Homemade baked beans are seriously one of my family’s FAVORITE recipes. They are equally amazing in the winter with whole wheat cheese biscuits, or in the summer alongside grilled ribs and corn.
I like to soak my dried beans in the morning and give them a quick boil in the evening. I then mix them with basic pantry staples and slow-bake them in a cast iron Dutch oven overnight. I love the scent wafting through the house while we sleep! You can make homemade baked beans on whatever schedule works for you.
To Cook The Dried Beans
- Dried navy beans
- Baking soda
For The Molasses Sauce
- Apple cider vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Ground dry mustard
- Ground black pepper
Soak & Cook The Dried Beans
For best results, use a cast-iron Dutch oven with at least 4-quart (4-litre) capacity.
Place the dried navy beans in the Dutch oven and cover them with cold water. Leave them to soak for 8 hours.
After soaking the beans will have swollen in size.
Drain and rinse the beans with cool water. Place the drained beans back in the pot and cover them with fresh cold water.
Bring the beans to a boil on the stovetop over medium-high heat. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. As the beans heat a layer of foam will develop on top. This is totally fine and normal.
Add the baking soda to the boiling beans. Be prepared because the soda can foam up and over the edges of the pot very quickly! Blow gently on the foam, or lift the pot up and away from the heat to help it settle down.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, place the lid on the pot, and continue to simmer the beans until they are tender, about 30 minutes. Be sure to keep the lid on as you will be using the cooked bean water later in the recipe and don’t want it all to evaporate.
Make The Molasses Sauce And Bake The Beans
Preheat the oven to 250ºF (120ºC).
Place a colander over a large bowl or other vessel (I use a large glass measuring cup) to catch the cooked bean liquid. Once the beans have drained you should be left with about 3-½ cups (875 ml) of reserved liquid. If you have less than that, simply top the bean liquid with water to reach that amount. Set the liquid aside.
At this point, I like to give my Dutch oven a quick wash to remove any foam residue from the pot.
Add the ketchup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, dry mustard, and ground pepper to the clean pot.
Stir everything together until smooth.
Add the bacon and onion to the pot and stir to combine.
Pour the reserved bean liquid into the pot and give it a good stir. Add the cooked drained beans and mix until well combined.
Place the lid on the pot, and bake the beans in the oven for 8 hours.
After baking, remove the beans from the oven. Your molasses baked beans may look dry on top when you take off the lid, but trust me they are not dry! Give the beans a good stir to loosen then serve hot or cold, as a meal, or as a side.
Notes & Tips
- The main reason to add baking soda to beans while they boil is to help them soften faster during the cooking process (I’ve also read baking soda will help reduce flatulence after eating, so that’s a good reason too).
- I use raw bacon and raw onion and mix them straight into the pot of beans with the other ingredients. You could lightly cook the bacon and onion together beforehand if you want, however, it’s not necessary.
- If your beans are watery when you take them out of the oven after baking don’t fret! They will thicken as they cool. If for some reason your beans don’t thicken, preheat the oven to 250ºF (120ºC), place the pot back in the oven uncovered, and bake for 1 hour.
- To Store—scoop cooled beans into plastic or glass container with lids and keep in the fridge for up to one week.
- To Freeze—homemade baked beans freeze exceptionally well! Once cool, store them in airtight containers with tight fitting lids. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
- To Reheat—thaw baked beans in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for a few hours, then reheat them gently in a pot or in the microwave.
- I originally used yellow-eyed beans for this recipe, however, navy beans have a creamier texture which I prefer.
- Regular smoked, or double-smoked bacon, however, salt pork is also a good substitute. Salt pork won’t have smoky flavor so keep this in mind.
- I don’t recommend making this recipe in the slow cooker. The beans I’ve made this way have turned out a bit watery.
- Make this recipe plant-based! Just substitute 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke for the bacon.
More Family Meal Ideas
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Homemade Baked Beans With Molasses
- 4 to 6 quart (litre) cast iron Dutch oven with lid
- measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scale
- large bowl or measuring cup at least 8 cup capacity
- rubber spatula or wooden spoon
- sharp kitchen shears for cutting bacon
- 2 cups dried white navy beans
- 6 cups cold water
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 1 medium onion, ends trimmed, peeled, chopped
- 6 to 8 strips bacon, cut into ½ inch (1 ¼ cm) pieces
- Place the dried navy beans in a 4-quart (4 L) Dutch oven. Cover the beans with cold water and let them soak for eight hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse the beans with cool water. Place the drained beans back in the pot and cover them with 6 cups (1 ½ L) of fresh cold water. Bring the beans to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling add the baking soda. Reduce the heat, place the lid on the pot, and simmer the beans for 30 minutes or until tender.
- Preheat the oven to 250ºF (120ºC).
- Drain the cooked beans into a colander fitted over a large bowl or other vessel to catch the liquid. Once drained you should have about 3 ½ cups (875 ml) of cooking liquid (if you don't have 3 ½ cups, top it up with water until you do). Rinse the cooked beans with cool water and drain. Set the cooking liquid and the drained beans aside.
- Give the Dutch oven a quick wash to remove any cooked bean scum. Add the ketchup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ground dry mustard, and pepper to the pot. Stir together until smooth.
- Add the chopped onion and bacon to the pot. Stir to mix. Add the 3 ½ cups of reserved bean liquid and the beans to the pot. Stir well to combine.
- Place the lid on the Dutch oven and place the beans in the preheated oven. Bake the beans for 8 hours (I usually bake mine overnight). Remove the baked beans from the oven, remove the lid, stir, and serve.