingredients list. Is it cooked? caramelized? raw? (I can’t wait to make this!!)
Also, bake at what temperature?
Sorry! Should have proofread better! Recipe has been updated. Raw onion and 300 degrees! Good luck!
Raw – interesting, I’m so excited by this recipe. Thank you so much.
I think everything is better homemade. You can control the amount of sweet or pork you want in them. I’m from New England as well and the beans are so different down here.
I tried your recipe and LOVED it! It’s more like the beans I grew up eating in Maine. It’s really hard to find a recipe that doesn’t use ketchup and or canned beans. Thank you so much for sharing!
I am so glad you like them! And yes, there are very few people around any more who make true old fashioned baked beans. This is my grandmother’s recipe and I absolutely LOVE it!
My husband loves to make these beans and uses a cast iron dutch oven which works great in the oven. I reheat them slow in a regular 2 quart pot. Wondering if you know of a better way to do it or if this is how you warm them up again. Thanks for a great recipe.
I cook in a Le Creuset stoneware baking dish with a lid and that is usually how I reheat them but adding a smidge of water will help if they are dry. Or, I just microwave a serving if I am just needing one person’s worth. You can put them in a pot on the stovetop as well on medium low. Just depends on how much I need and how fast I need it. I do LOVE some good baked beans! Might need to make more of these!
These are the New England Baked Beans that my mom made, lost her recipe and needed to find one on line. We always use Salt Pork,
never cared for the bacon taste but what truly sets them apart is the molasses and that slow cooked goodness, thanks for providing a recipe without ketchup, almost had a heart attack the first time I saw it added, LOL! my mom’s been gone for a few years, still miss her terribly, thanks for bringing a little of her memory back, we loved these beans!
so glad I could help! True New England style baked beans are a thing of beauty and worth the effort!