If you've never cooked baked beans from scratch before, you might be feeling a little intimidated. Not to worry. This Homemade Baked Beans recipe is as foolproof as they come, not to mention it's got all the joys of a small ingredient list without lacking a bit of flavor.
Baked beans from scratch are a summer BBQ potluck staple. They're somehow sweet and tangy at the same time, super creamy, and so much better than the canned alternative. For more delicious side dish inspiration, be sure to check out our Mexican charro beans and butter beans next!
WHICH BEANS ARE BEST FOR BAKED BEANS?
Although you can use great northern beans in a pinch, ideally, you would use navy beans for making Homemade Baked Beans.
Navy beans and great northern beans are both white beans with similar flavors. The differences are somewhat evident when it comes to both size and texture. Navy beans will have a firmer texture. Great northern beans are more delicate and soft when cooked.
You will also find that navy beans are smaller in size when compared to great northern beans.
HERE'S WHY YOU SOAK BEANS...
Soaking beans overnight reduces the cooking time by about 25-30%, promotes even cooking, and reduces the gassy side effects of consuming beans.
If you forget to soak your beans overnight, you can also implement the quick soaking method. A quick soak is when you add dry beans to a large pot full of water and boil for a few minutes. Then you remove the beans from the heat and let them sit in the hot water for about an hour to soften.
While the quick soaking method will cut back on your cook time, it is not nearly as effective as soaking your beans overnight. We've tested this recipe both ways, and the consensus is: plan ahead when it comes to beans, and the overnight soak is supreme for tender, evenly cooked beans that won't take all day to cook.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE BAKED BEANS
The night before you intend to bake your beans, pour dried navy beans into a strainer and rinse, picking through for any misshapen beans or pebbles that may have accidentally ended up in the bag.
Next, place your beans in a large bowl and cover with water by about 2 inches. You can either leave your beans on the counter at room temperature or place them in the refrigerator overnight. You can soak your beans for up to 24 hours but do not leave them in the water beyond this point.
Once the soaking time is up, pour your beans into a strainer and rinse. After the beans are rinsed, we will take this recipe over to the stovetop.
Transfer the beans to either a Dutch oven or a large pot, and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring the beans to a boil over high heat. As soon as the beans have reached a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes, just until the beans are tender enough to bite into but still firm in texture.
Similar to soaking your beans, simmering the beans on the stovetop, before adding any other ingredients cuts back on cook time significantly.
Time to bring in the flavor! There are quite a few Homemade Baked Beans recipes calling for ingredients like tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and beyond. While there's nothing wrong with these ingredients, we were able to achieve maximum flavor with far fewer ingredients by choosing a handful of flavor powerhouses.
You can't have baked beans without that signature smoky flavor, so of course, we've equipped our Homemade Baked Beans with bacon galore! You will need 4 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into cubes. And, if you swoon for an old-fashioned bacon garnish on top of baked beans, you'll want to have 3 to 4 more slices of bacon on standby.
Add your bacon to the beans, along with a diced yellow onion, molasses, brown sugar, (you can use light or dark brown sugar for this recipe), apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, dry mustard, and black pepper.
It is the brown sugar and molasses that give these beans give that sweet Boston baked beans flavor profile, while the dry mustard and apple cider vinegar add enough tang to balance out that sweetness perfectly!!
Once your seasoning goes in, give everything a stir and if using a Dutch oven, cover, and bake for 2 hours in a preheated 300°F oven. If you do not have a Dutch oven, transfer your beans to a large casserole dish, and cover it with 2 to 3 layers of aluminum foil.
Once the bake time is up, remove the lid or the foil. If you're a sucker for that old-fashioned baked beans look, in which saucy, savory slices of bacon line the top of the dish, now's the time to add it!
Return the Dutch oven or casserole dish to the oven uncovered and bake for an additional 1 ½ to 2 hours. As soon as the beans have reached your ideal bean consistency, pull them from the oven, allow them to cool slightly, and serve!
WHAT IF YOU FORGET TO SOAK YOUR BEANS?
If you forget to soak your beans overnight, it's not the end of the world. You can absolutely still slam out a super yummy rendition of these Homemade Baked Beans.
You would need to cut out the stovetop simmer step (you will not be able to soften the beans in 30 minutes if they are not pre-soaked) and you'll also need to add an additional 2-3 hours to the total time in the oven.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER BAKED BEANS
Store leftover baked beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If you want to store your beans beyond the 4-day mark, freeze them!
To freeze Homemade Baked Beans, transfer the beans to a freezer-safe container, and ensure there is not much headspace between the beans and the top of your container. This will likely result in freezer burn. Your beans will keep their integrity for up to six months in the freezer.
6 MORE BBQ SIDE DISHES YOU’LL LOVE
- Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes
- 7 Layer Salad
- Mexican Bean Salad
- Bowtie Pasta Salad
- Corn Casserole
- Creamed Corn
Homemade Baked Beans are seriously delicious AND easy to make! This recipe features navy beans perfectly slow-cooked with bacon and molasses.
- 1 lb navy beans soaked overnight
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon diced
- 1 yellow onion diced
- ⅓ cup molasses
- ½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablspoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
Preheat oven to 300°F. Pour soaked beans into a strainer and rinse thoroughly. Add rinsed beans to a Dutch oven, cover with water by 2”, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer 30 minutes, or until just tender to the bite but still firm in texture.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir to evenly incorporate. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and bake for 2 hours. Uncover and bake for an additional 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the texture is to your liking, stirring every 30 minutes or so. Remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy.
To soak beans overnight is simple: Pour the beans into a strainer and rinse. Place them into a very large bowl and pour water over the beans to cover by 2". Allow them to soak overnight or for up to 24 hours.
Sources: Food and Wine