Become a Better Cook in 4 Days!

Boston Baked Beans - A Family Feast

Today we’re sharing our own ‘secret family recipe’ for Boston Baked Beans!  This is a recipe that Jack has perfected over the years and it’s so much better than any canned baked beans you can buy.

Boston baked beans are another one of those dishes that I never really liked – until I ate Jack’s recipe.  Growing up, we had canned baked beans on occasion, and I just never understood what the fuss was all about!

But Jack’s Boston baked beans are tender and delicious – and the sauce is rich and sweet thanks to a combination of salt pork, onion, molasses, brown sugar, and maple syrup.  And the sauce gets an even more amazing depth of flavor from Dijon mustard, ketchup, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and a hint of vinegar.

Boston Baked Beans - A Family Feast

These Boston baked beans take some time to cook – first to soak the dry beans and then to bake – but it’s actually a very easy dish to make!   Boston baked beans go great with a fish cakes and coleslaw dinner, or franks and Boston Brown Bread – a dark, slightly sweet bread with or without raisins.

If you’ve never had Boston brown bread before, you can sometimes find it in the grocery store along with the canned baked beans.  Brown bread is cooked by steam in a can, and cans of the bread can be found on the supermarket shelf right next to the cans of baked beans!   It’s another popular New England favorite! 

Also on a side note, make sure you rinse any salt from the salt pork before dicing and that you do not add the salt until the beans have cooked for at least 90 minutes. If you add salt at the beginning, the beans will cook hard and not soften. As well, one of our readers suggested waiting to add the ketchup and vinegar because acid can sometimes keep the beans hard if added too early. As well, she also suggested using bottled water if you have a hard water problem.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Boston Baked Beans - A Family Feast

Boston Baked Beans

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 12 hours
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 16 hours
  • Yield: 6-8 servings
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: New England


Be sure to read the Notes section below this recipe!


1 pound dry navy beans

½ pound rinsed salt pork, rind left on and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 cups onion, sliced thick

½ cup molasses

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

3 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

6 cups of water, divided

½ cup ketchup

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt


Soak beans overnight at room temperature in 2 quarts of water.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Drain and rinse beans.

In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, cook rinsed diced salt pork, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on all sides.

Add onions and cook two minutes.

Add the drained beans, molasses, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, brown sugar, black pepper and garlic powder.

Stir and add two cups of water.

Place in the oven covered and cook for 90 minutes. Stir and add the ketchup, vinegar, salt and two more cups of water.

Bake for 90 more minutes covered, stir and add one cup of water.

Reduce oven to 275 degrees and bake for one hour covered.

Stir, and if beans are not soft enough to the bite, add the last cup of water and continue cooking covered until they are tender – just make sure they don’t burn if the sauce is very thick.

Serve with brown bread.


Salt added too early in the cooking process may stop the beans from becoming tender (especially if you have hard water at your home) so wait to add the salt until the recipe indicates.

As well, one of our very smart readers also noted that the acid in ketchup and vinegar will sometimes do the same, so those two ingredients get added with the salt.

Another reasons your beans may stay hard after cooking is that they are  stale – so always check the expiration date on your dry beans package.

Finally if you do have hard water, use bottled filtered water for this recipe. (Thanks to Karla Mae for the tips!)

Keywords: Boston Baked Beans

You may also like:

Cod Fish Cakes

Cod Fish Cakes - A Family Feast

Wicked Pickles

Wicked Pickles - A Family Feast

Perfect Pork Chops

Perfect Pork Chop - A Family Feast

  • Share
  • Pin
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Meet The Author: Martha

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe rating

    What type of comment do you have?

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Diana wrote:

    Hi! I wanted to let you know that I made this recipe in the slow cooker and it was delicious! I used 5 cups of water, and cooked it on low for about 9 hours. I really enjoyed it!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Diana! Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Heather wrote:

    Hi Martha and Jack!
    Loved this recipe – but I have a quick question. Do you take the lid off the beans while they’re in the oven? My sauce never got thickened and I needed to boil on the stove top for a few minutes to reduce down this liquid. It still tasted great but never got that beautiful caramelized color that your photos look like.
    Thanks for your recipes!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Heather – We definitely kept the cover on during the baking process in the oven (and we’ve updated the recipe to specifically state that). Thank you for your question!

  • Betty wrote:

    Could you do these in a crock pot after soaking the beans and browning the salt pork? How much water do you think? Thanks!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Betty – We haven’t tried making this recipe in a crock pot so I’m sorry – we can’t give you any advice on how to adapt the recipe for that cooking method. I would imagine it will take a lot longer in a crock pot. But please let us know if you try it!

  • Ed Standish wrote:

    Thanks Martha, I have a little stubborn in me so I’m not giving up on this. I love the color of the beans and the flavor both is exactly what I’m looking for to go with my filipino crispy skin pork shoulder (Lechon) dish. I just need to get the texture of the beans right and I’m in business.

    • Jack wrote:

      Ed – This is Jack. Martha and I take every comment to heart and want very much for you and everyone else to be pleased with our recipes. So when you unsuccessfully made this twice, I had to run through our recipe again to see if there was a mistake. To be honest, I was hoping to find a mistake to solve your mystery, but they came out perfectly.

      I made them this morning, soaking the beans yesterday. The beans soaked for about 12 hours. There is one thing though that I think I will change on our site – I did not mention to soak the beans at room temperature, that is assumed but maybe not to everyone so I will add that to the instructions today. If you soaked your beans in the refrigerator, that may contribute to the longer cooking time, but not ten hours.

