Boston baked beans in the slow cooker
Side Dish

Delicious And Easy Baked Boston Beans In Slow Cooker

Cooks in 8 Hours Difficulty Easy 0 comments


This delicious and easy-baked Boston beans recipe is made right in the slow cooker. It’s super easy to create a flavorful, sweetly sauced brown bean that beats canned any day of the week. Further, baked beans can be made ahead and frozen, so you always have a tasty, nutritious side dish for your BBQ meals. 

I am not rewriting the book here with this recipe, but I am simplifying it. It’s so straightforward that it practically makes itself. The critical ingredient, navy beans, is put right in the slow cooker dry with all the other excellent ingredients to create a rich, flavorful bean. This beautiful side dish complements any BBQ meal or steak dinner. In fact, baked beans have been a part of many settler’s meals partly because the dried beans transport well and because they are so high in nutrition while filling people up. 

Growing up, we often had beans and wieners (hot dogs) for lunch. The canned pork and beans, as we called them, invariably had fatty salt pork in them. I was not fond of the flabby bits, so you won’t find salt pork in this recipe. In fact, there is no pork at all in this recipe, but the beans still come out in a delicious syrupy sauce. So, if you’re looking for the best baked beans, you have found them!

closeup boston baked beans

What You Will Love About the Homemade Baked Beans

It’s cheap. Dried beans are so economical. You can make a big batch of baked beans for less than half the cost of store-bought canned beans, which pack much more flavor. 

They’re nutritious. Beans are high in protein, carbs, dietary fiber, and minerals. Navy beans are no stranger to packing a healthful punch on the dinner plate.

Super easy. This easy recipe is made right in the slow cooker, with no need to soak the navy beans beforehand. 

Let’s make these excellent, flavorful beans. 

Start by getting the slow cooker ready. Plug it in and set the heat to low because low and slow cooking allows those small white beans to soak up all the flavor for the best-baked beans ever. Next, measure the navy beans into the pot. Remember that these beans are dry, so if you’ve never purchased them, you will want to search the dry goods aisle in the grocery store. 

From there, we will add the remaining ingredients. Other slow cooker Boston baked beans may ask you to add some of these ingredients later in the cooking process. However, this easy baked beans recipe has been simplified to make it possible to create a sweet sauce while cooking the beans.

The next ingredient is diced onions, followed by the ingredients needed for the sauce: ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, pepper, and, yes, water. Dry beans are thirsty beans, so don’t worry- it will look more like onion soup to start with. Trust me, this slow cooker recipe will turn out perfectly!

Why ketchup? Ketchup helps add sweetness to brown bean sauce and balances the flavor with its acidity. It is often used in BBQ sauces for its rich tomato base, which adds color. Let’s face it: It’s a cheap and convenient ingredient. When making any sauce, cheap ingredients can significantly reduce the overall cost of the end result, an important factor when discussing keeping the cooking expenses down on a household budget. 

After the ketchup, we add molasses. This ingredient is not to be confused with incredibly bitter blackstrap molasses. This is the variety you find in the baking aisle of the grocers. It often comes in a small box like a milk carton. We only use a third cup of molasses, meaning you have lots left for baking. Did you know that opened molasses can last long, often several months to a year or more? Just be sure to keep it airtight and in a dark place. 

Now that you have added molasses, you can add brown sugar, dry mustard, and spice. Lastly, you add water, and then you have to pop the lid on and wait. The cooking time is 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on medium heat for the beans to fully absorb the water and the sauce to thicken. 

This baked bean recipe makes a great side dish for your next BBQ or pulled pork sandwich. If you want to make this a complete meal, add wieners or ham during the last hour of cooking. Adding meat, though, will reduce the amount of time the beans can be stored, and they then should be used up the next day.

Any unused beans can be frozen in an airtight container for up to three months. When freezing baked beans, follow proper food handling safety; cool them entirely in airtight containers. When ready to use the frozen baked beans, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight.

​Ingredients:

Dry Navy Beans: This recipe was originally from New England, where dried navy beans were readily available. The texture is creamy and rich, while the small size lends itself well to being thoroughly coated in the rich, sweet, smokey sauce.

Onion: The onion’s umami balances the sweetness of the ketchup, molasses, and brown sugar. 

Ketchup: This red sauce adds color to the finished dish, and its vinegar adds the tanginess and acidity needed to balance the overall flavor profile. 

Water: This vital cooking liquid is needed to rehydrate the dried beans. Using the correct amount will ensure that the beans are rehydrated and the sauce will have the correct amount of moisture.

Brown Sugar: The darker the brown sugar used, the more molasses added, which will change the sauce’s sweetness. The darker the brown sugar, the sweeter it will be, whereas a lighter brown will offer a lighter sweetness. 

Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar-making process. It’s thick and dark brown, sticky, and very sweet. Using it in combination with brown sugar ensures a proper balance. 

Dry Mustard Powder: This is a classic ingredient in baked beans. Since there’s only one teaspoonful in the recipe, you may wonder what it offers the finished dish. The dry mustard brings subtle heat and complexity to the finished dish. If you omit this, the baked beans will not be as well-rounded in flavor. 

