Homemade molasses baked beans with bacon is a favourite comfort food winter recipe! Keep in mind, they are equally amazing in the summer alongside barbequed ribs and grilled corn if you can bear to turn your oven on. Simply soak dried beans in the morning, give them a quick boil in the evening, and then slow-bake them in a cast iron Dutch oven with basic pantry staples overnight. My parents love these baked beans so much they ask me to make them once a month!
This post was first published on October 4, 2017, and was last updated December 30, 2019.
Nova Scotia Baked Beans
Homemade molasses baked beans are a huge part of East Coast heritage. Like fish cakes, chow chow, and mustard pickles, baked beans have been a staple for generations of families in Nova Scotia because:
- They’re cheap and easy to make.
- The recipe makes a big batch, perfect for feeding large families.
- They taste damn good.
Which Beans Are Best To Make Homemade Molasses Baked Beans?
For years I made this recipe with yellow eye beans, however, after trial and error, I now prefer white navy beans for molasses baked beans.
Putting Bacon In Baked Beans
I like smoked, or even double-smoked bacon in my molasses baked beans, however, salt pork is a good substitute. If using salt pork, you may want to add a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke before baking.
I use raw bacon and I mix it straight into the pot with the other ingredients. If you don’t mind an extra step, and washing extra dishes, you could fry the bacon and onion together before mixing everything together.
Why Do You Add Baking Soda To Beans?
The main reason to add baking soda to beans while they’re cooking is to help soften them faster during the cooking process. I have also heard baking soda will help reduce gas after eating! That’s a good enough reason for me.
Making Beans In The Slow Cooker
I made this recipe for baked beans in my crock pot once, and they were ok. In the morning the beans were quite watery. I had to cook them a few hours longer than the oven-baked version.
Make This Recipe Vegan
Making vegetarian or vegan baked beans is so easy! Just substitute 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke for the bacon and continue to follow the recipe and cooking times exactly as written.
Here’s What You Need To Make Homemade Molasses Baked Beans:
- 1 pound dried navy beans
- A large bowl
- A colander
- A medium-large heavy bottomed pot with a lid
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- An oven
- A large cast iron Dutch oven
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 strips of bacon or 2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- Wooden spoon or rubber spatula
How To Make This Recipe Step-By-Step:
- Step 1 – In the morning, place 1 pound of dried navy beans in a large bowl and cover them with cold water. Let them soak for 8 hours.
- Step 2 – In the evening, drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a medium-large heavy-bottomed pot with 6 cups of cold water and bring to a boil (be sure to use a large pot because when you add the baking soda the bean water will be quite frothy and foamy).
- Step 3 – Add ½ teaspoon baking soda to the boiling beans. Place the cover on the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer the beans until they are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Step 4 – Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
- Step 5 – Drain the boiled beans and reserve 3 ½ cups of bean cooking liquid. Set aside.
- Step 6 – Mix 1 cup ketchup, ½ cup molasses, 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, ¼ teaspoon pepper, 1 chopped medium onion, and 6 strips of diced bacon (or 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke) to a cast-iron Dutch oven with a lid.
- Step 7 – Add the drained cooked beans and the reserved bean liquid to the Dutch oven. Give everything a good stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, place the lid on the pot, and bake in the oven for 8 hours.
- Step 8 – Eat!
Make Homemade Baked Beans Using Canned Beans
I’m a huge fan of canned beans and legumes. They cost a little more than dried beans, but they also save time! If you want to make this recipe using canned beans:
- Preheat your oven to 250ºF.
- In a Dutch oven combine 454g of drained and rinsed, canned navy beans with 3 ½ cups water, 1 cup ketchup, ½ cup molasses, 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, ¼ teaspoon pepper, 1 chopped medium onion, and 6 strips of diced bacon (or 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke if making vegan baked beans).
- Give everything a good stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, place the lid on the pot, and bake in the oven for 4 hours.
How To Thicken Baked Beans If They’re Too Watery
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, place the pot back in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 hour.
What’s A Good Substitute For Molasses In Baked Beans?
I haven’t tried it, however, I think maple syrup could be a safe bet to swap for molasses at a 1:1 ratio. Because maple syrup is less thick than molasses, you may need to bake your beans a bit longer.
Other sweetener options I would try if I didn’t have molasses or maple syrup:
- Double the brown sugar.
- A mix of brown sugar and applesauce.
How Can You Serve Baked Beans?
- Have them for breakfast with fried eggs, fish cakes, green tomato chow, and toasted brown bread.
- Serve them alongside almost any meat. They’re particularly good with pork ribs, hot dogs, pulled pork, ham, or grilled chicken.
- Dollop them on a plate alongside potato salad and cornbread.
- As a side with a cheeseburger.
- As a meal with a side green salad or buttered toast.
Can You Freeze Baked Beans?
Homemade baked beans freeze well! Once they are cool, store them in airtight containers with tight fitting lids. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
Looking For More Comfort Food Winter Recipes? Try:
- 1 pound (454g) dried white navy beans
- 6 cups cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 strips bacon, diced
- Place beans in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and soak eight hours.
- Drain and rinse beans. Place in a medium-large heavy-bottomed pot and cover with 6 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and add baking soda. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 250ºF.
- Drain beans into a large bowl and reserve 3 1/2 cups of cooking liquid. Rinse beans with cool water and drain.
- In a large oven-safe pot with an oven-safe lid (I use a cast iron Dutch oven)combine ketchup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ground dry mustard, and pepper. Mix well. Add reserved 3 1/2 cups of bean liquid, chopped onion, and bacon. Stir to mix. Add drained beans and stir well to combine.
- Bake, covered, for 8 hours at 250ºF.
Did you make this recipe? I would love to see how you made out! Let me know on Instagram by tagging me @kellyneildotcom and hashtag it #kellyneildotcom so I can re-share it in my Instagram stories. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!