How to Make Baked Beans

Baked beans are the quintessential American side dish, often popping up at picnics, barbecues, and potlucks. Bean recipes are also great for a casual supper at home, pairing well with grilled meats or sandwiches. Learn how to make baked beans from scratch using dried beans, or opt for quicker canned beans. Bake them in the oven, or try a slow cooker baked bean recipe.

How to Make Baked Beans in the Oven

Traditionally made from navy beans or pea beans and flavored with pork, molasses, and brown sugar, most baked bean recipes are descendants of Boston Baked Beans. Although starting with dried beans is a little more time-consuming than using canned beans, you'll love the authentic taste of your homemade baked beans. Follow these easy steps to make old-fashioned baked beans.

Get the recipe for our Baked White Beans.

Step One: Soak the Beans

Dried beans are very hard, so soaking allows them to rehydrate and soften.

  • For 10-12 side dish servings, rinse 1 pound (about 2-1/3 cups) dried navy beans or Great Northern beans in a colander under cool running water. Be sure to sort through the beans to remove any debris.
  • In a large Dutch oven combine the beans and 8 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.
  • Drain and rinse the beans, discarding the soaking liquid.

Baked Beans Tip: If you have a little extra time, rather than boiling the beans, you can simply place them in the 8 cups water in the Dutch oven. Cover and let them soak in a cool place overnight. Drain and rinse the beans; discard the soaking liquid.

Step Two: Cook the Beans

Even though the beans are soaked, they still need to be cooked until tender before adding the other ingredients and baking.

  • Return the rinsed beans to the Dutch oven and stir in 8 cups fresh water.
  • Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Drain beans, reserving the liquid. Baked Beans Tip: You can get a head start on baked beans by soaking them (Step 1) and cooking them (Step 2) in advance. Cover and store the soaked, cooked beans in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, then continue as directed below.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Step Three: Add the Flavorings

Want to learn how to make baked beans with bacon? It's as simple as adding it in after cooking the beans! Add as much or as little bacon as you want (but you can never have too much bacon), along with other flavorings:

  • In a 2-1/2-quart casserole combine the beans with 1/4 pound bacon or salt pork, cut up; 1 cup chopped onion; 1/2 cup molasses or maple syrup; 1/4 cup packed brown sugar; 1 teaspoon dry mustard; 1/2 teaspoon salt; and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Step Four: Bake the Beans

  • Cover the casserole and bake for 2-1/2 hours or to desired consistency.

Baked Beans Tip: Some cooks like their beans saucy, while some prefer them more dry. If you like them saucy, add additional reserved bean liquid during cooking. If, at the end of cooking time, the beans are not as dry as you like, continue to bake them, uncovered, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Keep in mind, though, that beans will continue to soak up the liquid after cooking.

How to Make Baked Beans from Canned Beans

Looking for a shortcut to making great baked beans? With a prep time of just 20 minutes and a cook time of 45 minutes, our canned bean recipe is easy to prepare. With a few simple additions, no one will know they're not made from scratch.

1. Prep the Bacon and Onions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a very large skillet cook 6 slices bacon over medium heat until crisp.
  • Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the pan. Crumble the bacon; set aside.
  • Add 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1 small) to the reserved drippings.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat about 4 minutes or until the onion is tender.

2. Choose and Prep the Beans

  • Pouring each can in a colander held over the sink, drain and rinse one 15- to 16-ounce can butter beans and one 15- to 16-ounce can kidney or pinto beans. Let the salty liquid drain from the beans, then rinse the beans under cool running water and allow the water to drain. Repeat with each can.
  • Baked Beans Tip: Almost any kind of canned beans may be substituted for the butter beans or kidney beans. Substitute an equal amount of black beans, garbanzo beans, Great Northern beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, or lima beans.
  • Baked Beans Tip: Draining and rinsing helps reduce the sodium in the bean recipe.

3. Bake the Beans

  • Combine the drained butter beans and drained kidney or pinto beans in a 2-quart casserole with a lid.
  • Stir in one 15- to 16-ounce can undrained pork and beans in tomato sauce, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup ketchup, and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce.
  • Stir in the crumbled bacon and the onion.
  • Bake, covered, about 45 minutes or until bubbly around the edges. If desired, garnish with additional strips of crisp-cooked bacon.

Get the Ranch Baked Beans recipe

How to Make Slow Cooker Baked Beans

  • Refer to the canned baked beans recipe above, but double all of the ingredients.
  • Prepare bacon and onion as directed.
  • In a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker combine the beans, brown sugar, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in bacon and onion mixture.
  • Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Unique Baked Beans Recipes to Try Once you learn how to make classic baked beans, you can add flavorings and extra ingredients to create your signature baked beans recipe. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Apple-Cheddar Baked Beans: Core and cut up 1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith or Rome Beauty) and stir it into the bean mixture before baking. Sprinkle the beans with 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked cheddar cheese after baking.
  • Barbecue Baked Beans: Substitute bottled barbecue sauce for the ketchup.
  • Hawaiian Baked Beans: Stir one 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits, undrained, into the bean mixture before baking. Bake the beans uncovered for the last 10 minutes.
  • Apricot Baked Beans: Substitute apricot preserves for the brown sugar, and stir 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots into the bean mixture before baking.
  • Maple-Pecan Baked Beans: Substitute maple syrup for the brown sugar. Sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans over the bean mixture before serving.
  • Salsa Baked Beans: Substitute black beans for the kidney beans, and substitute salsa for the ketchup. Top with 1 cup coarsely crushed tortilla or corn chips before serving.
  • Molasses Baked Beans: Substitute molasses for the brown sugar.

Get the recipe for our Boston Baked Beans

Baked Bean Recipes and More!

Don't stop here—there's so much more you can learn, including some of our favorite baked beans recipes! Learn how to make BBQ baked beans, or just find your next go-to recipe for potlucks and picnics. No matter which ones you try, these homemade baked beans will all be side dish standouts at your table.

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