      When I made this today, I had several other things cooking at the same time so I added an hour to the cooking time with the cover off to evaporate a little more water. Lastly, they should have a little bite to them and not be mushy like the stuff out of a can, so maybe it depends on what your expectations are for the finished texture.

      Hope this helps and good luck Ed! Jack

      • Ed Standish wrote:

        Thanks Jack for doing this for me. I do like a little softer texture so I simply cooked my beans first. Then used your recipe for the sauce adding just enough hot water at a time to keep the beans from drying out during bake time. Yummy! Your Sauce is so good.

        • Tina edwards wrote:

          I had the same issue the first few times I tried making baked beans. Hard (as in not edible) or soft enough to eat but not quite right. So I did what I should have done from the start, asked my 98 year old Nana. We had hard water, which can make it hard for the beans to get tender. So for every pound of dried beans add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the soaking water. If you are using fresh water to cook them add the baking soda To that fresh water as well. I have never had issue once learning this trick. I realize this post is old but maybe it will help someone else along the way. 😀

          • Martha wrote:

            Thank you so much Tina!

          • Amanda Riccardi wrote:

            Thank you Tina for this tip! I had the same experience with the beans not getting tender and not soaking up the water after an overnight soak. I do have hard water and can see how the baking soda will help during the soak time. I’m excited to try this recipe again. The smell is out of this world.

          • Alisha wrote:

            Awesome! Thank you! I too have made these twice and they just don’t lose the crunch. We otherwise don’t like beans so I have zero experience with dry beans. These taste and smell amazing, they just stay slightly crunchy…it didn’t stop me from eating them but they could be much better with the right texture. The flavor in this recipe is on point, my problems are with the bean.

          • Martha wrote:

            Thanks Alisha…we are still stumped why sometimes the beans will soften and other times they don’t!!

  • Ed Standish wrote:

    Hi again. Well almost success. I cooked them for 50 minutes after they soaked over night. They were semi soft. I then went right into the recipe above. After which the texture was the exact. It was like they stopped getting tender. They are edible but a little crunchy. Not what I’m used to. Any ideas? The taste has a GREAT flavor. Just need to get the bean the right texture!

    • Martha wrote:

      Oh geez Ed! Jack is now planning to make our recipe again here at home just to test it again! We both remember the day we photographed the recipe – the beans were definitely tender… We aren’t sure what the issue is. If we make any changes to the recipe we will be sure to let you know!! Thank you for letting us know!

  • Ed Standish wrote:

    Hi Martha, I love the looks of your recipe. I tried it and must have done something wrong because 10 hours later…..that is 10 hours after the I soaked the beans overnight. My beans were still hard like they were under cooked. What did I do wrong?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Ed! Thanks for writing to us and we’re sorry you had problems with the recipe! Jack has made this exact recipe many times without issue. He said that the one time he experienced a similar issue was when he discovered that the beans he used were very old and out of code – is it possible that happened with the beans you used? If not – his only other suggestion would be to make sure that your oven, at low temperatures like the one used in this recipe, is accurate. (Sometimes ovens don’t hold the heat when set to low temps.) Again – we’re so sorry it didn’t work out for you – especially after putting so much time and effort into making the beans! Martha

      • Ed Standish wrote:

        I don’t give up that easy. I will try try again! The smell was out of this world. I will check date on new batch of beans. Have you ever tried to pre-boil the beans for lets say an hour or so before adding the sauce to give them a head start?

        • Martha wrote:

          Hi Ed – We’re glad to hear that you’re willing to try the recipe again! A gentle pre-boil for a while certainly won’t hurt the recipe! Please let us know how the recipe comes out for you the second time! M-

    • Earline wrote:

      Hi Ed, I realize that you wrote your comment a few years ago, however soaking Beans is not to soften them up, but to remove the gas. I’ve never heard of Beans softening up simply from soaking them. It’s a shame that the person who submitted this recipe didn’t tell you that when she replied to your comment. By the way Beans can be cooked without soaking them. However, for the reason that I mentioned is the reason to soak them.

  • Katie wrote:

    I am new to your site and am so looking forward to trying your recipes! The individual bowls you have pictured with this Boston Baked Bean recipe are beautiful. Any recommendation on where to purchase these?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Katie! I bought those at Crate and Barrel – but I know that they went on clearance a few months ago and I don’t think they have them in stock anymore. I’m sad I didn’t buy more myself…they are great bowls! Thanks for visiting our site! Martha

  • Stephanie wrote:

    I have been searching forever for good bean recipe. One question though…what is salt pork?? Can’t wait to give this a try!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Stephanie – Here’s a link from our How-To page that talks about salt pork…

      You can find it at most grocery stores in the meat section – likely near the pork. It looks like a small slab of bacon that has been cured in salt. It adds great flavor!

      I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we do! Please let me know if you have any other questions and thanks for visiting our site! Martha

      • Stephanie wrote:

        Thank you so much! Showed the recipe to the hubster and he was drooling too. Got the ingredients on the shopping list. 🙂

  • Carol | a cup of mascarpone wrote:

    I’m just finding a beautiful array of recipes this morning on your gorgeous blog, Martha! I NEED a good baked bean recipe too! Now I have your coleslaw and baked beans…sounds like I’m getting ready for a picnic! :}

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks (as always) for your compliments Carol! I hope you continue to enjoy our recipes! Have a great weekend!

  • Mary wrote:

    These look perfectly delicious.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Mary!

  • A Family Feast ® is a registered trademark of A Family Feast, Inc. All content, including recipes, text, visual elements, and photographs are copyright © A Family Feast, Inc. 2012-2020, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.