Authentic Boston Baked Beans Recipe (2024)

By Author Lori Elliott

Posted on - Last updated:

Categories Recipes

(Affiliate disclosure: I may receive a commission if you purchase something through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying puchases. See more details here:)

Authentic Boston Baked Beans Recipe (1)

Boston baked beans are a delicious old-fashioned New England tradition, but most store-bought baked beans today are full of all sorts of questionable ingredients. Instead of store bought beans, I wanted to find a truly authentic Boston baked beans recipe that used only real, natural ingredients that I could make myself at home.

The recipe I used came from the Boston Cooking School Book by Fannie Merrit Farmer (published in 1896). This is the description of the recipe (or receipt if you want to use the period term) as printed in her book:

“Pick over one quart pea beans, cover with cold water, and soak over night. In morning, drain, cover with fresh water, heat slowly (keeping water below boiling point), and cook until skins will burst . . .

Drain beans, throwing bean-water out of doors, not in sink. Scald rind of one-half pound fat salt pork, scrape, remove one-fourth inch slice and put in bottom of bean-pot. Cut through rind of remaining pork every one-half inch, making cuts one inch deep. Put beans in pot and bury pork in beans, leaving rind exposed. Mix one tablespoon salt, one tablespoon molasses, and three tablespoons sugar; add one cup boiling water, and pour over beans; then add enough more boiling water to cover beans.

Cover bean-pot, put in oven, and bake slowly six or eight hours, uncovering the last hour of cooking, that rind may become brown and crisp. Add water as needed. Many feel sure that by adding with seasonings one-half tablespoon mustard, the beans are more easily digested. If pork mixed with lean is preferred, use less salt.”

This recipe is quite long, but it actually gives a pretty good description of the ingredients and how to prepare and cook the beans, which is a lot more than most old-fashioned recipes will tell you! This recipe would make a lot of beans, though, so unless you’re making beans to feed a crowd, you might want to cut it in half like I did. Cutting the recipe in half will give you about four cups of cooked beans.

Even though the recipe instructions might seem a bit involved at first, these beans were actually really easy to make. I was surprised by the fact that the color of the cooked beans was lighter than most canned baked beans I’ve had (maybe because there are no artificial colors in these homemade ones?), but I thought that they tasted as good or even better than store-bought beans.And the funof trying an authentic Boston Baked Beans recipe is definitely something you can’t get from store-boughtbeans in a can!

Here is my modern adaptation of the recipe:

Authentic Boston Baked Beans Recipe (2)

Yield: About 4 cups

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Additional Time: 12 hours

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 18 hours 50 minutes

These authentic Boston baked beans are adapted from the Boston Cooking School Book from 1896, and they have a nice rich, old-fashioned flavor that pairs well with a rustic side dish like homemade cornbread.


  • 2 cups Navy beans - or any other dry bean you have on hand. (Navy and pea beans are the same and are also sometimes called Boston or Yankee beans. I've used several different types of heirloom bean varieties grown in my garden with good success.)
  • 1/2 cup of salt pork or bacon, chopped into small pieces (*See notes section below)
  • 1/2 Tbs. sea salt
  • 1 heaping Tbs. molasses. (Or if you like a stronger molasses flavor, you can use more. I often use 2 heaping Tbs. because I like the molasses flavor.)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. whole cane sugar (or you can use brown sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup boiling water, plus enough water to cover the beans (about 2 cups)


    1. The night before you plan to cook your beans, take your two cups of beans and put them in a saucepan or pot (after picking through them first quickly just to make sure there aren't any broken or shriveled ones). Pour enough water into the pan to cover the beans and let them sit over night.
    2. In the morning, strain the beans and discard the water. (Since it was freezing cold outside, I ignored Fannie's instruction about throwing the water outside instead of in the sink. I'm not quite sure why she said that anyways...)
    3. Give the beans a quick rinse in the strainer and then put them back in the saucepan with some fresh water. Let the beans simmer in the water for about 40 minutes. (Note: It's important not to let them go above a simmer or they could end up getting mushy.)
    4. Strain the beans again and put them in whatever pot you plan to bake them in. If you want them to look truly authentic and old-fashioned, you can use a baked bean pot, or if you don't have one of those then you can use a casserole dish that will fit at least a quart or larger.
    5. Put the pork, salt, molasses, sugar, and mustard in with the beans and mix them all together. Pour the 1/2 cup of boiling water over the beans and then add enough cool water to make sure the beans are covered (about 2 more cups). Then cover the pot and put it in the oven to bake.
    6. Since old-fashioned ovens didn't allow cooks to have the same control over temperature that our modern ovens do, this recipe didn't specify a cooking temperature, but since the recipe said to bake them slowly, that translates to a lower oven temperature. I baked mine at 325 degrees for the first few hours and then turned the oven down to 280 degrees for the remainder of the cooking time.
    7. Check the beans every once in a while to make sure they aren't drying out, and add a bit more water if necessary. Take the cover off the pot for the last hour of cooking. (Note: the original recipe said to cook the beans for 6-8 hours, but my beans were actually done after about 5 hours, so it's a good idea to check them every hour or so to make sure they aren't over-cooking. (If you want them to cook more slowly, you could try keeping the oven temperature lower at 280 for the whole time.)


I cut up my salt pork in small pieces so it could be eaten with the beans instead of leaving it as one large piece to take out, and I simmered the salt pork first in a saucepan until it was cooked through. If you can't find salt pork, or if you prefer bacon, you can use that as a substitute instead. I've used bacon several times when making this recipe, and it's delicious!

