Boston baked beans are the popular pot of beans you’ll find at a backyard BBQ or family get-together that tastes both sweet and savory. In a thick, syrupy sauce made of a brown sugar and molasses base, these beans bubble away in your Crock Pot, so you barely have to lift a finger with under 15 minutes prep time.
Boston baked beans have been a classic and staple food in New England since the 18th century and for great reason. They taste wonderful and are the kind of beans that even non-bean-lovers will grab a scoop of at a party.
They’re a comfort food, no doubt, and their warm, sweet flavor can dress up any meal. Serve these alongside simple foods like hot dogs and hamburgers or with steak and baked potatoes. They’ll offer a ton of flavor and be a welcome addition to your side dishes without taking up much of your time or energy.
I can’t get enough of these beans when I make them. I think I’ve absolutely perfected my recipe after many years of tweaking and fiddling with the amount of brown sugar, BBQ sauce, mustard, and molasses. And I make mine with large chunks of bacon! The flavor is slightly tangy, with a sweet sauce that doesn’t run all over your plate. I promise you’ll make this recipe again and again.
- In my humble opinion, these beans are beyond delicious. They’re the perfect ratio of sweet and savory, and after many years of messing with the recipe, I’ve got it down to a science. While some bean recipes might be too sweet or have a thin, runny sauce, this recipe is perfectly balanced, and the delicious sauce turns out nice and thick with tons of flavor.
- And, of course, this is an easy recipe for anyone to make. It takes just about 15 minutes to get this recipe into your slow cooker, and after that, the hardest part is waiting!
- This recipe makes your house smell incredible as the smells of bacon and brown sugar fill the air. It’s forgiving and doesn’t need a lot of attention, and comes out perfectly, even if this is your first time making 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 cooked in brown sugar.
Regular baked beans are typically made in a sauce that includes tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and sometimes a splash of vinegar or Worcestershire sauce, so the flavor can really change from region to region, and every home chef seems to have their own version.
But Boston baked beans are more predictable, with a familiar sweet and savory flavor. The sauce is made thick and bubbly with molasses and brown sugar for that unmistakable, comforting taste you expect.
Ingredients for Boston Baked Beans
- Bacon – I like thick-cut bacon for this recipe, but any type will do. If you’re a fan of maple bacon, keep in mind it will add even more sweetness, but it’s a good way to incorporate the flavor of maple syrup if you enjoy it. Alternatively, you can use salt pork (or salted pork belly).
- Variety of canned baked beans – Traditionally, Boston baked beans are made with Navy beans, but I like using cans of baked beans for my recipe.
- Molasses and brown sugar – These ingredients are both found in the baking aisle, and I wouldn’t replace them. They’re really the stars of this recipe, and worth making a trip to the grocery store if you need to.
- Yellow mustard – This gives your sauce a bit of a tangy zip!
- Barbecue sauce – Choose a sweet sauce over a smoky or spicy flavor for this recipe. Sweet Baby Ray’s traditional BBQ sauce, Heinz Sweet BBQ sauce, or Kraft’s Sweet Brown Sugar BBQ are all good options, but any will do.
📝 Note: You can find the full recipe with ingredients and measurements in the recipe card located at the bottom of this post.
How to Make the Best Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans – Step-By-Step
Making this Crock Pot Boston baked beans recipe is as easy as pie (maybe even easier!). Here’s how you make them:
- Begin by prepping your ingredients so they’re ready to go. Cut your bacon into 2-inch wide strips. Place the bacon on a cutting board and use a sharp knife or even a clean pair of kitchen scissors. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Set aside for now.
- Next, cook the bacon. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the chopped bacon until it’s cooked through but not crisp.
- Remove from heat and carefully spoon off the excess bacon fat into a bowl or cup. Leave the bacon in the pan.
- Return the pan to the heat and add the onions and minced garlic. Continue to cook until the onions are slightly translucent.
- Open the cans of beans and pour them into the slow cooker, then measure out the ketchup, barbecue sauce, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and yellow mustard. Stir well.
- Add the cooked bacon and onion mixture to the slow cooker. Stir everything really well to ensure an even distribution of flavors.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on the high setting for 3 to 4 hours or on the low setting for 6 to 7 hours. This will give the flavors plenty of time to meld, the sauce time to get nice and thick, and the beans time to absorb the delicious combination of ingredients.
Gina’s Tips and Helpful Hints
- I think bacon cuts much easier when it’s cold, so cut it straight from the fridge, or even set it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you begin.
- Try not to overcook the bacon or onions. Overcooking them can alter the flavor of the finished pot of beans.
- Keep an eye on your slow cooker, especially if you’re cooking your beans on high. Give them a good stir them from time to time, and check to make sure the bottom isn’t burning.