Salt: Seasoning baked beans enhances the result and balances the sweetness the sugars bring. 

Pepper: Using a pinch of this contributes aromatic compounds that enhance the overall aroma of the baked beans. Its presence adds a pleasing fragrance to the dish while creating a depth of flavor. 

finished on plate with pulled pork

Substitutions and add-ins for this bean recipe.

Dry Navy Beans: These are the classic white beans in this slow-cooked sweet and smokey dish. However, you can switch them out for other beans like cannellini, pinto, black, or kidney to add a bit of variety or just because you have them on hand in the pantry.

Onion: Onion is important in this recipe, but adding onion powder can substitute for fresh onion if you don’t have any. Do not confuse onion powder with onion salt, which is very salty. Use approximately two tablespoons of onion powder in the recipe to replace the whole chopped onion. Another substitution you can make is to use dehydrated onion flakes. Again, they are milder, so you will need to adjust the amount used. 

Ketchup: Can be replaced with a three-quarter cup of tomato paste and a quarter cup of white vinegar. If you don’t have white vinegar, apple cider vinegar would also be acceptable.

Molasses: This is a very thick, sticky, and sugar-rich ingredient. Your substitution needs to be comparable. Maple syrup and honey are two alternate ingredients that would work in baked beans. 

Ways to add more to this crock pot recipe: add a ham bone into the cooking pot. The slow cooking will allow leftover ham meat to fall away from the bone. The bone marrow enriches the beans, giving them a smokey flavor. Remove the large ham bone before serving and discard. 

Alternatively, add some pre-cooked crispy bacon if you want a smokey flavor with less work. Or, if you are aiming for more of a traditional approach, try using uncooked bacon. It will simulate the pork fat of the beans of yore. Be sure to add it in at the beginning of the cooking process. There are many baked bean recipes out there. Test them out to see which suits your family’s taste buds best. 

Expert Tips and Serving/Storage Suggestions:

Tip#1: Check the liquid levels during cooking. Dried beans absorb a lot of liquid as they rehydrate. If your beans get too dry, add more water, broth, or tomato sauce to maintain consistency. Remember, the finished baked beans shouldn’t be soupy but saucy. 

Tip#2: Stir the beans occasionally during the slow cooking process. This helps distribute flavors and ensures even cooking. 

Tip#3: If the baked beans are too thin towards the end of cooking, remove the lid and continue cooking to allow excess liquid to evaporate and thicken the sauce.

Serve baked beans at your next summer BBQ or church potluck event. They are an inexpensive and tasty accompaniment to many meals, including steak dinners and chicken and pork dishes. You can also eat the classic ’80s beans and wieners for a delicious lunch or dinner. 

If you want to serve these beans with a delicious pulled pork be sure to see our chipotle dry rubbed pulled pork tenderloin!

To store, let cool completely and keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. 

You can also freeze the beans successfully. Again, you will want to cool them completely. Trapped heat will condense in a closed container, leading to too much ice formation in the freezer and possible bacterial growth. Frozen beans can be kept frozen for up to two months successfully. Let them thaw in the fridge and reheat to satisfy your next baked bean craving. 

​If you’re wondering if you can make these slow-cooked Boston baked beans on the stovetop, the answer is yes, you can. Simply add the ingredients in your Dutch oven and let simmer for three to four hours. Pay attention to the liquids at regular intervals and stir to avoid sticking. Test the beans as they finish for doneness by tasting. If they are still too hard (not rehydrated enough) and the sauce is dry, then consider adding a bit more water to the pot while they continue to cook. Add water only half a cup at a time so as to avoid adding too much. 

If you enjoyed this Boston baked bean recipe, we would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below the recipe card if you test this recipe. As always, we love hearing from you, our readers!  

Boston baked beans in slow cooker crockpot (1)

Delicious And Easy Baked Boston Beans In Slow Cooker

Amber Bondar
This simple Boston baked bean recipe is made in the slow cooker for an easy classic side dish. The rich sauced beans make an excellent addition to a traditional pancake breakfast or bbq meal. Pair with steak, pulled pork, or roast chicken. The sweetly sauced beans can also be made ahead and frozen for up to two months.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 12

Equipment

  • 1 Slow Cooker
  • 1 measuring cup
  • 1 Teaspoon
  • Cutting board
  • knife

Ingredients
  

  • Cup Dry Navy Beans
  • Cup Onion Chopped
  • ½ Cup Ketchup
  • Cup Molasses
  • Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Dry Mustard Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
  • 5 Cups Water

Instructions
 

  • Measure and add to the slow cooker the dried navy beans.
  • Peel and chop onion. Add to the beans in the slow cooker.
  • Measure and add the ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, and onion powder.
  • Lastly add the water and then stir the mixture well.
  • Cover with lid and set on low for 8-10 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  • Stir the beans part way through cooking to blend flavors.
  • Turn off and serve right away.
  • Store unused portions in the fridge covered for up to four days.
  • Cool thoroughly and freeze unused portions for up to two months in airtight containers.
Keyword beans, side dish, slow cooker

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