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Authentic Boston Baked Beans Recipe (4)
Authentic Boston Baked Beans Recipe (5)

Other Baked Bean Recipes to Try:

Slow Cooker Baked Beans by 100 Days of Real Food

Luau Baked Beans with Pineapple by Oh Lardy

Baked Beans – Tossing the Can by Jen and Joey Go Green

(We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

Authentic Boston Baked Beans Recipe (2024)


What are original Boston baked beans? ›

Place of Origin

If someone offers you Boston baked beans, you'll most likely receive a sweet-savory blend of navy beans that have been slow-cooked in molasses, black pepper, and salt pork. That classic style has been synonymous with the city known as “Beantown” for centuries.

What is the coating on Boston baked beans? ›

Sugar, Peanuts, Corn Syrup, Modified Food Starch (Corn), Acacia (Gum Arabic), Confectioner's Glaze (Shellac), Artificial Flavor, Carnauba Wax, White Mineral Oil, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2.

What's the difference between baked beans and Boston baked beans? ›

What is the difference between Boston baked beans and baked beans? The main difference between baked beans and Boston baked beans comes down to the use of molasses. Boston baked beans bake in a sauce typically made with molasses while traditional baked beans cook in brown sugar and corn syrup.

How do you thicken Boston baked beans? ›

Use the back of a fork to mash some of the beans against the side of the pot. The released starches will thicken the mixture. Just saw that Hari Hara had the same idea. Either drain off some of the excess liquid, add a thickener such as a starch slurry, or simply cook the beans longer until the liquid reduces out.

What are the ingredients in original baked beans? ›

Ingredients. Cooked Pea Beans (Water, Pea Beans), Sugar, Molasses, Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Pork Fat, Seasoning Blend (Dried Onion, Dextrose, Dried Garlic, Spices, Natural Flavors), Mustard.

What is the flavor of Boston baked beans? ›

Boston baked beans are a variety of baked beans, sweetened with molasses, and flavored with salt pork or bacon.

Why are Boston baked beans so good? ›

In Boston, where due to triangle trade, the production of maple syrup and molasses, beans get a lift of natural sweetness. So much so that Boston's nickname is Beantown.

What kind of beans are Boston baked beans made of? ›

The short answer is that they're small white beans (usually navy beans), slow-cooked in an oven, hearth, or ember-filled hole in the ground with molasses, salt pork, black pepper, and maybe a touch of mustard and onion until they form a thick stew, rich with a deep color and caramelized crust.

What thickens baked beans? ›

Use starches to thicken beans

Simply add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to 1 cup of water or to the liquid from the baked beans (scoop it out into a separate bowl and let it cool first) and mix. Once the starch is thoroughly incorporated, pour the slurry into the baked beans dish and stir.

Is Boston Baked Beans healthy? ›

This legume dish is high in folate and a good source of iron. Folate helps form red blood cells, which contain iron. Both nutrients are important in preventing anemia.

What are the best beans for baked beans? ›

The key is to use the little white pea beans known as navy beans, and to allow time to do most of the work. (Or to cheat: Canned white beans make fantastic baked beans in about an hour. If you use them, you'll need four 15-ounce cans. Drain and then follow the directions from step 2 on to the end.

What year did Boston Baked Beans come out? ›

The conventional wisdom of Boston Baked Beans, the coated peanut version, is that they were invented in 1924 by a candymaker in Chicago named Salvatore Ferrara—or that, if it wasn't necessarily him, well, the candy definitely started or got popular (if we're really hedging) sometime in the 1920s, most likely in Chicago ...

What can I add to baked beans to make them taste better? ›

Here's what we dress them up with:
  1. Bacon.
  2. Onion.
  3. Maple syrup.
  4. Spicy mustard.
  5. Beef sausage.
  6. Molasses.
  7. Ketchup.
  8. Cider vinegar.
Jun 20, 2023

Why are my baked beans not getting soft? ›

Dried beans typically have a moisture content of around 16%. However, as they age, moisture evaporates, giving pectin time to age and harden the skin. These beans can often take much longer to soften while soaking and cooking, up to twice the time!

How to improve baked beans? ›

Firstly, lets kick off with how to upgrade your current beans on toast game. One idea is to add marmite (trust me, it's lovely if you like marmite). You can also spice up you're your baked beans by adding a teaspoon of your favourite spice, for example smoked paprika, cumin or chilli powder if your feeling adventurous.

What's the difference between homestyle and original baked beans? ›

Our Homestyle Baked Beans are deliciously tomato-based—which makes them a bit tangier than the original—with brown sugar, bold spices and a specially cured bacon.

Are French burnt peanuts the same as Boston baked beans? ›

Are French burnt peanuts the same as Boston baked beans? Both are candy coated Spanish peanuts in varying shades of red. But while they may be related, they're not the same thing. French burnt peanuts have spikes and a bumpy, rustic coating, while Boston baked beans have a smooth and shiny outer coating.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dan Stracke

Last Updated:

Views: 6013

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dan Stracke

Birthday: 1992-08-25

Address: 2253 Brown Springs, East Alla, OH 38634-0309

Phone: +398735162064

Job: Investor Government Associate

Hobby: Shopping, LARPing, Scrapbooking, Surfing, Slacklining, Dance, Glassblowing

Introduction: My name is Dan Stracke, I am a homely, gleaming, glamorous, inquisitive, homely, gorgeous, light person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.