- If your beans seem to be getting too thick, turn down the Crock Pot and stir in a bit of cooking liquid, like broth or even some hot water.
Yummy Ways to Spice Up Slow Cooker Baked Beans
The best baked beans are really the ones you love the most! So feel free to make this recipe your own. Here are a few variations you might like to try:
- You can toss a leftover ham bone into the slow cooker if you’d like. After a few hours, any leftover meat should fall off the ham bone and infuse the beans with even more flavor.
- You can make this recipe with another type of bean if you want, such as a mixture of canned beans instead of baked beans. Try pinto beans, white beans, navy beans, black beans… any kind you love will be ok.
- Replace the yellow mustard with an equal amount of Dijon mustard or even dry mustard powder (1.5-2 tsp) for a sharper, bolder mustard flavor.
Other Easy Cooking Methods For Baked Beans
- Dutche Oven: Enamel-coated Dutch ovens are famous for making really delicious baked beans. You can use your enamel pot on the stove top or in the oven. Either way, you’ll still get that sweet, thick sauce.
- Stove Top: To make the recipe on the stove, cook the bacon, onions, and garlic as directed, then stir all the remaining ingredients into a large pot or Dutch oven. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Let the pot simmer on the stove for 3-4 hours. Make sure you stir every 15-20 minutes.
- Oven: To make Boston baked beans in the oven, preheat your oven to 325°F. Cook the bacon, onions, and garlic as directed, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Set the covered Dutch oven in your oven and cook for 2-3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so to check for doneness.
Help! My beans burnt on the bottom of the pot. What can I do?
If you realize your beans are burning onto your pot, first things first, turn the pot to low. If it’s already on low, turn the pot to warm, or, if the recipe is close to done, turn it off altogether. It’s rare for a slow cooker recipe to get so hot it burns, so check for any possible problems with your Crock Pot. If the bottom of your food is burnt, that doesn’t mean the entire pot of beans is ruined.
First, stir the beans carefully, trying not to touch the bottom ‘burnt’ layer with the spoon. Then, grab a small, clean spoon and take out a bite of the beans. Give it a taste. If the beans don’t taste burnt, keep the heat lower, and allow them to continue to simmer until done, being mindful not to disturb the burnt layer at the bottom. If the beans taste burnt, there’s likely not much you can do to fix them.
How to Store Leftover Baked Beans
Your leftovers will taste even better the next day, so be sure to store them properly.
- In the fridge: Let the beans come to room temperature, then transfer them to an airtight container or cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place them in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- In the freezer: You can freeze your beans for up to 2-3 months if you want to eat them later. Portion them in to smaller portions if desired, and freeze them in airtight containers.
- How to reheat baked beans: To reheat your beans, allow them to thaw in the fridge, then place them in a pot on the stove over low-medium heat. Let them warm up slowly. The sauce will get hot before the inside of the beans, so check for doneness before removing from the heat. If you need to, add a touch of water or broth to thin out the sauce.
Throw a Hot Dog and Boston Baked Beans Party Menu
Beans are a common party food because most people enjoy a good old scoop or two, and Boston baked beans are always a hit with kids and adults because of their sweet flavor. For a simple party idea that doesn’t take a lot of effort, try hosting a hot dog and beans party. Of course, your guest might eat the beans as a side dish, but they’re also yummy poured right on your hotdog, similar to a chili dog.
Include all the fixings, like yellow mustard (try my homemade mustard!), BBQ sauce, ketchup, diced onion, relish, shredded cheddar, and sliced pickled jalapeños. Oh, and don’t forget the best hot dog chili for a topping!
Let your guests fix their own plates, buffet style, for a fun party idea that takes very little work, and makes clean up a breeze.
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Best Homemade Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans Recipe
Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.
- 8 oz bacon
- 1/2 cup onion, diced (white or yellow)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 baked beans, cans, thick variety , 28oz each
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, sweet variety
- Cut the raw bacon into 2-inch strips using a sharp knife or clean kitchen scissors.8 oz bacon
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it’s not quite crisp. Drain out the excess bacon fat.
- Add diced onions and minced garlic to the bacon. Cook until the onions are slightly translucent.1/2 cup onion, 3 cloves garlic
- Place the baked beans in the slow cooker.4 baked beans
- Add in the remaining ingredients: ketchup, barbecue sauce, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and yellow mustard to the baked beans. Stir well to combine.1/3 cup molasses, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- Add the cooked bacon with onions and garlic to the slow cooker.
- Stir all ingredients in the slow cooker thoroughly to ensure an even distribution of flavors.
- Cover the slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 7 hours. This allows the flavors to meld, and the beans to absorb the delicious combination of ingredients.