You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Recipe for Boston baked beans


Serves 8

The secret to great baked beans is dried beans (Great Northern or navy beans, or an heirloom variety such as soldier beans, yellow eye, Marfax, or Jacob’s Cattle; for heirlooms, go to, a Maine grower). Soak them overnight or use this quick-soaking method, which takes 1 hour. Older versions of this dish call for lots of molasses and salt pork. Here, we tuck pieces of bacon into the beans with enough molasses to give them a fine taste but not overwhelm the dish.

1pound (2 cups) dried white beans
2medium onions, coarsely chopped
¼cup dark brown sugar
¼cup molasses
1tablespoon tomato paste
dry mustard
¼pound piece slab
bacon, cut into strips
4cups water, or more
if necessary
½teaspoon salt
¼teaspoon pepper

1. Soak the beans overnight, drain, and rinse them. Or, in a large, heavy pot, combine the beans and enough water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the beans sit for 1 hour.

Continue reading below

2. Set the oven at 300 degrees.

3. Drain and rinse the beans and return to the pot. Add the onions, brown sugar, molasses, tomato paste, mustard, and bacon. Add the 4 cups water, salt, and pepper. Return the beans to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

4. Cook the beans for 4 hours, checking them every hour to see if the pan seems dry. Add more water as needed, ½ cup at a time.

Continue reading it below

5. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like, and let the beans sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Note: If making in advance, the beans will thicken on standing. To reheat, add more water and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until hot. Sheryl Julian

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of